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Kocev D.,Jozef Stefan Institute | Naumoski A.,Environment Center | Mitreski K.,Environment Center | Krstic S.,Institute of Biology | Dzeroski S.,Jozef Stefan Institute
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2010

Habitat suitability modelling studies the influence of abiotic factors on the abundance or diversity of a given taxonomic group of organisms. In this work, we investigate the effect of the environmental conditions of Lake Prespa (Republic of Macedonia) on diatom communities. The data contain measurements of physical and chemical properties of the environment as well as the relative abundances of 116 diatom taxa. In addition, we create a separate dataset that contains information only about the top 10 most abundant diatoms. We use two machine learning techniques to model the data: regression trees and multi-target regression trees. We learn a regression tree for each taxon separately (from the top 10 most abundant) to identify the environmental conditions that influence the abundance of the given diatom taxon. We learn two multi-target regression trees: one for modelling the complete community and the other for the top 10 most abundant diatoms. The multi-target regression trees approach is able to detect the conditions that affect the structure of a diatom community (as compared to other approaches that can model only a single target variable). We interpret and compare the obtained models. The models present knowledge about the influence of metallic ions and nutrients on the structure of the diatom community, which is consistent with, but further extends existing expert knowledge. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


News Article | September 8, 2016
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

University of Oregon researchers have found links between the levels of antimicrobial chemicals and antibiotic-resistance genes in the dust of an aging building used for athletics and academics. One of the antimicrobials seen in the study is triclosan, a commonly used antibacterial ingredient in many personal care products. It is among antimicrobials that will be phased out within the next year from hand and bar soaps, according to a ruling Sept. 2 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The findings of the new study reflect relationships in the dust, not that the antimicrobials are the reason for antibacterial genes being present. "We might be tempted to think of the antimicrobial chemicals as being guilty by association," said Erica M. Hartmann, a postdoctoral fellow at the UO's Biology and the Built Environment Center and Institute of Ecology and Evolution who led the study. She joined the faculty at Northwestern University this month. "We don't really know how the genes or the chemicals got there," she said. "They may have arrived by completely different routes and their being found together is a coincidence. However, we know that antimicrobial chemicals can cause an increase in antibiotic resistance in other situations, so I think these results provide a good reason to take a closer look at what's going on in dust." The FDA's ruling, Hartmann noted, does not yet require that antimicrobials be removed from many other products such as paints, baby toys, bedding, and kitchen utensils. "We don't have solid proof that putting antimicrobials in these products makes them any healthier, but we do know that triclosan in the environment can be harmful," she said. The study, published online ahead of print in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, is the first to document the coexistence of the chemicals and genes in indoor dust. In all, the paper reports six significant associations. Levels of triclosan in dust were determined in collaboration with the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University. Triclosan has been linked with a gene that alters the ribosome -- a complex of RNA and protein in cells that is responsible for RNA translation -- in a way that makes bacteria antibiotic resistant. The research team identified several antibiotic-resistance genes, the most common of which conferred resistance to tetracycline antibiotics. "While present at low abundances, together these genes cover resistance to a wide spectrum of antibiotics," the researchers wrote. The chemicals and genes came from 44 samples from 31 varied-use spaces, using vacuum-fitted collectors. The building, completed in 1921, has window ventilation as well as infiltration of outdoor air through cracks around doors and windows. DNA processing involved the UO Genomics Core Facility, and data were processed with assistance from the lab of co-author Curtis Huttenhower of Harvard University's School of Public Health. Despite the findings, Hartmann said, people don't need to be readily alarmed. Antibiotic-resistance genes in the environment, for example, are 10 to 100 times less abundant than in the human gut, she said. In infants, the genes occur naturally in the absence of antibiotics during initial microbial colonization. "Antibiotic resistance is common in a lot of different places," she said. "Just because we find it in a certain building doesn't mean that everyone who goes into that building is going to get a MRSA infection. The building is still as safe as it was before the study, but now we have a better idea of how many antibiotic-resistance genes there are, and we have reason to believe that the amount of antibiotic resistance genes may be tied to the amount of antimicrobial chemicals." Triclosan and antibiotic resistance have been found in other places and in the environment, Hartmann said, but finding them in indoor dust brings the threat loser to home. Median concentrations of triclosan found in the dust were much less than those found as the active ingredient in toothpaste, where it helps to reduce plaque and gum disease. The new FDA ban does not include toothpaste. "The World Health Organization has said that we're underestimating community-acquired antibiotic-resistant infections," she said. "We know that hospitals and other healthcare settings are burdened by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Homes and other buildings also can contain antibiotic resistance genes and and the use of antimicrobial chemicals in these buildings may be a contributing factor."


One of the antimicrobials seen in the study is triclosan, a commonly used antibacterial ingredient in many personal care products. It is among antimicrobials that will be phased out within the next year from hand and bar soaps, according to a ruling Sept. 2 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The findings of the new study reflect relationships in the dust, not that the antimicrobials are the reason for antibacterial genes being present. "We might be tempted to think of the antimicrobial chemicals as being guilty by association," said Erica M. Hartmann, a postdoctoral fellow at the UO's Biology and the Built Environment Center and Institute of Ecology and Evolution who led the study. She joined the faculty at Northwestern University this month. "We don't really know how the genes or the chemicals got there," she said. "They may have arrived by completely different routes and their being found together is a coincidence. However, we know that antimicrobial chemicals can cause an increase in antibiotic resistance in other situations, so I think these results provide a good reason to take a closer look at what's going on in dust." The FDA's ruling, Hartmann noted, does not yet require that antimicrobials be removed from many other products such as paints, baby toys, bedding, and kitchen utensils. "We don't have solid proof that putting antimicrobials in these products makes them any healthier, but we do know that triclosan in the environment can be harmful," she said. The study, published online ahead of print in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, is the first to document the coexistence of the chemicals and genes in indoor dust. In all, the paper reports six significant associations. Levels of triclosan in dust were determined in collaboration with the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University. Triclosan has been linked with a gene that alters the ribosome—a complex of RNA and protein in cells that is responsible for RNA translation—in a way that makes bacteria antibiotic resistant. The research team identified several antibiotic-resistance genes, the most common of which conferred resistance to tetracycline antibiotics. "While present at low abundances, together these genes cover resistance to a wide spectrum of antibiotics," the researchers wrote. The chemicals and genes came from 44 samples from 31 varied-use spaces, using vacuum-fitted collectors. The building, completed in 1921, has window ventilation as well as infiltration of outdoor air through cracks around doors and windows. DNA processing involved the UO Genomics Core Facility, and data were processed with assistance from the lab of co-author Curtis Huttenhower of Harvard University's School of Public Health. Despite the findings, Hartmann said, people don't need to be readily alarmed. Antibiotic-resistance genes in the environment, for example, are 10 to 100 times less abundant than in the human gut, she said. In infants, the genes occur naturally in the absence of antibiotics during initial microbial colonization. "Antibiotic resistance is common in a lot of different places," she said. "Just because we find it in a certain building doesn't mean that everyone who goes into that building is going to get a MRSA infection. The building is still as safe as it was before the study, but now we have a better idea of how many antibiotic-resistance genes there are, and we have reason to believe that the amount of antibiotic resistance genes may be tied to the amount of antimicrobial chemicals." Triclosan and antibiotic resistance have been found in other places and in the environment, Hartmann said, but finding them in indoor dust brings the threat loser to home. Median concentrations of triclosan found in the dust were much less than those found as the active ingredient in toothpaste, where it helps to reduce plaque and gum disease. The new FDA ban does not include toothpaste. "The World Health Organization has said that we're underestimating community-acquired antibiotic-resistant infections," she said. "We know that hospitals and other healthcare settings are burdened by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Homes and other buildings also can contain antibiotic resistance genes and and the use of antimicrobial chemicals in these buildings may be a contributing factor." More information: "Antimicrobial chemicals are associated with elevated antibiotic resistance genes in the indoor dust microbiome" Environmental Science & Technology, pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.6b00262


News Article | November 14, 2016
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

The University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence is a school known for its commitment to students, faculty and the community. Thanks to a recently completed expansion project, the School of Engineering is now better able to fulfill that commitment to its current and future engineering and computing students and faculty.  The $105-million project added 185,000 square feet of new construction and renovated existing structures to become a truly well-engineered success story for the university. The success of its academic programs has never been an enrollment-only numbers game for KU. Nonetheless, KU Engineering’s goal was to increase the number of engineering graduates by more than 60 percent by 2021. “You can increase enrollments all you want, but the School of Engineering took a different approach,” Robert Parsons, Director of Construction for the Engineering Expansion Project, told Laboratory Equipment. “KU looked at these numbers and said, 'yes, we need to do more.' We want to support our students so they have everything they need to succeed and feel at home here.” That attitude, Parsons said, helps with both recruitment and retention. Michael Branicky, KU's Dean of Engineering since 2013, said he believes the overarching goal of this project was to help graduates continue to go on to be leaders and innovators who affect the state, the country and the world. “We have KU graduates everywhere, from the aerospace industry to the headquarters of Uber. It's this real-world notion that you're both learning and learning for a purpose,” Branicky said. “For that, we know we need excellent faculty and an excellent facility.” For this project, that excellent facility meant more space for classrooms, instructional labs, research labs and conveniently located space for student services. With the help of the Treanor Architects Science and Technology design team, it also meant an emphasis on collaborative learning spaces and multifunctional labs. The first phase of the project, the construction of the Measurement, Materials and Sustainable Environment Center (M2SEC), was primarily funded by a grant from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) with the goal of promoting thematically based projects like materials characterization, sustainable building practices and alternative fuels research. Today, the building is a hotbed for innovation, including two “living walls” that monitor environmental change, and a space to grow algae on the roof so it can be compressed and refined to produce biofuels. Completed in 2012, the 47,000 square foot facility was the first step in the School of Engineering facilities' master plan, said Tim Reynolds, Principal at Treanor Architects. “M2SEC brought such a tremendous boost in research, which allowed KU to pursue other research funding and, as a byproduct, increase opportunities for undergraduates to actually work in the laboratories,” Reynolds said. “We know retention and graduation rates are higher if engineering students can get hands-on experience in laboratories early on in their studies. It's really critical.” Completed in Fall 2015, another critical component to the engineering expansion was the construction of the Learned Hall Engineering Expansion Phase 2 (LEEP2) building, which was built as a literal and figurative bridge between the existing engineering facility and the newly constructed M2SEC building. LEEP2 boasts six active learning classrooms that hold 60 to 160 students. In these innovative spaces, students are engaged in small groups or complete collaborative work more often, thanks in part to a commitment to eliminate tiered or sloped floor classrooms like those often seen in traditional lecture halls. Traditional lectures still occur in LEEP2, of course, but classrooms are strategically designed with enough flexibility to support any pedagogy. “Employers are looking for engineers who can work across disciplines,” Reynolds said. “So learning to work on problem solving, team building and how to rely on other partners in the room is important.” Besides classrooms, LEEP2 has a number of teaching laboratories—more than 11,500 square feet of them—including spaces specialized for instrumentation, environmental engineering, building thermal science and more. Nearly 17,000 square feet is dedicated to research laboratories, such as those for analytical chemistry and bioengineering. These collaboration classrooms and labs are designed for specific uses, but there are other ways LEEP2 promotes more casual interaction among faculty and students. For example, there are walls covered in marker boards for brainstorming sessions, a large atrium and a new, welcoming dining space. LEEP2 also houses the Career Center and Student Success Suite, spaces dedicated to helping students with scholarships, recruitment, internships and career placement. The collaborative nature of LEEP2 and all the opportunities for hands-on learning have “dramatically changed the culture of the building,” Parsons said. Branicky agreed, saying there are professors who prefer to come to the McClendon Atrium in LEEP2 to work rather than their offices because they “get energized by all the activity.”


News Article | December 5, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Population is growing, climate is warming - hence, emission of ammonia (NH3) trace gas from e.g. agriculture will increase worldwide. Recently, scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) for the first time detected NH3 in the upper troposphere. Together with researchers from Colorado/USA and Mexico, they analyzed satellite measurements by the MIPAS infrared spectrometer and found increased amounts of NH3 between 12 and 15 km height in the area of the Asian monsoon. This suggests that the gas is responsible for the formation of aerosols, smallest particles that might contribute to cloud formation. The researchers present their work in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal. (DOI: 10.5194/acp-16-14357-2016) Ammonia, a chemical compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, mainly originates from agricultural processes, in particular from lifestock farming and fertilization. Wide application of ammonia as a basic substance of fertilizers became possible by the development of artificial ammonia synthesis in Karlsruhe more than 100 years ago. Today, highest ammonia emissions are encountered in North India and Southeast China. Due to population growth and global warming, global ammonia emissions are expected to increase strongly in the future. Gaseous ammonia reacts with acids, such as sulfuric acid or nitric acid, to the corresponding ammonium salts. However, ammonia does not only pollute the ecosystems. Particles of ammonium salts can attach to each other and form aerosol particles acting as condensation nuclei in cloud formation. Such aerosols of anthropogenic origin have a cooling effect in the atmosphere and might compensate part of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect. In this connection, it is important to determine vertical distribution of atmospheric ammonia. Concentrations of ammonia in the middle and upper troposphere, the bottom layer of the atmosphere, have hardly been studied so far. Now, researchers of the Atmospheric Trace Gases and Remote Sensing Division of KIT's Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-ASF) as well as of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México for the first time detected ammonia in the upper troposphere. They evaluated measurements made by the MIPAS infrared spectrometer on the European environmental satellite ENVISAT from 2002 to 2012. MIPAS, an instrument designed by KIT, recorded highly resolved spectra in the middle infrared range, from which gases can be identified clearly. Every gas emits specific infrared radiation. The scientists calculated the average of three-month measurements in areas of ten degrees longitude and ten degrees latitude each. At 12 to 15 km height, in the area of the Asian monsoon, they found an increased concentration of ammonia of up to 33 pptv (33 NH3 molecules per trillion air molecules). Similarly high concentrations were measured in no other season and no other region. "Observations show that ammonia is not washed out completely when air ascends in monsoon circulation. Hence, it enters the upper troposphere from the boundary layer close to the ground, where the gas occurs at relatively high concentrations," Dr. Michael Höpfner, Head of the Remote Sensing Using Aircraft and Balloons Group of IMK-ASF. "It is therefore assumed that part of the Asian tropopause aerosol layer consists of ammonium salts." Outside of the area of the Asian monsoon, concentrations of ammonia in the upper troposphere were found to be below the detection limit of a few pptv. This finding can contribute to refining global models. As far as the Asian monsoon is concerned, a large measurement campaign with the GLORIA instrument is planned in 2017. GLORIA is a novel type of infrared camera that decomposes the thermal radiation emitted by atmospheric gases into its spectral colors and, hence, yields ammonia concentration results near the tropopause, the boundary layer between the troposphere and the above stratosphere, of higher temporal and spatial - horizontal and vertical - resolution. Michael Höpfner, Rainer Volkamer, Udo Grabowski, Michel Grutter, Johannes Orphal, Gabriele Stiller, Thomas von Clarmann, and Gerald Wetzel: First detection of ammonia (NH3) in the Asian summer monsoon upper troposphere. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2016. DOI: 10.5194/acp-16-14357-2016 For further information, please contact: Margarete Lehné, Press Officer, Phone: +49 721 608-4 8121, Fax: +49 721 608-4 3658, Email: margarete.lehne@kit.edu More about the KIT Climate and Environment Center: http://www. . Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) pools its three core tasks of research, higher education, and innovation in a mission. With about 9,300 employees and 25,000 students, KIT is one of the big institutions of research and higher education in natural sciences and engineering in Europe. KIT - The Research University in the Helmholtz Association Since 2010, the KIT has been certified as a family-friendly university. This press release is available on the internet at http://www. .


News Article | August 23, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

British researchers have discovered a troubling trend in East Antarctica: As air temperatures become warmer each summer, more and deeper lakes are showing up atop Langhovde Glacier. Their study, published this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, is the first to monitor the meltwater pools for an extended period of time in that part of the icy continent. SEE ALSO: A lengthening crack is threatening to cause an Antarctic ice shelf to collapse The findings are significant because they add to mounting evidence that an area once considered the most stable part of Antarctica is now showing signs of increased melting — this time from a process that has sped up the melting taking place in Greenland. Surface melting can weaken glaciers by causing cracks in the ice and making the glacier’s underbelly more slippery, speeding or enabling the ice to slide into the sea. These and other processes can contribute to global sea level rise, which is already damaging coastal communities. The fate of the Antarctic ice sheet, particularly East Antarctica, will help determine how high sea levels rise during the next several decades to centuries in response to human-caused global warming. The surface lakes on Langhovde Glacier are relatively shallow and small, especially compared to the larger pools seen in Greenland. But that could change if warmer-than-average summers happen more often due to climate change, the research team from Durham University and Lancaster University in England found. "The warm years are expected to become more frequent in the future, so we might expect to see even more lakes and even deeper lakes in the future," Amber Leeson, one of the study's co-authors and an expert on ice-climate interactions at Lancaster's Environment Center, told Mashable by phone. "It's not just lakes forming and refreezing in the winter," she added. "They're forming, draining and feeding into a wider 'subglacial' hydrological network. And no one has really thought of that before in East Antarctica." For their study, the team studied about 150 satellite images of Langhovde Glacier taken between 2000 and 2013 during the November-to-February summer season. They compared those with meteorological records for the same period, gathered at a nearby research base. A NASA satellite map of Antarctica shows the rates of mass changes from 2003-2008. The team mapped about 8,000 lakes, although the actual number of lakes on the glacier is likely much smaller than 8,000, said Emily Langley, the study's lead author and a Master's candidate in Durham's Department of Geography.  The researchers counted all the lakes that appeared in satellite images, so the same lakes may have appeared in multiple images and been counted two or more times, Langley said. She explained it was too difficult to quantify the precise number of surface lakes — but the quantity wasn't the most important factor in their study. "Our research was very much looking at the correlation of the lake size and depth with the surface air temperature," she told Mashable in a phone interview. "It tells us their sensitivity [to warmer summers]." Emperor penguins stand on fast ice on the coast of Queen Maud Land in Antarctica. The Langhovde Glacier is one of dozens of glaciers in the region. The lakes on Langhovde Glacier formed when temperatures rose above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). And they formed most frequently during the summer of 2012-2013, which saw 37 days with temperatures above the freezing point, the study found. So far, the glacial lakes are probably not deep enough to compromise the ice sheet or the floating ice shelf, Langley said. But researchers did see two lakes disappear, meaning the water likely drained into the core of the glacier. The ice sheet is the part of the glacier that sits on top of land, while the ice shelf is like a canopy, attached to the sheet but protruding into the ocean. Ice flow travels outward, from ground to sea, and can break the ice sheets down into free-floating icebergs. A 'before' satellite image of supraglacial lakes on Langhovde Glacier, captured Jan. 14, 2005. In the 'after' image, captured Jan. 26, 2005, the lakes appear to have drained. Without the buffer of an ice shelf, the grounded ice can flow straight into the ocean, causing substantial sea level rise. NASA projected that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could disgorge enough ice to drive devastating levels of sea level rise — about 16 feet, or 5 meters, if its Ross Ice Shelf were to melt. In Greenland, which has been seeing far more ice loss than East Antarctica, scientists have observed surface lakes drain within 24 hours after forming.  The Durham-Lancaster team said they saw two very small lakes disappear over a week-long period in January 2005. It's likely the first time lake drainage has been documented in East Antarctica, according to the researchers. "It shows that this is something that can potentially impact the flow of the ice sheet," Leeson said.  "If [the lakes] get bigger in the future, we potentially might start to see the same effect that lakes have in Greenland happening in Antarctica." A separate study from March found that surface melt could greatly accelerate Antarctic ice loss by raising the risk of "hydrofracture," which happens when water formed by the melting of snow and ice atop ice shelves causes them to disintegrate.  The process is one reason why several Greenland glaciers are starting to destabilize, according to research that Rob DeConto of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and David Pollard of Penn State published in the journal Nature. The researchers described a catastrophic scenario if countries fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and Antarctica continues to melt.  "Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a meter [3.3 feet] of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 meters [49 feet] by 2500, if emissions continued unabated," they warned.


News Article | December 9, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

About 90 percent of precipitation over land depends on the formation of ice crystals in clouds, which fall down due to their increasing weight. But water in clouds only freezes when certain particles are present, on which ice crystals can grow. Of all aerosol particles, i.e. solid suspended particles in the atmosphere, however, only few act as ice nuclei. These rare aerosol particles decisively determine precipitation on earth. Hence, it is important to understand what makes them differ from other particles. "Such an understanding would improve our ability to predict ice and precipitation formation in a future changed climate with changed aerosol loading," says Professor Thomas Leisner, Head of the Atmospheric Aerosol Research Division of KIT's Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-AAF). Scientists of IMK-AAF, in cooperation with researchers of the KIT Laboratory of Electron Microscopy (LEM) and University College London (UCL) have now succeeded in solving this question for the most important class of inorganic atmospheric ice nuclei, i.e. mineral dust particles consisting of feldspar. As is reported in the Science magazine, the scientists combined electron microscopy observations with molecular modeling to determine for the first time the atomic nature of this important inorganic ice nucleus. They showed that ice starts to grow on feldspar crystallites not on the accessible crystalline faces, but at microscopic defects like edges, cracks, and small depressions. Even though these defects are distributed randomly at the crystallite surface, the ice crystals grow with the same orientation relative to the feldspar crystal lattice. From these observations and from extensive molecular modeling, the scientists concluded that a specific crystal face that only occurs at defects on the surface of the feldspar crystallite is the underlying nucleus for ice formation. "Feldspar is one of the most active atmospheric ice nucleating agents, but why it is so good at making ice has remained unclear," said Professor Angelos Michaelides of UCL. "By identifying the active site for ice nucleation on feldspar, we have found an important piece of the puzzle." The researchers now expect similar studies to reveal the properties of other minerals acting as ice nuclei. Alexei Kiselev, Felix Bachmann, Philipp Pedevilla, Stephen J. Cox, Angelos Michaelides, Dagmar Gerthsen, and Thomas Leisner: Active sites in heterogeneous ice nucleation - the example of K-rich feldspars. Science, 2016. DOI: 10.1126/science.aai8034 More about the KIT Climate and Environment Center: http://www. . Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) pools its three core tasks of research, higher education, and innovation in a mission. With about 9,300 employees and 25,000 students, KIT is one of the big institutions of research and higher education in natural sciences and engineering in Europe. KIT - The Research University in the Helmholtz Association


PubMed | Environment Center, Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, Vaasa Central Hospital, Vaasa Municipal Hospital and Finnish Food Safety Authority
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Epidemiology and infection | Year: 2016

During one week in July 2012, two patients from the same ward at the municipal hospital in Vaasa, Finland, were diagnosed with septicaemia caused by Listeria monocytogenes. An outbreak investigation revealed eight concomitant cases of febrile gastroenteritis caused by L. monocytogenes on the same ward. Median age of the cases was 82 years and median incubation time for listerial gastroenteritis was 21 h (range 9-107). An additional 10 cases of invasive listeriosis caused by the same outbreak strain were identified across the whole country during the summer of 2012. Environmental investigation at the affected municipal hospital ward revealed ready-sliced meat jelly as the suspected source of the infection. During inspection of the meat jelly production plant, one pooled sample taken from a floor drain and a trolley wheel in the food processing environment was positive for the outbreak strain of L. monocytogenes. After the producer stopped the production of meat jelly, no further cases of listeriosis with the outbreak strain were identified via nationwide surveillance.


News Article | August 17, 2016
Site: www.labdesignnews.com

That attitude, Parsons said, helps with both recruitment and retention. Michael S. Branicky, KU's Dean of Engineering since 2013, said he believes the overarching goal of this project was to help graduates continue to go on to be leaders and innovators who affect the state, the country and the world. "We have KU graduates everywhere from the aerospace industry to the headquarters of Uber. It's this real world notion that you're both learning and learning for a purpose," Branicky said. "For that, we know we need excellent faculty and an excellent facility." For this project, that excellent facility meant more space for classrooms, instructional labs, research labs and conveniently located space for student services. With the help of the Treanor Architects Science and Technology design team, it also meant an emphasis on collaborative learning spaces and multifunctional labs. Design Delivers New Collaborative Learning Spaces and State of the Art Laboratories The first phase of the project, the construction of the Measurement, Materials and Sustainable Environment Center (M2SEC), was primarily funded by a grant from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) with a goal of promoting thematically based projects like materials characterization, sustainable building practices and alternative fuels research. Today, the building is a hotbed for innovation, including two "living walls" that monitor environmental change and a space to grow algae on the roof so that it can be compressed and refined to produce biofuels. Completed in 2012, the 47,000 sf facility was the first step in the School of Engineering facilities' master plan, said Tim Reynolds, Principal at Treanor Architects. "M2SEC brought such a tremendous boost in research, which allowed KU to pursue other research funding and, as a byproduct, increase opportunities for undergraduates to actually work in the laboratories," Reynolds said. "We know retention and graduation rates are higher if engineering students can get hands-on experience in laboratories early on in their studies. It's really critical."

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