Houston, TX, United States
Houston, TX, United States

William Marsh Rice University, commonly referred to as Rice University or Rice, is a private research university located on a 295-acre campus in Houston, Texas, United States. The university is situated near the Houston Museum District and is adjacent to the Texas Medical Center. It is consistently ranked among the top 20 universities in the U.S. and the top 100 in the world.Opened in 1912 after the murder of its namesake William Marsh Rice, Rice is now a research university with an undergraduate focus. Its emphasis on education is demonstrated by a small student body and 5:1 student-faculty ratio, among the lowest in the top American universities including the Ivy League. The university has produced 101 Fulbright Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, 24 Marshall Scholars, 12 Rhodes Scholars, 3 Nobel Laureates, 2 Pulitzer Prize winners, and at least 2 deceased and 2 living billionaires. The university has a very high level of research activity for its size, with $115.3 million in sponsored research funding in 2011. Rice is noted for its applied science programs in the fields of artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, signal processing, space science, and nanotechnology. It was ranked first in the world in materials science research by the Times Higher Education in 2010. Rice is a member of the Association of American Universities.Rice is noted for its entrepreneurial activity, and has been recognized as the top ranked business incubator in the world by the Stockholm-based UBI Index for both 2013 and 2014.The university is organized into eleven residential colleges and eight schools of academic study, including the Wiess School of Natural science, the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the School of Social science, and the School of Humanities. Graduate programs are offered through the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, School of Architecture, Shepherd School of Music, and Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Rice students are bound by the strict Honor Code, which is enforced by a uniquely student-run Honor Council.Rice competes in 14 NCAA Division I varsity sports and is a part of Conference USA, often competing with its cross-town rival the University of Houston. Intramural and club sports are offered in a wide variety of activities such as jiu jitsu, water polo, and crew. Wikipedia.


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Patent
Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Heart Institute | Date: 2015-02-20

Systems and methods for deploying and securing conductive materials to a region of tissue may utilize a catheter. The catheter may provide a tip with one or more detachable sections or may provide an adjustable opening. A lumen of the catheter may provide a conductive material, such as a filament, fiber, network or patch of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) or carbon nanofibers (CNFs). In some embodiments, the conductive materials may be coupled to securing mechanisms, such as screws, clips, anchors, alligator clips, or anchors with barbs, which can be actuated to attach the conductive materials to desired regions of tissue. In some embodiments, the catheter may provide a needle tip that allows the conductive material to be embedded into desired regions of tissue by inserting the needle into the tissue.


The present invention provides an oligonucleotide composition including a blocker and a first primer oligonucleotide. The blocker oligonucleotide includes a first sequence having a target-neutral subsequence and a blocker variable subsequence. The non-target specific subsequence is flanked on its 3 and 5 ends by the target-neutral subsequence and is continuous with the target-neutral subsequence. The first primer oligonucleotide is sufficient to induce enzymatic extension; herein the first primer oligonucleotide includes a second sequence. The second sequence overlaps with the 5 end of the target-neutral subsequence by at least 5 nucleotides; herein the second sequence includes an overlapping subsequence and a non-overlapping subsequence. The second sequence does not include the non-target specific subsequence.


Patent
Rice University | Date: 2016-09-23

Embodiments of the present invention provide methods of preparing functionalized graphene nanoribbons by (1) exposing a plurality of carbon nanotubes to an alkali metal source in the presence of an aprotic solvent, wherein the exposing opens the carbon nanotubes; and (2) exposing the opened carbon nanotubes to an electrophile to form functionalized graphene nanoribbons. Such methods may also include a step of exposing the opened carbon nanotubes to a protic solvent in order to quench any reactive species on the opened carbon nanotubes. Further embodiments of the present invention pertain to graphene nanoribbons formed by the methods of the present invention. Additional embodiments of the present invention pertain to nanocomposites and fibers containing the aforementioned graphene nanoribbons.


Patent
Rice University | Date: 2015-05-06

In some embodiments, the present disclosure pertains to methods of forming calcium-silicate-hydrate particles by mixing a calcium source with a silicate source. In some embodiments, the mixing comprises sonication. In some embodiments, the mixing occurs in the presence of a surfactant and a solvent. In some embodiments, the methods of the present disclosure further comprise a step of controlling the morphology of the calcium-silicate-hydrate particles. In some embodiments, the step of controlling the morphology of calcium-silicate-hydrate particles comprises selecting a stoichiometric ratio of the calcium source over the silicate source. In some embodiments, the formed calcium-silicate-hydrate particles have cubic shapes. In some embodiments, the formed calcium-silicate-hydrate particles have rectangular shapes. In some embodiments, the formed calcium-silicate-hydrate particles are in the form of self-assembled particles of controlled shapes. Additional embodiments of the present disclosure pertain to compositions that contain the calcium silicate-hydrate particles of the present disclosure.


In some embodiments, the present disclosure pertains to methods of producing a graphene material by exposing a polymer to a laser source. In some embodiments, the exposing results in formation of a graphene from the polymer. In some embodiments, the methods of the present disclosure also include a step of separating the formed graphene from the polymer to form an isolated graphene. In some embodiments, the methods of the present disclosure also include a step of incorporating the graphene material or the isolated graphene into an electronic device, such as an energy storage device. In some embodiments, the graphene is utilized as at least one of an electrode, current collector or additive in the electronic device. Additional embodiments of the present disclosure pertain to the graphene materials, isolated graphenes, and electronic devices that are formed by the methods of the present disclosure.


The present disclosure describes the thermodynamic design and concentrations necessary to design probe compositions with desired optimal specificity that enable enrichment, detection, quantitation, purification, imaging, and amplification of rare-allele-bearing species of nucleic acids (prevalence <1%) in a large stoichiometric excess of a dominant-allele-bearing species (wildtype). Being an enzyme-free and homogeneous nucleic acid enrichment composition, this technology is broadly compatible with nearly all nucleic acid-based biotechnology, including plate reader and fluorimeter readout of nucleic acids, microarrays, PCR and other enzymatic amplification reactions, fluorescence barcoding, nanoparticle-based purification and quantitation, and in situ hybridization imaging technologies.


Patent
Rice University | Date: 2016-08-15

The invention relates to recombinant microorganisms that have been engineered to produce various chemicals using genes that have been repurposed to create a reverse beta oxidation pathway. Generally speaking, the beta oxidation cycle is expressed and driven in reverse by modifying various regulation points for as many cycles as needed, and then the CoA thioester intermediates are converted to useful products by the action of termination enzymes.


Patent
Rice University | Date: 2015-05-07

Plasmonic pixels may provide an array of nanoparticles in a desired arrangement on a substrate, and may be overcoated with a top layer. The nanoparticles may be nanorods, nanoshells, nanoparticles, spiky shells, cubes, triangles, prisms, disks, nanowires, gratings, Fano structures, and/or other single or coupled nano structures. The array of nanoparticles may support two polarized surface plasmon resonances. Further, a plasmon response of the array of nanoparticles may be diffractively coupled. The nanoparticles may be arranged in a square or hexagonal array. The color of the plasmonic pixel may be controlled by the plasmon response of the nanoparticles, a distance between nanoparticles along axial directions, and/or a method of excitation.


Embodiments of a capo and fretting component are described. In certain embodiments, the fretting component is threaded onto a crossbar configured to overlie the instrument strings when in use and to pivot with respect to the crossbar so as to contact and press the strings against a fret on the instrument neck. The fretting component is offset with respect to the attachment mechanism of the capo, allowing the attachment mechanism to be offset on the neck of the instrument from where it would normally be positioned to achieve a comparable fretting effect.


A method includes generating, by a wireless device, a sounding packet. The method includes sending, by the wireless device, copies of the sounding packet using a beam former and an antenna array to a second wireless device. Each copy of the copies of the sounding packet is sent using different beam weights. The method includes, in response to sending the copies of the sounding packet, obtaining, by the wireless device, a first correction beam weight and a second correction beam weight from the second wireless device and sending, by the wireless device, data to the second wireless device using the first correction beam weight and the second correction beam weight.


Patent
Rice University | Date: 2017-02-15

The invention relates to a mutant strain of bacteria, which either lacks or contains mutant genes for several key metabolic enzymes, and which produces high amounts of succinic acid under anaerobic conditions.


Ochocki B.M.,Rice University | Miller T.E.X.,Rice University
Nature Communications | Year: 2017

Genetic variation in dispersal ability may result in the spatial sorting of alleles during range expansion. Recent theory suggests that spatial sorting can favour the rapid evolution of life history traits at expanding fronts, and therefore modify the ecological dynamics of range expansion. Here we test this prediction by disrupting spatial sorting in replicated invasions of the bean beetle Callosobruchus maculatus across homogeneous experimental landscapes. We show that spatial sorting promotes rapid evolution of dispersal distance, which increases the speed and variability of replicated invasions: after 10 generations of range expansion, invasions subject to spatial sorting spread 8.9% farther and exhibit 41-fold more variable spread dynamics relative to invasions in which spatial sorting is suppressed. Correspondingly, descendants from spatially evolving invasions exhibit greater mean and variance in dispersal distance. Our results reveal an important role for rapid evolution during invasion, even in the absence of environmental filters, and argue for evolutionarily informed forecasts of invasive spread by exotic species or climate change migration by native species. © 2017 The Author(s).


Stern M.,Rice University
Aging Cell | Year: 2017

The antagonistic pleiotropy (AP) theory posits that aging occurs because alleles that are detrimental in older organisms are beneficial to growth early in life and thus are maintained in populations. Although genes of the insulin signaling pathway likely participate in AP, the insulin-regulated cellular correlates of AP have not been identified. The mitochondrial quality control process called mitochondrial autophagy (mitophagy), which is inhibited by insulin signaling, might represent a cellular correlate of AP. In this view, rapidly growing cells are limited by ATP production; these cells thus actively inhibit mitophagy to maximize mitochondrial ATP production and compete successfully for scarce nutrients. This process maximizes early growth and reproduction, but by permitting the persistence of damaged mitochondria with mitochondrial DNA mutations, becomes detrimental in the longer term. I suggest that as mitochondrial ATP output drops, cells respond by further inhibiting mitophagy, leading to a further decrease in ATP output in a classic death spiral. I suggest that this increasing ATP deficit is communicated by progressive increases in mitochondrial ROS generation, which signals inhibition of mitophagy via ROS-dependent activation of insulin signaling. This hypothesis clarifies a role for ROS in aging, explains why insulin signaling inhibits autophagy, and why cells become progressively more oxidized during aging with increased levels of insulin signaling and decreased levels of autophagy. I suggest that the mitochondrial death spiral is not an error in cell physiology but rather a rational approach to the problem of enabling successful growth and reproduction in a competitive world of scarce nutrients. © 2017 The Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


News Article | April 16, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

A new device can produce enough food to make one salad per week for an entire year—and do it inside an apartment. “The pumps are always going,” says Dominique Schaefer Pipps, who worked on the “produce cultivation machine” with a team of senior mechanical engineers at Rice University’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. “The water never stops moving, keeping the plants alive.” Sprouting from tiers of PVC pipes are lettuce, garlic, and other vegetables, grown hydroponically—that is, without soil—and kept fresh by a pump circulating 55 gallons of water. “The emphasis of the project is on using as few resources as possible, using little energy, and wasting nothing,” says Sanjiv Gopalkrishnan. A “zero-resource house” at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden commissioned the project. The original prototype came together last November after two months of brainstorming. It’s a much bulkier, space-consuming model and went outdoors where it is overgrown with sprawling tomato plants, broccoli, and Swiss chard. “We wanted to minimize power consumption and environmental impact, but maximize nutritional content and yield,” says George Dawson. “The machine should coexist with humans in a rather small living environment. Noises, lights, and smells shouldn’t interfere with the sleep cycle or life in general, and basic maintenance should be kept simple.” The device uses about 900 watts—or as much power as a microwave or medium window air conditioner—and runs off one outlet even after replacing fluorescent lights with LED growing lights to improve the health of plants farther away from the fixtures. The new prototype stands eight feet tall. The biggest change is it now uses square rather than round plastic pipes, which have a larger internal surface area and move more water. Pegs and friction hold the frame together without glue or nails. The entire device weighs around 70 pounds. “That makes transporting it easy. We have to get it to Sweden. This is like Ikea for toddlers, with really big parts,” says Jared Broadman. The team will install sensors to automatically monitor pH levels, nutrients, temperature, and other factors before the device’s installation in Sweden. The current setup uses one reservoir but the students expect a multiple-reservoir system, each with varying levels of nutrients, could permit fine-tuning the nutrient requirements of various plants. They demonstrated their work at the George R. Brown School of Engineering Design Showcase.


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

Biology must be in a hurry. In balancing speed and accuracy to duplicate DNA, produce proteins and carry out other processes, evolution has apparently determined that speed is of higher priority, according to Rice University researchers. Rice scientists are challenging assumptions that perfectly accurate transcription and translation are critical to the success of biological systems. It turns out a few mistakes here and there aren't critical as long as the great majority of the biopolymers produced are correct. A new paper shows how nature has optimized two processes, DNA replication and protein translation, that are fundamental to life. By simultaneously analyzing the balance between speed and accuracy, the Rice team determined that naturally selected reaction rates optimize for speed "as long as the error level is tolerable." The paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is by Rice postdoctoral fellow Kinshuk Banerjee and his advisers, Oleg Igoshin, an associate professor of bioengineering and biosciences, and Anatoly Kolomeisky, a professor of chemistry and chemical and biomolecular engineering. Their technique allowed them to see that while error correction through kinetic proofreading leans toward speed, the cost of going as fast as possible could sometimes be too big. Kinetic proofreading is the biochemical process that allows enzymes, such as those responsible for protein and DNA production, to achieve better accuracy between chemically similar substrates. Sequences are compared to templates at multiple steps and are either approved or discarded, but each step requires time and energy resources and as a result various tradeoffs occur. "Additional checking processes slow down the system and consume extra energy," Banerjee said. "Think of an airport security system that checks passengers. Higher security (accuracy) means a need for more personnel (energy), with longer waiting times for passengers (less speed)." The researchers found the prevalent theories unsatisfying when they became interested in learning how nature corrects its errors. "I've never been happy with the way people look at biological error correction mechanisms because their approaches were oversimplified," said Kolomeisky, who studies the mechanisms of biological systems. "I wanted a more comprehensive framework, so we could look at both the right and wrong pathways for replication and translation, as well as for other processes. "We developed a powerful quantitative method with which we can simultaneously calculate error, speed and energy costs, where previous methods only focused on errors," he said. "We saw what was missing," added Igoshin, whose lab at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative studies computational systems biology. "By simultaneously analyzing several parameters, we can see the interplay between energy, error and speed and determine where optimization occurs." While speed is still a priority, biological systems sacrifice a bit by fine-tuning error correction. Graphs produced by the Rice calculations show that when protein replication is limited by just a percentage point or two below maximum speed, the accuracy remains high and energy savings are significant. "It is perhaps not that surprising that accuracy is not the only concern for the system," Banerjee said. "What is fascinating is how the systems optimize their performance by fine-tuning these apparently opposite objectives while taking care of the energetic cost." The concept of speed versus accuracy has already been explored in a very different system at Rice through work by computer scientist Krishna Palem, who created microprocessors that increase their efficiency by allowing slight imperfections in their calculations. "That makes just as much sense for biology as it does for engineering," Igoshin said. "Once you're accurate enough, you stop optimizing."


News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Microscopic probes developed at Rice University have simplified the process of measuring electrical activity in individual cells of small living animals. The technique allows a single animal like a worm to be tested again and again and could revolutionize data-gathering for disease characterization and drug interactions. The Rice lab of electrical and computer engineer Jacob Robinson has invented "nanoscale suspended electrode arrays" -- aka nano-SPEARs -- to give researchers access to electrophysiological signals from the cells of small animals without injuring them. Nano-SPEARs replace glass pipette electrodes that must be aligned by hand each time they are used." One of the experimental bottlenecks in studying synaptic behavior and degenerative diseases that affect the synapse is performing electrical measurements at those synapses," Robinson said. "We set out to study large groups of animals under lots of different conditions to screen drugs or test different genetic factors that relate to errors in signaling at those synapses." The research is detailed this week in Nature Nanotechnology. Robinson's early work at Rice focused on high-quality, high-throughput electrical characterization of individual cells. The new platform adapts the concept to probe the surface cells of nematodes, worms that make up 80 percent of all animals on Earth. Most of what is known about muscle activity and synaptic transmission in the worms comes from the few studies that successfully used manually aligned glass pipettes to measure electrical activity from individual cells, Robinson said. However, this patch clamp technique requires time-consuming and invasive surgery that could negatively affect the data that is gathered from small research animals. The platform developed by Robinson's team works something like a toll booth for traveling worms. As each animal passes through a narrow channel, it is temporarily immobilized and pressed against one or several nano-SPEARS that penetrate its body-wall muscle and record electrical activity from nearby cells. That animal is then released, the next is captured and measured, and so on. Robinson said the device proved much faster to use than traditional electrophysiological cell measurement techniques. The nano-SPEARs are created using standard thin-film deposition procedures and electron-beam or photolithography and can be made from less than 200 nanometers to more than 5 microns thick, depending on the size of animal to be tested. Because the nano-SPEARs can be fabricated on either silicon or glass, the technique easily combines with fluorescence microscopy, Robinson said. The animals suitable for probing with a nano-SPEAR can be as large as several millimeters, like hydra, cousins of the jellyfish and the subject of an upcoming study. But nematodes known as Caenorhabditis elegans were practical for several reasons: First, Robinson said, they're small enough to be compatible with microfluidic devices and nanowire electrodes. Second, there were a lot of them down the hall at the lab of Rice colleague Weiwei Zhong, who studies nematodes as transparent, easily manipulated models for signaling pathways that are common to all animals. "I used to shy away from measuring electrophysiology because the conventional method of patch clamping is so technically challenging," said Zhong, an assistant professor of biochemistry and cell biology and co-author of the paper. "Only a few graduate students or postdocs can do it. With Jacob's device, even an undergraduate student can measure electrophysiology." "This meshes nicely with the high-throughput phenotyping she does," Robinson said. "She can now correlate locomotive phenotypes with activity at the muscle cells. We believe that will be useful to study degenerative diseases centered around neuromuscular junctions." In fact, the labs have begun doing so. "We are now using this setup to profile worms with neurodegenerative disease models such as Parkinson's and screen for drugs that reduce the symptoms," Zhong said. "This would not be possible using the conventional method." Initial tests on C. elegans models for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson's disease revealed for the first time clear differences in electrophysiological responses between the two, the researchers reported. Testing the efficacy of drugs will be helped by the new ability to study small animals for long periods. "What we can do, for the first time, is look at electrical activity over a long period of time and discover interesting patterns of behavior," Robinson said. Some worms were studied for up to an hour, and others were tested on multiple days, said lead author Daniel Gonzales, a Rice graduate student in Robinson's lab who took charge of herding nematodes through the microfluidic devices. "It was in some way easier than working with isolated cells because the worms are larger and fairly sturdy," Gonzales said. "With cells, if there's too much pressure, they die. If they hit a wall, they die. But worms are really sturdy, so it was just a matter of getting them up against the electrodes and keeping them there." The team constructed microfluidic arrays with multiple channels that allowed testing of many nematodes at once. In comparison with patch-clamping techniques that limit labs to studying about one animal per hour, Robinson said his team measured as many as 16 nematodes per hour. "Because this is a silicon-based technology, making arrays and producing recording chambers in high numbers becomes a real possibility," he said.


News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Rice University scientists have learned to spy on cells with a divide-and-conquer strategy to label proteins. Graduate student Emily Thomas, synthetic biologist Jonathan Silberg and their colleagues built upon established techniques that attach bio-orthogonal (noninterfering), artificial amino acids to transfer RNA (tRNA), which are used by ribosomes to synthesize proteins. Because the amino acids are "noncanonical," they are effective tags that help researchers identify proteins being synthesized in a cell. The Rice lab's breakthrough was the discovery of a tRNA synthetase that only adds the amino acid to the tRNA when it binds a chemical. When prompted, the tRNA synthetase charges a tRNA with the bio-orthogonal amino acid, which is then used by ribosomes to insert the tag into proteins made in the cell. The study appears in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Synthetic Biology. These bio-orthogonal tags give researchers a snapshot of total protein synthesis in the cell. "Instead of physically separating a cell from a mixture to find the proteins being made, we can use this engineered switch to put what amounts to a fishhook on every protein in a specific cell," Silberg said. "This approach will allow us to increase spatial and temporal control over the tagging of proteins synthesized in a given cell." Since many proteins appear and disappear during the development of an organism or the spread of a disease, the technique could be helpful to identify cellular changes that underlie disease. Thomas characterized her technique as a "protein spy." "It spies on what proteins are being made inside the cell," she said. "Current technologies just spy on everything, but I want to be more specific. I want more control over when I turn my spy on or off, so I can track only the cells I'm interested in." The researchers used an azidonorleucine (Anl) amino acid to tag proteins in Escherichia coli bacteria cells. Thomas' engineered switch is controlled like a computer program's AND gate. The switch only charges tRNA with Anl efficiently when the switch is synthesized and a chemical is present in the cell to flip the switch. Silberg said the technique will provide new control over protein transcription and tagging to researchers. "In human biology, a lot of the control comes at the DNA level, but over the past 20 years it's become apparent that a lot of control comes at the protein level as well," he said. "We have fewer genes in our genome than people originally expected because there's this other layer of complexity in the proteome, the collection of proteins expressed by the genome. "Proteins are the business side of the cell," he said. "They provide structure and do a lot of the signaling within a cell. They give rise to a lot of the complexity we observe. In the future, our technique could help people understand the details of a disease by providing snapshots of proteins synthesized in specific cells at different times during development and allowing comparisons of healthy and diseased cells. "The prospect of doing this in humans is the genetic technology equivalent of going to Mars right now," Silberg said. "It's far out." Co-authors of the paper are Rice alumnus Naresh Pandey, graduate student Sarah Knudsen and Zachary Ball, an associate professor of chemistry. Silberg is an associate professor of biosciences. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Robert A. Welch Foundation, the John S. Dunn Collaborative Research Award, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Keck Center of the Gulf Coast Consortia, the Houston Area Molecular Biophysics Program and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. This news release can be found online at http://news. Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | April 28, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

HOUSTON -- (April 28, 2017) -- By precisely controlling the quantum behavior of an ultracold atomic gas, Rice University physicists have created a model system for studying the wave phenomenon that may bring about rogue waves in Earth's oceans. The research appears this week in Science. The researchers said their experimental system could provide clues about the underlying physics of rogue waves -- 100-foot walls of water that are the stuff of sailing lore but were only confirmed scientifically within the past two decades. Recent research has found rogue waves, which can severely damage and sink even the largest ships, may be more common than previously believed. "We are interested in how self-attracting waves develop," said lead scientist Randy Hulet, Rice's Fayez Sarofim Professor of Physics and Astronomy. "Although our experiment is in the quantum domain, the same physics applies to classical waves, including rogue water waves." Hulet's lab uses lasers and magnetic traps to cool tiny clouds of an atomic gas to less than one-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, temperatures far colder than the deepest reaches of outer space. At this extreme, quantum mechanical effects take center stage. Atoms can be made to march in lockstep, momentarily vanish or pair up like electrons in superconductors. In 2002, Hulet's team created the first "soliton trains" in ultracold atomic matter. Solitons do not diminish, spread out or change shape as they move. In 2014, Hulet and colleagues showed that two matter wave solitons traveling in opposite directions in a trap would briefly wink out of existence rather than share space as they passed through one another. Both the 2002 and 2014 findings were remarkably similar to the behavior observed in water wave solitons in a canal in the mid-19th century by Scottish engineer John Scott Russell. He never lost his fascination with solitons and built a model canal in the garden behind his house to study them. For example, he was the first to show that two of the waves moving in opposite directions would pass through one another without interaction. Mathematically, solitons are the result of a nonlinear attraction, one where the inputs have a disproportionate effect on the output. And any wave-based nonlinear system -- be it waves of water in the deep ocean or waves of ultracold atoms in a trap -- is subject to this and other universal nonlinear effects. In the latest experiments, Hulet, research scientist Jason Nguyen and graduate student De "Henry" Luo used repulsive interactions to create a cigar-shaped matter wave known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. By rapidly switching the interactions to be attractive, the researchers caused the gas to undergo a "modulational instability," a nonlinear effect in which small, random perturbations in the system become amplified. "The conditions pick out which perturbations are amplified," said Nguyen, the lead author of the new paper. "When this happens, the Bose-Einstein condensate will divide into a train of individual solitons separated by discrete spaces." The resulting soliton train is what Hulet's team first created in 2002, but Luo said the new study is the first to experimentally probe the underlying physics of the system to determine whether the structure of a soliton train derives from the starting conditions or evolves dynamically as the system reacts to those conditions. Nguyen, Luo and Hulet were able to answer this question by systematically varying the conditions in their experiments and taking snapshots of the soliton trains every two milliseconds throughout the experiment. "What we found was that under certain conditions, the number of solitons remains unchanged," Luo said. "This is evidence that the soliton train is born with the characteristics to be stable rather than evolving into such a stable structure over time." In more than one study over the past decade, physicists and mathematicians have tried to describe the behavior of rogue waves using mathematics that are similar to that used to describe quantum systems, and Hulet said ultracold atomic experiments provide an ideal platform to test new theories about rogue wave dynamics. "Recreating the precise conditions that bring about a rogue soliton wave in the ocean is going to be difficult, even in a large wave tank," Hulet said. "People are trying to do that, but we can gain insight into the formation of solitons by studying their formation in the quantum, rather than classical, regime." The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Welch Foundation, the Army Research Office Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative and the Office of Naval Research. High-resolution IMAGES are available at: CAPTION: The orange and yellow stripes in this composite image depict matter waves from different experimental runs in the Hulet Lab at Rice University. The stripes show how matter waves change due to rapid magnetic shifts that bring about modulational instability. The left line shows a matter wave before magnetic switching. Subsequent images (to left) show how both repulsive to attractive fluctuations become amplified in the wave. Clear signs of deviations from the initial solid shape can be seen in the third image, and the peaks and valleys in the far left image show how the wave morphs into a "soliton train," a set of standing waves. (Image courtesy of J. Nguyen/Rice University) CAPTION: Rice University physicists (from left) De Luo, Randy Hulet and Jason Nguyen. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University) CAPTION: A schematic depiction of a one-dimensional matter wave (top) that is divided into a series of separate wave packets called solitons (bottom), thanks to a rapid switch in the nonlinear interactions from repulsive to self-focusing. (Image courtesy of J. Nguyen/Rice University) CAPTION: Time-lapse images of a soliton train taken every two milliseconds show how the structure changes through time, thanks to the nonlinear self-focusing and a wave effect that prevents neighboring solitons from colliding. (Image courtesy of J. Nguyen/Rice University) The DOI of the Science Advances paper is: 10.1126/science.aal3220 A copy of the paper is available at: http://science. More information about the Hulet Lab: http://atomcool. This release can be found online at news.rice.edu. Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | May 2, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

Scientists have created the first molecular sieve designed to separate chiral molecules, a discovery that could lead to new pharmaceuticals and advancements in chemistry and biology. A trait common among the molecules in cells is chirality. Objects that have chirality are mirror images of one another. Just as humans have two hands that are mirror images of one another, molecules exhibit handedness and have left and right versions called enantiomers. Since the molecules of life, namely proteins, sugars, and DNA, are chiral, the enantiomers of molecules such as drugs have completely different functions when they interact with cells. Specialty chemicals industries like the pharmaceutical industry have had difficulties in producing chiral molecules. The challenges lie in either separating left-handed from right-handed versions or directly creating only the desired enantiomer through a chemical reaction. Scientists have now invented molecular sieves that are able to both sort and create chiral molecules. With this development, manufacturers may be able to produce more specific and desired forms of drugs and other products. An example of a medication that could be improved upon, lead study author Mark E. Davis says, is the drug ibuprofen, also known by one of its brand names—Advil. Ibuprofen contains both left- and right-handed forms, but only the left-handed version is therapeutic. “In order to minimize side effects associated with ibuprofen—such as stomach pain, ulcers, and other health issues—it would be helpful to just take the left-handed version,” says Davis, a professor of chemical engineering at Caltech and principal investigator of the new research, which appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “The goal for the future is to create specific chiral forms of molecules, not mixtures,” Davis says. “Chiral molecular sieves will let us do this in new ways that most likely will be less cost-prohibitive. These sieves can be robust and reusable, and don’t require special temperatures and other operating conditions.” Molecular sieves are silicon-based crystal lattices used in multibillion-dollar commercial applications ranging from the production of gasoline and diesel fuel to the purification of oxygen from air. The sieves, many of which are a class called “zeolites,” look like Swiss cheese under a microscope, with interconnected pores smaller than 2 nanometers in size. The pores are what make these solids so useful: they let molecules of only a certain size and shape pass through. In addition, the pores can act as catalytic reaction chambers to spur the production of specific chemical products. To create molecular sieves that can selectively let a specific form of a chiral molecule pass through, the researchers made several advances. First, coauthors at Rice University designed and implemented computational methods to help guide the design of chiral organic molecules that direct the synthesis of the chiral molecular sieves. Second, Caltech researchers—who spent decades learning what the properties of the guiding organic molecules should be, and how to then use them to assemble molecular sieves—prepared the designed, chiral organic molecules and synthesized the chiral molecular sieves. Third, scientists now at ShanghaiTech University developed a new, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy method that was used to confirm that the sieves were indeed either the left- or right-handed versions. The Caltech researchers also demonstrated that the sieves could either separate chiral molecules or create them by catalyzing chiral reactions. “What we’re able to do here by design is let researchers pick which form they want: if you want the right-handed molecule, you use the right molecular sieve and you make that one. If you want the other one, you use the other molecular sieve,” says Davis, who has been working on the problem of creating chiral molecular sieves for 30 years. “Now, we can synthesize molecules with chirality using molecular sieve catalysts for the first time.” The Chevron Energy Technology Company and the Department of Energy provided funding for the study.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

Engineering students have created a system designed to prevent seizures caused by epilepsy, a neurological disorder affecting millions. First, the team needed to develop a seizure-prediction algorithm. The students created a machine-learning algorithm that was “very good” at predicting seizures: It predicted all seizures in their data set at least two minutes before their onset with 3.9 false positives per hour. The team then transferred this prediction algorithm to custom hardware that runs on patient data. “What our system is trying to do is predict and prevent seizures in real time,” says Sarah Hooper, a senior electrical engineering major at Rice University. “The first stage of our system is to record neural activity from the brain. That activity is then sent to our piece of hardware, which has the algorithm that produces a seizure prediction. “Using the electrical signals that are produced in the brain, we can predict if a seizure is going to occur in the next five minutes or so.” Hooper says that if a seizure were about to occur, the hardware would then communicate back to electrodes implanted in the brain to apply electrical neurostimulation, which can actually stop the seizure before it occurs. The current hardware is a large computer board, but the team says the hardware could shrink to the size of a chip for implantation on the patient’s skull. This chip will communicate wirelessly with intracranial electrodes, which are also being designed. “Three years ago, the project was basically an idea,” says Erik Biegert, an electrical engineering student. “About one-third of the three million epilepsy patients in the United States don’t respond to anti-seizure medications. The only option left for those patients is to undergo surgery to remove the part of the brain that is the issue; we hope to replace that option with something a lot less invasive.” “In terms of next steps, I think that what mostly needs to be done is work on how the device is actually going to interact with the input electrodes and how it would pass on its output to actual neurostimulators,” says Randy Zhang, a senior electrical engineering major. Zhang says the team is preparing an academic paper on the project. “What we really focused on this year was to create the processing unit and all of the machine learning intelligence that can make this happen. On a higher level, the next steps could be to flesh out the design and move it onto a silicon chip so it can be created into an actual device,” he adds. “This is a work in progress, and we’re just scratching the surface,” says the team’s faculty adviser Behnaam Aazhang, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. “This is at least three to five to seven years away from a product that could begin the clinical trials process, and then there is forming a business partnership, along with the whole FDA approvals process.” The project is part of Rice’s Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program. The National Science Foundation is the sponsor of the broader research project that underlies VIP. Nitin Tandon, a neurosurgeon at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and co-principal investigator of the NSF project, provided real intracranial patient seizure data for the project as well as technical advice and specifications.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

When you charge a battery, or when you use it, it’s not just electricity but also matter that moves around inside. Ions, which are atoms or molecules that have an electric charge, travel from one of the battery’s electrodes to the other, making the electrodes shrink and swell. In fact, it’s been a longstanding mystery why fairly brittle electrode materials don’t crack under the strain of these expansion and contraction cycles. The answer may have finally been found. A team of researchers at MIT, the University of Southern Denmark, Rice University, and Argonne National Laboratory has determined that the secret is in the electrodes’ molecular structure. While the electrode materials are normally crystalline, with all their atoms neatly arranged in a regular, repetitive array, when they undergo the charging or discharging process, they are transformed into a disordered, glass-like phase that can accommodate the strain of the dimensional changes. The new findings, which could affect future battery design and even lead to new kinds of actuators, are reported in the journal Nano Letters, in a paper by MIT professor of materials science and engineering Yet-Ming Chiang, graduate students Kai Xiang and Wenting Xing, and eight others. In theory, if you were to stretch out a lithium-ion battery over a fulcrum, with an electrode on each side, Chiang says, “it would go up and down like a seesaw” as it was being charged and discharged. The change in mass as ions shuttle back and forth is also accompanied by an expansion or contraction that can vary, depending on the material, “from 1 percent or so, all the way up to silicon, which can expand by 300 percent,” he says. This research dealt with a different kind of battery, called a sodium-ion battery. The scientists looked at a particular class of materials seen as potential battery cathodes (positive electrodes), called phospho-olivines, and specifically at sodium-iron-phosphate (NaFePO ). They found that it is possible to fine-tune the volume changes over a very wide range — changing not only how much the material expands and contracts, but also the dynamics of how it does so. For some compositions, the expansion is very slow and gradual, but for others it can increase suddenly. “Within this family of olivines,” Chiang says, “we can have this slow, stepwise change,” spanning the whole range from almost zero charge to very high power. Alternatively, the change can be “something very drastic,” as is the case with NaFePO , which rapidly changes its volume by about 17 percent. “We know that brittle compounds like this would normally fracture with less than a 1 percent volume change,” Chiang says. “So how does this material accommodate such large volume changes? What we found, in a sense, is that the crystal gives up and forms a disordered glass” instead of maintaining its precisely ordered lattice. “This is a mechanism that we think might apply more broadly to other compounds of this kind,” he says, adding that the finding may represent “a new way to create glassy materials that may be useful for batteries.” Once the change to a glassy composition takes place, its volume changes become gradual rather than sudden, and as a result “it may be longer-lived,” Chiang says. The findings could provide a new design tool for those trying to develop longer-lived, higher-capacity batteries, he says. It could also lead to possible applications in which the volume changes could be put to use, for example as robotic actuators or as pumps to deliver drugs from implantable devices. The team plans to continue working on easier ways of synthesizing these olivine compounds, and determining whether there is a broader family of crystalline materials that shares this phase-changing property. This research provides “a seminal contribution that links the electrochemical, mechanical, and crystallographic aspects of battery electrodes,” says William Chueh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University, who was not involved in this work. “Electrode materials used in lithium-ion batteries shrink and expand during charging and discharging, and often disproportionally within a single particle. If the strain cannot be accommodated, the particle fractures, eventually causing the battery to fail. This is similar to a cold ceramic cup cracking when boiling water is poured in too quickly,” Chueh says. This work “identifies a new strain-relief mechanism when the volume change is large, which involves the material turning from a crystalline solid to an amorphous one rather than fracturing.” This discovery, he says, “may lead scientists to revisit battery materials previously deemed unusable due to the large volume change during charging and discharging. It would also lead to better predictive models used by engineers to design new generation batteries.” The team included Dorthe Ravnsbaek at the University of Southern Denmark and MIT, Zheng Li at MIT, Liang Hong and Ming Tang at Rice University in Texas, and Kamila Wiaderek, Olaf Borkiewicz, Karena Chapman, and Peter Chupas at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.


Commercial activity in fossil fuels is increasingly at odds with global actions to reduce the threat of climate change. Burning coal, oil, and natural gas is responsible for two-thirds of humanity's emissions of greenhouse gases, and yet provides more than 20% of GDP in two dozen nation states. By Citicorp's estimate, current commitments to reduce these emissions could mean forgoing $100 trillion in fossil fuel revenues by 2050--representing a huge disruption to global affairs, undermining national budgets and corporate balance sheets while exposing stakeholders, including pension holders and ordinary citizens in resource-exporting states, to myriad risks. Two seminal articles by energy experts in the latest issue of MRS Energy and Sustainability (MRS E&S) examine the climate-related risks facing the fossil fuel industry and conclude that the sustainability train has already well and truly left the station - and is not coming back. An in-depth analysis by Jim Krane (Wallace S. Wilson Fellow for Energy Studies at Rice University in Houston) is very timely in the light of last month's announcement from Exxon Mobil that it will invest $20 billion through 2022 to expand its chemical and oil refining plants on the US Gulf Coast. The former Associated Press Gulf correspondent finds, however, that climate changes risks vary according to different sectors of the energy industry. Demand for oil seems to be insulated from the very immediate risks facing other sectors of the industry, due to its unique role in transportation and the lack of viable alternatives, he writes. Citing a study by McGlade and Ekins, he concludes that oil reserves are the least exposed of the three fuels. Just a third of current conventional crude oil reserves would probably be abandoned to meet current global climate change targets, as opposed to half of gas and 82% of coal reserves. For coal, the threats posed by climate action are already being felt. Coal firms have lost a combined 31,000 jobs and $30 billion in share value since 2010 in the US alone, according to Krane. Coal's fortunes now rest with developing countries, where decisions to seek China-style, coal-led development will be met by increasing international pressure to choose an alternate path, Krane writes. At the other end of the spectrum, climate action seems to have improved the medium-term viability of low-carbon natural gas, given the fuel's reduced carbon content, according to Krane. Many anticarbon policies that target coal cede market share to gas, he writes. Longer term, however, gas is vulnerable to replacement by lower-carbon substitutes. Krane predicts that some businesses, and perhaps even some governments, may not survive the increasing pressures facing the energy industry as a result of climate change actions. "Unless a technological breakthrough can restrict carbon releases, the fortunes of the fossil fuel industry and the stability of Earth's climate will be locked in a zero-sum game," he concludes. "Climate's gain is the industry's loss and vice versa." "It is clear that carbon-based businesses and economies face increasing impediments to the consumption of their products," he writes. "Whether through taxes, legal restrictions, moral arguments, favoritism for competitors, or hampered access to financial markets, the industry faces a future that is less accepting of current practice." In his commentary on Krane's article in the same volume of MRS E&S , Ritchie D. Priddy, a seasoned energy industry veteran who has published more than 200 papers on clean energy and sustainability issues, agrees with the majority of Krane's thesis. He argues that what he calls the "sustainability movement" has already had a substantial impact on the practices of energy companies and governments and will continue to grow, in spite of the outcry over some countries backpedaling from the Paris Accord. The sustainability train has already left the station, he writes, and although the pace may slow, sustainability actions will continue around the world regardless of which governments are in place in the US and elsewhere. The main driver for action is peer pressure, he adds, rather than any government action. "As [sustainability efforts] become more ingrained in the daily operations of all companies--primarily through peer pressure--they will, collectively, become more powerful than any international treaty, and something that cannot easily be removed," Priddy concludes. MRS E&S, a journal of the Materials Research Society and Cambridge University Press, encourages contributions that provide viewpoints and perspectives on the all-important issue of how humankind can work towards, and build, a sustainable future. Climate change and fossil fuel: An examination of risks for the energy industry and producer states by Jim Krane http://ow. Sustainability: The train has left the station by Ritchie D. Priddy http://ow.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

(Rice University) Rice University petrologists who recreated hot, high-pressure conditions from 60 miles below Earth's surface have found a new clue about a crucial event in the planet's deep past.


News Article | April 28, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

By precisely controlling the quantum behavior of an ultracold atomic gas, Rice University physicists have created a model system for studying the wave phenomenon that may bring about rogue waves in Earth’s oceans. The research appears this week in Science. The researchers said their experimental system could provide clues about the underlying physics of rogue waves — 100-foot walls of water that are the stuff of sailing lore but were only confirmed scientifically within the past two decades. Recent research has found rogue waves, which can severely damage and sink even the largest ships, may be more common than previously believed. “We are interested in how self-attracting waves develop,” said lead scientist Randy Hulet, Rice’s Fayez Sarofim Professor of Physics and Astronomy. “Although our experiment is in the quantum domain, the same physics applies to classical waves, including rogue water waves.” Hulet’s lab uses lasers and magnetic traps to cool tiny clouds of an atomic gas to less than one-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, temperatures far colder than the deepest reaches of outer space. At this extreme, quantum mechanical effects take center stage. Atoms can be made to march in lockstep, momentarily vanish or pair up like electrons in superconductors. In 2002, Hulet’s team created the first “soliton trains” in ultracold atomic matter. Solitons do not diminish, spread out or change shape as they move. In 2014, Hulet and colleagues showed that two matter wave solitons traveling in opposite directions in a trap would briefly wink out of existence rather than share space as they passed through one another. Both the 2002 and 2014 findings were remarkably similar to the behavior observed in water wave solitons in a canal in the mid-19th century by Scottish engineer John Scott Russell. He never lost his fascination with solitons and built a model canal in the garden behind his house to study them. For example, he was the first to show that two of the waves moving in opposite directions would pass through one another without interaction. Mathematically, solitons are the result of a nonlinear attraction, one where the inputs have a disproportionate effect on the output. And any wave-based nonlinear system — be it waves of water in the deep ocean or waves of ultracold atoms in a trap — is subject to this and other universal nonlinear effects. In the latest experiments, Hulet, research scientist Jason Nguyen and graduate student De “Henry” Luo used repulsive interactions to create a cigar-shaped matter wave known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. By rapidly switching the interactions to be attractive, the researchers caused the gas to undergo a “modulational instability,” a nonlinear effect in which small, random perturbations in the system become amplified. “The conditions pick out which perturbations are amplified,” said Nguyen, the lead author of the new paper. “When this happens, the Bose-Einstein condensate will divide into a train of individual solitons separated by discrete spaces.” The resulting soliton train is what Hulet’s team first created in 2002, but Luo said the new study is the first to experimentally probe the underlying physics of the system to determine whether the structure of a soliton train derives from the starting conditions or evolves dynamically as the system reacts to those conditions. Nguyen, Luo and Hulet were able to answer this question by systematically varying the conditions in their experiments and taking snapshots of the soliton trains every two milliseconds throughout the experiment. “What we found was that under certain conditions, the number of solitons remains unchanged,” Luo said. “This is evidence that the soliton train is born with the characteristics to be stable rather than evolving into such a stable structure over time.” In more than one study over the past decade, physicists and mathematicians have tried to describe the behavior of rogue waves using mathematics that are similar to that used to describe quantum systems, and Hulet said ultracold atomic experiments provide an ideal platform to test new theories about rogue wave dynamics. “Recreating the precise conditions that bring about a rogue soliton wave in the ocean is going to be difficult, even in a large wave tank,” Hulet said. “People are trying to do that, but we can gain insight into the formation of solitons by studying their formation in the quantum, rather than classical, regime.” The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Welch Foundation, the Army Research Office Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative and the Office of Naval Research.


News Article | April 28, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

By precisely controlling the quantum behavior of an ultracold atomic gas, Rice University physicists have created a model system for studying the wave phenomenon that may bring about rogue waves in Earth’s oceans. The research appears this week in Science. The researchers said their experimental system could provide clues about the underlying physics of rogue waves — 100-foot walls of water that are the stuff of sailing lore but were only confirmed scientifically within the past two decades. Recent research has found rogue waves, which can severely damage and sink even the largest ships, may be more common than previously believed. “We are interested in how self-attracting waves develop,” said lead scientist Randy Hulet, Rice’s Fayez Sarofim Professor of Physics and Astronomy. “Although our experiment is in the quantum domain, the same physics applies to classical waves, including rogue water waves.” Hulet’s lab uses lasers and magnetic traps to cool tiny clouds of an atomic gas to less than one-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, temperatures far colder than the deepest reaches of outer space. At this extreme, quantum mechanical effects take center stage. Atoms can be made to march in lockstep, momentarily vanish or pair up like electrons in superconductors. In 2002, Hulet’s team created the first “soliton trains” in ultracold atomic matter. Solitons do not diminish, spread out or change shape as they move. In 2014, Hulet and colleagues showed that two matter wave solitons traveling in opposite directions in a trap would briefly wink out of existence rather than share space as they passed through one another. Both the 2002 and 2014 findings were remarkably similar to the behavior observed in water wave solitons in a canal in the mid-19th century by Scottish engineer John Scott Russell. He never lost his fascination with solitons and built a model canal in the garden behind his house to study them. For example, he was the first to show that two of the waves moving in opposite directions would pass through one another without interaction. Mathematically, solitons are the result of a nonlinear attraction, one where the inputs have a disproportionate effect on the output. And any wave-based nonlinear system — be it waves of water in the deep ocean or waves of ultracold atoms in a trap — is subject to this and other universal nonlinear effects. In the latest experiments, Hulet, research scientist Jason Nguyen and graduate student De “Henry” Luo used repulsive interactions to create a cigar-shaped matter wave known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. By rapidly switching the interactions to be attractive, the researchers caused the gas to undergo a “modulational instability,” a nonlinear effect in which small, random perturbations in the system become amplified. “The conditions pick out which perturbations are amplified,” said Nguyen, the lead author of the new paper. “When this happens, the Bose-Einstein condensate will divide into a train of individual solitons separated by discrete spaces.” The resulting soliton train is what Hulet’s team first created in 2002, but Luo said the new study is the first to experimentally probe the underlying physics of the system to determine whether the structure of a soliton train derives from the starting conditions or evolves dynamically as the system reacts to those conditions. Nguyen, Luo and Hulet were able to answer this question by systematically varying the conditions in their experiments and taking snapshots of the soliton trains every two milliseconds throughout the experiment. “What we found was that under certain conditions, the number of solitons remains unchanged,” Luo said. “This is evidence that the soliton train is born with the characteristics to be stable rather than evolving into such a stable structure over time.” In more than one study over the past decade, physicists and mathematicians have tried to describe the behavior of rogue waves using mathematics that are similar to that used to describe quantum systems, and Hulet said ultracold atomic experiments provide an ideal platform to test new theories about rogue wave dynamics. “Recreating the precise conditions that bring about a rogue soliton wave in the ocean is going to be difficult, even in a large wave tank,” Hulet said. “People are trying to do that, but we can gain insight into the formation of solitons by studying their formation in the quantum, rather than classical, regime.” The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Welch Foundation, the Army Research Office Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative and the Office of Naval Research.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: news.mit.edu

When you charge a battery, or when you use it, it’s not just electricity but also matter that moves around inside. Ions, which are atoms or molecules that have an electric charge, travel from one of the battery’s electrodes to the other, making the electrodes shrink and swell. In fact, it’s been a longstanding mystery why fairly brittle electrode materials don’t crack under the strain of these expansion and contraction cycles. The answer may have finally been found. A team of researchers at MIT, the University of Southern Denmark, Rice University, and Argonne National Laboratory has determined that the secret is in the electrodes’ molecular structure. While the electrode materials are normally crystalline, with all their atoms neatly arranged in a regular, repetitive array, when they undergo the charging or discharging process, they are transformed into a disordered, glass-like phase that can accommodate the strain of the dimensional changes. The new findings, which could affect future battery design and even lead to new kinds of actuators, are reported in the journal Nano Letters, in a paper by MIT professor of materials science and engineering Yet-Ming Chiang, graduate students Kai Xiang and Wenting Xing, and eight others. In theory, if you were to stretch out a lithium-ion battery over a fulcrum, with an electrode on each side, Chiang says, “it would go up and down like a seesaw” as it was being charged and discharged. The change in mass as ions shuttle back and forth is also accompanied by an expansion or contraction that can vary, depending on the material, “from 1 percent or so, all the way up to silicon, which can expand by 300 percent,” he says. This research dealt with a different kind of battery, called a sodium-ion battery. The scientists looked at a particular class of materials seen as potential battery cathodes (positive electrodes), called phospho-olivines, and specifically at sodium-iron-phosphate (NaFePO ). They found that it is possible to fine-tune the volume changes over a very wide range — changing not only how much the material expands and contracts, but also the dynamics of how it does so. For some compositions, the expansion is very slow and gradual, but for others it can increase suddenly. “Within this family of olivines,” Chiang says, “we can have this slow, stepwise change,” spanning the whole range from almost zero charge to very high power. Alternatively, the change can be “something very drastic,” as is the case with NaFePO , which rapidly changes its volume by about 17 percent. “We know that brittle compounds like this would normally fracture with less than a 1 percent volume change,” Chiang says. “So how does this material accommodate such large volume changes? What we found, in a sense, is that the crystal gives up and forms a disordered glass” instead of maintaining its precisely ordered lattice. “This is a mechanism that we think might apply more broadly to other compounds of this kind,” he says, adding that the finding may represent “a new way to create glassy materials that may be useful for batteries.” Once the change to a glassy composition takes place, its volume changes become gradual rather than sudden, and as a result “it may be longer-lived,” Chiang says. The findings could provide a new design tool for those trying to develop longer-lived, higher-capacity batteries, he says. It could also lead to possible applications in which the volume changes could be put to use, for example as robotic actuators or as pumps to deliver drugs from implantable devices. The team plans to continue working on easier ways of synthesizing these olivine compounds, and determining whether there is a broader family of crystalline materials that shares this phase-changing property. This research provides “a seminal contribution that links the electrochemical, mechanical, and crystallographic aspects of battery electrodes,” says William Chueh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University, who was not involved in this work. “Electrode materials used in lithium-ion batteries shrink and expand during charging and discharging, and often disproportionally within a single particle. If the strain cannot be accommodated, the particle fractures, eventually causing the battery to fail. This is similar to a cold ceramic cup cracking when boiling water is poured in too quickly,” Chueh says. This work “identifies a new strain-relief mechanism when the volume change is large, which involves the material turning from a crystalline solid to an amorphous one rather than fracturing.” This discovery, he says, “may lead scientists to revisit battery materials previously deemed unusable due to the large volume change during charging and discharging. It would also lead to better predictive models used by engineers to design new generation batteries.” The team included Dorthe Ravnsbaek at the University of Southern Denmark and MIT, Zheng Li at MIT, Liang Hong and Ming Tang at Rice University in Texas, and Kamila Wiaderek, Olaf Borkiewicz, Karena Chapman, and Peter Chupas at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.


News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

An international team of researchers, led by Mark E. Davis at Caltech, has succeeded in making the first chiral molecular sieves. This discovery opens new areas of investigation in both chemistry and biology, and has broad implications for pharmaceutical companies and other specialized chemical manufacturers. A trait common amongst the molecules in cells is chirality. Objects that have chirality are mirror images of one another. Just as humans have two hands that are mirror images of one another, molecules exhibit handedness and have left and right versions called enantiomers. Since the molecules of life, namely proteins, sugars and DNA, are chiral, the enantiomers of molecules such as drugs have completely different functions when they interact with cells. Specialty chemicals industries like the pharmaceutical industry have had difficulties in producing chiral molecules. The challenges lie in either separating left-handed from right-handed versions or directly creating only the desired enantiomer through a chemical reaction. Davis and his team have now invented molecular sieves that are able to both sort and create chiral molecules. With this development, manufacturers may be able to produce more specific and desired forms of drugs and other products. An example of a medication that could be improved upon, Davis says, is the drug ibuprofen, also known by one of its brand names--Advil. Ibuprofen contains both left- and right-handed forms, but only the left-handed version is therapeutic. "In order to minimize side effects associated with ibuprofen--such as stomach pain, ulcers, and other health issues--it would be helpful to just take the left-handed version," says Davis, the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Professor of Chemical Engineering at Caltech and principal investigator of the new research, which appears in the May 1 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The goal for the future is to create specific chiral forms of molecules, not mixtures. Chiral molecular sieves will let us do this in new ways that most likely will be less cost-prohibitive. These sieves can be robust and reusable, and don't require special temperatures and other operating conditions." Molecular sieves are silicon-based crystal lattices used in multibillion-dollar commercial applications ranging from the production of gasoline and diesel fuel to the purification of oxygen from air. The sieves, many of which are a class called "zeolites," look like Swiss cheese under a microscope, with interconnected pores smaller than 2 nanometers in size. The pores are what make these solids so useful: they let molecules of only a certain size and shape pass through. In addition, the pores can act as catalytic reaction chambers to spur the production of specific chemical products. To create molecular sieves that can selectively let a specific form of a chiral molecule pass through, the researchers made several advances. First, co-authors at Rice University designed and implemented computational methods to help guide the design of chiral organic molecules that direct the synthesis of the chiral molecular sieves. Second, Caltech researchers--who spent decades learning what the properties of the guiding organic molecules should be, and how to then use them to assemble molecular sieves--prepared the designed, chiral organic molecules and synthesized the chiral molecular sieves. Third, scientists now at ShanghaiTech University developed a new, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy method that was used to confirm that the sieves were indeed either the left- or right-handed versions. The Caltech researchers also demonstrated that the sieves could either separate chiral molecules or create them by catalyzing chiral reactions. "What we're able to do here by design is let researchers pick which form they want: if you want the right-handed molecule, you use the right molecular sieve and you make that one. If you want the other one, you use the other molecular sieve," says Davis, who has been working on the problem of creating chiral molecular sieves for 30 years. "Now, we can synthesize molecules with chirality using molecular sieve catalysts for the first time." The paper is titled "Enantiomerically enriched, polycrystalline molecular sieves." Additional coauthors are Caltech graduate student Stephen Brand and former Caltech graduate students Joel Schmidt and Marat Orazov, Michael Deem and Frits Daeyaert of Rice University, and Yanhang Ma and Osamu Terasaki of ShanghaiTech University. Funding was provided by Chevron Energy Technology Company and the Department of Energy.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

HOUSTON - (April 17, 2017) - New research by management and organizational behavior experts at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business finds that gourmet food trucks in Houston cooperate extensively and engage in friendly competition to promote the group members' excellence and uniqueness. The study, published in Administrative Science Quarterly, focuses on 41 food trucks in Houston, the fourth-most populous city in the United States. Rice's Scott Sonenshein, the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management; Otilia Obodaru, assistant professor of management; and Kristen Nault, research analyst, developed theory and a model to explain how companies form a strategic group identity that shapes both competitive and cooperative behaviors among its members in the study "Competition of a Different Flavor: How a Strategic Group Identity Shapes Competition and Cooperation." Food trucks are the fastest-growing sector in the restaurant industry, generating approximately $850 million in revenue in 2015, according to the study. They have also become part of popular culture, making appearances on television shows such as "The Great Food Truck Race" and in movies such as "Chef." "This cultural exposure has called attention to the opportunities in operating food trucks, which have flooded the market in recent years with many new entrants," the authors wrote. "With many market players seeking similar scarce resources, operating a food truck can be a difficult way to make a living. As our research evolved, it became clear that gourmet food trucks formed a strategic group identity to help with these challenges." Based on a qualitative analysis of prototypical members of Houston's gourmet food truck market, the researchers found that members cooperate to help each other meet the central tendencies of the group -- properties such as tasty food and good ingredients, reliable business practices around cleanliness and legal matters, and mobility in terms of truck location and social media. The researchers said members support each other, for example, by fixing each other's trucks, running errands, donating supplies and volunteering on other trucks. The researchers also found that members compete to strive for the ideal tendencies of the group -- the attributes of members held in highest regard, such as having the best food, most reliable business practices or greatest mobility. "These competitive and cooperative dynamics lead to three surprising consequences in light of previous research on strategic groups: Existing members of the strategic group help new firms enter the market; resource scarcity leads to cooperation, not competition; and when competition does emerge, it focuses on status within the group and not on price," the authors wrote. The dynamics the authors theorized about, central and ideal prototypes, can explain how strategic groups evolve over time, they said. "Central tendencies push firms toward conformity as members embrace the core attributes of a typical member, and ideal tendencies push for intragroup status, allowing some members to rise to the top," the authors wrote. "Thus the strategic group identity fosters both conformity, which allows the group to accommodate new members while maintaining its core identity, and distinction, which improves the group as exemplary members emerge and become respected and emulated. This push for conformity alongside the tolerance of nonconformity in the form of excellence can offer strategic groups both a means to grow (from new members) and a means to improve (from exemplary members) while protecting the very identity that holds the group together." For the full version of the study, visit http://journals. . For more information about and insights from this study, visit the school's Rice Business Wisdom website at http://ricebusinesswisdom. .


Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects millions of people, regardless of age, but has yet to discover why it happens and how to effectively stop it. So far, most epilepsy patients manage their seizures with prescription drugs or by using cannabis. While scientists continue to study minibrains in order to understand the origins of epilepsy and other neurological disorders, however, a team of engineering students from Rice University developed an algorithm that could effectively predict an oncoming seizure and prevent it through neurostimulation. The Ictal Inhibitor project's goal is to replace invasive methods of treating epilepsy so they focused on developing a machine learning algorithm that could successfully predict oncoming seizures in real time. "About one-third of the 3 million epilepsy patients in the United States don't respond to anti-seizure medications. The only option left for those patients is to undergo surgery to remove the part of the brain that is the issue; we hope to replace that option with something a lot less invasive," Erik Biegert, a graduating member of Team Ictal Inhibitor, said. The team tested the algorithm afterwards using data sets from real intracranial patient seizure data supplied by renowned neurosurgeon and project co-investigator, Dr. Nitin Tandon. After running the algorithm and testing it on the data sets, the group found that the program was able to predict oncoming seizures at least two minutes prior, though it also produced 3.9 false positive results per hour. After getting favorable results from their algorithm, the team hooked up the program to custom-made hardware, which includes electrodes implanted in the brain. "Using the electrical signals that are produced in the brain, we can predict if a seizure is going to occur in the next five minutes or so," Sarah Hooper, a senior electrical engineering major explained. Hooper further explained that, using their group's program, the electrodes keep track of brain activity as the program runs and, if a seizure were about to occur, the hardware would communicate with the electrode to apply electrical neurostimulation and prevent the attack from happening. The project is still using a huge computer board as its hardware but the team claims the project will continue and may work on transforming the hardware into a small, wireless chip that can be implanted in the brain. "What we really focused on this year was to create the processing unit and all of the machine learning intelligence that can make this happen ... [The] next steps could be to flesh out the design and move it onto a silicon chip," Randy Zhang, also a senior electrical engineering major, explained. Professor Behnaam Aazhang, team Ictal Inhibitor's faculty adviser, said that the project is still a work in progress and is still five to seven years away from an actual product. The Ictal Inhibitor is a project borne from discussions between Professor Aazhang and Dr. Tandon from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. It is a part of Rice University's Vertically Integrated Projects or VIP program, which brings together underclassmen, seniors, and graduate students to work on a project, and is funded by the National Science Foundation. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Commercial activity in fossil fuels is increasingly at odds with global actions to reduce the threat of climate change. Burning coal, oil, and natural gas is responsible for two-thirds of humanity's emissions of greenhouse gases, and yet provides more than 20% of GDP in two dozen nation states. By Citicorp's estimate, current commitments to reduce these emissions could mean forgoing $100 trillion in fossil fuel revenues by 2050--representing a huge disruption to global affairs, undermining national budgets and corporate balance sheets while exposing stakeholders, including pension holders and ordinary citizens in resource-exporting states, to myriad risks. Two seminal articles by energy experts in the latest issue of MRS Energy and Sustainability (MRS E&S) examine the climate-related risks facing the fossil fuel industry and conclude that the sustainability train has already well and truly left the station - and is not coming back. An in-depth analysis by Jim Krane (Wallace S. Wilson Fellow for Energy Studies at Rice University in Houston) is very timely in the light of last month's announcement from Exxon Mobil that it will invest $20 billion through 2022 to expand its chemical and oil refining plants on the US Gulf Coast. The former Associated Press Gulf correspondent finds, however, that climate changes risks vary according to different sectors of the energy industry. Demand for oil seems to be insulated from the very immediate risks facing other sectors of the industry, due to its unique role in transportation and the lack of viable alternatives, he writes. Citing a study by McGlade and Ekins, he concludes that oil reserves are the least exposed of the three fuels. Just a third of current conventional crude oil reserves would probably be abandoned to meet current global climate change targets, as opposed to half of gas and 82% of coal reserves. For coal, the threats posed by climate action are already being felt. Coal firms have lost a combined 31,000 jobs and $30 billion in share value since 2010 in the US alone, according to Krane. Coal's fortunes now rest with developing countries, where decisions to seek China-style, coal-led development will be met by increasing international pressure to choose an alternate path, Krane writes. At the other end of the spectrum, climate action seems to have improved the medium-term viability of low-carbon natural gas, given the fuel's reduced carbon content, according to Krane. Many anticarbon policies that target coal cede market share to gas, he writes. Longer term, however, gas is vulnerable to replacement by lower-carbon substitutes. Krane predicts that some businesses, and perhaps even some governments, may not survive the increasing pressures facing the energy industry as a result of climate change actions. "Unless a technological breakthrough can restrict carbon releases, the fortunes of the fossil fuel industry and the stability of Earth's climate will be locked in a zero-sum game," he concludes. "Climate's gain is the industry's loss and vice versa." "It is clear that carbon-based businesses and economies face increasing impediments to the consumption of their products," he writes. "Whether through taxes, legal restrictions, moral arguments, favoritism for competitors, or hampered access to financial markets, the industry faces a future that is less accepting of current practice." In his commentary on Krane's article in the same volume of MRS E&S, Ritchie D. Priddy, a seasoned energy industry veteran who has published more than 200 papers on clean energy and sustainability issues, agrees with the majority of Krane's thesis. He argues that what he calls the "sustainability movement" has already had a substantial impact on the practices of energy companies and governments and will continue to grow, in spite of the outcry over some countries backpedaling from the Paris Accord. The sustainability train has already left the station, he writes, and although the pace may slow, sustainability actions will continue around the world regardless of which governments are in place in the US and elsewhere. The main driver for action is peer pressure, he adds, rather than any government action. "As [sustainability efforts] become more ingrained in the daily operations of all companies--primarily through peer pressure--they will, collectively, become more powerful than any international treaty, and something that cannot easily be removed," Priddy concludes.                                                                         ### Climate change and fossil fuel: An examination of risks for the energy industry and producer states by Jim Krane http://ow.ly/E9Cg30aWM4a Sustainability: The train has left the station by Ritchie D. Priddy http://ow.ly/Osrn30aWLWw


A trait common amongst the molecules in cells is chirality. Objects that have chirality are mirror images of one another. Just as humans have two hands that are mirror images of one another, molecules exhibit handedness and have left and right versions called enantiomers. Since the molecules of life, namely proteins, sugars and DNA, are chiral, the enantiomers of molecules such as drugs have completely different functions when they interact with cells. Specialty chemicals industries like the pharmaceutical industry have had difficulties in producing chiral molecules. The challenges lie in either separating left-handed from right-handed versions or directly creating only the desired enantiomer through a chemical reaction. Davis and his team have now invented molecular sieves that are able to both sort and create chiral molecules. With this development, manufacturers may be able to produce more specific and desired forms of drugs and other products. An example of a medication that could be improved upon, Davis says, is the drug ibuprofen, also known by one of its brand names—Advil. Ibuprofen contains both left- and right-handed forms, but only the left-handed version is therapeutic. "In order to minimize side effects associated with ibuprofen—such as stomach pain, ulcers, and other health issues—it would be helpful to just take the left-handed version," says Davis, the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Professor of Chemical Engineering at Caltech and principal investigator of the new research, which appears in the May 1 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The goal for the future is to create specific chiral forms of molecules, not mixtures. Chiral molecular sieves will let us do this in new ways that most likely will be less cost-prohibitive. These sieves can be robust and reusable, and don't require special temperatures and other operating conditions." Molecular sieves are silicon-based crystal lattices used in multibillion-dollar commercial applications ranging from the production of gasoline and diesel fuel to the purification of oxygen from air. The sieves, many of which are a class called "zeolites," look like Swiss cheese under a microscope, with interconnected pores smaller than 2 nanometers in size. The pores are what make these solids so useful: they let molecules of only a certain size and shape pass through. In addition, the pores can act as catalytic reaction chambers to spur the production of specific chemical products. To create molecular sieves that can selectively let a specific form of a chiral molecule pass through, the researchers made several advances. First, co-authors at Rice University designed and implemented computational methods to help guide the design of chiral organic molecules that direct the synthesis of the chiral molecular sieves. Second, Caltech researchers—who spent decades learning what the properties of the guiding organic molecules should be, and how to then use them to assemble molecular sieves—prepared the designed, chiral organic molecules and synthesized the chiral molecular sieves. Third, scientists now at ShanghaiTech University developed a new, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy method that was used to confirm that the sieves were indeed either the left- or right-handed versions. The Caltech researchers also demonstrated that the sieves could either separate chiral molecules or create them by catalyzing chiral reactions. "What we're able to do here by design is let researchers pick which form they want: if you want the right-handed molecule, you use the right molecular sieve and you make that one. If you want the other one, you use the other molecular sieve," says Davis, who has been working on the problem of creating chiral molecular sieves for 30 years. "Now, we can synthesize molecules with chirality using molecular sieve catalysts for the first time." Explore further: Researchers' work in catalysis could aid drug development


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

As new and more effective human reproductive genetic technologies (RGTs) develop, people of faith are more likely to disapprove of these tools than nonreligious people, a new Rice University study found. Evangelical Christians are the most likely of any religious group to stand in opposition, the researchers found. The study examined how religious and nonreligious people felt about RGTs that could reveal qualities of an unborn child, such as whether the child had a disease ("disease technologies"), and those that allowed parents to select qualities for a child, such as gender, hair color and eye color ("enhancement technologies"). It included a general population survey of more than 10,000 people and 270 qualitative interviews with individuals living in the Midwest and South from a variety of religious traditions. Elaine Howard Ecklund, the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences at Rice and the study's lead author, found over the course of her research that feelings about the use of RGTs vary not only between religious and nonreligious persons but also among religious groups. When asked about the use of RGTs to prevent disease, 23 percent of evangelicals said this technology was morally wrong, compared with 9 percent of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains and 8 percent of Jews. Only 4 percent of agnostics and atheists said this technology was "morally wrong." Religious groups had a much stronger negative reaction about the morality of using RGTs to select qualities such as gender, hair color and eye color. Eighty percent of evangelicals said that this type of technology was morally wrong, compared with 66 percent of Jews and 57 percent of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains. Just over half -- 55 percent -- of agnostics and atheists said this type of technology was morally wrong. "A large proportion of religious and nonreligious people feel morally uncomfortable with enhancement technologies," Ecklund said. During her in-depth interviews with study participants, Ecklund found that the "Creator Schema," which emphasizes God's control and God's purposes and plans in human suffering, predominated among Evangelical Christians and at times mainline Protestants and Muslims. However, Jewish respondents expressed ambivalence toward disease RGTs and did not draw on the Creator Schema. One young member of a nondenominational Evangelical Protestant church communicated a strong version of a Creator Schema by justifying opposition to RGTs. "I believe God is in control, and that He's taking care of everything and (if) this child has a disease, then that's what God wants for this child," he said. While the Creator Schema emphasizes God's role as creator and boundaries between God and humans, the "Co-Creator Schema" provides for human partnership with God in improving life. Another participant referenced this schema in his feelings on the use of RGTs to eliminate disease. "If I could do something, then sure, yes, I would want to know," he said. He lamented that when people rejected this possibility and emphasized "just God's ability to heal and deliver ... then people die, because they neglect the physical responsibilities that God has given them." "This participant's emphasis on the concept of 'responsibilities' that God gives people suggests that humans have a partner role with God in certain kinds of actions, in this case healing genetic disease," Ecklund said. More than half of all groups surveyed -- including nonreligious groups -- disagreed with the use of enhancement RGTs, and many feared that enhancement RGTs might be used for "unwise ends," the authors said. "They often opposed enhancement RGTs because they saw this as related to eugenics, fearing that people would actively select or preference embryos with certain characteristics," said study co-author Jared Peifer of Baruch College. A participant from an evangelical congregation said of enhancement RGTs, "That's obviously going to the 'Brave New World' extreme of we're going to be our own gods and choose our own destiny. ... That goes back to another level. ... It reminds me of Nazi Germany, those things that -- you want certain types -- certain types of people in your society, you know I want my child to have this color or whatever." However, the religious individuals who supported enhancement RGTs mostly did so by considering these technologies within the abilities that God provides to humans, thereby drawing on the Co-Creator Schema. "None of this is really a problem for me because if it happens, I believe God provided the way for it to happen," said a participant from an African-American evangelical congregation. Ecklund said that the study's findings suggest that moral sensitivity rather than moral reasoning is likely to be employed as a way of addressing issues that are technologically complex under conditions where there is a scarcity of good information with which to morally reason, as is the case with enhancement RGTs. "As moral reasoning on the topic becomes organized, we expect moral sensitivity to become less noticeably apparent as individuals begin to draw more readily on established cultural beliefs," she said.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.techrepublic.com

From the dawn of ATMs, banks have relied heavily on automation to increase efficiency in operations. But as AI becomes more sophisticated—think chatbots like MyKai that can offer personalized service, from answering general questions like "What is a CD?" to helping you find out if you have a gambling problem—the technology is poised to revolutionize the banking industry. In the Accenture Banking Technology Vision 2017 report, Accenture interviewed nearly 600 top bankers, as well as tech industry experts and academics, to offer an outlook on where the banking industry is currently positioned in its use of AI—and what it can do to improve. Despite the consensus that AI will dramatically shift banking in terms of gathering data and customer interactions, and despite an understanding of the importance of innovation, more than half (52.2%) of bankers reported that they do not see their organizations investing heavily enough in digital technology as part of their overarching strategy. Here are five AI trends in banking, and suggestions for how to integrate them. While banks rely heavily on automation for processing financial information, the rapid growth of messaging bots and other tools turns AI into a customer service representative as well. According to the report, by using automated customer service assistants, "a New York-based investment bank achieved a 93% reduction in average resolution and fix time (from 47 minutes to 4 minutes)." Yet only 30% of bankers currently use these types of assistants on a large scale. By integrating machine learning tools that can help manage customer interactions, banks can "streamline back-end processes and support networks," according to the report. To achieve this goal, these institutions must "create a scalable, flexible test-and-learn environment dedicated to explore AI and cognitive processes, and speed up innovation." Banks cannot rely solely on a robust platform. They must form partnerships with tech companies to create an ecosystem, in which banks and partners work together to deliver the best service for their customers. According to the report, banks must "create most viable scenarios of participants' roles where the bank and partner brands would take center stage, and get comfortable with the idea of losing control as some bank services will end up on others' platforms." With technological innovation comes a shift away from rigid hierarchies towards more flexible workplace structures. To reap maximum benefits, banks must include a "liquid workforce" that includes on-demand talent and the shifting of roles as the business integrates new technology, the report stated. Accenture recommends investments in "training, AI, collaboration technology or compensation" to meet this goal. SEE: New MyKAI smart bot uses AI to enable 'lifestyle banking' While many banks' new processes may become automated, it is still important to understand which processes should remain powered by humans, and when. "Develop a good way to guide customers in and out of the stream of human interaction, recognizing what the customer is doing and having the right intervention at the right time," the report recommends. The report encourages bankers to think about forming "new rules" for banking. To do this, leaders should think about the importance of "maintain[ing] customer trust and data security as more transactions move to other platforms and as regulatory directives grant third-party providers access to customer accounts, payments, product data and other data through APIs." A new team could be assembled to ensure that proper security requirements are met, the report suggests. AI experts see fintech as a particularly ripe spot for transformation. ATMs, for instance, have long been pointed to as examples of automation that actually resulted in lowering costs, thus, banks opened more branches. However, the dawn of AI brings a new paradigm. "People are moving to mobile banking," said Moshe Vardi, a computer science professor at Rice University. "Those branches are going to go away now. When is the last time you went to a bank? Never. Technology will ultimately kill many of the branches." Startups see banks as "a big, fat, lazy target," said Vardi. "Obsolete business models, very high services. Very high rate of commission. The one thing that banks do have is the trust element." Still, lots of fintech companies are "going after the banks," said Vardi. "The banks are going to have the fight of their life."


News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

A new camera system doesn’t need a long lens to take a detailed micron-resolution image of a faraway object. The prototype reads a spot illuminated by a laser and captures the “speckle” pattern with a camera sensor. Raw data from dozens of camera positions feed into a computer program that interprets it and constructs a high-resolution image. The system known as SAVI—for “Synthetic Apertures for long-range, subdiffraction-limited Visible Imaging”—only works with coherent illumination sources such as lasers, but it’s a step toward a SAVI camera array for use in visible light, says Ashok Veeraraghavan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice University. “Today, the technology can be applied only to coherent (laser) light,” he says. “That means you cannot apply these techniques to take pictures outdoors and improve resolution for sunlit images—as yet. Our hope is that one day, maybe a decade from now, we will have that ability.” The technology is the subject of a paper in Science Advances. Labs led by Veeraraghavan at Rice and Oliver Cossairt at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering built and tested the device that compares interference patterns between multiple speckled images. Like the technique used to achieve The Matrix’s “bullet time” special effect, the images are taken from slightly different angles, but with one camera that moves between shots instead of many fired in sequence. Veeraraghavan explains the speckles serve as reference beams and essentially replace one of the two beams used to create holograms. When a laser illuminates a rough surface, the viewer sees grain-like speckles in the dot. That’s because some of the returning light scattered from points on the surface has farther to go and throws the collective wave out of phase. The texture of a piece of paper—or even a fingerprint—is enough to cause the effect. The researchers use these phase irregularities to their advantage. “The problem we’re solving is that no matter what wavelength of light you use, the resolution of the image—the smallest feature you can resolve in a scene—depends upon this fundamental quantity called the diffraction limit, which scales linearly with the size of your aperture,” Veeraraghavan says. “With a traditional camera, the larger the physical size of the aperture, the better the resolution,” he says. “If you want an aperture that’s half a foot, you may need 30 glass surfaces to remove aberrations and create a focused spot. This makes your lens very big and bulky.” SAVI’s “synthetic aperture” sidesteps the problem by replacing a long lens with a computer program the resolves the speckle data into an image. “You can capture interference patterns from a fair distance,” Veeraraghavan says. “How far depends on how strong the laser is and how far away you can illuminate.” “By moving aberration estimation and correction out to computation, we can create a compact device that gives us the same surface area as the lens we want without the size, weight, volume, and cost,” says Cossairt, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern. Lead author Jason Holloway, a Rice alumnus who is now a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University, suggests an array of inexpensive sensors and plastic lenses that cost a few dollars each may someday replace traditional telephoto lenses that cost more than $100,000. “We should be able to capture that exact same performance but at orders-of-magnitude lower cost,” he says. Such an array would eliminate the need for a moving camera and capture all the data at once, “or as close to that as possible,” Cossairt says. “We want to push this to where we can do things dynamically. That’s what is really unique: There’s an avenue toward real-time, high-resolution capture using this synthetic aperture approach.” Veeraraghavan says SAVI leans on work from Caltech and the University of California, Berkeley, which developed the Fourier ptychography technique that allows microscopes to resolve images beyond the physical limitations of their optics. The SAVI team’s breakthrough was the discovery that it could put the light source on the same side as the camera rather than behind the target, as in transmission microscopy, Cossairt says. “We started by making a larger version of their microscope, but SAVI has additional technical challenges. Solving those is what this paper is about,” Veeraraghavan says. The National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and a Northwestern University McCormick Catalyst grant supported the research.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Evangelicals most likely of any religious group to stand in opposition As new and more effective human reproductive genetic technologies (RGTs) develop, people of faith are more likely to disapprove of these tools than nonreligious people, a new Rice University study found. Evangelical Christians are the most likely of any religious group to stand in opposition, the researchers found. The study examined how religious and nonreligious people felt about RGTs that could reveal qualities of an unborn child, such as whether the child had a disease ("disease technologies"), and those that allowed parents to select qualities for a child, such as gender, hair color and eye color ("enhancement technologies"). It included a general population survey of more than 10,000 people and 270 qualitative interviews with individuals living in the Midwest and South from a variety of religious traditions. Elaine Howard Ecklund, the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences at Rice and the study's lead author, found over the course of her research that feelings about the use of RGTs vary not only between religious and nonreligious persons but also among religious groups. When asked about the use of RGTs to prevent disease, 23 percent of evangelicals said this technology was morally wrong, compared with 9 percent of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains and 8 percent of Jews. Only 4 percent of agnostics and atheists said this technology was "morally wrong." Religious groups had a much stronger negative reaction about the morality of using RGTs to select qualities such as gender, hair color and eye color. Eighty percent of evangelicals said that this type of technology was morally wrong, compared with 66 percent of Jews and 57 percent of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains. Just over half - 55 percent - of agnostics and atheists said this type of technology was morally wrong. "A large proportion of religious and nonreligious people feel morally uncomfortable with enhancement technologies," Ecklund said. During her in-depth interviews with study participants, Ecklund found that the "Creator Schema," which emphasizes God's control and God's purposes and plans in human suffering, predominated among Evangelical Christians and at times mainline Protestants and Muslims. However, Jewish respondents expressed ambivalence toward disease RGTs and did not draw on the Creator Schema. One young member of a nondenominational Evangelical Protestant church communicated a strong version of a Creator Schema by justifying opposition to RGTs. "I believe God is in control, and that He's taking care of everything and (if) this child has a disease, then that's what God wants for this child," he said. While the Creator Schema emphasizes God's role as creator and boundaries between God and humans, the "Co-Creator Schema" provides for human partnership with God in improving life. Another participant referenced this schema in his feelings on the use of RGTs to eliminate disease. "If I could do something, then sure, yes, I would want to know," he said. He lamented that when people rejected this possibility and emphasized "just God's ability to heal and deliver ... then people die, because they neglect the physical responsibilities that God has given them." "This participant's emphasis on the concept of 'responsibilities' that God gives people suggests that humans have a partner role with God in certain kinds of actions, in this case healing genetic disease," Ecklund said. More than half of all groups surveyed - including nonreligious groups - disagreed with the use of enhancement RGTs, and many feared that enhancement RGTs might be used for "unwise ends," the authors said. "They often opposed enhancement RGTs because they saw this as related to eugenics, fearing that people would actively select or preference embryos with certain characteristics," said study co-author Jared Peifer of Baruch College. A participant from an evangelical congregation said of enhancement RGTs, "That's obviously going to the 'Brave New World' extreme of we're going to be our own gods and choose our own destiny. ... That goes back to another level. ... It reminds me of Nazi Germany, those things that - you want certain types - certain types of people in your society, you know I want my child to have this color or whatever." However, the religious individuals who supported enhancement RGTs mostly did so by considering these technologies within the abilities that God provides to humans, thereby drawing on the Co-Creator Schema. "None of this is really a problem for me because if it happens, I believe God provided the way for it to happen," said a participant from an African-American evangelical congregation. Ecklund said that the study's findings suggest that moral sensitivity rather than moral reasoning is likely to be employed as a way of addressing issues that are technologically complex under conditions where there is a scarcity of good information with which to morally reason, as is the case with enhancement RGTs. "As moral reasoning on the topic becomes organized, we expect moral sensitivity to become less noticeably apparent as individuals begin to draw more readily on established cultural beliefs," she said. "Moral Schemas in Articulation and Intuition: How Religious People Evaluate Human Reproductive Genetic Technologies" appeared in a recent edition of Sociological Forum and was also co-authored by Virginia White of the University of Chicago and Esther Chan of Yale University. The study was funded by The John Templeton Foundation and is available online at http://onlinelibrary. . For more information, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at 713-348-6327 or david@rice.edu. This news release can be found online at http://news. . Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

HOUSTON -- (April 26, 2017) -- In a new book spanning more than 640 pages, Rice University's eminent scholar of the American South, John Boles, takes a fresh, nuanced look at one of America's most talented, enigmatic and complex Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson. Not since the 1970 book "Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation" by Boles' mentor Merrill Peterson has a scholar published a comprehensive biography of the third president of the U.S. Boles' fascination with Jefferson dates back to the fall semester of his senior year at Rice in 1964 when he took a course on Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracy taught by Sanford W. Higginbotham, who was the managing editor of the Rice-based Journal of Southern History from 1965 to 1983. "We read a lot of Jefferson's letters and read a great book on Jefferson by Merrill Peterson, and I decided on the basis of that Merrill Peterson book to go to the University of Virginia the next fall to study Jefferson," Boles said, noting that Peterson was a professor of history there. However, when Boles arrived at Virginia, he got "sidetracked," as he put it, and he subsequently researched and wrote books on various topics, including books on Southern history and on the history of Rice. It wasn't until 2013, when Boles retired from his position as managing editor of the Journal of Southern History, that his full attention turned to Jefferson. "My goal was to write a comprehensive biography of Jefferson," Boles said during an interview in his office on the fifth floor of Fondren Library, which includes an entire bookshelf filled with books about and relating to Jefferson. "And I say that because there have been dozens of dozens of books on Jefferson as architect, Jefferson as lawyer, Jefferson and the West ... all focused on narrow aspects of Jefferson. The last significant full biography of Jefferson was written in 1970." Boles was able to draw extensively on Jefferson's edited papers, which expanded from about 15 volumes in 1970 to more than 50 volumes today. Boles said that by delaying his study for 50 years, he benefited from "all the editing of Jefferson's correspondence, his two-volume account book, a wonderful range of scholarship in Southern history that made us think differently about the history of slavery, the history of Southern religion, the history of early politics, and dozens of monographic studies of Jefferson." "I thought it was time to see if one person could write about Jefferson not just as a politician or architect or political philosopher but as the whole person," Boles said. "I talk about Jefferson in art and architecture, in science and music, in diplomacy and politics; Jefferson as father and grandfather; and as gardener and slaveholder. It really is a comprehensive biography of Jefferson that is fully conversant with the last 50 years of scholarship." Boles, the William P. Hobby Professor of History, has taught at Rice since 1981 and currently teaches an undergraduate seminar, Jefferson and His Age. This year he is also serving as president of the Southern Historical Association. Boles details Jefferson's political and religious ideas, his complicated relationship with France, his on, off and on-again friendship with John Adams, his complicated and tragic involvement with slavery and his fascination with the West, exemplified by his negotiation of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition. He was a copious and skilled letter writer -- readers also witness him drafting the Declaration of Independence -- who was dedicated to his state and Monticello homestead. Jefferson possessed a profound, lifelong intellectual curiosity, starting from his studies of philosophy and science at the College of William and Mary, and later law, continuing through his years living in Paris as the U.S. minister, and later secretary of state, the vice presidency and presidency, and culminating in his creation of the University of Virginia, where Boles earned his doctorate. A man of his time, Jefferson was steeped in the revolutionary ideals of the Enlightenment, such as the need for religious tolerance and the belief (ultimately struck from the Declaration) that slaves "had natural rights identical to those of the rest of the American people" -- and yet he notoriously held on to his own slaves, Boles said. Paradoxically, he spoke out more against slavery than any other Founding Father. Boles devotes a chapter to Jefferson's "Living with Paradox" and reminds readers not to judge "the sage of Monticello" solely by 21st-century terms. Regarding emancipation, "in no other aspect of his life does Jefferson seem more distant from us or more disappointing," Boles wrote. "In some sense, he believed in what he called the 'illimitable' freedom of the human mind," Boles said. "The Declaration of Independence represented political liberty, (Virginia's) statute of religious freedom guaranteed religious liberty and the University of Virginia provided freedom from ignorance. Of course, there's a paradox there: He was a slaveholder. That's a huge problem in the book, explaining the central paradox." Publishers Weekly wrote in its review of the book, "Boles, an accomplished scholar well-versed in the source material, deftly paints a picture of the world as Jefferson knew it, taking care not to mix up understanding with excusing, especially with the Virginian's relationship with Sally Hemings. This is a gem of a biography."


News Article | April 24, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

Microscopic probes have simplified the process of measuring electrical activity in individual cells of small living animals. The technique allows a single animal like a worm to be tested again and again and could revolutionize data-gathering for disease characterization and drug interactions. The Rice University lab of electrical and computer engineer Jacob Robinson has invented “nanoscale suspended electrode arrays”—aka nano-SPEARs—to give researchers access to electrophysiological signals from the cells of small animals without injuring them. Nano-SPEARs replace glass pipette electrodes that must be aligned by hand each time they are used. “One of the experimental bottlenecks in studying synaptic behavior and degenerative diseases that affect the synapse is performing electrical measurements at those synapses,” Robinson says. “We set out to study large groups of animals under lots of different conditions to screen drugs or test different genetic factors that relate to errors in signaling at those synapses.” The research appears in Nature Nanotechnology. Like a toll booth for worms Robinson’s early work at Rice focused on high-quality, high-throughput electrical characterization of individual cells. The new platform adapts the concept to probe the surface cells of nematodes, worms that make up 80 percent of all animals on Earth. Most of what is known about muscle activity and synaptic transmission in the worms comes from the few studies that successfully used manually aligned glass pipettes to measure electrical activity from individual cells, Robinson says. However, this patch clamp technique requires time-consuming and invasive surgery that could negatively affect the data that researchers gather from small research animals. The platform developed by Robinson’s team works something like a toll booth for traveling worms. As each animal passes through a narrow channel, it is temporarily immobilized and pressed against one or several nano-SPEARS that penetrate its body-wall muscle and record electrical activity from nearby cells. That animal is then released, the next is captured and measured, and so on. Robinson says the device proved much faster to use than traditional electrophysiological cell measurement techniques. How scientists stopped these worms from sleeping The nano-SPEARs are created using standard thin-film deposition procedures and electron-beam or photolithography and can be made from less than 200 nanometers to more than 5 microns thick, depending on the size of animal to be tested. Because the nano-SPEARs can be fabricated on either silicon or glass, the technique easily combines with fluorescence microscopy, Robinson says. Why nematodes? The animals suitable for probing with a nano-SPEAR can be as large as several millimeters, like hydra, cousins of the jellyfish and the subject of an upcoming study. But nematodes known as Caenorhabditis elegans were practical for several reasons: First, Robinson says, they’re small enough to be compatible with microfluidic devices and nanowire electrodes. Second, there were a lot of them down the hall at the lab of Rice colleague Weiwei Zhong, who studies nematodes as transparent, easily manipulated models for signaling pathways that are common to all animals. “I used to shy away from measuring electrophysiology because the conventional method of patch clamping is so technically challenging,” says Zhong, an assistant professor of biochemistry and cell biology and coauthor of the paper. “Only a few graduate students or postdocs can do it. With Jacob’s device, even an undergraduate student can measure electrophysiology.” “This meshes nicely with the high-throughput phenotyping she does,” Robinson says. “She can now correlate locomotive phenotypes with activity at the muscle cells. We believe that will be useful to study degenerative diseases centered around neuromuscular junctions.” In fact, the labs have begun doing so. “We are now using this setup to profile worms with neurodegenerative disease models such as Parkinson’s and screen for drugs that reduce the symptoms,” Zhong says. “This would not be possible using the conventional method.” Tiny worms test nanoparticles for safety Initial tests on C. elegans models for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease revealed for the first time clear differences in electrophysiological responses between the two, the researchers report. Testing the efficacy of drugs will be helped by the new ability to study small animals for long periods. “What we can do, for the first time, is look at electrical activity over a long period of time and discover interesting patterns of behavior,” Robinson says. Some worms were studied for up to an hour, and others were tested on multiple days, says lead author Daniel Gonzales, a graduate student in Robinson’s lab who took charge of herding nematodes through the microfluidic devices. “It was in some way easier than working with isolated cells because the worms are larger and fairly sturdy,” Gonzales says. “With cells, if there’s too much pressure, they die. If they hit a wall, they die. But worms are really sturdy, so it was just a matter of getting them up against the electrodes and keeping them there.” The team constructed microfluidic arrays with multiple channels that allowed testing of many nematodes at once. In comparison with patch-clamping techniques that limit labs to studying about one animal per hour, Robinson says his team measured as many as 16 nematodes per hour. “Because this is a silicon-based technology, making arrays and producing recording chambers in high numbers becomes a real possibility,” he says. The National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Hamill Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Keck Center, and the Gulf Coast Consortia supported the research. Source: Rice University The post ‘Assembly line’ measures worm cells with a poke appeared first on Futurity.


News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: www.cemag.us

Microscopic probes developed at Rice University have simplified the process of measuring electrical activity in individual cells of small living animals. The technique allows a single animal like a worm to be tested again and again and could revolutionize data-gathering for disease characterization and drug interactions. The Rice lab of electrical and computer engineer Jacob Robinson has invented “nanoscale suspended electrode arrays” — aka nano-SPEARs — to give researchers access to electrophysiological signals from the cells of small animals without injuring them. Nano-SPEARs replace glass pipette electrodes that must be aligned by hand each time they are used. “One of the experimental bottlenecks in studying synaptic behavior and degenerative diseases that affect the synapse is performing electrical measurements at those synapses,” Robinson says. “We set out to study large groups of animals under lots of different conditions to screen drugs or test different genetic factors that relate to errors in signaling at those synapses.” The research is detailed this week in Nature Nanotechnology. Robinson’s early work at Rice focused on high-quality, high-throughput electrical characterization of individual cells. The new platform adapts the concept to probe the surface cells of nematodes, worms that make up 80 percent of all animals on Earth. Most of what is known about muscle activity and synaptic transmission in the worms comes from the few studies that successfully used manually aligned glass pipettes to measure electrical activity from individual cells, Robinson says. However, this patch clamp technique requires time-consuming and invasive surgery that could negatively affect the data that is gathered from small research animals. The platform developed by Robinson’s team works something like a toll booth for traveling worms. As each animal passes through a narrow channel, it is temporarily immobilized and pressed against one or several nano-SPEARS that penetrate its body-wall muscle and record electrical activity from nearby cells. That animal is then released, the next is captured and measured, and so on. Robinson says the device proved much faster to use than traditional electrophysiological cell measurement techniques. The nano-SPEARs are created using standard thin-film deposition procedures and electron-beam or photolithography and can be made from less than 200 nanometers to more than 5 microns thick, depending on the size of animal to be tested. Because the nano-SPEARs can be fabricated on either silicon or glass, the technique easily combines with fluorescence microscopy, Robinson says. The animals suitable for probing with a nano-SPEAR can be as large as several millimeters, like hydra, cousins of the jellyfish and the subject of an upcoming study. But nematodes known as Caenorhabditis elegans were practical for several reasons: First, Robinson said, they’re small enough to be compatible with microfluidic devices and nanowire electrodes. Second, there were a lot of them down the hall at the lab of Rice colleague Weiwei Zhong, who studies nematodes as transparent, easily manipulated models for signaling pathways that are common to all animals. “I used to shy away from measuring electrophysiology because the conventional method of patch clamping is so technically challenging,” says Zhong, an assistant professor of biochemistry and cell biology and co-author of the paper. “Only a few graduate students or postdocs can do it. With Jacob’s device, even an undergraduate student can measure electrophysiology.” “This meshes nicely with the high-throughput phenotyping she does,” Robinson says. “She can now correlate locomotive phenotypes with activity at the muscle cells. We believe that will be useful to study degenerative diseases centered around neuromuscular junctions.” In fact, the labs have begun doing so. “We are now using this setup to profile worms with neurodegenerative disease models such as Parkinson’s and screen for drugs that reduce the symptoms,” Zhong says. “This would not be possible using the conventional method.” Initial tests on C. elegans models for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease revealed for the first time clear differences in electrophysiological responses between the two, the researchers report. Testing the efficacy of drugs will be helped by the new ability to study small animals for long periods. “What we can do, for the first time, is look at electrical activity over a long period of time and discover interesting patterns of behavior,” Robinson says. Some worms were studied for up to an hour, and others were tested on multiple days, says lead author Daniel Gonzales, a Rice graduate student in Robinson’s lab who took charge of herding nematodes through the microfluidic devices. “It was in some way easier than working with isolated cells because the worms are larger and fairly sturdy,” Gonzales says. “With cells, if there’s too much pressure, they die. If they hit a wall, they die. But worms are really sturdy, so it was just a matter of getting them up against the electrodes and keeping them there.” The team constructed microfluidic arrays with multiple channels that allowed testing of many nematodes at once. In comparison with patch-clamping techniques that limit labs to studying about one animal per hour, Robinson says his team measured as many as 16 nematodes per hour. “Because this is a silicon-based technology, making arrays and producing recording chambers in high numbers becomes a real possibility,” he says. Co-authors of the paper are graduate students Krishna Badhiwala and Daniel Vercosa, research technician Benjamin Avants and research scientist Zheng Liu. Robinson is an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. The National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Hamill Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Keck Center, and the Gulf Coast Consortia supported the research.


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: hosted2.ap.org

Once critical of global deals, Trump slow to pull out of any (AP) — The "America First" president who vowed to extricate America from onerous overseas commitments appears to be warming up to the view that when it comes to global agreements, a deal's a deal. From NAFTA to the Iran nuclear agreement to the Paris climate accord, President Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric is colliding with the reality of governing. Despite repeated pledges to rip up, renegotiate or otherwise alter them, the U.S. has yet to withdraw from any of these economic, environmental or national security deals, as Trump's past criticism turns to tacit embrace of several key elements of U.S. foreign policy. The administration says it is reviewing these accords and could still pull out of them. A day after certifying Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attacked the accord and listed examples of Iran's bad behavior. His tone suggested that even if Iran is fulfilling the letter of its nuclear commitments, the deal remains on unsure footing. Yet with one exception — an Asia-Pacific trade deal that already had stalled in Congress — Trump's administration quietly has laid the groundwork to honor the international architecture of deals it has inherited. It's a sharp shift from the days when Trump was declaring the end of a global-minded America that negotiates away its interests and subsidizes foreigners' security and prosperity. Trump had called the Iran deal the "worst" ever, and claimed climate change was a hoax. But in place of action, the Trump administration is only reviewing these agreements, as it is doing with much of American foreign policy. Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, said Trump may be allowing himself to argue in the future that existing deals can be improved without being totally discarded. "That allows him to tell his base that he's getting a better deal than Bush or Obama got, and yet reassure these institutions that it's really all being done with a nod and a wink, that Trump doesn't mean what he says," Brinkley said. So far, there's been no major revolt from Trump supporters, despite their expectation he would be an agent of disruption. This week's reaffirmations of the status quo came via Tillerson's certification of Iran upholding its nuclear deal obligations and the administration delaying a decision on whether to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The president had previously spoken about dismantling or withdrawing from both agreements as part of his vision, explained in his inaugural address, that "every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families." The Iran certification, made 90 minutes before a midnight Tuesday deadline, means Tehran will continue to enjoy relief from U.S. nuclear sanctions. Among the anti-deal crowd Trump wooed in his presidential bid, the administration's decision is fueling concerns that Trump may let the 2015 accord stand. Tillerson on Wednesday sought to head off any criticism that the administration was being easy on Iran, describing a broad administration review of Iran policy that includes the nuclear deal and examines if sanctions relief serves U.S. interests. The seven-nation nuclear deal, he said, "fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran" and "only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state." On the climate agreement, the White House postponed a meeting Tuesday where top aides were to have hashed out differences on what to do about the non-binding international deal forged in Paris in December 2015. The agreement allowed rich and poor countries to set their own goals to reduce carbon dioxide and went into effect last November, after the U.S., China and other countries ratified it. Not all of Trump's advisers share his skeptical views on climate change — or the Paris pact. Trump's position on trade deals also has evolved. He had promised to jettison the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada unless he could substantially renegotiate it in America's favor, blaming NAFTA for devastating the U.S. manufacturing industry by incentivizing the use of cheap labor in Mexico. Now his administration is only focused on marginal changes that would preserve much of the existing agreement, according to draft guidelines that Trump's trade envoy sent to Congress. The proposal included a controversial provision that lets companies challenge national trade laws through private tribunals. Trump has followed through with a pledge to pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping free trade deal President Barack Obama negotiated. The agreement was effectively dead before Trump took office after Congress refused to ratify it. Even Trump's Democratic opponent in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton, opposed the accord. But on NATO, Trump has completely backed off his assertions that the treaty organization is "obsolete." His Cabinet members have fanned out to foreign capitals to show America's support for the alliance and his administration now describes the 28-nation body as a pillar of Western security.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

Engineers have developed probes that measure electrical activity in animal cells, an advance that could improve drug screening. The microscopic probes developed at Rice University are said to have simplified the process of measuring electrical activity in individual cells of small living animals. The technique allows single creatures to be repeatedly tested and could greatly improve data gathering for disease characterisation and drug interactions. The Rice lab of electrical and computer engineer Jacob Robinson has invented the nanoscale suspended electrode arrays – nano-SPEARs – to give researchers access to electrophysiological signals from the cells of small animals without injuring them. Nano-SPEARs replace glass pipette electrodes that are aligned by hand each time they are used. The research is detailed in Nature Nanotechnology. “One of the experimental bottlenecks in studying synaptic behaviour and degenerative diseases that affect the synapse is performing electrical measurements at those synapses,” Robinson said. “We set out to study large groups of animals under lots of different conditions to screen drugs or test different genetic factors that relate to errors in signalling at those synapses.” Robinson’s early work at Rice focused on high-quality, high-throughput electrical characterisation of individual cells but the new platform adapts the concept to probe the surface cells of nematodes, which are worms that make up 80 per cent of all animals on Earth. Most of what is known about muscle activity and synaptic transmission in the worms comes from the few studies that used manually aligned glass pipettes to measure electrical activity from individual cells, Robinson said. However, this patch clamp technique requires time-consuming and invasive surgery that could negatively affect data gathered from research animals. In the new platform, as each animal passes through a narrow channel, it is temporarily immobilised and pressed against one or several nano-SPEARS that penetrate its body-wall muscle to record electrical activity from nearby cells. That animal is then released, the next is captured and measured, and so on. Robinson said the device proved much faster to use than traditional electrophysiological cell measurement techniques. According to Rice University, the nano-SPEARs are created using standard thin-film deposition procedures and electron-beam or photolithography and can be made from less than 200 nanometres to more than 5 microns thick, depending on the size of animal to be tested. Because the nano-SPEARs can be fabricated on silicon or glass, the technique easily combines with fluorescence microscopy, Robinson said. The animals suitable for probing with a nano-SPEAR can be as large as several millimetres but nematodes were practical because they’re small enough to be compatible with microfluidic devices and nanowire electrodes. There was also an abundant supply of them in the lab of Rice colleague Weiwei Zhong, who studies nematodes as transparent, easily manipulated models for signalling pathways that are common to all animals. “I used to shy away from measuring electrophysiology because the conventional method of patch clamping is so technically challenging,” said Zhong, an assistant professor of biochemistry and cell biology and co-author of the paper. “Only a few graduate students or postdocs can do it. With Jacob’s device, even an undergraduate student can measure electrophysiology.” “This meshes nicely with the high-throughput phenotyping she does,” Robinson said. “She can now correlate locomotive phenotypes with activity at the muscle cells. We believe that will be useful to study degenerative diseases centred around neuromuscular junctions.”


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Washington, D.C., April 12, 2017 -- Particle physicist Don Lincoln is the winner of the 2017 Andrew Gemant Award, an annual prize recognizing significant contributions to the cultural, artistic or humanistic dimension of physics, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) announced today. Lincoln is currently a senior scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago, where, in addition to conducting research, he also hosts dozens of particle physics videos for Fermilab's YouTube channel, the most popular of which has almost three million views. But Lincoln's efforts in the ways of public outreach and science communication go far beyond his Sagan-esque mini documentaries. His distinguished research career, which has led to over 1,000 publications and includes major contributions to the discoveries of the top quark and the Higgs boson, is paralleled by an extensive resume of science communication work. "We are delighted to award this year's prize to Dr. Lincoln, who has done so much for the field of particle physics, both in fundamental research and in the public eye," said Catherine O'Riordan, chief operating officer of AIP. "His accomplishments in making the world of subatomic particles accessible to so many continue to inspire the scientific community." Lincoln earned his doctorate in experimental particle physics from Rice University in 1994. Though neither of his parents had academic backgrounds or a particular interest in science, Lincoln found his passion for physics thanks to the very efforts of others, which he now emulates. "It turned out that it was the science popularizers of the '70s that helped me get so interested in science -- people like Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan," Lincoln said. "So to a certain degree, this is simply payback. I figure there's some kid somewhere in Tennessee, Oklahoma, or wherever, who might be in a similar situation, and I'm hoping that by communicating the excitement of science, I might open their eyes to a life that they otherwise could never have imagined." In addition to the weekly Fermilab Today columns he wrote for over a decade, Lincoln has written countless articles appearing in magazines, like Scientific American and The Physics Teacher, and online publications, including the Huffington Post, CNN and the NOVA website's blog. He has authored three books for the public about particle physics and the universe, developed a Theory of Everything course for the Great Courses series, and given hundreds of lectures to a spectrum of audiences, including a TED talk. "I would like to change the culture among the scientific community," Lincoln said. "There is a long history of scientists being hesitant to do science communication because they think their colleagues won't take them seriously as being a real scientist -- and that I think is wrong-minded." Lincoln pointed out that most scientists are publicly funded and said he feels it's incumbent on them to communicate with the public because, "the public is, after all, the core support behind an awful lot of science research." "There are so many scientifically-based topics that will affect our society. Stem cells, vaccinations, climate change [...] and certainly the enormous advances in genetics, which will have a huge impact on our society over the next century. I strongly believe that scientists need to be in the forefront to try and explain what is possible and what is not possible," said Lincoln. "That's doesn't mean the scientists should say what we should do, that's a conversation for the entire country -- or world for that matter -- but the conversation should be based on scientific facts and not the clutter that we often see." The Gemant Award committee selected Lincoln for "over 20 years of enthusiastic and tireless communication of particle and cosmological physics to diverse audiences through public lectures, book, videos and articles, especially those aimed at physics educators." With more than 20 years of communication experience, Lincoln offered sage advice to those just starting in science communication. "I would like to tell the young people trying to do that who are scientists, in the beginning it's a very tough slog," Lincoln said. "It took me a couple of years to sell the first book, with lots of rejections. You just have to be aware that's part of the process. On the other hand, once you've done that, then you're in the club. And when you're in the club it becomes much, much easier. And that's when you can start having an impact." Lincoln will be presented with the award in conjunction with an invited public lecture which will be scheduled for later this year. The award includes a cash prize of $5,000 and a grant of $3,000 to further the public communication of physics at an institution of Lincoln's choice. More information about the award, which will be updated with the details of this year's award presentation, can be found here: https:/ . You can find out more about Don Lincoln and read some of his work on his website here: http://drdonlincoln. and Facebook page here: http://www. . The Andrew Gemant Award recognizes the accomplishments of a person who has made significant contributions to the cultural, artistic, or humanistic dimension of physics given annually. The award is made possible by a bequest of Andrew Gemant to the American Institute of Physics. The awardee receives a $5,000 cash award, designates an academic institution to receive a grant of $3,000 to further the public communication of physics, and is invited to deliver a public lecture in a suitable forum. ABOUT THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS The American Institute of Physics is a federation of scientific societies in the physical sciences, representing scientists, engineers, educators, and students. AIP offers authoritative information, services, and expertise in physics education and student programs, science communication, government relations, career services, statistical research in physics employment and education, industrial outreach, and history of the physical sciences. AIP publishes Physics Today, the most closely followed magazine of the physical sciences community, and is also home to the Society of Physics Students and the Niels Bohr Library and Archives. AIP owns AIP Publishing LLC, a scholarly publisher in the physical and related sciences. http://www.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. will enable researchers from Rice University and Seattle Pacific University to examine the relationship between faith and work. The researchers hope to gain an understanding of how people from diverse workplaces and socio-economic backgrounds integrate religious views and their work. The comprehensive study will focus on U.S. workers and will comprise a broad-based national, random-sample survey of approximately 12,000 people from multiple religious traditions and no religious tradition. Research will explore faith at work as well as religious discrimination. It will include focus groups with both professional and working-class participants and as many as 200 in-depth, follow-up interviews. After the survey, the project will examine the unique challenges that Christians (including moderate, conservative and liberal Protestants and Catholics) face in their workplaces and careers; how their faith does or does not address such challenges; and the best ways clergy and others may attend to these challenges. "For many, work is the single largest time commitment in life," said Elaine Howard Ecklund, the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences at Rice and the study's principal investigator. "And for many, faith and faith community are the most meaningful commitments in life. Understanding how people integrate these two facets of life is the core purpose of this research." Ecklund, who is also the director of Rice's Religion and Public Life Program and a Rice Scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, will collaborate with Denise Daniels, a professor of management in the School of Business, Government and Economics at Seattle Pacific University. "Our goal is that detailed data collection and carefully designed outreach efforts will put easy-to-understand data into the hands of as many U.S. clergy as possible and create networks of clergy who are trained to meet the spiritual needs of working men and women from various demographic groups, across multiple occupational domains and at various income levels," Ecklund said. Daniels said the study will provide the first broad baseline to inform Lilly Endowment about the opportunities for and challenges associated with how individuals understand how faith informs their work, and what congregations and their leaders may do to support the appropriation of faith to daily work among the congregation. Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 that exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Ecklund, who is a scholar of religion in public life, said this is her first project to examine how religious people negotiate the relationship between faith and work. Her previous work has focused on how scientists think about religion, gender and science, and about medicine and religion. For more information on Ecklund's work, visit http://www. . Daniels, a scholar of leadership and faith, has served as associate dean and interim dean of the Business School at Seattle Pacific University and has worked widely as a consultant on leadership for many different organizations. This news release can be found online at http://news. . Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

HOUSTON - (April 25, 2017) - Higher costs for complex cancer surgery may be an indicator for worse -- rather than better -- quality of care, according to new research by experts at Rice University and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Their findings are published in the journal Surgery and provide multiple implications for care delivery. In the study, the authors analyzed Medicare hospital and physician claims from 2005 to 2009 for patients who were age 65 or older from all 50 states. The researchers looked at six different cancer operations: colectomy, rectal resection, pulmonary lobectomy, pneumonectomy, esophagectomy and pancreatic resection. In their initial review of the data, they found that surgeons who performed just two operations of a specific type in a given year versus one could achieve patient cost savings for four of the six cancer operations, ranging from 0.6 percent for colectomy to 2.8 percent for pancreatic resection. Savings for the highest-volume surgeons (at the 95th percentile of the volume distribution) were even greater. A surgeon performing 14 pancreatic resections had patient costs that were 8.5 percent lower ($3,286) than a surgeon who performed only one operation; and a surgeon performing 22 colectomies per year had costs that were 5.4 percent lower ($1,089). However, when the researchers accounted for the processes of care listed in each patient's treatment, the cost savings associated with high-volume surgeons decreased by 50 percent for pancreatic resection and completely disappeared for colectomy. Apparent cost savings for pulmonary lobectomy also disappeared, and cost savings for rectal resection also fell substantially, said co-author Vivian Ho, the chair in health economics at Rice's Baker Institute for Public Policy and director of the institute's Center for Health and Biosciences. Processes of care are actions that health care providers take to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes, such as placing of arterial lines or providing epidural anesthesia. Many of these are actions taken to avoid or treat complications that can occur during surgery. "Basically, our analyses indicate that the lower patient costs achieved by high-volume surgeons can be explained by their lower occurrence of processes of care that are associated with surgical complications, as well as their higher use of processes of care associated with better outcomes," said co-author Dr. Thomas Aloia, associate professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology, Division of Surgery, at MD Anderson. "People mistakenly think that higher spending in health care implies higher quality care," Ho said. "In this case, higher spending is a marker of worse patient care. The results imply that patients who need cancer surgery can expect lower costs and better outcomes with high-volume surgeons." "Can Postoperative Process-of-Care Utilization or Complication Rates Explain the Volume-Cost Relationship for Cancer Surgery?" was also co-authored by Marah Short, associate director of the Baker Institute's Center for Health and Biosciences. The study references a 2008 paper by the authors that found that patients treated by surgeons performing a higher number of particular cancer operations (such as pneumonectomy for lung cancer or esophagectomy for esophageal cancer) had lower costs for their hospital stays compared with patients operated on by low-volume surgeons. However, the authors didn't know why this inverse volume-cost relationship existed. Their new research set out to find the reasons underlying the volume-cost relationship. "Our volume-cost comparison suggests that patients treated by low-volume surgeons were less likely to receive two processes of care (epidural anesthesia and daily epidural management) that have been associated with better patient outcomes," said Ho, who is also a professor of economics at Rice and a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. "However, patients treated by low-volume surgeons almost always were significantly more likely to experience transfusions, consultations and complication-related processes of care (for example, TPN, critical care and inpatient consultations)." TPN stands for total parenteral nutrition, in which patients who are unable to eat are administered nutrients intravenously. The results provide multiple implications for care delivery, the authors said. First, it may be beneficial to refer patients to high-volume surgeons because of the surgeons' enhanced value (higher quality with lower costs). Second, government and private insurers should compare measures of processes of care and complications across surgeons and notify hospitals about surgeons with high complication rates and processes of care associated with poor patient outcomes. Hospitals could work with surgeons to improve surgical care, which should improve patient care and lessen costs. More broadly, the results suggest that action under the Affordable Care Act to shift hospital reimbursement toward bundled payment for hospitals and doctors for complex surgery should be encouraged, the authors said. "The current fee-for-service system often leads to higher payments for physicians and hospitals when patients suffer surgical complications and require higher levels of care," Ho said. "Specifying a fixed, bundled payment that doesn't vary with treatment intensity will discourage low-volume surgeons from performing operations that could generate costly complications for which they will not be compensated." For more information, to receive a copy of the study or to schedule an interview with Ho, Aloia or Short, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775. Follow the Center for Health and Biosciences via Twitter @BakerCHB. Founded in 1993, Rice University's Baker Institute ranks among the top five university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute's strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes -- including a public policy course -- and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at http://www. or on the institute's blog, http://blogs. .


Embodiments of the present disclosure pertain to methods of making conductive films by associating an inorganic composition with an insulating substrate, and forming a porous inorganic layer from the inorganic composition on the insulating substrate. The inorganic layer may include a nanoporous metal layer, such as nickel fluoride. The methods of the present disclosure may also include a step of incorporating the conductive films into an electronic device. The methods of the present disclosure may also include a step of associating the conductive films with a solid electrolyte prior to its incorporation into an electronic device. The methods of the present disclosure may also include a step of separating the inorganic layer from the conductive film to form a freestanding inorganic layer. Further embodiments of the present disclosure pertain to the conductive films and freestanding inorganic layers.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

LearnHowToBecome.org, a leading resource provider for higher education and career information, has ranked the best colleges in Texas for 2017 based on analysis of degree programs, career resources and other student data. 50 four-year colleges and universities were highlighted for overall quality, with Rice University, Trinity University, Southern Methodist University, LeTourneau University and the University of Texas at Austin ranking as the top five. 50 two-year schools also made the list, with Texas State Technical College Waco, Western Texas College, Galveston College, Del Mar College and Navarro College coming in as the top five. All winning schools are listed below. “As Texas’ economy continues to grow, more job seekers are bolstering their resumes by earning a certificate or degree,” said Wes Ricketts, senior vice president of LearnHowToBecome.org. “Not only do these Texas colleges provide excellent academic opportunities, they also offer employment and career services that contribute to student success in the job market after college.” To be included on the “Best Colleges in Texas” list, all schools must be regionally accredited and not-for-profit institutions. Each college is ranked on a variety of data points, including number of degree programs offered, annual alumni earnings 10 years after entering college, career services, academic counseling, financial aid availability and graduation rates. Complete details on each college, their individual scores and the data and methodology used to determine the LearnHowToBecome.org “Best Colleges in Texas” list, visit: Texas’ Best Four-Year Colleges for 2017 include: Abilene Christian University Austin College Baylor University Dallas Baptist University Dallas Christian College Hardin-Simmons University Houston Baptist University Howard Payne University LeTourneau University Lubbock Christian University McMurry University Midwestern State University Rice University Saint Edward's University Sam Houston State University Southern Methodist University Southwestern Adventist University Southwestern University St Mary's University Stephen F Austin State University Tarleton State University Texas A & M International University Texas A & M University-College Station Texas A & M University-Commerce Texas Christian University Texas Lutheran University Texas State University Texas Tech University Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Texas Woman's University The University of Texas at Arlington The University of Texas at Austin The University of Texas at Dallas The University of Texas at El Paso The University of Texas at Tyler The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio The University of Texas of the Permian Basin The University of Texas-Pan American Trinity University University of Dallas University of Houston University of Houston-Clear Lake University of Mary Hardin-Baylor University of North Texas University of St Thomas University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center University of the Incarnate Word Wayland Baptist University West Texas A & M University Texas’ Best Two-Year Colleges for 2017 include: Alvin Community College Amarillo College Angelina College Austin Community College District Blinn College Brookhaven College Central Texas College Cisco College Coastal Bend College College of the Mainland Collin College Del Mar College Eastfield College El Paso Community College Frank Phillips College Galveston College Grayson College Hill College Houston Community College Howard College Kilgore College Lamar Institute of Technology Lamar State College-Port Arthur Lee College Lone Star College McLennan Community College Navarro College North Central Texas College North Lake College Northeast Texas Community College Northwest Vista College Odessa College Palo Alto College Panola College Richland College San Antonio College San Jacinto College South Plains College St Philip's College Tarrant County College District Temple College Texas State Technical College - West Texas Texas State Technical College-Waco Trinity Valley Community College Tyler Junior College Vernon College Victoria College Weatherford College Western Texas College Wharton County Junior College ### About Us: LearnHowtoBecome.org was founded in 2013 to provide data and expert driven information about employment opportunities and the education needed to land the perfect career. Our materials cover a wide range of professions, industries and degree programs, and are designed for people who want to choose, change or advance their careers. We also provide helpful resources and guides that address social issues, financial aid and other special interest in higher education. Information from LearnHowtoBecome.org has proudly been featured by more than 700 educational institutions.


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

IMAGE:  Rice University's latest new dual-function bioscilloscope uses a light plate apparatus, or LPA, that is outfitted with the spectral LEDs. view more Rice University bioengineers who specialize in creating tools for synthetic biology have unveiled the latest version of their "biofunction generator and "bioscilloscope," an optogenetic platform that uses light to activate and study two biological circuits at a time. The biofunction generator and bioscilloscope are a toolkit of genes and hardware that use colored lights and engineered bacteria to bring both mathematical predictability and cut-and-paste simplicity to the world of genetic circuit design. "Unfortunately, all biological light sensors are 'sloppy,' in that they tend to respond to multiple colors of light," said Jeffrey Tabor, an associate professor of bioengineering at Rice. "We've developed a detailed mathematical model to capture this sloppiness and design multicolor light signals that compensate for it so that two light sensors can be independently controlled in the same cell. Because most of the circuits that control biological behaviors are composed of two or more genes, this technology will make it easier for our lab and others to study complex synthetic biological systems." The research is described in a recent paper in Molecular Systems Biology. Life is controlled by DNA-based circuits. These are similar to the circuits in smartphones and other electronic devices with a key difference: The information that flows through electronic circuitry is voltage, and the information that flows through genetic circuits is protein production. Genetic circuits can be switched on or off -- produce protein or not -- and they can be tuned to produce more or less protein, much like voltage from an electronic circuit can be raised or lowered. The biofunction generator and bioscilloscope, which were first created in Tabor's lab three years ago, show how closely the analogy holds. Function generators and oscilloscopes, stock components of electrical engineering labs for more than 50 years, are test instruments that can feed voltage signals into circuits and show how signal voltage varies with time at other locations within the circuit. Oscilloscope screens usually show wave functions and can plot one or more signals at a time. The bioscilloscope plots the output of biocircuits in exactly the same way. The inputs and outputs for the biocircuits are light. Specifically, Tabor's team has developed a biofunction generator, a set of light-activated genes that can be used to turn genes on and off and to regulate the amount of protein they produce when turned on. The bioscilloscope comprises another set of genes that add fluorescent tags to the DNA to read out the circuit response, which means the more protein that's produced, the more light that's given off by the sample. In the new paper, recent Ph.D. graduate and lead author Evan Olson and colleagues tested new dual-function tools using the latest optogenetic hardware and software tools developed by Tabor's lab in conjunction with a new mathematical model for the biofunction generator output. "The model allows us to predict the output gene-expression response to any light input signal, regardless of how the intensity or spectral composition of the light signal changes over time," Olson said. "The model works by describing how light of any wavelength and intensity is converted into a population of light sensors in the 'on' or 'off' states." Olson said they demonstrated the system in two proof-of-concept experiments. In the first, they showed the system could compensate for "perturbative" signals, incoming light such as that from a microscope or fluorescent imager that might otherwise interfere with the incoming optogenetic signal. In the second, they demonstrated multiplexed control by simultaneously driving two independent gene expression signals in two optogenetic circuits in the same bacteria. The output on the bioscilloscope shows the two functions as red and green lines. The researchers showed they could activate the genetic circuits to produce smooth waves and stair-step patterns, and they showed the two circuits could be switched on in unison or at different times. "This multiplexing approach enables a completely new generation of experiments for characterizing and controlling the biological circuits that integrate multiple signals and that are ubiquitous in biological networks, particularly those used for decision-making and developmental processes," Tabor said. The study was co-authored by undergraduate Constantine Tzouanas. The research was supported by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation. The DOI of the Molecular Systems Biology paper is: 10.15252/msb.20167456 A copy of the paper is available at: http://msb. It's now easier to go with the flow -- May 3, 2016 http://news. No bioengineered gut bacteria, no glory -- May 12, 2014 http://news. This release can be found online at news.rice.edu. Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A professor of physics at The University of Texas at Arlington has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to physics education with a Fellowship from the American Association of Physics Teachers. Ramon Lopez, a longtime leader in physics and science education, has been named one of eight Fellows for 2017 by the AAPT. The criterion for selection of Fellows is exceptional contribution to AAPT's mission - to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching. Nominations are evaluated by the AAPT awards committee and approved by the organization's board of directors. "Being elected a Fellow of the AAPT is a great honor, and it is a recognition of the work I have done in physics education and my standing in the physics education community," said Lopez, whose research includes heliophysics, or the science of the Sun-Earth connection through the space environment, space weather and magnetospheric physics. The AAPT fellowship is the latest of numerous accolades recognizing Lopez's longtime advocacy for science education and his excellence in teaching and mentoring students. Last August, the Space and Aeronomy section of the American Geophysical Union presented Lopez with the 2016 Richard Carrington Education and Public Outreach Award, which recognizes honorees for their significant and outstanding impact on students' and the public's understanding of science through their education and/or outreach activities. The AAPT is the third scientific professional society to elect Lopez a Fellow, following the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "This fellowship is a wonderful recognition of the significant impact Dr. Lopez has made in physics and science education," College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi said. "In addition to being a renowned physicist who has made critical contributions to the field of space physics, Dr. Lopez has spent his career working to improve physics and science education and to increase opportunities for underrepresented minorities in science and the science, technology, engineering, mathematics fields." Lopez was co-chair of the writing team which drafted the Next Generation Science Standards from 2010-13. The goal of the team was to identify core ideas in science across different grades and to provide robust, forward-looking K-12 science standards that all states can use to guide teaching and learning in science for the next decade. He was also a member of the National Research Council's Committee on Undergraduate Science Education from 2002-04, and from 2006-09 he was a member of the writing team for the College Board's first-ever Science Standards for College Success, co-authoring the physical science standards. In addition, He was among a group of experts who served on the Committee for Review of Undergraduate Physics Teaching and Learning for the Republic of South Africa from 2012-15. He has been instrumental in the success of UTeach Arlington, which started in 2010 and has produced more than 120 graduates. The program recruits outstanding science and mathematics students and provides them with an excellent education as well as with training to receive teacher certification. The program provides early and intensive field experiences for teacher candidates, and the classes are taught by master teachers, who serve as both instructors and mentors. Additionally, Lopez has served as a consultant for school districts and state education agencies around the country, including the Texas Education Agency. He has served on scientific or education-related committees with the National Academy of Sciences, APS, AGU, and AAAS, and also has served as a member of the board of directors of the Society of the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. In addition, he is the author of a popular science book, Storms from the Sun. Lopez earned a doctorate. in Space Physics from Rice University in 1986. Prior to joining UTA, he worked as a research scientist and administrator at the University of Maryland at College Park, as director of Education and Outreach Programs with the APS, as professor and physics department chair at UT El Paso and as physics professor at the Florida Institute of Technology. In 2007, he came to UTA. In April, Lopez received the UTA Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring for 2016-17. He was the 2012 recipient of the APS Edward A. Bouchet Award, which seeks to promote the participation of under-represented minorities in physics by identifying and recognizing a distinguished minority physicist who has made significant contributions to physics research. He was awarded the SACNAS Distinguished Scientist Award in 2010, given to members for their dedication to science, education, and mentoring who continue to serve as role models for the next generation of minority scientists. In 2002 Lopez received the APS Dwight Nicholson Medal for Outreach, which honors humanitarian service. AAPT is an international organization for physics educators, physicists, and industrial scientists--with members worldwide. Dedicated to enhancing the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching, AAPT provides awards, publications, and programs that encourage teaching practical application of physics principles, support continuing professional development, and reward excellence in physics education. AAPT was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland. The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 "highest research activity" institution. With a projected global enrollment of close to 57,000, UTA is one of the largest institutions in the state of Texas. Guided by its Strategic Plan 2020 Bold Solutions|Global Impact, UTA fosters interdisciplinary research and education within four broad themes: health and the human condition, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact, and data-driven discovery. UTA was recently cited by U.S. News & World Report as having the second lowest average student debt among U.S. universities. U.S. News & World Report lists UTA as having the fifth highest undergraduate diversity index among national universities. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times' 2017 Best for Vets list.


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

When it comes to duplicating DNA, evolution seems to value speed over accuracy, new research suggests. The finding challenges assumptions that perfectly accurate transcription and translation are critical to the success of biological systems. It turns out a few mistakes here and there aren’t critical as long as the great majority of the resulting biopolymers are correct. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows how nature has optimized two processes, DNA replication and protein translation, that are fundamental to life. By simultaneously analyzing the balance between speed and accuracy, Rice University researchers determined that naturally selected reaction rates optimize for speed “as long as the error level is tolerable.” Their technique allowed them to see that while error correction through kinetic proofreading leans toward speed, the cost of going as fast as possible could sometimes be too big. Kinetic proofreading is the biochemical process that allows enzymes, such as those responsible for protein and DNA production, to achieve better accuracy between chemically similar substrates. Sequences are compared to templates at multiple steps and are either approved or discarded, but each step requires time and energy resources and as a result various tradeoffs occur. “Additional checking processes slow down the system and consume extra energy,” says postdoctoral fellow Kinshuk Banerjee. “Think of an airport security system that checks passengers. Higher security (accuracy) means a need for more personnel (energy), with longer waiting times for passengers (less speed).” The researchers found the prevalent theories unsatisfying when they became interested in learning how nature corrects its errors. “I’ve never been happy with the way people look at biological error correction mechanisms because their approaches were oversimplified,” says Anatoly Kolomeisky, professor of chemistry and chemical and biomolecular engineering. “I wanted a more comprehensive framework, so we could look at both the right and wrong pathways for replication and translation, as well as for other processes. “We developed a powerful quantitative method with which we can simultaneously calculate error, speed, and energy costs, where previous methods only focused on errors,” he says. “We saw what was missing,” adds Oleg Igoshin, associate professor of bioengineering and biosciences. “By simultaneously analyzing several parameters, we can see the interplay between energy, error, and speed and determine where optimization occurs.” While speed is still a priority, biological systems sacrifice a bit by fine-tuning error correction. Graphs produced by the new calculations show that when protein replication is limited by just a percentage point or two below maximum speed, the accuracy remains high and energy savings are significant. “It is perhaps not that surprising that accuracy is not the only concern for the system,” Banerjee says. “What is fascinating is how the systems optimize their performance by fine-tuning these apparently opposite objectives while taking care of the energetic cost.” The new paper is the second of two in quick succession by the trio to address accuracy in cellular processes. In March, they reported in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters that error correction in the production of enzymes, the biological catalysts essential to all life, is always determined by kinetics rather than thermodynamics. The authors say the research clarified important features of enzymatic selectivity mechanisms in biological systems. The Center for Theoretical Biological Physics at Rice, the National Science Foundation, and the Welch Foundation supported the research.


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

If they're quick about it, "hot" electrons excited in a plasmonic metal can tunnel their way across a nanoscale gap to a neighboring metal. Rice University scientists said the cool part is what happens in the gap. A Rice team discovered those electrons can create a photovoltage about a thousand times larger than what is seen if there is no gap. The finding shows it should be possible to create nanoscale photodetectors that convert light into electricity and can be used as sensors or in other sophisticated electronics. Results from the Rice lab of condensed matter physicist Douglas Natelson appear in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. Natelson's lab studies the electronic, magnetic and optical properties of nanoscale structures, often by testing the properties of systems that can only be viewed under a microscope. Some studies involve whole gold nanowires, and sometimes the lab breaks the wire to form a gap of just a few nanometers (billionths of a meter). One goal is to understand whether and how electrons leap the nanogap under various conditions, like ultracold temperatures. While looking at such structures, the researchers found themselves studying the nanoscale characteristics of what's known as the Seebeck (thermoelectric) effect, discovered in 1821, in which heat is converted to electricity at the junction of two wires of different metals. Seebeck discovered that a voltage would form across a single conductor when one part is hotter than the other. "If you want to make thermostats for your house or your car climate control, this is how you do it," Natelson said. "You join together two dissimilar metals to make a thermocouple, and stick that junction where you want to measure the temperature. Knowing the difference between the Seebeck coefficients of the metals and measuring the voltage across the thermocouple, you can work backward from that to get the temperature." To see how it works in a single metal on the nanoscale, Natelson, lead author and former postdoctoral researcher Pavlo Zolotavin and graduate student Charlotte Evans used a laser to induce a temperature gradient across a bowtie-shaped gold nanowire. That created a small voltage, consistent with the Seebeck effect. But with a nanogap splitting the wire, "the data made clear that a different physical mechanism is at work," they wrote. Gold is a plasmonic metal, one of a class of metals that can respond to energy input from a laser or other source by exciting plasmons on their surfaces. Plasmon excitations are the back-and-forth sloshing of electrons in the metal, like water in a basin. This is useful, Natelson explained, because oscillating plasmons can be detected. Depending on the metal and its size and shape, these plasmons may only show up when prompted by light at a particular wavelength. In the bowties, laser light absorbed by the plasmons created hot electrons that eventually transferred their energy to the atoms in the metal, vibrating them as well. That energy is dissipated as heat. In continuous, solid wires, the temperature difference caused by the laser also created small voltages. But when nanogaps were present, the hot electrons passed through the void and created much larger voltages before dispersing. "It's a neat result," Natelson said. "The main points are, first, that we can tune the thermoelectric properties of metals by structuring them on small scales, so that we can make thermocouples out of one material. Second, a focused laser can act as a scannable, local heat source, letting us map out those effects. Shining light on the structure produces a small photovoltage. "And third, in structures with truly nanoscale tunneling gaps (1-2 nanometers), the photovoltage can be a thousand times larger, because the tunneling process effectively uses some of the high-energy electrons before their energy is lost to heat," he said. "This has potential for photodetector technologies and shows the potential that can be realized if we can use hot electrons before they have a chance to lose their energy." Gold seems to be the best metal to show the effect so far, Natelson said, as control experiments with gold-palladium and nickel nanogapped wires did not perform as well. The researchers acknowledge several possible reasons for the dramatic effect, but they strongly suspect tunneling by the photo-generated hot carriers is responsible. "You don't need plasmons for this effect, because any absorption, at least in a short time, is going to generate these hot carriers," Zolotavin said. "However, if you've got plasmons, they effectively increase the absorption. They interact with light very strongly, and the effect gets bigger because the plasmons make the absorption bigger." Natelson is a professor of physics and astronomy, of electrical and computer engineering and of materials science and nanoengineering, and chair of the Rice Department of Physics and Astronomy. Zolotavin, a former postdoctoral researcher in Natelson's lab, is now a scientist with Lam Research. The U.S. Army Research Office, the Robert A. Welch Foundation and the National Science Foundation supported the research. This news release can be found online at http://news. Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | May 2, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

HOUSTON - (May 2, 2017) - Biology must be in a hurry. In balancing speed and accuracy to duplicate DNA, produce proteins and carry out other processes, evolution has apparently determined that speed is of higher priority, according to Rice University researchers. Rice scientists are challenging assumptions that perfectly accurate transcription and translation are critical to the success of biological systems. It turns out a few mistakes here and there aren't critical as long as the great majority of the biopolymers produced are correct. A new paper shows how nature has optimized two processes, DNA replication and protein translation, that are fundamental to life. By simultaneously analyzing the balance between speed and accuracy, the Rice team determined that naturally selected reaction rates optimize for speed "as long as the error level is tolerable." The paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is by Rice postdoctoral fellow Kinshuk Banerjee and his advisers, Oleg Igoshin, an associate professor of bioengineering and biosciences, and Anatoly Kolomeisky, a professor of chemistry and chemical and biomolecular engineering. Their technique allowed them to see that while error correction through kinetic proofreading leans toward speed, the cost of going as fast as possible could sometimes be too big. Kinetic proofreading is the biochemical process that allows enzymes, such as those responsible for protein and DNA production, to achieve better accuracy between chemically similar substrates. Sequences are compared to templates at multiple steps and are either approved or discarded, but each step requires time and energy resources and as a result various tradeoffs occur. "Additional checking processes slow down the system and consume extra energy," Banerjee said. "Think of an airport security system that checks passengers. Higher security (accuracy) means a need for more personnel (energy), with longer waiting times for passengers (less speed)." The researchers found the prevalent theories unsatisfying when they became interested in learning how nature corrects its errors. "I've never been happy with the way people look at biological error correction mechanisms because their approaches were oversimplified," said Kolomeisky, who studies the mechanisms of biological systems. "I wanted a more comprehensive framework, so we could look at both the right and wrong pathways for replication and translation, as well as for other processes. "We developed a powerful quantitative method with which we can simultaneously calculate error, speed and energy costs, where previous methods only focused on errors," he said. "We saw what was missing," added Igoshin, whose lab at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative studies computational systems biology. "By simultaneously analyzing several parameters, we can see the interplay between energy, error and speed and determine where optimization occurs." While speed is still a priority, biological systems sacrifice a bit by fine-tuning error correction. Graphs produced by the Rice calculations show that when protein replication is limited by just a percentage point or two below maximum speed, the accuracy remains high and energy savings are significant. "It is perhaps not that surprising that accuracy is not the only concern for the system," Banerjee said. "What is fascinating is how the systems optimize their performance by fine-tuning these apparently opposite objectives while taking care of the energetic cost." The concept of speed versus accuracy has already been explored in a very different system at Rice through work by computer scientist Krishna Palem, who created microprocessors that increase their efficiency by allowing slight imperfections in their calculations. "That makes just as much sense for biology as it does for engineering," Igoshin said. "Once you're accurate enough, you stop optimizing." The new paper is the second of two in quick succession by the trio to address accuracy in cellular processes. In March, they reported in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters that error correction in the production of enzymes, the biological catalysts essential to all life, is always determined by kinetics rather than thermodynamics. The authors said the research clarified important features of enzymatic selectivity mechanisms in biological systems. The Center for Theoretical Biological Physics at Rice, the National Science Foundation and the Welch Foundation supported the research. Read "Elucidating Interplay of Speed and Accuracy in Biological Error Correction" at http://www. Read the abstract for "Accuracy of Substrate Selection by Enzymes Is Controlled by Kinetic Discrimination" at http://pubs. This news release can be found online at http://news. Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

HOUSTON, May 03, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Five Nine Solutions, Inc. announced their new paid internship program that comes with chance of receiving a $1,000 scholarship for local students and the upcoming Dec. 2017 graduating class. President and founder of Five Nine Solutions, Inc., Ricky Malone has opened this internship & scholarship opportunity to any student who is enrolled in a higher education program, has a competitive and confident edge and is seeking entry level experience in marketing management. “The guidelines are simple,” Malone said. “The top-performing intern that is developed into the strongest coach and mentor to incoming associates by the end of the internship program, receives the scholarship.” This internship is a three-month program, with protentional full time job offer post-graduation. The intern will focus on brand management, maintain client relationships, as well as introducing new products to our clients. Accountability, initiative, progressive forward thinking and polished communication skills are they key things that Five Nine Solutions, Inc. are looking for in their candidates. Students from University of Houston, Rice University to Lone Star Community College are quickly submitting their applications to be considered. “We pride ourselves in having a work environment that not only builds relationships, but we build leaders as well,” Malone said. “Our interns will take part on all of our team nights and company outings, they will be part of the Five Nine Solutions, Inc. family.” To apply and for more information about Five Nine Solutions, Inc. visit www.fiveninesolutuions.net Five Nine Solutions, Inc is a privately-owned marketing firm that represents some of the largest brand names in the world, primarily Fortune 100 Companies. Due to the high demand from their clients, in 2016 relocated their head office to Houston, Texas and are looking to expand into new market in the next few years.


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

HOUSTON, May 03, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Five Nine Solutions, Inc. announced their new paid internship program that comes with chance of receiving a $1,000 scholarship for local students and the upcoming Dec. 2017 graduating class. President and founder of Five Nine Solutions, Inc., Ricky Malone has opened this internship & scholarship opportunity to any student who is enrolled in a higher education program, has a competitive and confident edge and is seeking entry level experience in marketing management. “The guidelines are simple,” Malone said. “The top-performing intern that is developed into the strongest coach and mentor to incoming associates by the end of the internship program, receives the scholarship.” This internship is a three-month program, with protentional full time job offer post-graduation. The intern will focus on brand management, maintain client relationships, as well as introducing new products to our clients. Accountability, initiative, progressive forward thinking and polished communication skills are they key things that Five Nine Solutions, Inc. are looking for in their candidates. Students from University of Houston, Rice University to Lone Star Community College are quickly submitting their applications to be considered. “We pride ourselves in having a work environment that not only builds relationships, but we build leaders as well,” Malone said. “Our interns will take part on all of our team nights and company outings, they will be part of the Five Nine Solutions, Inc. family.” To apply and for more information about Five Nine Solutions, Inc. visit www.fiveninesolutuions.net Five Nine Solutions, Inc is a privately-owned marketing firm that represents some of the largest brand names in the world, primarily Fortune 100 Companies. Due to the high demand from their clients, in 2016 relocated their head office to Houston, Texas and are looking to expand into new market in the next few years.


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

HOUSTON, May 03, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Five Nine Solutions, Inc. announced their new paid internship program that comes with chance of receiving a $1,000 scholarship for local students and the upcoming Dec. 2017 graduating class. President and founder of Five Nine Solutions, Inc., Ricky Malone has opened this internship & scholarship opportunity to any student who is enrolled in a higher education program, has a competitive and confident edge and is seeking entry level experience in marketing management. “The guidelines are simple,” Malone said. “The top-performing intern that is developed into the strongest coach and mentor to incoming associates by the end of the internship program, receives the scholarship.” This internship is a three-month program, with protentional full time job offer post-graduation. The intern will focus on brand management, maintain client relationships, as well as introducing new products to our clients. Accountability, initiative, progressive forward thinking and polished communication skills are they key things that Five Nine Solutions, Inc. are looking for in their candidates. Students from University of Houston, Rice University to Lone Star Community College are quickly submitting their applications to be considered. “We pride ourselves in having a work environment that not only builds relationships, but we build leaders as well,” Malone said. “Our interns will take part on all of our team nights and company outings, they will be part of the Five Nine Solutions, Inc. family.” To apply and for more information about Five Nine Solutions, Inc. visit www.fiveninesolutuions.net Five Nine Solutions, Inc is a privately-owned marketing firm that represents some of the largest brand names in the world, primarily Fortune 100 Companies. Due to the high demand from their clients, in 2016 relocated their head office to Houston, Texas and are looking to expand into new market in the next few years.


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

HOUSTON, May 03, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Five Nine Solutions, Inc. announced their new paid internship program that comes with chance of receiving a $1,000 scholarship for local students and the upcoming Dec. 2017 graduating class. President and founder of Five Nine Solutions, Inc., Ricky Malone has opened this internship & scholarship opportunity to any student who is enrolled in a higher education program, has a competitive and confident edge and is seeking entry level experience in marketing management. “The guidelines are simple,” Malone said. “The top-performing intern that is developed into the strongest coach and mentor to incoming associates by the end of the internship program, receives the scholarship.” This internship is a three-month program, with protentional full time job offer post-graduation. The intern will focus on brand management, maintain client relationships, as well as introducing new products to our clients. Accountability, initiative, progressive forward thinking and polished communication skills are they key things that Five Nine Solutions, Inc. are looking for in their candidates. Students from University of Houston, Rice University to Lone Star Community College are quickly submitting their applications to be considered. “We pride ourselves in having a work environment that not only builds relationships, but we build leaders as well,” Malone said. “Our interns will take part on all of our team nights and company outings, they will be part of the Five Nine Solutions, Inc. family.” To apply and for more information about Five Nine Solutions, Inc. visit www.fiveninesolutuions.net Five Nine Solutions, Inc is a privately-owned marketing firm that represents some of the largest brand names in the world, primarily Fortune 100 Companies. Due to the high demand from their clients, in 2016 relocated their head office to Houston, Texas and are looking to expand into new market in the next few years.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Rice University petrologists who recreated hot, high-pressure conditions from 60 miles below Earth's surface have found a new clue about a crucial event in the planet's deep past. Their study describes how fossilized carbon -- the remains of Earth's earliest single-celled creatures -- could have been subsumed and locked deep in Earth's interior starting around 2.4 billion years ago -- a time when atmospheric oxygen rose dramatically. The paper appears online this week in the journal Nature Geoscience. "It's an interesting concept, but in order for complex life to evolve, the earliest form of life needed to be deeply buried in the planet's mantle," said Rajdeep Dasgupta, a professor of Earth science at Rice. "The mechanism for that burial comes in two parts. First, you need some form of plate tectonics, a mechanism to carry the carbon remains of early life-forms back into Earth. Second, you need the correct geochemistry so that organic carbon can be carried deeply into Earth's interior and thereby removed from the surface environment for a long time." At issue is what caused the "great oxidation event," a steep increase in atmospheric oxygen that is well-documented in countless ancient rocks. The event is so well-known to geologists that they often simply refer to it as the "GOE." But despite this familiarity, there's no scientific consensus about what caused the GOE. For example, scientists know Earth's earliest known life, single-celled cyanobacteria, drew down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and released oxygen. But the appearance of early life has been pushed further and further into the past with recent fossil discoveries, and scientists now know that cyanobacteria were prevalent at least 500 million years before the GOE. "Cyanobacteria may have played a role, but the GOE was so dramatic -- oxygen concentration increased as much as 10,000 times -- that cyanobacteria by themselves could not account for it," said lead co-author Megan Duncan, who conducted the research for her Ph.D. dissertation at Rice. "There also has to be a mechanism to remove a significant amount of reduced carbon from the biosphere, and thereby shift the relative concentration of oxygen within the system," she said. Removing carbon without removing oxygen requires special circumstances because the two elements are prone to bind with one another. They form one of the key components of the atmosphere -- carbon dioxide -- as well as all types of carbonate rocks. Dasgupta and Duncan found that the chemical composition of the "silicate melt" -- subducting crustal rock that melts and rises back to the surface through volcanic eruptions -- plays a crucial role in determining whether fossilized organic carbon, or graphite, sinks into the mantle or rises back to the surface through volcanism. Duncan, now a research scientist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., said the study is the first to examine the graphite-carrying capacity of a type of melt known as rhyolite, which is commonly produced deep in the mantle and carries significant amounts of carbon to the volcanoes. She said the graphite-carrying capacity of rhyolitic rock is crucial because if graphite is prone to hitching a ride back to the surface via extraction of rhyolitic melt, it would not have been buried in sufficient quantities to account for the GOE. "Silicate composition plays an important role," she said. "Scientists have previously looked at carbon-carrying capacities in compositions that were much more magnesium-rich and silicon-poor. But the compositions of these rhyolitic melts are high in silicon and aluminum and have very little calcium, magnesium and iron. That matters because calcium and magnesium are cations, and they change the amount of carbon you can dissolve." Dasgupta and Duncan found that rhyolitic melts could dissolve very little graphite, even when very hot. "That was one of our motivations," said Dasgupta, professor of Earth science. "If subduction zones in the past were very hot and produced a substantial amount of melt, could they completely destabilize organic carbon and release it back to the surface? "What we showed was that even at very, very high temperatures, not much of this graphitic carbon dissolves in the melt," he said. "So even though the temperature is high and you produce a lot of melt, this organic carbon is not very soluble in that melt, and the carbon gets buried in the mantle as a result. "What is neat is that with the onset and the expected tempo of crustal burial into the deep mantle starting just prior to the GOE, and with our experimental data on the efficiency of deep burial of reduced carbon, we could model the expected rise of atmospheric oxygen across the GOE," Dasgupta said. The research supports the findings of a 2016 paper by fellow Rice petrologist Cin-Ty Lee and colleagues that suggested that plate tectonics, continent formation and the appearance of early life were key factors in the development of an oxygen-rich atmosphere on Earth. Duncan, who increasingly focuses on exoplanetary systems, said the research could provide important clues about what scientists should look for when evaluating which exoplanets could support life.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

HOUSTON -- (April 12, 2017) -- Rice University professor and engineer Richard Baraniuk has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is one of 228 new members announced today by the academy, which honors some of the world's most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists and civic, business and philanthropic leaders. Baraniuk is the Victor E. Cameron Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice. Others in the academy's Class of 2017 include philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend, actress Carol Burnett, chairman of the board of Xerox Corp. Ursula Burns, mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, immunologist James P. Allison, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows and winners of the Academy, Grammy, Emmy and Tony awards. "In a tradition reaching back to the earliest days of our nation, the honor of election to the American Academy is also a call to service," said Academy President Jonathan F. Fanton. "Through our projects, publications and events, the academy provides members with opportunities to make common cause and produce the useful knowledge for which the academy's 1780 charter calls." Baraniuk is one of the world's leading experts on machine learning and compressive sensing, a branch of signal processing that enables engineers to deduce useful information from far fewer data samples than would ordinarily be required. He is a co-inventor of the single-pixel camera and of the FlatCam, a lens-less camera that is thinner than a dime and can be fabricated like a microchip. A pioneer in education, Baraniuk founded Rice-based Connexions in 1999 to bring textbooks and other learning materials to the internet. Next came OpenStax, which provides high-quality, peer-reviewed, college-level textbooks to students worldwide as free downloads or low-cost printed publications. More than 1.8 million college students have used one of the 27 textbooks published by OpenStax. These textbooks are estimated to have saved students more than $100 million during the 2016-17 academic year. Baraniuk is also using OpenStax to develop a software platform for textbooks that deliver personalized lessons. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences membership comes less than a month after Baraniuk was selected as one of 13 Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellows -- one of the Defense Department's most coveted basic research awards for U.S. university scientists and engineers -- and a week after he was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors as a fellow. "It was a complete, total surprise," Baraniuk said about the announcement that the academy had elected him. "It's fantastic news. And it's a tribute to all the tremendous mentors I've had at Rice and my colleagues around the globe. This would never have happened without their guidance and support." Baraniuk was raised in Winnipeg, Canada. He has three degrees in electrical and computer engineering: a B.S. from the University of Manitoba, an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He holds 28 U.S. patents and six foreign patents in signal processing and acquisition. He came to Rice in 1992 and has received multiple teaching awards as a member of the faculty. Baraniuk is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Three times he has been named a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher. Among his other honors and awards are the 2012 Compressive Sampling Pioneer Award and the 2008 Wavelet Pioneer Award, both from the International Society for Optics and Photonics, and the IEEE Signal Processing Society's Best Paper (2015), Technical Achievement (2014) and Education (2010) awards. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences' new honorees will be inducted at a ceremony Oct. 7 in Cambridge, Mass. The list of the 237th class of new members is available at http://www. . The academy is one of the country's oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers. It convenes leaders from the academic, business and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing -- and opportunities available to -- the nation and the world. Members contribute to academy publications and studies in science, engineering and technology policy; global security and international affairs; the humanities, arts and education; and American institutions and the public good.


-- The use of human hair-derived keratin biomaterials to regenerate skeletal muscle has shown promise in new research that documents significant increases in both new muscle tissue formation and muscle function among mouse models of volumetric muscle loss. Two new studies that compare muscle regeneration following treatment with keratin hydrogels, no repair, or an alternative tissue matrix are published in in, a peer-reviewed journal from(http://www.liebertpub.com/). The articles are available free on the(http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ten.tea.2016.0457)website until May 27, 2017.In "Cell and Growth Factor-Loaded Keratin Hydrogels for Treatment of Volumetric Muscle Loss (VML) in  Mouse Model (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ten.tea.2016.0457),"and coauthors from University Maryland (College Park), University of Virginia (Charlottesville), Wake Forest University and KeraNetics, LLC (Winston-Salem, NC), and Miami University (Oxford, OH) report that mice with an area of substantial muscle mass loss that were treated with keratin hydrogels and growth factors had the best recovery of muscle contraction force. Examination of the affected muscle two months after treatment showed that mice with greater recovery of muscle function also had more extensive new muscle.In a second study, entitled "Keratin Hydrogel EnhancesSkeletal Muscle Function in a Rat Model of Volumetric Muscle Loss ( http://online.liebertpub.com/ doi/full/10.1089/ ten.tea.201... )," Passipieri, Baker, Christ, et al. compared the results of treating a substantial muscle injury in rats using keratin hydrogels with or without growth factors or skeletal muscle progenitor cells versus control animals treated with no repair or an alternative tissue matrix. Keratin hydrogel-treated animals recovered up to 90% of the maximum possible muscle function."The authors have identified a novel permissive environment for muscle development in a region of loss." saysCo-Editor-in-Chief, Principal, MedSurgPI, LLC and President and CEO, Scintellix, LLC, Raleigh, NC. "Further study to identify the optimal application of this technology and its mechanism of action is warranted." http://www.liebertpub.com/ ten ) is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published monthly online and in print in three parts: Part A, the flagship journal published 24 times per year; Part B: Reviews, published bimonthly, and Part C: Methods, published 12 times per year. Led by Co-Editors-In-Chief, Louis Calder Professor at Rice University, Houston, TX, and, Principal, MedSurgPI, LLC and President and CEO, Scintellix, LLC, Raleigh, NC, the Journal brings together scientific and medical experts in the fields of biomedical engineering, material science, molecular and cellular biology, and genetic engineering.is the official journal of the Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). Complete tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed online at thewebsite.(http://www.liebertpub.com/)is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including, and. Its biotechnology trade magazine, GEN ((http://www.genengnews.com/)), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 80 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on thewebsite.


-- Researchers have developed a new model to analyze tissue engineered cartilage that allows for the use of a single method to assess functional tissue mechanics in cartilage constructs at all stages of development from the laboratory through large animal testing. This unified approach to soft-tissue modeling, which provides a valuable framework for comparing data across different testing methods and for standardizing mechanical outcomes reporting, is presented in an article in, a peer-reviewed journal from(http://www.liebertpub.com/). The article is available free on the(http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ten.tea.2016.0191)website until June 1, 2017., and coauthors from the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), North Carolina State University (Raleigh), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and AO Foundation (Davos, Switzerland), developed a finite element (FE) model based on the NIH-sponsored freeware FEBio that combines the unconfined compression and indentation testing methods commonly used to evaluate the mechanical properties of tissue engineered cartilage developed to treat osteoarthritis.In the article entitled "Biphasic Finite Element Modeling Reconciles Mechanical Properties of Tissue Engineered Cartilage Constructs Across Testing Platforms ( http://online.liebertpub.com/ doi/full/10.1089/ ten.tea.201... )," the researchers showed that the measurements of changes in material properties during the maturation of engineered cartilage tissue obtained using an FE model significantly correlated with traditional outcomes measures."The capacity to accurately measure cartilage tissue properties at all stages of development enables cause and effect relationships to be established more accurately, ultimately supporting successful tissue growth," saysCo-Editor-in-Chief, Principal, MedSurgPI, LLC and President and CEO, Scintellix, LLC, Raleigh, NC. http://www.liebertpub.com/ ten ) is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published monthly online and in print in three parts: Part A, the flagship journal published 24 times per year; Part B: Reviews, published bimonthly, and Part C: Methods, published 12 times per year. Led by Co-Editors-In-Chief, Louis Calder Professor at Rice University, Houston, TX, and, Principal, MedSurgPI, LLC and President and CEO, Scintellix, LLC, Raleigh, NC, the Journal brings together scientific and medical experts in the fields of biomedical engineering, material science, molecular and cellular biology, and genetic engineering.is the official journal of the Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). Complete tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed online at thewebsite.(http://www.liebertpub.com/)is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including, and. Its biotechnology trade magazine, GEN ((http://www.genengnews.com/)), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 80 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on thewebsite.


​​​An IEEE-USA delegation from Texas traveled to Washington, D.C. to express the importance of research and development activities to the nation’s economic growth, competitiveness and national security. The IEEE-USA TX delegation which included the current president of IEEE-USA Karen Pederson, president-elect Sandra Robinson, and current chair of the R&D policy committee Brendan Godfrey, joined with more than 150 scientists, engineers and business leaders who made visits on Capitol Hill as part of the Twentieth “Congressional Visits Day”, an annual event by the Science-Engineering-Technology Work Group on April 25 and 26. The visit came only a week before Congress released the FY17 spending bill which includes funding levels for key federal science agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense Office of Science and Technology, the National Institutes of Health and NASA. All of which received increased funding above the FY16 level. While visiting congressional offices, the IEEE-USA TX delegation discussed the importance of the nation’s broad portfolio of federal investments in science, engineering and technology to promoting our country’s prosperity and innovation. Most importantly, they provided a constituent perspective on the local and national impact of these programs and their significance to the Austin, Houston and Dallas metropolitan areas. Moreover, they spoke about the IEEE-USA legislative priorities that include taking active measures to strengthen America’s K-12 STEM education programs and improving America’s patenting and copyright system to keep it accessible to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the U.S. More than 50 percent of all industrial innovation and growth in the United States since World War II can be attributed to advances pioneered through scientific research, with publicly funded R&D constituting the vital foundation for today’s scientific and technological progress. Achievements from federally funded science, engineering and technology include global environmental monitoring, lasers, liquid crystal displays, the Internet, among many other scientific and technical advances. The federal government supports a unique research and education enterprise that fuels the American economy. This enterprise provides the underpinning of high-technology industries and expands the frontiers of knowledge in every field of science. Much of this research is carried out at academic institutions in Texas including The University of Texas system, Texas A&M, Rice University and The University of Houston and many other institutions across the country, ensuring knowledge transfer to future generations of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, physicians and teachers. Additionally, technology transfer from academic research adds billions of dollars to the economy each year and supports tens of thousands of jobs. Supporting the innovative scientific enterprise of the United States has consistently enjoyed bipartisan support. CVD was a valuable opportunity for the IEEE-USA delegation to reiterate the paramount importance of our lawmakers continuing their support for federally funded fundamental research despite tight fiscal constraints and the current tumultuous political climate. “It’s demonstrably true that the United States owes a great deal of its remarkable economic success, to its people's audacious spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as basic scientific research which stood as a key enabler for the American industrial might and its lead in technological innovation.” said Mina J Hanna, a member of the delegation. He added “I am very pleased to see Congress making science a priority in the FY17 appropriations bill and I look forward for a similar prioritization in the FY18 bill.” During the visit, U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (CO) and Gary Peters (MI) were awarded the George E. Brown Award for outstanding leadership in support of Federal R&D. They were recognized for their outstanding efforts to advance and promote science, engineering and technology on Capitol Hill. The Science-Engineering-Technology Work Group is an information network comprising professional, scientific and engineering societies, institutions of higher learning, and trade associations. The sponsors represent more than one million researchers and professions in science and engineering. The Work Group is concerned about the future vitality of the U.S. science, mathematics, and engineering enterprise.


News Article | March 28, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Graphene - Here's What You Should Know Graphene, the wonder material, is strong, light, non-toxic and conductive. Commercial applications of graphene are now rolling out to grace many sectors including the medical sector. Australian company Dotz Nano has announced the shipment of graphene quantum dots or GQDs for commercial use. The company's high-tech material, GQD, is aiming wider applications in many segments — imaging, bio-medical, electronic, and optical brightener markets thanks to its property of being able to illuminate colors. "We've managed to revolutionize the nanotechnology industry by introducing a material that utilizes natural resources in a cost-effective manner," noted Moti Gross, CEO of Dotz Nano. The company follows a strategy of low-cost extraction of graphene to make quantum dots unlike the expensive process in producing metallic quantum dots. It was originally developed by a team led by Professor James Tour of Rice University. Dotz Nano is aiming to make GQDs a mass product with expanded use in research and commercial segments. One important application of GQDs will be bio-imaging, in which GQDs will be administered to patients to track down cancer in the body and target drug delivery. Gross said GQDs are capable of transposing the blood-brain barrier and are good for attacking different types of brain cancers. "Bio-imaging is important because with GQDs we can effectively replace some of the isotopes and radioactive materials that are being used," said Gross. Quantum dots have been in news thanks to electronics manufacturers and solar cell makers. As tiny semiconducting crystals, they are made of metals like cadmium selenide and absorb invisible light to emit visible light. "A quantum dot is basically a micro-sized disc that absorbs UV light, releases it in the visible light spectrum, and we can change the color that's seen in the visible light spectrum according to the size of the dot," explains Gross. There are many merits that GQDs enjoy, as compared with metallic quantum dots. The latter is hard to produce because of the energy-intensive process involved and the presence of cadmium as a toxic material. However, these problems are off when graphene is used. Gross claimed that GQDs have excellent attributes that are lacking in metallic dots such as better electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and super strength. GQDs are not toxic and have a high yield in production. The color advantage is superb. While GQDs maintain the blue color, metallic quantum dots are not able to sustain the color, which poses challenges in manufacturing them. Dotz Nano has an R&D pact with the Tour Lab Group at Rice University to help Dotz Nano with the latest know-how on products and applications. The company is ramping up production of its GQDs to serve many market segments. The dots will be sold as a raw material for researchers and will be licensed and supplied to companies looking for use in dyes, detergents, electronics and other purposes. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | March 27, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Recycling, though very helpful for the environment, is easier said than done, especially when it comes to electronic wastes such as dead computer parts or old gadgets, which usually end up either rotting in some box in people's homes or improperly disposed of. Current recycling methods for electronic wastes usually involve burning or using chemicals to break materials down usually result in unusable materials. However, researchers from Rice University and the Indian Institute of Science found a way to properly and safely break down electronic wastes into something that can be reused. As mentioned above, current recycling methods usually require electronic wastes to go through a burning or chemical process to break them down. This is not only a less safe method since it could cause dangerous fumes to diffuse in the air, it is also less practical since the heat would cause the particles to merge together until it is rendered useless and will not actually lessen the waste produced. Postdoctoral researcher Chandra Sekhar Tiwary and his team wanted to change that. "We propose a system that breaks all of the components — metals, oxides, and polymers — into homogenous powders and makes them easy to reuse," Tiwary says. The research team relied on physics to devise a new recycling method for electronic wastes and tested it on old computer mice and circuit boards. Instead of making the material undergo an intense heating process, the team decided to go the other way through the process of cryo-milling. "When you heat things, they are more likely to combine ... That's what high-temperature processing is for, and it makes mixing really easy ... But in low temperatures, they don't like to mix ... They allow everything to separate really well," Tiwary explains. The research team set up a cryo-mill, which was filled with argon gas and contains a tool-grade steel ball, which was kept at a steady temperature of -182°F or 154 Kelvin. Then the container is shaken for up to three hours to smash the material up to somewhere between 20 and 100 nanometers wide. Once done, the crushed pieces are processed in a water bath to separate the materials into polymers, metals, and oxides. "Then they can be reused," he said. "Nothing is wasted." The research team's study titled "Electronic waste recycling via cryo-milling and nanoparticle beneficiation" is published in Materials Today. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.materialstoday.com

The laboratory of materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan at Rice University, in collaboration with researchers at NASA, has developed ‘fuzzy fibers’ of silicon carbide that act like Velcro and can stand up to the punishment that materials experience in aerospace applications. In a paper in Applied Materials and Interfaces, the researchers report that the fibers can strengthen composites used in advanced rocket engines that have to withstand temperatures up to 1600°C (2912°F). Ceramic composites in rockets now being developed use silicon carbide fibers to strengthen the material, but they can crack or become brittle when exposed to oxygen. The Rice lab embedded silicon carbide nanotubes and nanowires onto the surface of NASA's fibers. The nanotube and nanowires are curly and act like the hooks and loops that make Velcro so valuable – but on the nanoscale. The result, according to lead researchers Amelia Hart, a Rice graduate student, and Chandra Sekhar Tiwary, a Rice postdoctoral associate, is very strong interlocking connections where the fibers tangle. This not only makes the composite less prone to cracking but also seals it to prevent oxygen from changing the fiber's chemical composition. This research began when Hart, who had been studying the growth of carbon nanotubes on ceramic wool, met Michael Meador, then a scientist at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland at the kick-off reception for Rice's Materials Science and NanoEngineering Department. (Meador is now nanotechnology project manager at NASA's Game Changing Technologies program.) That led to a fellowship in Cleveland and the chance to combine her ideas with those of NASA research engineer and paper co-author Janet Hurst. "She was partially converting silicon carbide from carbon nanotubes," Hart said. "We used her formulation and my ability to grow nanotubes and figured out how to make the new composite." Back at Rice, Hart and her colleagues grew their hooks and loops by first bathing silicon carbide fiber in an iron catalyst and then using water-assisted chemical vapor deposition, a process developed in part at Rice, to embed a carpet of carbon nanotubes directly onto the fiber surface. The fibers were then heated in silicon nanopowder at high temperatures to convert the carbon nanotubes into silicon carbide ‘fuzz’. The researchers hope their fuzzy fibers will upgrade the strong, light and heat-resistant silicon carbide fibers that, when incorporated into ceramic composites, are being tested for robust nozzles and other parts in rocket engines. "The silicon carbide fiber they already use is stable to 1600°C," Tiwary said. "So we're confident that attaching silicon carbide nanotubes and wires to add strength will make it even more cutting-edge." The new materials should also make entire turbo engines significantly lighter. "Before they used silicon carbide composites, many engine parts were made of nickel superalloys that had to incorporate a cooling system, which added weight to the whole thing," Hart said. "By switching to ceramic matrix composites, they could take out the cooling system and go to higher temperatures. Our material will allow the creation of larger, longer-lasting turbo jet engines that go to higher temperatures than ever before." Friction and compression testing showed that the lateral force needed to move silicon carbide nanotubes and wires over each other was much greater than the force needed to slide past either plain nanotubes or unenhanced fibers. The fuzzy fibers were also able to easily bounce back from high compression applied with a nano-indenter, showing their ability to resist breaking down for longer amounts of time. Tests to see how well the fibers handled heat showed that while plain carbon nanotubes burned away from the fibers, the silicon carbide nanotubes easily resisted temperatures of up to 1000°C. Hart said the next step will be to apply her conversion techniques to other carbon nanomaterials to create unique three-dimensional materials for additional applications. This story is adapted from material from Rice University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Rice University will host the 7th Eubank Conference on Real World Markets on April 24-25. This year’s theme is “High Frequency Trading: Mitigating its Impact on Trading and Investing,” and speakers will explore the changing structure of financial markets and how quantitative scientists and traders can assist with understanding and navigating this change. The conference will include a full slate of speakers on Monday, April 24, and two short courses (Investing for Profit and Interconnectedness and Systemic Risk in Derivatives) on Tuesday, April 25. Conference speakers include Joe Saluzzi co-author of Broken Markets: Cameron Smith, President and CEO of Quantlab Financial; Sheri M. Markose from the University of Essex; Lynn Lewis formerly of Greenstreet Advisors; and John Ramsay, IEX Group. The first Eubank Conference was held in 2009, sponsored that year and in the years that followed with annual gifts from Rice Trustee Emeritus J. Thomas Eubank and his wife Nancy. In 2013, the Eubanks established The Nancy Moore and J. Thomas Eubank Research Excellence Fund in Computational Statistics. In addition to the base support provided by the endowment to CoFES established by Nancy Moore and Thomas J. Eubank, the conference is generously supported by the Department of Statistics and the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University. "The Eubank Conference on Real World Markets provides a venue for scholars, business leaders and the public to discuss issues related to financial markets," said Katherine Ensor, professor of statistics at Rice and director of CoFES. "This year, we will be discussing high frequency trading, or HFT, and its impact on trading and investing. Trading in today's electronic markets has more moving parts than in the past, and some of them impact the underlying objectives. We are excited to see what our speakers have in store and hope that everyone enjoys being a part of this conversation on the concerns and opportunities of HFT." The complete conference agenda and speaker bios are available at the Eubank Conference website, at http://eubankconference2017.rice.edu/ The public must register to attend this event. Online registration is available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/7th-eubank-conference-on-real-world-markets-tickets-32504403546. For a map of Rice University’s campus with parking information, go to http://www.rice.edu/maps. Media are advised to park in the Central Campus Garage. Members of the news media who want to attend the conference must RSVP to info@tinsleypr.com or 713-874-0828. About the Eubank Conference The Eubank Conference on Real World Markets aims to bring together a broad array of individuals interested in financial markets, their role in society and the ability of quantitative scientists to help understand the complex world of investing. The first Eubank Conference was held in 2009, sponsored that year and in the years that followed with annual gifts from Rice Trustee Emeritus J. Thomas Eubank and his wife Nancy. In 2013, the Eubanks established The Nancy Moore and J. Thomas Eubank Research Excellence Fund in Computational Statistics. This endowed fund supports research excellence in computational statistics related to real-¬world financial markets through the Center for Computational Finance and Economic Statistics (CoFES). Key activities supported by this generous gift are the Eubank Conference and the Eubank Prize in Computational Statistics related to real‐world financial markets.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

A study last year by the Cooke Foundation found that only 3 percent of students at top colleges across the nation come from the poorest 25 percent of families, while 72 percent come from the wealthiest 25 percent of families. "The Cooke Prize competition focuses attention on colleges and universities that are leaders in opening their doors wider to outstanding low-income students," Levy said. "We want other schools to learn from the successful strategies of our finalists, so they can also admit and graduate more students based on academic merit rather than family income. This is vital to creating the educated workforce America requires and to provide equal college access by leveraging resources to recruit, support, and successfully graduate low-income students." This is the third year the Cooke Prize is being awarded. Previously, Vassar College received the prize in 2015 and Amherst College received it in 2016. The finalists demonstrated thoughtful strategies as exhibited by the depth and breadth of programs on their campuses to ensure equity of experience for low-income students from admission through graduation. Brown University, a private university in Providence, Rhode Island, has about 6,600 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students. Of the university's aided undergraduate students, 34 percent are low-income (family income below $60,000), and 16 percent are eligible to receive federal Pell Grants, which go to low-income students. Financial aid packages for most students from families earning below $100,000 annually do not include loans. Also, families with incomes below $60,000 and minimal assets are not expected to make a contribution to the cost of their student's attendance. In addition to covering tuition, fees and room and board, university scholarships are available for low-income students for health insurance, financial support for meals for those who remain on campus when the university is closed, and for emergency situations. Brown recently opened a First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center to help students transition to and succeed on campus. The university partners with many organizations to increase enrollment of low-income students and doubled the number of community-based organizations it visited last fall. It operates summer pre-college programs up to seven weeks long and provided scholarships to 581 low-income high school students to attend last summer. Rice University, a private university in Houston, has nearly 3,900 undergraduate and 2,900 graduate students. Rice meets 100 percent of students' demonstrated financial need. Students with family incomes below $80,000 are not required to take out loans. In the past three years, 15 to 16 percent of all Rice students from the U.S. have received federal Pell Grants. The university takes into account hardships that low-income students have faced when considering admission. Rice also provides low-income students with: comprehensive academic and social support services from the time they are admitted until they graduate; summer research positions with Rice faculty; stipends for unpaid or low-paying summer internships; a six-week summer bridge program and continuing mentoring for those in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields; health insurance coverage for those who need it; assistance for students facing food insecurity; and other programs tailored to their needs. In addition, Rice operates programs in Houston to help prepare young low-income students for college. Stanford University, a private university in California's Silicon Valley, has about 7,000 undergraduate and 9,300 graduate students. Students from families with annual incomes of less than $125,000 are not charged tuition, and those from families earning less than $65,000 are also not charged for room and board. Ten percent of Stanford students come from families earning less than $65,000 a year. The university runs a national outreach program to recruit low-income students, including a program that brings high school counselors from low-income communities to the university. Admission officers devote 25 percent of their travel to visiting schools with large numbers of low-income students. In addition, Stanford operates a Diversity and First Generation Office, along with a Transfer Advising Program, to provide services that help low-income students succeed. Free summer bridge programs, lasting up to four weeks, are offered to low-income and first-generation incoming freshmen to help them adjust to life at the university. Stanford also provides scholarships for low-income students to participate in summer research and internships programs. The University of California, Berkeley, a public university, has an enrollment of more than 29,000 undergraduate and nearly 11,000 graduate students. Among last year's entering freshmen, 20 percent came from families with annual incomes below $50,000.  More than 65 percent of undergraduates receive financial aid and more than 30 percent are eligible for Pell Grants. When determining admission, Berkeley takes into account the context in which high school students have excelled, including overcoming hardships while demonstrating academic achievement. At the core of the university's equity and access efforts are symbiotic programs to help holistically develop students as early as K-12 and through community college and their time at Berkeley. Each year the campus provides outreach and pre-college programs to more than 71,000 low-income and first-generation students in K-12 schools and serves nearly 10,000 families and educators. The university works with over 70 community colleges to help prepare low-income and first-generation students to be competitive for admission to Berkeley and other highly selective four-year institutions, and through the Transfer Alliance Project the rate of admission to Berkeley for transfer students has tripled. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a public university, has about 18,500 undergraduate and nearly 11,000 graduate students. The university provides low-debt, full-need student financial aid. It awards 93 percent of financial aid based on need, and 44 percent of students get such aid. Financial aid is available for travel, health insurance, books and supplies, and personal expenses, in addition to tuition, fees, room and board. The university demonstrates its commitment to debt-free financial aid for the lowest-income students through its Carolina Covenant program, among others. About 22 percent of undergraduates are eligible for Pell Grants. The university operates outreach programs to low-income middle and high school students, bringing them to its campus to familiarize them with college life. Its Carolina College Advising Corps serves 23 percent of low-income public high school students in the state, employing 51 recent UNC Chapel Hill graduates as advisers to help high school seniors identify and apply to colleges. The university's Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program partners with community colleges to guarantee admission to high-achieving, low-income transfer students and provide financial aid packages with little or no student debt. The Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the foundation has provided over $152 million in scholarships to nearly 2,200 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The foundation has also awarded over $90 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. www.jkcf.org To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cooke-foundation-announces-five-finalists-for-1-million-prize-300445268.html


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: phys.org

The answer may have finally been found. A team of researchers at MIT, the University of Southern Denmark, Rice University, and Argonne National Laboratory has determined that the secret is in the electrodes' molecular structure. While the electrode materials are normally crystalline, with all their atoms neatly arranged in a regular, repetitive array, when they undergo the charging or discharging process, they are transformed into a disordered, glass-like phase that can accommodate the strain of the dimensional changes. The new findings, which could affect future battery design and even lead to new kinds of actuators, are reported in the journal Nano Letters, in a paper by MIT professor of materials science and engineering Yet-Ming Chiang, graduate students Kai Xiang and Wenting Xing, and eight others. In theory, if you were to stretch out a lithium-ion battery over a fulcrum, with an electrode on each side, Chiang says, "it would go up and down like a seesaw" as it was being charged and discharged. The change in mass as ions shuttle back and forth is also accompanied by an expansion or contraction that can vary, depending on the material, "from 1 percent or so, all the way up to silicon, which can expand by 300 percent," he says. This research dealt with a different kind of battery, called a sodium-ion battery. The scientists looked at a particular class of materials seen as potential battery cathodes (positive electrodes), called phospho-olivines, and specifically at sodium-iron-phosphate (NaFePO ). They found that it is possible to fine-tune the volume changes over a very wide range—changing not only how much the material expands and contracts, but also the dynamics of how it does so. For some compositions, the expansion is very slow and gradual, but for others it can increase suddenly. "Within this family of olivines," Chiang says, "we can have this slow, stepwise change," spanning the whole range from almost zero charge to very high power. Alternatively, the change can be "something very drastic," as is the case with NaFePO , which rapidly changes its volume by about 17 percent. "We know that brittle compounds like this would normally fracture with less than a 1 percent volume change," Chiang says. "So how does this material accommodate such large volume changes? What we found, in a sense, is that the crystal gives up and forms a disordered glass" instead of maintaining its precisely ordered lattice. "This is a mechanism that we think might apply more broadly to other compounds of this kind," he says, adding that the finding may represent "a new way to create glassy materials that may be useful for batteries." Once the change to a glassy composition takes place, its volume changes become gradual rather than sudden, and as a result "it may be longer-lived," Chiang says. The findings could provide a new design tool for those trying to develop longer-lived, higher-capacity batteries, he says. It could also lead to possible applications in which the volume changes could be put to use, for example as robotic actuators or as pumps to deliver drugs from implantable devices. The team plans to continue working on easier ways of synthesizing these olivine compounds, and determining whether there is a broader family of crystalline materials that shares this phase-changing property. This research provides "a seminal contribution that links the electrochemical, mechanical, and crystallographic aspects of battery electrodes," says William Chueh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University, who was not involved in this work. "Electrode materials used in lithium-ion batteries shrink and expand during charging and discharging, and often disproportionally within a single particle. If the strain cannot be accommodated, the particle fractures, eventually causing the battery to fail. This is similar to a cold ceramic cup cracking when boiling water is poured in too quickly," Chueh says. This work "identifies a new strain-relief mechanism when the volume change is large, which involves the material turning from a crystalline solid to an amorphous one rather than fracturing." This discovery, he says, "may lead scientists to revisit battery materials previously deemed unusable due to the large volume change during charging and discharging. It would also lead to better predictive models used by engineers to design new generation batteries." More information: Kai Xiang et al. Accommodating High Transformation Strains in Battery Electrodes via the Formation of Nanoscale Intermediate Phases: Operando Investigation of Olivine NaFePO, Nano Letters (2017). DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b04971


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: hosted2.ap.org

Once critical of global deals, Trump slow to pull out of any (AP) — The "America First" president who vowed to extricate America from onerous overseas commitments appears to be warming up to the view that when it comes to global agreements, a deal's a deal. From NAFTA to the Iran nuclear agreement to the Paris climate accord, President Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric is colliding with the reality of governing. Despite repeated pledges to rip up, renegotiate or otherwise alter them, the U.S. has yet to withdraw from any of these economic, environmental or national security deals, as Trump's past criticism turns to tacit embrace of several key elements of U.S. foreign policy. The administration says it is reviewing these accords and could still pull out of them. Yet with one exception — an Asia-Pacific trade deal that already had stalled in Congress — Trump's administration quietly has laid the groundwork to honor the international architecture of deals it has inherited. It's a sharp shift from the days when Trump was declaring the end of a global-minded America that negotiates away its interests and subsidizes foreigners' security and prosperity. Even as Trump railed Thursday against the North American Free Trade Agreement, there was little indication that he was actively pushing for wholesale changes. As a candidate, Trump threatened to jettison the pact with Mexico and Canada unless he could substantially renegotiate it in America's favor. "The fact is, NAFTA, whether it's Mexico or Canada, is a disaster for our country," Trump said Thursday during an event on steel imports. Of a dispute with Canada over dairy exports, he added: "We're not going to let it happen." Yet Trump's administration has been focused on marginal changes that would preserve much of the existing agreement, according to draft guidelines that Trump's trade envoy sent to Congress. To the dismay of NAFTA critics, the proposal preserves a controversial provision that lets companies challenge national trade laws through private tribunals. Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, said Trump may be allowing himself to argue in the future that existing deals can be improved without being totally discarded. "That allows him to tell his base that he's getting a better deal than Bush or Obama got, and yet reassure these institutions that it's really all being done with a nod and a wink, that Trump doesn't mean what he says," Brinkley said. So far, there's been no major revolt from Trump supporters, despite their expectation he would be an agent of disruption. This week's reaffirmations of the status quo came via Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's certification of Iran upholding its nuclear deal obligations and the administration delaying a decision on whether to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The president had previously spoken about dismantling or withdrawing from both agreements as part of his vision, explained in his inaugural address, that "every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families." Trump had called the Iran deal the "worst" ever, and claimed climate change was a hoax. But in place of taking action, the Trump administration is only reviewing these agreements, as it is doing with much of American foreign policy. A day after certifying Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal, Tillerson attacked the accord Wednesday and listed examples of Iran's bad behavior. His tone suggested that even if Iran is fulfilling the letter of its nuclear commitments, the deal remains on unsure footing. The Iran certification, made 90 minutes before a midnight Tuesday deadline, means Tehran will continue to enjoy relief from U.S. nuclear sanctions. Among the anti-deal crowd Trump wooed in his presidential bid, the administration's decision is fueling concerns that Trump may let the 2015 accord stand. Yet Tillerson sought to head off any criticism that the administration was being easy on Iran, describing a broad administration review of Iran policy that includes the nuclear deal and examines if sanctions relief serves U.S. interests. The seven-nation nuclear deal, he said, "fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran" and "only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state." On the climate agreement, the White House postponed a meeting Tuesday where top aides were to have hashed out differences on what to do about the nonbinding international deal forged in Paris in December 2015. The agreement allowed rich and poor countries to set their own goals to reduce carbon dioxide and went into effect last November, after the U.S., China and other countries ratified it. Not all of Trump's advisers share his skeptical views on climate change — or the Paris pact. Trump has followed through with a pledge to pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping free trade deal President Barack Obama negotiated. The agreement was effectively dead before Trump took office after Congress refused to ratify it. Even Trump's Democratic opponent in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton, opposed the accord. But on NATO, Trump has completely backed off his assertions that the treaty organization is "obsolete." His Cabinet members have fanned out to foreign capitals to show America's support for the alliance and his administration now describes the 28-nation body as a pillar of Western security.


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: hosted2.ap.org

Once critical of global deals, Trump slow to pull out of any (AP) — The "America First" president who vowed to extricate America from onerous overseas commitments appears to be warming up to the view that when it comes to global agreements, a deal's a deal. From NAFTA to the Iran nuclear agreement to the Paris climate accord, President Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric is colliding with the reality of governing. Despite repeated pledges to rip up, renegotiate or otherwise alter them, the U.S. has yet to withdraw from any of these economic, environmental or national security deals, as Trump's past criticism turns to tacit embrace of several key elements of U.S. foreign policy. The administration says it is reviewing these accords and could still pull out of them. Yet with one exception — an Asia-Pacific trade deal that already had stalled in Congress — Trump's administration quietly has laid the groundwork to honor the international architecture of deals it has inherited. It's a sharp shift from the days when Trump was declaring the end of a global-minded America that negotiates away its interests and subsidizes foreigners' security and prosperity. A day after his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, certified that Iran was meeting its nuclear obligations, Trump on Thursday repeated his view the seven-nation accord was a "terrible agreement" and "as bad as I've ever seen negotiated." "Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement and they have to do that," Trump said at a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. He said U.S. officials were analyzing the deal carefully and would "have something to say about it in the not too distant future." Earlier Thursday, he delivered a similar assessment of the North American Free Trade Agreement, railing against the 1990s trade deal while offering no indication he was actively pushing for wholesale changes. As a candidate, Trump threatened to jettison the pact with Mexico and Canada unless he could substantially renegotiate it in America's favor. "The fact is, NAFTA, whether it's Mexico or Canada, is a disaster for our country," Trump said. Trump's administration has been focused on marginal changes that would preserve much of NAFTA, according to draft guidelines that Trump's trade envoy sent to Congress. To the dismay of NAFTA critics, the proposal preserves a controversial provision that lets companies challenge national trade laws through private tribunals. Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, said Trump may be allowing himself to argue in the future that existing deals can be improved without being totally discarded. "That allows him to tell his base that he's getting a better deal than Bush or Obama got, and yet reassure these institutions that it's really all being done with a nod and a wink, that Trump doesn't mean what he says," Brinkley said. So far, there's been no major revolt from Trump supporters, despite their expectation he would be an agent of disruption. In addition to Tillerson's Iran certification, this week's reaffirmations of the status quo included delaying a decision on whether to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The president had previously spoken about dismantling or withdrawing from the nuclear and climate agreements as part of his vision, explained in his inaugural address, that "every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families." Trump had called the Iran deal the "worst" ever, and claimed climate change was a hoax. But in place of taking action, the Trump administration is only reviewing these agreements, as it is doing with much of American foreign policy. The Iran certification, made 90 minutes before a midnight Tuesday deadline, means Tehran will continue to enjoy relief from U.S. nuclear sanctions. Among the anti-deal crowd Trump wooed in his presidential bid, the administration's decision is fueling concerns that Trump may let the 2015 accord stand. Similar to Trump, Tillerson on Wednesday sought to head off criticism by describing an administration review of Iran policy that includes the nuclear deal and examines if sanctions relief serves U.S. interests. The deal, he said, "fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran" and "only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state." The White House's decision of Tuesday's climate meeting meant top aides didn't have the chance to determine what to do about the nonbinding international deal forged in Paris in December 2015. The agreement allowed rich and poor countries to set their own goals to reduce carbon dioxide and went into effect last November. Not all of Trump's advisers share his skeptical views on climate change — or the Paris pact. Trump has followed through with a pledge to pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping free trade deal President Barack Obama negotiated. The agreement was effectively dead before Trump took office after Congress refused to ratify it. Even Trump's Democratic opponent in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton, opposed the accord. But on NATO, Trump has completely backed off his assertions that the treaty organization is "obsolete." His Cabinet members have fanned out to foreign capitals to show America's support for the alliance and his administration now describes the 28-nation body as a pillar of Western security.


Sanchez-Adams J.,Rice University | Athanasiou K.A.,University of California at Davis
Biomaterials | Year: 2012

Adult stem cells from the dermal layer of skin are an attractive alternative to primary cells for meniscus engineering, as they may be easily obtained and used autologously. Recently, chondroinducible dermis cells from caprine skin have shown promising characteristics for cartilage tissue engineering. In this study, their multilineage differentiation capacity is determined, and methods of expanding and tissue engineering these cells are investigated. It was found that these cells could differentiate along adipogenic, osteogenic, and chondrogenic lineages, allowing them to be termed dermis isolated adult stem cells (DIAS cells). Focusing on cartilage tissue engineering, it was found that passaging these cells in chondrogenic medium and forming them into self-assembled tissue engineered constructs caused upregulation of collagen type II and COMP gene expression. Further investigation showed that applying transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) or bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) to DIAS constructs caused increased sulfated glycosaminoglycan content. Additionally, TGF-β1 treatment caused significant increases in compressive properties and construct contraction. In contrast, BMP-2 treatment resulted in the largest constructs, but did not increase compressive properties. These results show that DIAS cells can be easily manipulated for cartilage tissue engineering strategies, and may also be a useful cell source for other mesenchymal tissues. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Hu H.,Swinburne University of Technology | Ramachandhran B.,Rice University | Pu H.,Rice University | Liu X.-J.,Swinburne University of Technology
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2012

We investigate theoretically the phase diagram of a spin-orbit coupled Bose gas in two-dimensional harmonic traps. We show that at strong spin-orbit coupling the single-particle spectrum decomposes into different manifolds separated by ω ⊥, where ω ⊥ is the trapping frequency. For a weakly interacting gas, quantum states with Skyrmion lattice patterns emerge spontaneously and preserve either parity symmetry or combined parity-time-reversal symmetry. These phases can be readily observed in a spin-orbit coupled gas of Rb87 atoms in a highly oblate trap. © 2012 American Physical Society.


Yang L.H.,University of California at Davis | Rudolf V.H.W.,Rice University
Ecology Letters | Year: 2010

Climate change is altering the phenology of many species and the timing of their interactions with other species, but the impacts of these phenological shifts on species interactions remain unclear. Classical approaches to the study of phenology have typically documented changes in the timing of single life-history events, while phenological shifts affect many interactions over entire life histories. In this study, we suggest an approach that integrates the phenology and ontogeny of species interactions with a fitness landscape to provide a common mechanistic framework for investigating phenological shifts. We suggest that this ontogeny-phenology landscape provides a flexible method to document changes in the relative phenologies of interacting species, examine the causes of these phenological shifts, and estimate their consequences for interacting species. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.


Knez I.,Rice University | Du R.-R.,Rice University | Sullivan G.,Teledyne Scientific and Imaging
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2011

We present an experimental study of low temperature electronic transport in the hybridization gap of inverted InAs/GaSb composite quantum wells. An electrostatic gate is used to push the Fermi level into the gap regime, where the conductance as a function of sample length and width is measured. Our analysis shows strong evidence for the existence of helical edge modes proposed by Liu et al. Edge modes persist in spite of sizable bulk conduction and show only a weak magnetic field dependence-a direct consequence of a gap opening away from the zone center. © 2011 American Physical Society.


Whitney K.D.,Rice University | Garland Jr. T.,University of California at Riverside
PLoS Genetics | Year: 2010

Mechanisms underlying the dramatic patterns of genome size variation across the tree of life remain mysterious. Effective population size (Ne) has been proposed as a major driver of genome size: selection is expected to efficiently weed out deleterious mutations increasing genome size in lineages with large (but not small) Ne. Strong support for this model was claimed from a comparative analysis of Neu and genome size for ≈30 phylogenetically diverse species ranging from bacteria to vertebrates, but analyses at that scale have so far failed to account for phylogenetic nonindependence of species. In our reanalysis, accounting for phylogenetic history substantially altered the perceived strength of the relationship between Neu and genomic attributes: there were no statistically significant associations between Neu and gene number, intron size, intron number, the half-life of gene duplicates, transposon number, transposons as a fraction of the genome, or overall genome size. We conclude that current datasets do not support the hypothesis of a mechanistic connection between Ne and these genomic attributes, and we suggest that further progress requires larger datasets, phylogenetic comparative methods, more robust estimators of genetic drift, and a multivariate approach that accounts for correlations between putative explanatory variables. © 2010 Whitney, Garland.


Ensor K.B.,Rice University | Raun L.H.,Rice University | Raun L.H.,City of Houston Health and Human Services
Circulation | Year: 2013

Background: Evidence of an association between the exposure to air pollution and overall cardiovascular morbidity and mortality is increasingly found in the literature. However, results from studies of the association between acute air pollution exposure and risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) are inconsistent for fine particulate matter, and, although pathophysiological evidence indicates a plausible link between OHCA and ozone, none has been reported. Approximately 300 000 persons in the United States experience an OHCA each year, of which >90% die. Understanding the association provides important information to protect public health. Methods and Results: The association between OHCA and air pollution concentrations hours and days before onset was assessed by using a time-stratified case-crossover design using 11 677 emergency medical service-logged OHCA events between 2004 and 2011 in Houston, Texas. Air pollution concentrations were obtained from an extensive area monitor network. An average increase of 6 μg/m3 in fine particulate matter 2 days before onset was associated with an increased risk of OHCA (1.046; 95% confidence interval, 1.012-1.082). A 20-ppb ozone increase for the 8-hour average daily maximum was associated with an increased risk of OHCA on the day of the event (1.039; 95% confidence interval, 1.005-1.073). Each 20-ppb increase in ozone in the previous 1 to 3 hours was associated with an increased risk of OHCA (1.044; 95% confidence interval, 1.004-1.085). Relative risk estimates were higher for men, blacks, or those aged >65 years. Conclusions: The findings confirm the link between OHCA and fine particulate matter and introduce evidence of a similar link with ozone. © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.


Atala A.,Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine | Kurtis Kasper F.,Rice University | Mikos A.G.,Rice University
Science Translational Medicine | Year: 2012

Tissue engineering has emerged at the intersection of numerous disciplines to meet a global clinical need for technologies to promote the regeneration of functional living tissues and organs. The complexity of many tissues and organs, coupled with confounding factors that may be associated with the injury or disease underlying the need for repair, is a challenge to traditional engineering approaches. Biomaterials, cells, and other factors are needed to design these constructs, but not all tissues are created equal. Flat tissues (skin); tubular structures (urethra); hollow, nontubular, viscus organs (vagina); and complex solid organs (liver) all present unique challenges in tissue engineering. This review highlights advances in tissue engineering technologies to enable regeneration of complex tissues and organs and to discuss how such innovative, engineered tissues can affect the clinic.


Niemeier D.,University of California at Davis | Gombachika H.,University of Malawi | Richards-Kortum R.,Rice University
Science | Year: 2014

More of the world's population has access to cell phones than to basic sanitation facilities, a gap that can only be closed if the engineering and international aid communities adopt new approaches to design for scarcity and scalability.


Nguyen J.H.V.,Rice University | Dyke P.,Swinburne University of Technology | Luo D.,Rice University | Malomed B.A.,Tel Aviv University | Hulet R.G.,Rice University
Nature Physics | Year: 2014

Solitons are localized wave disturbances that propagate without changing shape, a result of a nonlinear interaction that compensates for wave packet dispersion. Individual solitons may collide, but a defining feature is that they pass through one another and emerge from the collision unaltered in shape, amplitude, or velocity, but with a new trajectory reflecting a discontinuous jump. This remarkable property is mathematically a consequence of the underlying integrability of the one-dimensional (1D) equations, such as the nonlinear Schrödinger equation, that describe solitons in a variety of wave contexts, including matter waves. Here we explore the nature of soliton collisions using Bose-Einstein condensates of atoms with attractive interactions confined to a quasi-1D waveguide. Using real-time imaging, we show that a collision between solitons is a complex event that differs markedly depending on the relative phase between the solitons. By controlling the strength of the nonlinearity we shed light on these fundamental features of soliton collisional dynamics, and explore the implications of collisions in the proximity of the crossover between one and three dimensions where the loss of integrability may precipitate catastrophic collapse. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Patent
Privatran and Rice University | Date: 2011-09-08

Various embodiments of the present invention pertain to memresistor cells that comprise: (1) a substrate; (2) an electrical switch associated with the substrate; (3) an insulating layer; and (3) a resistive memory material. The resistive memory material is selected from the group consisting of SiO_(x), SiO_(x)H, SiO_(x)N_(y), SiO_(x)N_(y)H, SiO_(x)Cz, SiO_(x)C_(z)H, and combinations thereof, wherein each of x, y and z are equal or greater than 1 or equal or less than 2. Additional embodiments of the present invention pertain to memresistor arrays that comprise: (1) a plurality of bit lines; (2) a plurality of word lines orthogonal to the bit lines; and (3) a plurality of said memresistor cells positioned between the word lines and the bit lines. Further embodiments of the present invention provide methods of making said memresistor cells and arrays.


As the use of nanoparticles becomes more prevalent, it is clear that human exposure will inevitably increase. Considering the rapidly ageing European population and the resulting increase in the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases, there is an urgent need to address the risk presented by nanoparticles towards neurodegenerative diseases. It is believed that nanoparticles can pass through the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, nanoparticles have two potential major effects. They can induce oxidative activity (production of Reactive Oxygen Species), and can induce anomalous protein aggregation behaviour (fibrillation). There are multiple disease targets for the nanoparticles, including all of the known fibrillation diseases (e.g. Alzheimers and Parkinsons diseases). The factors that determine which nanoparticles enter the brain are not known. Nanoparticle size, shape, rigidity and composition are considered important, and under physiological conditions, the nature of the adsorbed biomolecule corona (proteins, lipids etc.) determines the biological responses. The NeuroNano project will investigate the detailed mechanisms of nanoparticle passage through the blood-brain barrier using primary cell co-cultures and animal studies. Using nanoparticles that are shown to reach the brain, we will determine the mechanisms of ROS production and protein fibrillation, using state-of-the-art approaches such as redox proteomics and isolation/characterisation of the critical pre-fibrillar species. Animal models for Alzheimers diseases will confirm the effects of the nanoparticles in vivo. At all stages the exact nature of the nanoparticle biomolecule corona will be determined. The result will be a risk-assessment framework for assessing the safety of nanoparticles towards neurodegenerative diseases, based on the connection of their biological effects to their biomolecule corona, which determines the biological response in vivo and reports on the nanoparticles history.


HOUSTON, March 02, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On February 22, 2017, the board of directors (the “Board”) of Targa Resources Corp. (NYSE:TRGP) ("Targa" or the "Company") appointed Robert Muraro as Executive Vice President – Commercial of the Company, effective February 22, 2017.  Mr. Muraro joined Targa in August 2004 as a Director of Business Development and has since served in roles of increasing responsibility, most recently as Senior Vice President of Commercial and Business Development. Prior to joining Targa, Mr. Muraro was with ABN Amro in their energy investment banking group.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Rice University. Targa Resources Corp. is a leading provider of midstream services and is one of the largest independent midstream energy companies in North America. Targa owns, operates, acquires, and develops a diversified portfolio of complementary midstream energy assets. The Company is primarily engaged in the business of: gathering, compressing, treating, processing, and selling natural gas; storing, fractionating, treating, transporting, and selling NGLs and NGL products, including services to LPG exporters; gathering, storing, and terminaling crude oil; storing, terminaling, and selling refined petroleum products. The principal executive offices of Targa are located at 1000 Louisiana, Suite 4300, Houston, TX 77002 and their telephone number is 713-584-1000.  For more information please go to www.targaresources.com.


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.cemag.us

Five years of hard work and a little “cosmic luck” led Rice University researchers to a new method to obtain structural details on molecules in biomembranes. The method by the Rice lab of physicist Jason Hafner combines experimental and computational techniques and relies on the plasmonic properties of gold nanoparticles. It takes advantage of the nanoparticles’ unique ability to focus light on very small targets. The researchers call their protocol SABERS, for structural analysis by enhanced Raman scattering, and say it could help scientists who study amyloid interactions implicated in neurodegenerative disease, the neuroprotective actions of fatty acids and the function of chemotherapy agents. The details appear this month in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters. Their method extracts the location of specific chemical groups within the molecules by locating their characteristic vibrations. When a laser activates plasmons in the nanoparticles, it amplifies vibrationally scattered light from nearby molecules, a phenomenon called surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). The enhancement is sensitive to exactly where the molecule sits relative to the nanoparticle. “Molecules can vibrate in many different ways, so we have to assign a ‘center of vibration’ to each one,” Hafner says. “If you watch some part of a molecule vibrating, you can visualize where it occurs, but we also had to find a mathematical way to describe it.” SERS spectra are notoriously difficult to untangle, so the full SABERS method also requires unenhanced spectral measurements and theoretical calculations of both the nanorod optics and the molecular properties, he said. Hafner and his team tested their technique on three structures: surfactant molecules that come with gold nanorods, lipid molecules that form membranes on gold nanorods and tryptophan, an amino acid that settles into the membrane. “We found that the surfactant layer is tilted by 25 degrees, which is interesting because it explains why other measurements found that the layer appears thinner than expected,” Hafner says. Lipids easily replace surfactants on nanorods since they end in the same chemical structure. By comparing vibrations of that structure in the lipid headgroup to a double bond in the tail, SABERS found the correct orientation and thickness of the lipid bilayer membrane. “It’s just cosmic luck that a lipid ends in a perfectly symmetric structure that vibrates and is Raman active and loves to sit on a nanorod,” Hafner says. The researchers also used SABERS to locate tryptophan in the lipid bilayer. “It’s very bright, spectroscopically, and easy to see,” he says. “In real biological structures, tryptophan is just a small residue attached to a much larger protein. However, tryptophan helps anchor the protein to the membrane, so researchers want to know where it prefers to sit.” Next, Hafner wants to analyze bigger molecules. “In principle, through spectroscopic tricks, we could take this to larger structures, and perhaps even find every residue in a protein to get the whole structure. That’s futuristic, but it’s where we think we can go with it,” he says. Rice alumnus James Matthews, now a software engineer at Schlumberger, is lead author of the paper. Co-authors are Rice undergraduate students Cyna Shirazinejad and Grace Isakson and graduate student Steven Demers. Hafner is a professor of physics and astronomy and of chemistry. The Robert A. Welch Foundation and Lockheed Martin supported the research.


News Article | February 8, 2017
Site: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Chemists scouring Appalachia for exotic microorganisms that could yield blockbuster drugs have reported a unique find from the smoldering remains of a coal mine fire that's burned for nearly a decade in southeastern Kentucky. In new findings this week in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, a research team from Rice University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Oklahoma made new - and in some cases more effective - versions of the antibiotic daptomycin using an enzyme from a soil bacterium found in smoke vents of the Ruth Mullins coal fire. "We don't know the mechanism for why it makes daptomycin work better," said Rice structural biologist George Phillips, whose team determined the three-dimensional structure of the enzyme. "It may be that it just gets into membranes better because the enzyme's specialty is adding a prenyl group, an organic molecule that typically comes into play when a molecule docks with the outer membrane of a cell. The target for the drug is associated with the membrane, so this might be the mechanism for the improvement." The study's authors said the prenylating enzyme, which is called PriB, could prove useful to drug companies. Study co-author Jon Thorson, director of the University of Kentucky's Center for Pharmaceutical Research and Innovation (CPRI), said, "A major focus of CPRI is the discovery of novel microbial natural products and corresponding biocatalysts that have synthetic applications. The PriB discovery represents an example of the latter and, unlike most permissive prenyltransferases that can modify simple molecules, PriB is one of the first capable of modifying highly complex drugs like daptomycin." Thorson's center specializes in "bioprospecting," the search for new organisms like the one that yielded the prenylating enzyme, as well as the follow-up laboratory studies on the organisms to uncover and exploit new biosynthetic pathways, enzyme mechanisms, ligation chemistries and other biochemistry that could be useful for making drugs. Since the center's founding five years ago, Thorson and colleagues have isolated more than 750 microbial strains, including some that live miles below ground in coal mines. In addition, the team has isolated more than 250 corresponding microbial metabolites, more than half of which have never been previously documented. The organism that yielded PriB is Streptomyces species "RM-5-8," where RM reflects the strain's point of origin -- the Ruth Mullins coal fire, which has burned in eastern Kentucky for almost a decade. "Biological activities of prenylated compounds encompass virtually all fields of pharmacological sciences, hence prenylation of drugs is a novel way of creating new drug leads," said study co-author Shanteri Singh, an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma whose research focuses on understanding and exploiting prenylating enzymes. "In addition, developing an enzymatic prenylation platform is an interesting alternative, especially for molecules such as daptomycin, which is chemically challenging to modify." Phillips, Rice's Ralph and Dorothy Looney Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and professor of chemistry, has collaborated closely with both Thorson and Singh for more than a decade. Phillips' team specializes in using X-ray crystallography to determine the precise structure of proteins like PriB. "In the organism, the enzyme both makes prenyl groups and attaches them to the standard amino acid tryptophan," Phillips said. "This is part of a much larger metabolic pathway, but the (University of Kentucky) team isolated the gene that produces the enzyme, and they used that to create a form of E. coli that produced the enzyme in bulk." Phillips' team crystallized the protein and determined its shape. Phillips said the enzyme has a pocket where it binds with tryptophan and attaches the prenyl group. Studies at the University of Kentucky found the enzyme readily prenylates more than a dozen other compounds and can also use "nonnative" prenyl donors that notably expand its synthetic utility. Phillips said his group is already looking for ways to modify PriB's pocket to make it even more useful in biosynthesis. "This prenylation reaction could be broadly useful in producing drugs and other chemicals through biotechnology," Phillips said. "Because the enzyme is permissive, it is possible to think of using it to produce all sorts of drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapies." Further information can be viewed at https://youtu.be/VglEEjMviVA


Home > Press > Good vibrations help reveal molecular details: Rice University scientists combine disciplines to pinpoint small structures in unlabeled molecules Abstract: Five years of hard work and a little "cosmic luck" led Rice University researchers to a new method to obtain structural details on molecules in biomembranes. The method by the Rice lab of physicist Jason Hafner combines experimental and computational techniques and relies on the plasmonic properties of gold nanoparticles. It takes advantage of the nanoparticles' unique ability to focus light on very small targets. The researchers call their protocol SABERS, for structural analysis by enhanced Raman scattering, and say it could help scientists who study amyloid interactions implicated in neurodegenerative disease, the neuroprotective actions of fatty acids and the function of chemotherapy agents. The details appear this month in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters. Their method extracts the location of specific chemical groups within the molecules by locating their characteristic vibrations. When a laser activates plasmons in the nanoparticles, it amplifies vibrationally scattered light from nearby molecules, a phenomenon called surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). The enhancement is sensitive to exactly where the molecule sits relative to the nanoparticle. "Molecules can vibrate in many different ways, so we have to assign a 'center of vibration' to each one," Hafner said. "If you watch some part of a molecule vibrating, you can visualize where it occurs, but we also had to find a mathematical way to describe it." SERS spectra are notoriously difficult to untangle, so the full SABERS method also requires unenhanced spectral measurements and theoretical calculations of both the nanorod optics and the molecular properties, he said. Hafner and his team tested their technique on three structures: surfactant molecules that come with gold nanorods, lipid molecules that form membranes on gold nanorods and tryptophan, an amino acid that settles into the membrane. "We found that the surfactant layer is tilted by 25 degrees, which is interesting because it explains why other measurements found that the layer appears thinner than expected," Hafner said. Lipids easily replace surfactants on nanorods since they end in the same chemical structure. By comparing vibrations of that structure in the lipid headgroup to a double bond in the tail, SABERS found the correct orientation and thickness of the lipid bilayer membrane. "It's just cosmic luck that a lipid ends in a perfectly symmetric structure that vibrates and is Raman active and loves to sit on a nanorod," Hafner said. The researchers also used SABERS to locate tryptophan in the lipid bilayer. "It's very bright, spectroscopically, and easy to see," he said. "In real biological structures, tryptophan is just a small residue attached to a much larger protein. However, tryptophan helps anchor the protein to the membrane, so researchers want to know where it prefers to sit." Next, Hafner wants to analyze bigger molecules. "In principle, through spectroscopic tricks, we could take this to larger structures, and perhaps even find every residue in a protein to get the whole structure. That's futuristic, but it's where we think we can go with it," he said. Rice alumnus James Matthews, now a software engineer at Schlumberger, is lead author of the paper. Co-authors are Rice undergraduate students Cyna Shirazinejad and Grace Isakson and graduate student Steven Demers. Hafner is a professor of physics and astronomy and of chemistry. The Robert A. Welch Foundation and Lockheed Martin supported the research. About Rice University Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview . Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews For more information, please click If you have a comment, please us. Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

HOUSTON - (Feb. 15, 2017) - Five years of hard work and a little "cosmic luck" led Rice University researchers to a new method to obtain structural details on molecules in biomembranes. The method by the Rice lab of physicist Jason Hafner combines experimental and computational techniques and relies on the plasmonic properties of gold nanoparticles. It takes advantage of the nanoparticles' unique ability to focus light on very small targets. The researchers call their protocol SABERS, for structural analysis by enhanced Raman scattering, and say it could help scientists who study amyloid interactions implicated in neurodegenerative disease, the neuroprotective actions of fatty acids and the function of chemotherapy agents. The details appear this month in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters. Their method extracts the location of specific chemical groups within the molecules by locating their characteristic vibrations. When a laser activates plasmons in the nanoparticles, it amplifies vibrationally scattered light from nearby molecules, a phenomenon called surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). The enhancement is sensitive to exactly where the molecule sits relative to the nanoparticle. "Molecules can vibrate in many different ways, so we have to assign a 'center of vibration' to each one," Hafner said. "If you watch some part of a molecule vibrating, you can visualize where it occurs, but we also had to find a mathematical way to describe it." SERS spectra are notoriously difficult to untangle, so the full SABERS method also requires unenhanced spectral measurements and theoretical calculations of both the nanorod optics and the molecular properties, he said. Hafner and his team tested their technique on three structures: surfactant molecules that come with gold nanorods, lipid molecules that form membranes on gold nanorods and tryptophan, an amino acid that settles into the membrane. "We found that the surfactant layer is tilted by 25 degrees, which is interesting because it explains why other measurements found that the layer appears thinner than expected," Hafner said. Lipids easily replace surfactants on nanorods since they end in the same chemical structure. By comparing vibrations of that structure in the lipid headgroup to a double bond in the tail, SABERS found the correct orientation and thickness of the lipid bilayer membrane. "It's just cosmic luck that a lipid ends in a perfectly symmetric structure that vibrates and is Raman active and loves to sit on a nanorod," Hafner said. The researchers also used SABERS to locate tryptophan in the lipid bilayer. "It's very bright, spectroscopically, and easy to see," he said. "In real biological structures, tryptophan is just a small residue attached to a much larger protein. However, tryptophan helps anchor the protein to the membrane, so researchers want to know where it prefers to sit." Next, Hafner wants to analyze bigger molecules. "In principle, through spectroscopic tricks, we could take this to larger structures, and perhaps even find every residue in a protein to get the whole structure. That's futuristic, but it's where we think we can go with it," he said. Rice alumnus James Matthews, now a software engineer at Schlumberger, is lead author of the paper. Co-authors are Rice undergraduate students Cyna Shirazinejad and Grace Isakson and graduate student Steven Demers. Hafner is a professor of physics and astronomy and of chemistry. The Robert A. Welch Foundation and Lockheed Martin supported the research. This news release can be found online at http://news. The molecules tryptophan, left, and decyltrimethylammonium bromide, right, over their SABERS maps. SABERS, a new analysis method developed at Rice University, is able to obtain structural details of molecules in lipid membranes near gold nanoparticles without molecular tags. (Credit: Hafner Lab/Rice University) Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Understanding how oil and gas molecules, water and rocks interact at the nanoscale will help make extraction of hydrocarbons through hydraulic fracturing more efficient, according to Rice University researchers. Rice engineers George Hirasaki and Walter Chapman are leading an effort to better characterize the contents of organic shale by combining standard nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) -- the same technology used by hospitals to see inside human bodies - with molecular dynamics simulations. The work presented this month in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance details their method to analyze shale samples and validate simulations that may help producers determine how much oil and/or gas exist in a formation and how difficult they may be to extract. Oil and gas drillers use NMR to characterize rock they believe contains hydrocarbons. NMR manipulates the hydrogen atoms' nuclear magnetic moments, which can be forced to align by an applied external magnetic field. After the moments are perturbed by radio-frequency electromagnetic pulses, they "relax" back to their original orientation, and NMR can detect that. Because relaxation times differ depending on the molecule and its environment, the information gathered by NMR can help identify whether a molecule is gas, oil or water and the critical size of the pores that contain them. "This is their eyes and ears for knowing what's down there," said Hirasaki, who said NMR instruments are among several tools in the string sent downhole to "log," or gather information, about a well. In conventional reservoirs, he said, the NMR log can distinguish gas, oil and water and quantify the amounts of each contained in the pores of the rock from their relaxation times -- known as T1 and T2 -- as well as how diffuse fluids are. "If the rock is water-wet, then oil will relax at rates close to that of bulk oil, while water will have a surface-relaxation time that is a function of the pore size," Hirasaki said. "This is because water is relaxed by sites at the water/mineral interface and the ratio of the mineral surface area to water volume is larger in smaller pores. The diffusivity is inversely proportional to the viscosity of the fluid. Thus gas is easily distinguished from oil and water by measuring diffusivity simultaneously with the T2 relaxation time. "In unconventional reservoirs, both T1 and T2 relaxation times of water and oil are short and have considerable overlap," he said. "Also the T1/T2 ratio can become very large in the smallest pores. The diffusivity is restricted by the nanometer-to-micron size of the pores. Thus it is a challenge to determine if the signal is from gas, oil or water." Hirasaki said there is debate on whether the short relaxation times in shale are due to paramagnetic sites on mineral surfaces and asphaltene aggregates and/or due to the restricted motion of the molecules confined in small pores. "We don't have an answer yet, but this study is the first step," he said. "The development of technology to drill horizontal wells and apply multiple hydraulic fractures (up to about 50) is what made oil and gas production commercially viable from unconventional resources," Hirasaki said. "These resources were previously known as the 'source rock,' from which oil and gas found in conventional reservoirs had originated and migrated. The source rock was too tight for commercial production using conventional technology." Fluids pumped downhole to fracture a horizontal well contain water, chemicals and sand that keeps the fracture "propped" open after the injection stops. The fluids are then pumped out to make room for the hydrocarbons to flow. But not all the water sent downhole comes back. Often the chemical composition of the organic component of shale known as kerogen has an affinity that allows water molecules to bind and block the nanoscale pores that would otherwise let oil and gas molecules through. "Kerogen is the organic material that resisted biodegradation during deep burial," Hirasaki said. "When it gets to a certain temperature, the molecules start cracking and make hydrocarbon liquids. Higher temperature makes methane (natural gas). But the fluids are in pores that are so tight the technology developed for conventional reservoirs doesn't apply anymore." The Rice project managed by lead author Philip Singer, a research scientist in Hirasaki's lab, and co-author Dilip Asthagiri, a research scientist in Chapman's lab, a lecturer and director of Rice's Professional Master's in Chemical Engineering program, applies NMR to kerogen samples and compares it to computer models that simulate how the substances interact, particularly in terms of material's wettability, its affinity for binding to water, gas or oil molecules. "NMR is very sensitive to fluid-surface interactions," Singer said. "With shale, the complication we're dealing with is the nanoscale pores. The NMR signal changes dramatically compared with measuring conventional rocks, in which pores are larger than a micron. So to understand what the NMR is telling us in shale, we need to simulate the interactions down to the nanoscale." The simulations mimic the molecules' known relaxation properties and reveal how they move in such a restrictive environment. When matched with NMR signals, they help interpret conditions downhole. That knowledge could also lead to fracking fluids that are less likely to bind to the rock, improving the flow of hydrocarbons, Hirasaki said. "If we can verify with measurements in the laboratory how fluids in highly confined or viscous systems behave, then we'll be able to use the same types of models to describe what's happening in the reservoir itself," he said. One goal is to incorporate the simulations into iSAFT -- inhomogeneous Statistical Associating Fluid Theory -- a pioneering method developed by Chapman and his group to simulate the free energy landscapes of complex materials and analyze their microstructures, surface forces, wettability and morphological transitions. "Our results challenge approximations in models that have been used for over 50 years to interpret NMR and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) data," Chapman said. "Now that we have established the approach, we hope to explain results that have baffled scientists for years." Chapman is the William W. Akers Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and associate dean for energy in the George R. Brown School of Engineering. Hirasaki is the A.J. Hartsook Professor Emeritus of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The Rice University Consortium on Processes in Porous Media supported the research, with computing resources supplied by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, which is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin. This news release can be found online at http://news. Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

NDA Partners Chairman Carl Peck, MD, announced today that Deborah Wenkert, MD a former Clinical Research Medical Director at Amgen and pediatrics, rheumatology, and bone disease expert has joined the company as an Expert Consultant. Following an immunology postdoc at Harvard University, Dr. Wenkert was an instructor at Washington University School of Medicine and then, for eleven years, an Adjunct Assistant/Associate Clinical Professor at St Louis University School of Medicine in the division of rheumatology. Concurrent with her position at St. Louis University, Dr. Wenkert conducted research in adult and pediatric metabolic bone and genetic disorders and provided care to affected children as the Associate Director of the Center for Metabolic Bone Disease and Molecular Research at Shriners Hospital for Children, St Louis. “Dr. Deborah Wenkert’s knowledge and expertise in adult and pediatric metabolic bone and genetic disorders, in addition to, her extensive experience in pediatric rheumatology and pediatric clinical trials will provide an excellent resource to our clients and to our growing Pediatric Practice,” said Dr. Peck. “We are very pleased to welcome her to NDA Partners.” Dr. Wenkert earned her MD from the University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston, Texas), attended graduate school at Baylor College of Medicine Graduate School, and obtained a BA in Biochemistry from Rice University. She is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric rheumatology, a member of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Rheumatology. About NDA Partners NDA Partners is a strategy consulting firm specializing in expert product development and regulatory advice to the medical products industry and associated service industries such as law firms, investment funds and government research agencies. The highly experienced Principals and Premier Experts of NDA Partners include three former FDA Center Directors; the former Chairman of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK; an international team of more than 100 former pharmaceutical industry and regulatory agency senior executives; and an extensive roster of highly proficient experts in specialized areas including nonclinical development, toxicology, pharmacokinetics, CMC, medical device design control and quality systems, clinical development, regulatory submissions, and development program management. Services include product development and regulatory strategy, expert consulting, high-impact project teams, and virtual product development teams.


News Article | February 18, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's statue at the Lincoln Memorial is seen in Washington March 27, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (Reuters) - Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt were ranked as the top three U.S. presidents in history respectively while Barack Obama entered the rankings in the 12th spot, based on a survey of historians released on Friday. Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower rounded out the top five of 43 presidents in U.S. history, a survey of historians' rankings of presidential leadership found. It was the third such survey released by the C-SPAN television network ahead of the Presidents Day weekend. "Once again the big three are Lincoln, Washington and FDR - as it should be. That Obama came in at number 12 his first time out is quite impressive," said Douglas Brinkley, a history professor at Rice University, in a statement by C-SPAN. The survey, which was held twice before in 2000 and 2009, asked 91 presidential historians to rank the 43 former presidents based on 10 attributes of leadership. Obama, who left office in January with favorable approval ratings after serving eight years, was ranked third in the "pursued equal justice of all" category and 39th in the "relations with congress" category. "One would have thought that former President Obama’s favorable rating when he left office would have translated into a higher ranking," said Edna Greene Medford, a history professor at Howard University. "But, of course, historians prefer to view the past from a distance, and only time will reveal his legacy." Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan were ranked as the worst presidents in U.S. history, even lower than William Henry Harrison, who served for only one month.


DETROIT, MI--(Marketwired - February 13, 2017) - SmithGroupJJR, one of the nation's leading architecture, engineering and planning firms, is pleased to announce that Tom Butcavage, Sam D'Amico, Mark Kranz and David Varner have been elevated to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows. The recognition reflects their significant contributions to architecture and society and achievement of a standard of excellence in the profession. The four from SmithGroupJJR will be among the 178 new Fellows recognized at an investiture ceremony at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2017, to be held April 27-29 in Orlando, Florida. Tom Butcavage, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a SmithGroupJJR vice president and leader of the Higher Education Studio at the firm's Washington, DC office. He has spent the past 20 years as a pioneer in the programming, planning and design of award-winning and nationally significant higher education facilities across the U.S., ranging from instructional facilities and student centers to libraries and professional schools. Butcavage is widely recognized for his unparalleled expertise in law school design. He has led more than 20 law school projects, each containing a variety of spaces for specialized instruction, research and legal skills development. Among his most recently completed law schools are the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, American University Washington College of Law, George State University College of Law, and New York Law School - all which exemplify cutting-edge environments for modern legal education. Presently, he is leading the design of a number of new professional education facilities at the University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Georgetown University. A frequent presenter at national academic conferences such as the Society for College and University Planning, American Bar Association and Association of College Unions International, Butcavage speaks on topics including the design of student spaces and maximizing student engagement through new facilities. He has served as a critic and lecturer at the Corcoran College of Art + Design and Catholic University of America School of Architecture and Planning. Butcavage is a graduate of Columbia University with a Master of Architecture, preceded by a BA in art history at Swarthmore College. His is a resident of Washington, DC's Shepherd Park neighborhood. Sam D'Amico, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a SmithGroupJJR vice president and design leader for the firm's Health Practice. Based at its San Francisco office, he is now commencing his 35th year practicing architecture throughout the U.S. as well as parts of Asia. D'Amico approaches every project with a specific architectural response that integrates the client's culture, context and place. His design tenets include the integration of daylight, nature and art into the healthcare environment to improve the healing process. D'Amico has designed for world-class teaching institutions and national leaders in healthcare such as the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, and Barnes Jewish Hospital. Currently, D'Amico is design principal for a new medical office building and bed tower, part of a multi-year expansion program for Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, California. His design of the new Robley Rex Veteran Administration Medical Center, a 1.2 million-square-foot replacement hospital to be constructed in Louisville, Kentucky, led to SmithGroupJJR's award of a prestigious AIA Academy of Architecture National Health Design Award, Unbuilt Category. Another D'Amico design, for the Fuwai Huazhong Cardiovascular and Heart Hospital, Zhenghou, Henan Province, China, was the recipient of an AIA San Francisco Citation Award for unbuilt design. At SmithGroupJJR, D'Amico is a member of the firm's National Design Committee. In 2016, he served as a featured panelist at firm's public forum on design, Perspectives, for a program titled, "The Fusion of Art and Architecture." A graduate from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors, the Houston, Texas native now resides in Lafayette, California, where he is on the Board of the city's Improvement Association. Mark Kranz, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, vice president and design director at SmithGroupJJR, is known for his elegant and synthesized solutions for research and higher education environments across the U.S. As the designer of projects recognized by a total of 27 AIA design awards to-date, he believes that each has the potential for excellence, regardless of budget or constraints. Kranz, who is based at the firm's Phoenix office, is an advocate of pushing the boundaries of innovation and sustainability. He designed the LEED Platinum Energy Systems Integration Facility at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado, leading a complex team and design vision for a high performance/ultra-low energy building later honored as R&D Magazine's "Lab of the Year." His design of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Center for Excellence, located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Oahu, Hawaii, was the recipient of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) 2015 Commander's Award for Design Excellence. Among Kranz's projects currently underway is the $82 million Engineering Building, now under construction at the University of Texas at Dallas. Scheduled for completion in 2018, the new, 208,000-square-foot building will house the university's rapidly growing mechanical engineering program. He is also serving design principal for the new $60 million San Diego County Crime Laboratory, slated to be completed in 2019. Kranz was elected to the SmithGroupJJR Board of Directors in 2015 and is a member of the firm's National Design Committee and Science & Technology Practice. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln with a Bachelor of Science in architectural studies, followed by a Master of Architecture from Arizona State University. He now resides in Phoenix. David Varner, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, is vice president and director of the firm's 200-person office in Washington, DC, located in the 1700 New York Avenue building in the heart of DC's monumental core. Varner is known for his talent in discovering and celebrating hidden environmental, economic and design opportunities in existing buildings. His special expertise and success in creating new value for owners, communities and cities through such building transformation is well demonstrated with the complete transformation of the 2.1 million-square-foot, Constitution Center, a repositioning of a 1960's property into the largest, privately-owned office building in Washington, DC. Certified LEED Gold, the building today is not only highly energy-efficient, but secure, elegant and fully leased. Varner is currently serving as SmithGroupJJR's principal-in-charge for one of the District's most exciting new buildings now under construction: the $60 million, 150,000-square-foot, DC Water Headquarters. When completed in late 2017 along the waterfront of the Anacostia River, the new building will set a new standard for low-energy, high-performance and resilient waterfront development. As a result of his expertise in existing buildings, transformation, planning and mixed-use development, Varner is frequently invited to join interdisciplinary panels of some of the nation's most significant leadership groups. In 2015 he was elected a Trustee of the Federal City Council, a position that catalyzes the collaboration of key business leaders in Washington, DC to solve challenging problems across the city. He is a long-time member of the Urban Land Institute and currently on its exclusive Redevelopment and Reuse Council. Varner has been a member of the SmithGroupJJR Board of Directors since 2011. He is graduate of Rice University with dual degrees: a Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture and art/art history and a Bachelor of Architecture. A native of Houston, Texas, Varner now lives in Arlington, Virginia. The American Institute of Architects Fellowship program was developed to elevate those architects who have made a significant contribution to architecture and society and who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession. Election to fellowship not only recognizes the achievements of architects as individuals, but also their significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level. SmithGroupJJR (www.smithgroupjjr.com) is an integrated architecture, engineering and planning firm, employing more than 1,100 across 10 offices. In May 2016, SmithGroupJJR was ranked as one of the nation's top architecture firms by Architect magazine's Architect 50. A national leader in sustainable design, SmithGroupJJR has 420 LEED professionals and 160 LEED certified projects.


Yu R.,Renmin University of China | Yu R.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Si Q.,Rice University
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2015

Motivated by the properties of the iron chalcogenides, we study the phase diagram of a generalized Heisenberg model with frustrated bilinear-biquadratic interactions on a square lattice. We identify zero-temperature phases with antiferroquadrupolar and Ising-nematic orders. The effects of quantum fluctuations and interlayer couplings are analyzed. We propose the Ising-nematic order as underlying the structural phase transition observed in the normal state of FeSe, and discuss the role of the Goldstone modes of the antiferroquadrupolar order for the dipolar magnetic fluctuations in this system. Our results provide a considerably broadened perspective on the overall magnetic phase diagram of the iron chalcogenides and pnictides, and are amenable to tests by new experiments. © 2015 American Physical Society.


Boppart S.A.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | Richards-Kortum R.,Rice University
Science Translational Medicine | Year: 2014

Leveraging advances in consumer electronics and wireless telecommunications, low-cost, portable optical imaging devices have the potential to improve screening and detection of disease at the point of care in primary health care settings in both low- and high-resource countries. Similarly, real-time optical imaging technologies can improve diagnosis and treatment at the point of procedure by circumventing the need for biopsy and analysis by expert pathologists, who are scarce in developing countries. Although many optical imaging technologies have been translated from bench to bedside, industry support is needed to commercialize and broadly disseminate these from the patient level to the population level to transform the standard of care. This review provides an overview of promising optical imaging technologies, the infrastructure needed to integrate them into widespread clinical use, and the challenges that must be addressed to harness the potential of these technologies to improve health care systems around the world. © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.


Rodriguez-Guzman R.,Rice University | Robledo L.M.,Autonomous University of Madrid
Physical Review C - Nuclear Physics | Year: 2014

The most recent parametrizations D1S, D1N, and D1M of the Gogny energy density functional are used to describe fission in the isotopes 232-280U. Fission paths, collective masses, and zero-point quantum corrections, obtained within the constrained Hartree-Fock-Bogoliubov approximation, are used to compute the systematics of the spontaneous fission half-lives tSF, the masses and charges of the fission fragments, and their intrinsic shapes. The Gogny-D1M parametrization has been benchmarked against available experimental data on inner and second barrier heights, excitation energies of the fission isomers, and half-lives in a selected set of Pu, Cm, Cf, Fm, No, Rf, Sg, Hs, and Fl nuclei. It is concluded that D1M represents a reasonable starting point to describe fission in heavy and superheavy nuclei. Special attention is also paid to understand the uncertainties in the predicted tSF values arising from the different building blocks entering the standard semiclassical Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin formula. Although the uncertainties are large, the trend with mass or neutron numbers are well reproduced and therefore the theory still has predictive power. In this respect, it is also shown that modifications of a few percent in the pairing strength can have a significant impact on the collective masses leading to uncertainties in the tSF values of several orders of magnitude. © 2014 American Physical Society.


Esteban R.,Donostia International Physics Center | Borisov A.G.,University Paris - Sud | Nordlander P.,Rice University | Aizpurua J.,Donostia International Physics Center
Nature Communications | Year: 2012

Electromagnetic coupling between plasmonic resonances in metallic nanoparticles allows for engineering of the optical response and generation of strong localized near-fields. Classical electrodynamics fails to describe this coupling across sub-nanometer gaps, where quantum effects become important owing to non-local screening and the spill-out of electrons. However, full quantum simulations are not presently feasible for realistically sized systems. Here we present a novel approach, the quantum-corrected model (QCM), that incorporates quantum-mechanical effects within a classical electrodynamic framework. The QCM approach models the junction between adjacent nanoparticles by means of a local dielectric response that includes electron tunnelling and tunnelling resistivity at the gap and can be integrated within a classical electrodynamical description of large and complex structures. The QCM predicts optical properties in excellent agreement with fully quantum mechanical calculations for small interacting systems, opening a new venue for addressing quantum effects in realistic plasmonic systems. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Wen Z.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Yin W.,Rice University
Mathematical Programming | Year: 2013

Minimization with orthogonality constraints (e.g.; XT X = I) and/or spherical constraints (e.g.; ||x||2 = 1) has wide applications in polynomial optimization, combinatorial optimization, eigenvalue problems, sparse PCA, p-harmonic flows, 1-bit compressive sensing, matrix rank minimization, etc. These problems are difficult because the constraints are not only non-convex but numerically expensive to preserve during iterations. To deal with these difficulties, we apply the Cayley transform - a Crank-Nicolson-like update scheme - to preserve the constraints and based on it, develop curvilinear search algorithms with lower flops compared to those based on projections and geodesics. The efficiency of the proposed algorithms is demonstrated on a variety of test problems. In particular, for the maxcut problem, it exactly solves a decomposition formulation for the SDP relaxation. For polynomial optimization, nearest correlation matrix estimation and extreme eigenvalue problems, the proposed algorithms run very fast and return solutions no worse than those from their state-of-the-art algorithms. For the quadratic assignment problem, a gap 0.842 % to the best known solution on the largest problem "tai256c" in QAPLIB can be reached in 5 min on a typical laptop. © 2012 Springer and Mathematical Optimization Society.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

(Jan. 31, 2017) – CM First Group was recognized as one of the 10 Most Promising I.T. and Web Technology Companies at the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship 14th annual I.T. and Web Venture Forum in Houston on January 19, 2017. Forty Information Technology ventures showcased their companies at the largest venture capital conference in the Southwest with 300 attendees — including nearly 100 venture capitalists and other investors, over 200 entrepreneurs, along with industry representatives, business leaders, and service providers. The one-day event culminated in the announcement of the 10 I.T. and Web Technology Companies, chosen from 40 presenters and judged by investors and business leaders in attendance, based on the companies’ business plan presentations and investor feedback. Rice Alliance Managing Director Brad Burke announced the winners of the I.T. and Web Technology Company awards at the event. “Every year the quality of companies improves,” Burke said, “This year we had a diversity of companies including learning solutions and digital commerce platform. Company presenters at Rice Alliance venture forums and Rice Business Plan Competition have raised in excess of $4.2 billion. This year’s crop of winners is expected to achieve similar results.” “CM First was honored to attend the Forum along with other key industry leaders,” said CTO & Managing Director John Rhodes, “We feel fortunate to have been recognized by Rice Alliance for our innovative modernization technology, customized expertise, and dedicated service to the needs of our clients.” Sponsors of this year’s IT and Web Venture Forum included: Mercury Fund, Golden Section Technology, Vinson and Elkins LLP, Data Foundry, Pillsbury, Comcast Business, PKF, Norton Rose Fulbright, Winstead, Houston Angel Network, Station Houston, Central Texas Angel Network, Houston Technology Center, RedHouse Associates, Tech Wildcatters, Start and Teakwood Capital. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, CM First Group empowers organizations and system integrators with IBM mainframe and midrange applications to advance their code into the new digital economy. CM First has served the IBM i and IBM z community since 1999, and focuses on custom applications written in COBOL, RPG, Java and CA 2E (Synon) as well as other languages. For organizations enhancing or replacing legacy applications, CM First has advanced code comprehension, business rule mining, and transformation software that reduces engineering costs by up to 80 percent. Scaling to millions of lines of code from programs, jobs and tables with compiler accuracy, CM First uses code slicing technology to present a new way to navigate code visually. For systems integrators who need to compete with low-cost competitors, CM First software increases project margins and improves project estimation accuracy by enabling a profitable and fixed price commercial model. About The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship: The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) is Rice University’s globally-recognized initiative devoted to the support of technology commercialization, entrepreneurship education, and the launch of technology companies. Since inception, more than 1,800 early-stage companies have benefited from participating at the 150+ programs hosted by the Rice Alliance and raised more than $4.2 billion in funding.


News Article | March 3, 2017
Site: www.greencarcongress.com

« Oil Majors’ Costs Have Risen 66% Since 2011 | Main | Senate bill would enable sales of E15 and higher ethanol blends year round; RVP waiver » Scientists at Rice University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chile are proposing that quantum-controlled motion of nuclei, starting from the nanometer-size ground state of a molecule, can potentially overcome some of the difficulties of thermonuclear fusion by compression of a fuel pellet or in a bulk plasma. Their report on quantum-controlled fusion suggests that rather than heating atoms to temperatures found inside the sun or smashing them in a collider, it might be possible to nudge them close enough to fuse by using shaped laser pulses: ultrashort, tuned bursts of coherent light. Fusion reactions also can be induced by non-thermal means. For example, charged particle beams can be collided at appropriately high energy to carry out fusion reactions in the laboratory. Alternatively, fusion can be catalyzed by achieving a high spatial density, as happens for the nuclei within a muonic molecule. When a muon replaces the electron, it brings the nuclei ~200 times closer together than in an ordinary molecule, greatly enhancing the spontaneous nuclear reaction rate even at low temperature. In many ways, the ground state of such a molecule is the ideal situation for fusion because the phase space density of the reacting species takes on the largest possible value consistent with quantum mechanics. While greeted by much excitement when it was discovered in the 1950s, muon-catalyzed fusion still just falls a bit short of practicality because of the insufficient lifetime of the muon. Peter Wolynes of Rice, Martin Gruebele of Illinois and Illinois alumnus Eduardo Berrios of Chile simulated reactions in two dimensions that, if extrapolated to three, might just produce energy efficiently from deuterium and tritium or other elements. Their paper appears in the festschrift edition of Chemical Physical Letters dedicated to Ahmed Zewail, Gruebele’s postdoctoral adviser and a Nobel laureate for his work on femtochemistry, in which femtosecond-long laser flashes trigger chemical reactions. The femtochemical technique is central to the new idea that nuclei can be pushed close enough to overcome the Coulomb barrier that forces atoms of like charge to repel each other. When that is accomplished, atoms can fuse and release heat through neutron scattering. When more energy is created than it takes to sustain the reaction, sustained fusion becomes viable. The trick is to do all this in a controlled way, and scientists have been pursuing such a trick for decades, primarily by containing hydrogen plasmas at sun-like temperatures (at the US Department of Energy’s National Ignition Facility and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor effort in France) and in large facilities. The new paper describes a basic proof-of-principle simulation that shows how, in two dimensions, a shaped-laser pulse would push a molecule of deuterium and tritium, its nuclei already poised at a much smaller internuclear distance than in a plasma, nearly close enough to fuse. … we performed quantum wavepacket propagation in a 2-D toy model of two field-bound nuclei in the presence of a time-dependent 800 nm laser pulse that was shaped to exert coherent control over the nuclear wavepacket. The collision probability is enhanced by about 3 orders of magnitude by the best coherent control pulse, and by up to 20 orders of magnitude relative to an electron-bound molecule. Since muonic fusion is already not far from break-even for net energy production, shaped VUV laser pulses, when they become available, could also be an efficient means of enhancing muonic fusion by coherent control. Wolynes said 2-D simulations were necessary to keep the iterative computations practical, even though doing so required stripping electrons from the model molecules. Without the electrons, it was still possible to bring nuclei within a small fraction of an angstrom by simulating the effects of shaped 5-femtosecond, near-infrared laser pulses, which held the nuclei together in a “field-bound” molecule. Because the model works at the quantum level—where subatomic particles are subject to different rules and have the characteristics of both particles and waves—the Heisenberg uncertainty principle comes into play. That makes it impossible to know the precise location of particles and makes tuning the lasers a challenge, Wolynes said. Wolynes said he and Gruebele, whose lab studies protein folding, cell dynamics, nanostructure microscopy, fish swimming behavior and other topics, have been thinking about the possibilities for about a decade, even though nuclear fusion is more of a hobby than a profession for both. Berrios, lead author of the paper, is a research scientist at the University of Chile, Santiago. Wolynes is the D.R. Bullard-Welch Foundation Professor of Science, a professor of chemistry, of biochemistry and cell biology, of physics and astronomy and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice and a senior investigator at Rice's National Science Foundation-funded Center for Theoretical Biological Physics. Gruebele is the head of chemistry, the James R. Eiszner Endowed Chair in Chemistry and a professor of physics, biophysics and computational biology at Illinois.


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New Rochelle, NY, February 24, 2017--Researchers have used tissue engineering to create models for studying the bone-destroying activity of tumors such as the aggressive pediatric cancer Ewing's sarcoma. A new 3-dimensional, living model of the osteolytic process and bone remodeling, which can serve a valuable tool for exploring disease mechanisms and the effectiveness of potential treatments, is described in Tissue Engineering, Part C, Methods, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Tissue Engineering website until March 24, 2017. In the article entitled "Tissue-Engineered Model of Human Osteolytic Bone Tumor," Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic and coauthors from Columbia University, New York, NY and Politecnico di Milano, Italy, present the methods used to bioengineer a living Ewing's sarcoma model that includes both osteoclasts and osteoblasts in a controllable biomimetic environment. The researchers demonstrate the usefulness of the model for testing anti-osteolytic drugs. "There is an urgent need for the development of human-like tumor models. This article is an excellent example of the progress being made," says Methods Co-Editor-in-Chief John A. Jansen, DDS, PhD, Professor and Head, Department of Biomaterials, Radboud University Medical Center, The Netherlands. Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers EB002520 and EB17103. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Tissue Engineering is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published monthly online and in print in three parts: Part A, the flagship journal published 24 times per year; Part B: Reviews, published bimonthly, and Part C: Methods, published 12 times per year. Led by Co-Editors-In-Chief Antonios Mikos, PhD, Louis Calder Professor at Rice University, Houston, TX, and Peter C. Johnson, MD, Principal, MedSurgPI, LLC, President and CEO, Scintellix, LLC, Raleigh, NC, the Journal brings together scientific and medical experts in the fields of biomedical engineering, material science, molecular and cellular biology, and genetic engineering. Tissue Engineering is the official journal of the Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). Complete tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed online at the Tissue Engineering website. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Stem Cells and Development, Human Gene Therapy, and Advances in Wound Care. Its biotechnology trade magazine, GEN (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 80 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website.


News Article | March 2, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

Controlled nuclear fusion has been a holy grail for physicists who seek an endless supply of clean energy. Scientists at Rice University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chile offered a glimpse into a possible new path toward that goal. Their report on quantum-controlled fusion puts forth the notion that rather than heating atoms to temperatures found inside the sun or smashing them in a collider, it might be possible to nudge them close enough to fuse by using shaped laser pulses: ultrashort, tuned bursts of coherent light. Authors Peter Wolynes of Rice, Martin Gruebele of Illinois and Illinois alumnus Eduardo Berrios of Chile simulated reactions in two dimensions that, if extrapolated to three, might just produce energy efficiently from deuterium and tritium or other elements. Their paper appears in the festschrift edition of Chemical Physical Letters dedicated to Ahmed Zewail, Gruebele's postdoctoral adviser and a Nobel laureate for his work on femtochemistry, in which femtosecond-long laser flashes trigger chemical reactions. The femtochemical technique is central to the new idea that nuclei can be pushed close enough to overcome the Coulomb barrier that forces atoms of like charge to repel each other. When that is accomplished, atoms can fuse and release heat through neutron scattering. When more energy is created than it takes to sustain the reaction, sustained fusion becomes viable. The trick is to do all this in a controlled way, and scientists have been pursuing such a trick for decades, primarily by containing hydrogen plasmas at sun-like temperatures (at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Ignition Facility and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor effort in France) and in large facilities. The new paper describes a basic proof-of-principle simulation that shows how, in two dimensions, a shaped-laser pulse would push a molecule of deuterium and tritium, its nuclei already poised at a much smaller internuclear distance than in a plasma, nearly close enough to fuse. "What prevents them from coming together is the positive charge of the nuclei, and both of these nuclei have the smallest charge, 1," Wolynes said. He said 2-D simulations were necessary to keep the iterative computations practical, even though doing so required stripping electrons from the model molecules. "The best way to do it would be to leave the electrons on to help the process and control their motions, but that is a higher-dimensional problem that we -- or someone -- will tackle in the future," Wolynes said. Without the electrons, it was still possible to bring nuclei within a small fraction of an angstrom by simulating the effects of shaped 5-femtosecond, near-infrared laser pulses, which held the nuclei together in a "field-bound" molecule. "For decades, researchers have also investigated muon-catalyzed fusion, where the electron in the deuterium/tritium molecule is replaced by a muon," Gruebele said. "Think of it as a 208-times heavier electron. As a result, the molecular bond distance shrinks by a factor of 200, poising the nuclei even better for fusion. "Sadly, muons don't live forever, and the increased fusion efficiency just falls short of breaking even in energy output," he said. "But when shaped vacuum ultraviolet laser pulses become as available as the near-infrared ones we simulated here, quantum control of muonic fusion may get it over the threshold." Because the model works at the quantum level -- where subatomic particles are subject to different rules and have the characteristics of both particles and waves -- the Heisenberg uncertainty principle comes into play. That makes it impossible to know the precise location of particles and makes tuning the lasers a challenge, Wolynes said. "It's clear the kind of pulses you need have to be highly sculpted and have many frequencies in them," he said. "It will probably take experimentation to figure out what the best pulse shape should be, but tritium is radioactive, so no one ever wants to put tritium in their apparatus until they're sure it's going to work." Wolynes said he and Gruebele, whose lab studies protein folding, cell dynamics, nanostructure microscopy, fish swimming behavior and other topics, have been thinking about the possibilities for about a decade, even though nuclear fusion is more of a hobby than a profession for both. "We finally got the courage to say, 'Well, it's worth saying something about it.' "We're not starting a company ... yet," he said. "But there may be angles here other people can think through that would lead to something practical even in the short term, such as production of short alpha particle pulses that could be useful in research applications. "I'd be lying if I said that when we started the calculation, I didn't hope it might just solve mankind's energy problems," Wolynes said. "At this point, it doesn't. On the other hand, I think it's an interesting question that starts us on a new path."


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A chunk of conductive graphene foam reinforced by carbon nanotubes can support more than 3,000 times its own weight and easily bounce back to its original height, according to Rice University scientists. Better yet, it can be made in just about any shape and size, they reported, demonstrating a screw-shaped piece of the highly conductive foam. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour tested its new "rebar graphene" as a highly porous, conductive electrode in lithium ion capacitors and found it to be mechanically and chemically stable. The research appears in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Carbon in the form of atom-thin graphene is among the strongest materials known and is highly conductive; multiwalled carbon nanotubes are widely used as conductive reinforcements in metals, polymers and carbon matrix composites. The Tour lab had already used nanotubes to reinforce two-dimensional sheets of graphene. Extending the concept to macroscale materials made sense, Tour said. "We developed graphene foam, but it wasn't tough enough for the kind of applications we had in mind, so using carbon nanotubes to reinforce it was a natural next step," Tour said. The three-dimensional structures were created from a powdered nickel catalyst, surfactant-wrapped multiwall nanotubes and sugar as a carbon source. The materials were mixed and the water evaporated; the resulting pellets were pressed into a steel die and then heated in a chemical vapor deposition furnace, which turned the available carbon into graphene. After further processing to remove remnants of nickel, the result was an all-carbon foam in the shape of the die, in this case a screw. Tour said the method will be easy to scale up. Electron microscope images of the foam showed partially unzipped outer layers of the nanotubes had bonded to the graphene, which accounted for its strength and resilience. Graphene foam produced without the rebar could support only about 150 times its own weight while retaining the ability to rapidly return to its full height. But rebar graphene irreversibly deformed by about 25 percent when loaded with more than 8,500 times its weight. Junwei Sha, a visiting graduate student at Rice and a graduate student at Tianjin University, China, is lead author of the paper. Co-authors from Rice are postdoctoral researchers Rodrigo Salvatierra, Pei Dong and Yongsung Ji; graduate students Yilun Li, Tuo Wang, Chenhao Zhang and Jibo Zhang; former postdoctoral researcher Seoung-Ki Lee; Pulickel Ajayan, chair of the Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Engineering and a professor of chemistry; and Jun Lou, a professor of materials science and nanoengineering. Naiqin Zhao, a professor at Tianjin University and a researcher at the Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering, Tianjin, is also a co-author. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research and its Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative supported the research. This news release can be found online at http://news. A piece of rebar graphene stands up to a good soaking in a test at Rice University. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | March 2, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Controlled nuclear fusion has been a holy grail for physicists who seek an endless supply of clean energy. Scientists at Rice University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chile offered a glimpse into a possible new path toward that goal. Their report on quantum-controlled fusion puts forth the notion that rather than heating atoms to temperatures found inside the sun or smashing them in a collider, it might be possible to nudge them close enough to fuse by using shaped laser pulses: ultrashort, tuned bursts of coherent light. Authors Peter Wolynes of Rice, Martin Gruebele of Illinois and Illinois alumnus Eduardo Berrios of Chile simulated reactions in two dimensions that, if extrapolated to three, might just produce energy efficiently from deuterium and tritium or other elements. Their paper appears in the festschrift edition of Chemical Physical Letters dedicated to Ahmed Zewail, Gruebele's postdoctoral adviser and a Nobel laureate for his work on femtochemistry, in which femtosecond-long laser flashes trigger chemical reactions. The femtochemical technique is central to the new idea that nuclei can be pushed close enough to overcome the Coulomb barrier that forces atoms of like charge to repel each other. When that is accomplished, atoms can fuse and release heat through neutron scattering. When more energy is created than it takes to sustain the reaction, sustained fusion becomes viable. The trick is to do all this in a controlled way, and scientists have been pursuing such a trick for decades, primarily by containing hydrogen plasmas at sun-like temperatures (at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Ignition Facility and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor effort in France) and in large facilities. The new paper describes a basic proof-of-principle simulation that shows how, in two dimensions, a shaped-laser pulse would push a molecule of deuterium and tritium, its nuclei already poised at a much smaller internuclear distance than in a plasma, nearly close enough to fuse. "What prevents them from coming together is the positive charge of the nuclei, and both of these nuclei have the smallest charge, 1," Wolynes said. He said 2-D simulations were necessary to keep the iterative computations practical, even though doing so required stripping electrons from the model molecules. "The best way to do it would be to leave the electrons on to help the process and control their motions, but that is a higher-dimensional problem that we -- or someone -- will tackle in the future," Wolynes said. Without the electrons, it was still possible to bring nuclei within a small fraction of an angstrom by simulating the effects of shaped 5-femtosecond, near-infrared laser pulses, which held the nuclei together in a "field-bound" molecule. "For decades, researchers have also investigated muon-catalyzed fusion, where the electron in the deuterium/tritium molecule is replaced by a muon," Gruebele said. "Think of it as a 208-times heavier electron. As a result, the molecular bond distance shrinks by a factor of 200, poising the nuclei even better for fusion. "Sadly, muons don't live forever, and the increased fusion efficiency just falls short of breaking even in energy output," he said. "But when shaped vacuum ultraviolet laser pulses become as available as the near-infrared ones we simulated here, quantum control of muonic fusion may get it over the threshold." Because the model works at the quantum level -- where subatomic particles are subject to different rules and have the characteristics of both particles and waves -- the Heisenberg uncertainty principle comes into play. That makes it impossible to know the precise location of particles and makes tuning the lasers a challenge, Wolynes said. "It's clear the kind of pulses you need have to be highly sculpted and have many frequencies in them," he said. "It will probably take experimentation to figure out what the best pulse shape should be, but tritium is radioactive, so no one ever wants to put tritium in their apparatus until they're sure it's going to work." Wolynes said he and Gruebele, whose lab studies protein folding, cell dynamics, nanostructure microscopy, fish swimming behavior and other topics, have been thinking about the possibilities for about a decade, even though nuclear fusion is more of a hobby than a profession for both. "We finally got the courage to say, 'Well, it's worth saying something about it.' "We're not starting a company ... yet," he said. "But there may be angles here other people can think through that would lead to something practical even in the short term, such as production of short alpha particle pulses that could be useful in research applications. "I'd be lying if I said that when we started the calculation, I didn't hope it might just solve mankind's energy problems," Wolynes said. "At this point, it doesn't. On the other hand, I think it's an interesting question that starts us on a new path." Berrios, lead author of the paper, is a research scientist at the University of Chile, Santiago. Wolynes is the D.R. Bullard-Welch Foundation Professor of Science, a professor of chemistry, of biochemistry and cell biology, of physics and astronomy and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice and a senior investigator at Rice's National Science Foundation-funded Center for Theoretical Biological Physics. Gruebele is the head of chemistry, the James R. Eiszner Endowed Chair in Chemistry and a professor of physics, biophysics and computational biology at Illinois. This news release can be found online at http://news. Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

African-American and poor children in the United States suffer disproportionately from asthma. But according to a new study from sociologists at Rice University, racial and socio-economic gaps in the proportion of children in Houston who have asthma may be a result of social inequalities in the neighborhoods where children live. "Comprehensive Neighborhood Portraits and Child Asthma Disparities" will appear in an upcoming edition of the Maternal and Child Health Journal. In the study, the researchers found that of the 12,000+ children in Houston who have asthma, the chronic disease of airways in the lungs is more prevalent among African-American children than white children and occurs most often among African-American children living in poor neighborhoods. The researchers also found that children of all races and ethnicities, including white children, have a greater risk of developing asthma when they live in poor neighborhoods, compared with children living in middle-class or affluent neighborhoods. "We set out to find out if there is a concentration of children in different neighborhoods that was more likely to have asthma," said lead author Ashley Kranjac, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Sociology and the Kinder Institute Urban Health Program at Rice. "We found, as others have, that asthma is more widespread among African-American children and children in poor neighborhoods. But in addition, we found that African-American children suffer disproportionately in every kind of neighborhood, from the poorest to the wealthiest." All Houston neighborhoods were classified using several social and economic characteristics. One such characteristic was median household income; the researchers reported that the most affluent neighborhoods in Houston had median household incomes of over $100,000. Middle-class neighborhoods were at $58,100 and poor neighborhoods had median household incomes of just $33,900. Using these classifications, the researchers found that African-American children, when compared with white children living in the same type of neighborhood, were 8.8 percent more likely to have asthma in poor neighborhoods, 6.7 percent more likely in middle-class neighborhoods and 5.8 percent more likely in affluent communities. In addition, the likelihood of being diagnosed with asthma increased for all children in Houston as they got older. For example, 6 percent of children in Houston between the ages of 2 and 6 have asthma, but 8 percent of children between the ages of 7 and 12 have asthma. And children growing up in the poorest neighborhoods are twice as likely to have an asthma diagnosis compared with children growing up in the most affluent neighborhoods. Kranjac said that although the research did not provide a reason why African-American children growing up in poor neighborhoods were more likely to suffer from asthma, she theorized that it could partly have to do with socio-economic differences. "Higher levels of income and higher levels of education go hand in hand," Kranjac said. "It may be that parents with more education have greater access to information on poor air quality and its effects on asthma. These individuals may not only be more likely to know how to access information on air quality but also decide to have their children play inside or be able to travel outside of their community on poor air quality days. Individuals with less education and/or income may not have access to that kind of information and/or may not have the resources to pursue alternative activities on poor air quality days. They likely also have fewer housing choices and have to settle for housing in the poorest air quality areas of the city." Kranjac said that it is equally concerning that African-American children, even in the wealthiest neighborhoods, are disproportionately suffering from asthma. "The drivers of those differences are not likely physiological but rooted in social and racial inequalities," she said. The researchers used the medical records of 206,974 children aged 2-12 in 1,076 Houston metropolitan neighborhoods (Census tracts). Social and economic information was generated using the 2010 Census and the 2009-2013 American Community Survey data. Air quality data was provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Air Monitoring Information System from 2010 to 2012. Kranjac and her coauthors hope the research will lead others to treat social and racial inequalities as central drivers of the asthma gap in children. The study is available online at https:/ and was funded by Houston Endowment. For more information, contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or amym@rice.edu. This news release can be found online at http://news. . Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Tens of millions of Americans with lung disease use metered-dose inhalers each day, and new studies by Rice University electrical engineers and pulmonologists at Baylor College of Medicine have identified critical errors that are causing many inhaler users to get only about half as much medicine as they should from each puff. "Metered-dose inhalers are used every day by people with asthma, COPD and other chronic lung diseases, and the vast majority of the time -- between 70 and 90 percent -- patients make mistakes that keep some of the medicine from making it to their lungs," said Ashutosh Sabharwal, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice and co-author of two recent studies about the phenomenon. "While inhalers are the most efficient delivery mechanism for many patients, these devices require deft maneuvers on the part of patients. The common errors are well-known, but fixing them continues to be a challenge." Sabharwal's team at Rice's Scalable Health Lab uses the latest electronic technology -- smartphones, wearable devices and inexpensive sensors and components -- to address this and similar health and wellness issues. The lab's creations to date include a self-use retinal imaging system, a mobile spirometer, wearable technology for dietary monitoring and apps for evaluating depression and extracting accurate vitals signs from videos. In partnership with pulmonologist Nick Hanania, associate professor of medicine and director of the Airways Clinical Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, Sabharwal and Rice graduate student Rajoshi Biswas co-authored of two recent studies aimed at finding out which mistakes are most common and how they impact the amount of medicine that reaches patients' lungs. "For years, we as clinicians have known that our patients do not use their inhalers as they should," Hanania said. "In the best case, a puff from an inhaler results in about 40 percent of the medicine reaching the lungs. In the worst case, if someone does everything wrong, that drops to 7 percent. We know the two extremes, but the vast majority of everyday use falls somewhere in the middle. In this study, we have been able to objectively measure the errors, and, using new technology, learn about their impact on drug delivery to the lungs." Biswas, a Ph.D. student in Rice's Scalable Health Lab, spent six years gathering evidence for the studies. She has measured how patients use inhalers, explored the mathematics of their inhalation patterns, examined how doctors and therapists evaluate inhaler use and created an experimental setup to mimic human inhaler use. The research was spurred by an observation she kept returning to just after she came to Rice in 2011 Virtually all the inhaler-dosing studies she found focused on best-case scenarios, the rare cases where patients used the inhaler perfectly, even though the average case was far from perfect. Biswas said it's important to have accurate dosing information for average use. "What's been lacking is a rigorous quantitative examination of how much medicine is making it to the lungs for those everyday cases," she said. Biswas said errors are common because inhaler use requires precision, timing and coordination. Even the slightest deviation can significantly reduce the amount of medicine that reaches the lungs. For example, in a study in the journal CHEST involving 23 Houston patients who have asthma or COPD, each patient made at least one error. Inhalers should be shaken for a few seconds before each use. Biswas said patients often forget to shake the device or don't shake it long enough, particularly on subsequent puffs. The angle at which the inhaler is held is also critical. Slight deviations can result in much of the medicine striking and sticking to the tongue or mouth. Patients also must draw a breath when they activate the inhaler, and the timing, duration and force of this inhalation are critical. Finally, patients are supposed to hold their breath for 10 seconds to allow for uptake of medicine that reaches the lungs. To model how much medicine reaches the lungs for everyday cases, Biswas started by measuring the airflow characteristics from eight patients as they drew breath at various rates. With that data, she programed a machine to simulate the flow, duration and force of different patterns of human inhalation. This breathing device became one piece of an experimental setup that included a robotic finger to activate the inhaler and a metal tube milled in the precise configuration of an adult mouth and throat. Once the metal "throat" was sprayed with a thin coating of oil, it precisely mimicked the wet, sticky conditions that tend to trap medicine in the mouth and throat of patients. Using these components, she was able to precisely measure how much medicine made it to the lungs in a variety of scenarios where patients mistime their breaths or make other common mistakes. "The thing that matters the most is coordination," she said. "It's vital to start breathing just before or at the exact same time the inhaler is activated. A delay of just a half second between pressing the inhaler and breathing in was enough to limit lung deposition to about 20 percent -- about half of what a patient would get in the ideal case." In cases where the machine started inhaling just before the inhaler was activated, Biswas found that more than 35 percent of medication reached the lungs. "In this situation, where timing is coordinated, the determining factor for lung deposition is the flow rate," Biswas said. "Based on our findings, the ideal scenario is to inhale deeply at higher flow rates for about three seconds to fully inhale, and to activate the inhaler about a half second after starting to inhale. This helps ensure the medication clears the mouth-throat cavity and reaches the lungs." Sabharwal, Hanania and Biswas said they hope the medical community will examine their latest study in the Journal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery and consider further research to evaluate and update recommended guidelines for inhaler use and set up educational strategies for their patients. "Our results differ from the current Global Initiative for Asthma inhaler use guidelines," Sabharwal said. "The propellant used in inhalers has changed in recent years, and the current guidelines were developed based on studies of the old inhalers. Our findings, coupled with the recent changes in inhaler propellants, suggest it is time to revisit these guidelines." The research was funded partially by the National Institutes of Health. The DOI of the study in the Journal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery is: 10.1089/jamp.2015.1278 A copy of the study in the Journal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery is available at: http://online. The DOI of the CHEST paper is: 10.1016/j.chest.2016.08.017 A copy of the CHEST paper is available at: http://dx. This release can be found online at news.rice.edu. Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | February 20, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Understanding how the brain remembers can one day shed light on what went wrong when memory fails, such as it occurs in Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University reveal for the first time the specific patterns of electrical activity in rat brains that are associated with specific memories, in this case a fearful experience. They discovered that before rats avoid a place in which they had a fearful experience, the brain recalled memories of the physical location where the experience occurred. The results appear in Nature Neuroscience. "We recall memories all the time," said senior author Dr. Daoyun Ji, associate professor of molecular and cellular biology at Baylor. "For example, I can recall the route I take from home to work every morning, but what are the brain signals at this moment when I hold this memory in my mind?" Studying the workings of the brain in people is difficult, so scientists have turned to the laboratory rat. They have learned that when the animal is in a particular place, neurons in the hippocampus, appropriately called place cells, generate pulses of activity. "A number of place cells generates electrical activity called a 'spiking pattern,'" Ji said. "When the rat is in a certain place, a group of neurons generates a specific pattern of spikes and when it moves to a different place, a different group of neurons generates another pattern of spikes. The patterns are very distinct. We can predict where the animal is by looking at its pattern of brain activity." But, are these spiking patterns involved in memory? How to know what a rat is thinking "Our laboratory rats cannot tell us what memory they are recalling at any particular time," Ji said. "To overcome that, we designed an experiment that would allow us to know what was going on in the animal's brain right before a certain event." In the experiment, conducted by first author Chun-Ting Wu, graduate researcher at the Ji lab, a rat walked along a track, back and forth. After a period of rest, the rat walked the same track again, but when the animal approached the end of the track, it received a mild shock. After it rested again, the rat was placed back on the track. This time, however, when it approached the end of the track where it had received the mild shock before, the rat stopped and turned around, avoiding crossing the fearful path. "Before a rat walked the tracks the first time, we inserted tiny probes into its hippocampus to record the electrical signals generated by groups of active neurons," Ji said. "By recording these brain signals while the animal walked the track for the first time we could examine the patterns that emerged in its brain - we could see what patterns were associated with each location on the track, including the location where the animal later got shocked." "Because the rat turns around and avoids stepping on the end of the track after the shocks, we can reasonably assume that the animal is thinking about the place where it got shocked at the precise moment that it stops walking and turns away," Ji said. "Our observations confirmed this idea." When the researchers, in collaboration with co-author Dr. Caleb Kemere at Rice University, looked at the brain activity in place neurons at this moment, they found that the spiking patterns corresponding to the location in which the rat had received the shock re-emerged, even though this time the animal was only stopping and thinking about the location. "Interestingly, from the brain activity we can tell that the animal was 'mentally traveling' from its current location to the shock place. These patterns corresponding to the shock place re-emerged right at the moment when a specific memory is remembered," Ji said. The next goal of the researchers is to investigate whether the spiking pattern they identified is absolutely required for the animals to behave the way they did. "If we disrupt the pattern, will the animal still avoid stepping into the zone it had learned to avoid?" Ji said. "We are also interested in determining how the spiking patterns of place neurons in the hippocampus can be used by other parts of the brain, such as those involved in making decisions." Ji and his colleagues are also planning on exploring what role spiking patterns in the hippocampus might play in diseases that involve memory loss, such as Alzheimer's disease. "We want to determine whether this kind of mechanism is altered in animal models of Alzheimer's disease. Some evidence shows that it is not that the animals don't have a memory, but that somehow they cannot recall it. Using our system to read spiking patterns in the brains of animal models of the disease, we hope to determine whether a specific spiking pattern exists during memory recall. If not, we will explore the possibility that damaged brain circuits are preventing the animal from recalling the memory and look at ways to allow the animal to recall the specific activity patterns, the memory, again." Dr. Daniel Haggerty, a post-doctoral associate in the Ji lab, also contributed to this work. This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (R01MH106552) and the Simons Foundation (#273886).


Just in time for Presidents' Day, the presidential rankings are in. According to C-SPAN’s Presidential History Survey 2017, former President Barack Obama is the 12th best presidential leader in United States' history. Using a database of C-SPAN programming, 91 historians and presidential scholars evaluated the 44 presidents by giving them a score between one and 10 on 10 different leadership qualities such as “economic management,” “crisis leadership,” “moral authority,” and “vision/setting an agenda.” Recommended: Know your US presidents? See if D.C. Decoder can stump you! Mr. Obama did best in the “pursued equal justice for all,” category with an overall average of 83.2, placing him third behind Abraham Lincoln (first) and Lyndon Johnson (second). His worst performing category was “relations with Congress,” with a score of 37.8, placing him fifth from the bottom, just beneath William Harrison and Richard Nixon. This is the third such ranking, with previous C-SPAN surveys published in 2000 and 2009. As No. 12, Obama falls below Johnson (10th) and Woodrow Wilson (11th), and above James Monroe (13th) and James K. Polk (14th). Abraham Lincoln has consistently ranked as the best US president for the three surveys, followed by George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Once again the Big Three are Lincoln, Washington and FDR – as it should be,” says Rice University historian and survey adviser Douglas Brinkley in a press release. “That Obama came in at number 12 his first time out is quite impressive. And the survey is surprisingly good news for George W. Bush, who shot up a few notches.” Other historians are surprised Obama wasn’t higher on the list. “Although 12th is a respectable overall ranking, one would have thought that former President Obama’s favorable rating when he left office would have translated into a higher ranking in this presidential survey. I am especially surprised that he was ranked at 7th in moral authority, despite heading a scandal-free administration,” says Dr. Edna Greene Medford, a history professor at Howard University and survey adviser. “But, of course, historians prefer to view the past from a distance, and only time will reveal his legacy.” Even though a president’s time in office has passed, their ranking is history is anything but absolute. Along with George W. Bush's improvement, Dwight Eisenhower also moved up three spots to claim No. 5. Andrew Jackson is the biggest loser of the 2017 survey, who moved down five spots to number 18. Thus, Obama could one year break into the Top 10 as his presidency continues to be compared against future and past presidents. He is currently lagging 18 points behind 10th place Johnson. Obama, Bill Clinton (15th), and George H.W. Bush (20th) are the only living former presidents to make the Top 20. “There tends to be kind of an upward mobility, particularly if you are a president who had no major scandals,” Professor Brinkley tells NBC. “If the Trump presidency is problematic, people may judge Obama even higher yet.” James Buchanan is listed as the worst president, with Franklin Pierce and Andrew Johnson earning next lowest spots. It does not bode well for their legacy that all three of these presidents were also put in the bottom three in 2000 and 2009. And along with John Tyler and Warren G. Harding, these three presidents are rated lower than William Henry Harrison who only served as president for one month. “You never want to be lower than William Henry Harrison,” says Brinkley. “If you're below Harrison, the thought is that that you really damaged the executive branch during your tenure in office.” Become a part of the Monitor community


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Pink Petro, the community for women in energy, will gather industry executives, professionals and students on March 8 for the second HERWorld Energy Forum at the Jones Graduate School of Business on the campus of Rice University. The event will be streamed globally with U.S. local events in Denver, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Bakersfield, Wheeling and Puget Sound. Internationally, forums will be held in Kenya, Nigeria, The United Kingdom and parts of Western Europe. Celebrating on International Women's Day, the event begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. Central Time. The forum is a unique event that addresses new frontiers in the energy industry where business, workforce, innovation and policy intersect. This year's theme is "The Next Era of Energy: Lean In, All In, and Join In." ABC-TV anchor Gina Gaston and Editor-in-Chief of the Houston Business Journal Giselle Greenwood will co-emcee. Katie Mehnert, founder and CEO of Pink Petro, said, "The evidence of dramatic change is all around us, and it’s happening at exponential speed. The global energy industry is entering the dawn of a new era and for the workforce, that's exciting." “Our location in Houston, our eye to the future, and our support of diversity and inclusion make this collaboration with Pink Petro and the business school a natural fit,” said Peter Rodriguez, dean of the Jones Graduate School of Business. “We are thrilled to be a part of it.” Keynotes include Jeffrey Hayzlett, chairman of the C-Suite Network; Josh Levs, author, UN gender advocate and former CNN correspondent; and Johnna Van Keuren, Vice President, Wind Operations and HSSE, New Energies with Royal Dutch Shell. Presenters include Christina Sistrunk, CEO of Aera Energy; Tandra Jackson, Managing Partner of KPMG LLP; Vicky Bailey, chairman of the United States Energy Association; Dr. Mikki Hebl, Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Chair of Psychology and professor of management at Rice University; and Nick Candito, Forbes Top 30 under 30 and co-founder of Progressly. The conference will open with Sami Murphy who will sing her original song, "Energy". For a full agenda, speakers, and registration, visit the HERWorld website. HERWorld17 sponsors include the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University, KPMG LLP, Shell, GE, Spectra Energy, Marathon Oil, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, S&B Engineering and Constructors, Progressly, Workday, Challenger Gray Christmas, Spring Rock Energy, The Golden Tulip Nairobi. Hosts include The University of Colorado Denver Global Energy Management Program and the LSU Center for Energy Studies. Pink Petro is a leading professional development company and online professional community aimed at disrupting the gender gap in energy and defining the future of the workforce and supply chain. Pink Petro™ has members in 120+ countries in 500+ companies across the energy value chain.


Studer C.,Rice University | Larsson E.G.,Linköping University
IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications | Year: 2013

We investigate an orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM)-based downlink transmission scheme for large-scale multi-user (MU) multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) wireless systems. The use of OFDM causes a high peak-to-average (power) ratio (PAR), which necessitates expensive and power-inefficient radio-frequency (RF) components at the base station. In this paper, we present a novel downlink transmission scheme, which exploits the massive degrees-of-freedom available in large-scale MU-MIMO-OFDM systems to achieve low PAR. Specifically, we propose to jointly perform MU precoding, OFDM modulation, and PAR reduction by solving a convex optimization problem. We develop a corresponding fast iterative truncation algorithm (FITRA) and show numerical results to demonstrate tremendous PAR-reduction capabilities. The significantly reduced linearity requirements eventually enable the use of low-cost RF components for the large-scale MU-MIMO-OFDM downlink. © 2012 IEEE.

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