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A University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team modeled a natural water-cracking process called radiolysis. They applied the model to the icy bodies around our solar system to show how radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes. Credit: Southwest Research Institute In the icy bodies around our solar system, radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes. To address this cosmic possibility, a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team modeled a natural water-cracking process called radiolysis. They then applied the model to several worlds with known or suspected interior oceans, including Saturn's moon Enceladus, Jupiter's moon Europa, Pluto and its moon Charon, as well as the dwarf planet Ceres. "The physical and chemical processes that follow radiolysis release molecular hydrogen (H2), which is a molecule of astrobiological interest," said Alexis Bouquet, lead author of the study published in the May edition of Astrophysical Journal Letters. Radioactive isotopes of elements such as uranium, potassium, and thorium are found in a class of rocky meteorites known as chondrites. The cores of the worlds studied by Bouquet and his co-authors are thought to have chondrite-like compositions. Ocean water permeating the porous rock of the core could be exposed to ionizing radiation and undergo radiolysis, producing molecular hydrogen and reactive oxygen compounds. Bouquet, a student in the joint doctoral program between UTSA's Department of Physics and Astronomy and SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division, explained that microbial communities sustained by H2 have been found in extreme environments on Earth. These include a groundwater sample found nearly 2 miles deep in a South African gold mine and at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. That raises interesting possibilities for the potential existence of analogous microbes at the water-rock interfaces of ocean worlds such as Enceladus or Europa. "We know that these radioactive elements exist within icy bodies, but this is the first systematic look across the solar system to estimate radiolysis. The results suggest that there are many potential targets for exploration out there, and that's exciting," says co-author Dr. Danielle Wyrick, a principal scientist in SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division. One frequently suggested source of molecular hydrogen on ocean worlds is serpentinization. This chemical reaction between rock and water occurs, for example, in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. The key finding of the study is that radiolysis represents a potentially important additional source of molecular hydrogen. While hydrothermal activity can produce considerable quantities of hydrogen, in porous rocks often found under seafloors, radiolysis could produce copious amounts as well. Radiolysis may also contribute to the potential habitability of ocean worlds in another way. In addition to molecular hydrogen, it produces oxygen compounds that can react with certain minerals in the core to create sulfates, a food source for some kinds of microorganisms. "Radiolysis in an ocean world's outer core could be fundamental in supporting life. Because mixtures of water and rock are everywhere in the outer solar system, this insight increases the odds of abundant habitable real estate out there," Bouquet said. Co-authors of the article, "Alternative Energy: Production of H2 by Radiolysis of Water in the Rocky Cores of Icy Bodies," are SwRI's Dr. Christopher R. Glein, Wyrick, and Dr. J. Hunter Waite, who also serves as a UTSA adjoint professor. Explore further: Scientists discover evidence for a habitable region within Saturn's moon Enceladus


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: astrobiology.com

In the icy bodies around our solar system, radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes. To address this cosmic possibility, a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team modeled a natural water-cracking process called radiolysis They then applied the model to several worlds with known or suspected interior oceans, including Saturn's moon Enceladus, Jupiter's moon Europa, Pluto and its moon Charon, as well as the dwarf planet Ceres. "The physical and chemical processes that follow radiolysis release molecular hydrogen (H2), which is a molecule of astrobiological interest," said Alexis Bouquet, lead author of the study published in the May 1 edition of Astrophysical Journal Letters. Radioactive isotopes of elements such as uranium, potassium, and thorium are found in a class of rocky meteorites known as chondrites. The cores of the worlds studied by Bouquet and his co-authors are thought to have chondrite-like compositions. Ocean water permeating the porous rock of the core could be exposed to ionizing radiation and undergo radiolysis, producing molecular hydrogen and reactive oxygen compounds. Bouquet, a student in the joint doctoral program between UTSA's Department of Physics and Astronomy and SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division, explained that microbial communities sustained by H2 have been found in extreme environments on Earth. These include a groundwater sample found nearly 2 miles deep in a South African gold mine and at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. That raises interesting possibilities for the potential existence of analogous microbes at the water-rock interfaces of ocean worlds such as Enceladus or Europa. "We know that these radioactive elements exist within icy bodies, but this is the first systematic look across the solar system to estimate radiolysis. The results suggest that there are many potential targets for exploration out there, and that's exciting," says co-author Dr. Danielle Wyrick, a principal scientist in SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division. One frequently suggested source of molecular hydrogen on ocean worlds is serpentinization. This chemical reaction between rock and water occurs, for example, in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. The key finding of the study is that radiolysis represents a potentially important additional source of molecular hydrogen. While hydrothermal activity can produce considerable quantities of hydrogen, in porous rocks often found under seafloors, radiolysis could produce copious amounts as well. Radiolysis may also contribute to the potential habitability of ocean worlds in another way. In addition to molecular hydrogen, it produces oxygen compounds that can react with certain minerals in the core to create sulfates, a food source for some kinds of microorganisms. "Radiolysis in an ocean world's outer core could be fundamental in supporting life. Because mixtures of water and rock are everywhere in the outer solar system, this insight increases the odds of abundant habitable real estate out there," Bouquet said. Reference: "Alternative Energy: Production of H2 by Radiolysis of Water in the Rocky Cores of Icy Bodies," Alexis Bouquet, Christopher R. Glein, Danielle Wyrick & J. Hunter Waite, 2017 May 1, Astrophysical Journal Letters [http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/aa6d56].


San Antonio, TX - May 22, 2017 - In the icy bodies around our solar system, radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes. To address this cosmic possibility, a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team modeled a natural water-cracking process called radiolysis. They then applied the model to several worlds with known or suspected interior oceans, including Saturn's moon Enceladus, Jupiter's moon Europa, Pluto and its moon Charon, as well as the dwarf planet Ceres. "The physical and chemical processes that follow radiolysis release molecular hydrogen (H2), which is a molecule of astrobiological interest," said Alexis Bouquet, lead author of the study published in the May edition of Astrophysical Journal Letters. Radioactive isotopes of elements such as uranium, potassium, and thorium are found in a class of rocky meteorites known as chondrites. The cores of the worlds studied by Bouquet and his co-authors are thought to have chondrite-like compositions. Ocean water permeating the porous rock of the core could be exposed to ionizing radiation and undergo radiolysis, producing molecular hydrogen and reactive oxygen compounds. Bouquet, a student in the joint doctoral program between UTSA's Department of Physics and Astronomy and SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division, explained that microbial communities sustained by H2 have been found in extreme environments on Earth. These include a groundwater sample found nearly 2 miles deep in a South African gold mine and at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. That raises interesting possibilities for the potential existence of analogous microbes at the water-rock interfaces of ocean worlds such as Enceladus or Europa. "We know that these radioactive elements exist within icy bodies, but this is the first systematic look across the solar system to estimate radiolysis. The results suggest that there are many potential targets for exploration out there, and that's exciting," says co-author Dr. Danielle Wyrick, a principal scientist in SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division. One frequently suggested source of molecular hydrogen on ocean worlds is serpentinization. This chemical reaction between rock and water occurs, for example, in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. The key finding of the study is that radiolysis represents a potentially important additional source of molecular hydrogen. While hydrothermal activity can produce considerable quantities of hydrogen, in porous rocks often found under seafloors, radiolysis could produce copious amounts as well. Radiolysis may also contribute to the potential habitability of ocean worlds in another way. In addition to molecular hydrogen, it produces oxygen compounds that can react with certain minerals in the core to create sulfates, a food source for some kinds of microorganisms. "Radiolysis in an ocean world's outer core could be fundamental in supporting life. Because mixtures of water and rock are everywhere in the outer solar system, this insight increases the odds of abundant habitable real estate out there," Bouquet said. Co-authors of the article, "Alternative Energy: Production of H2 by Radiolysis of Water in the Rocky Cores of Icy Bodies," are SwRI's Dr. Christopher R. Glein, Wyrick, and Dr. J. Hunter Waite, who also serves as a UTSA adjoint professor.


News Article | May 22, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Alfonso Apicella, assistant professor of biology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has received a $257,250 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support his research in communication between the two halves of the brain. "Dr. Apicella's work is a source of immense pride," said George Perry, Semmes Foundation Distinguished University Chair in Neurobiology and dean of the UTSA College of Sciences. "This is an exciting time for brain health research, and this work is another example of UTSA's top-tier research efforts." Apicella's research focuses on the corpus callosum, a bundle of neural fibers that makes communication between the two hemispheres of the brain possible. It is largely mysterious to scientists. "We still don't know what mechanisms the corpus callosum uses, therefore we cannot study in very great details its functions and effects," Apicella said. With this new grant, Apicella will delve into the connection between the corpus callosum and auditory signals. "When you hear something with your left ear, the right part of your brain processes it and vice versa," he said. "The two hemispheres are working together to respond to the sound. What we're trying to understand is how they're working together through the corpus callosum." Apicella is taking a special look at schizophrenia since it is frequently characterized by auditory hallucinations. He believes those hallucinations could be a result of miscommunication between the brain's two hemispheres. Another focus will be autism. Previous research has shown that individuals with autism can have a thin or underdeveloped corpus callosum. Animals with this characteristic tend not to interact socially. Apicella believes that a greater understanding of autism could lie in a better understanding of the corpus callosum. "A number of medical conditions could be addressed with this research," he said. "It's not a cure, but it's a step along the way and in the process we'll be chasing one of the brain's oldest mysteries."


News Article | May 26, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

Students in the online degree program will have access to the same vast cyber security expertise that UTSA students currently experience on-campus. The program will include over 30 industry-aligned certificates in specializations such as cyber intrusion detection, cyber incident response, and cyber attack analysis. Students will also earn badges and micro-certificates along the way, providing additional relevance to the job market. Graduates of UTSA cyber security programs go on to work at security firms as well as government agencies like the NSA, CIA and FBI and for major business corporations such as USAA, Rackspace and H-E-B. Partnering with the University of Texas System's innovation department, the new online degree program is supported by Total Educational Experience (TEx), a web-based learner platform that guides students on personalized journeys throughout their lifetime. UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education. Learn more about the online B.B.A. in Cyber Security. Learn more about the UTSA Department of Information Systems and Cyber Security. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/application-deadline-for-utsa-online-degree-program-in-cyber-security-approaches-300464549.html


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

In the icy bodies around our solar system, radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes. To address this cosmic possibility, a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team modeled a natural water-cracking process called radiolysis. They then applied the model to several worlds with known or suspected interior oceans, including Saturn's moon Enceladus, Jupiter's moon Europa, Pluto and its moon Charon, as well as the dwarf planet Ceres. "The physical and chemical processes that follow radiolysis release molecular hydrogen (H2), which is a molecule of astrobiological interest," said Alexis Bouquet, lead author of the study published in the May edition of Astrophysical Journal Letters. Radioactive isotopes of elements such as uranium, potassium, and thorium are found in a class of rocky meteorites known as chondrites. The cores of the worlds studied by Bouquet and his co-authors are thought to have chondrite-like compositions. Ocean water permeating the porous rock of the core could be exposed to ionizing radiation and undergo radiolysis, producing molecular hydrogen and reactive oxygen compounds. Bouquet, a student in the joint doctoral program between UTSA's Department of Physics and Astronomy and SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division, explained that microbial communities sustained by H2 have been found in extreme environments on Earth. These include a groundwater sample found nearly 2 miles deep in a South African gold mine and at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. That raises interesting possibilities for the potential existence of analogous microbes at the water-rock interfaces of ocean worlds such as Enceladus or Europa. "We know that these radioactive elements exist within icy bodies, but this is the first systematic look across the solar system to estimate radiolysis. The results suggest that there are many potential targets for exploration out there, and that's exciting," says co-author Dr. Danielle Wyrick, a principal scientist in SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division. One frequently suggested source of molecular hydrogen on ocean worlds is serpentinization. This chemical reaction between rock and water occurs, for example, in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. The key finding of the study is that radiolysis represents a potentially important additional source of molecular hydrogen. While hydrothermal activity can produce considerable quantities of hydrogen, in porous rocks often found under seafloors, radiolysis could produce copious amounts as well. Radiolysis may also contribute to the potential habitability of ocean worlds in another way. In addition to molecular hydrogen, it produces oxygen compounds that can react with certain minerals in the core to create sulfates, a food source for some kinds of microorganisms. "Radiolysis in an ocean world's outer core could be fundamental in supporting life. Because mixtures of water and rock are everywhere in the outer solar system, this insight increases the odds of abundant habitable real estate out there," Bouquet said.


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

Ruyan Guo, Robert E. Clark Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has received a $50,000 I-Corps grant from the National Science Foundation to commercialize a chip that can make lower power electronics, like cell phones, work more efficiently. Guo's team developed the technology, which is about the size of a pin's head, with UTSA researcher Shuza Binzaid in the UTSA Multifunctional Electronic Materials and Devices Research Laboratory alongside graduate student Avadhood Herlekar. "The purpose of this grant is better identify the commercial opportunities for technology created at universities," Guo said. Guo and Binzaid are currently working with marketplace experts, as well as UTSA technology and IP management specialist Neal A. Guentzel, to understand the needs of consumers so they can determine which industry their chip is best suited for. It's an odd problem to have, since the device is applicable to several different uses, from every day electronics to medical apparatuses. "This chip can be used with anything that runs on a battery," said Binzaid. "It manages power so that the device can last longer." Cell phone users in desperate need of a charge, for example, put their devices on low power mode and reduce its regular functions to extend the battery life of their phones. The chip can keep a phone working at top functionality with much less power. Moreover, it facilitates the use of smaller batteries, since the object itself is so small. The chip also tackles another common annoyance for electronics users: how hot devices get when they're being used for several minutes. "The heat is a result of a lot of power being used," Guo said. "It's a nuisance, but with our device there is less power consumption, which means the heat will be much less of an issue." Guo noted that as the "internet of things" becomes more integrated into the average person's daily life, battery power will continue to become a valuable resource. Beyond lower power devices such as cell phones, the chip could be used in fire sensors, fitness monitors and even medical apparatuses. "We hope to make a significant leap forward in defibrillators and pacemakers," she said. "Invasive surgeries to replace medical devices that are running out of power could become much less frequent." For now, Guo's team is focusing on developing the chip for customized sensors, with more possibilities on the horizon.


News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: www.cemag.us

Ruyan Guo, Robert E. Clark Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has received a $50,000 I-Corps grant from the National Science Foundation to commercialize a chip that can make lower power electronics, like cell phones, work more efficiently. Guo's team developed the technology, which is about the size of a pin's head, with UTSA researcher Shuza Binzaid in the UTSA Multifunctional Electronic Materials and Devices Research Laboratory alongside graduate student Avadhood Herlekar. "The purpose of this grant is to better identify the commercial opportunities for technology created at universities," Guo says. Guo and Binzaid are currently working with marketplace experts, as well as UTSA technology and IP management specialist Neal A. Guentzel, to understand the needs of consumers so they can determine which industry their chip is best suited for. It's an odd problem to have, since the device is applicable to several different uses, from every day electronics to medical apparatuses. "This chip can be used with anything that runs on a battery," says Binzaid. "It manages power so that the device can last longer." Cell phone users in desperate need of a charge, for example, put their devices on low power mode and reduce its regular functions to extend the battery life of their phones. The chip can keep a phone working at top functionality with much less power. Moreover, it facilitates the use of smaller batteries, since the object itself is so small. The chip also tackles another common annoyance for electronics users: how hot devices get when they're being used for several minutes. "The heat is a result of a lot of power being used," Guo says. "It's a nuisance, but with our device there is less power consumption, which means the heat will be much less of an issue." Guo notes that as the "Internet of things" becomes more integrated into the average person's daily life, battery power will continue to become a valuable resource. Beyond lower power devices such as cell phones, the chip could be used in fire sensors, fitness monitors, and even medical apparatuses. "We hope to make a significant leap forward in defibrillators and pacemakers," she says. "Invasive surgeries to replace medical devices that are running out of power could become much less frequent." For now, Guo's team is focusing on developing the chip for customized sensors, with more possibilities on the horizon.


DALLAS, TX / ACCESSWIRE / May 1, 2017 / For more than thirty years, Marcus Hiles has been a prominent real estate developer and innovator. A dynamic personality, the CEO and Chairman of Western Rim Property Services single-handedly transformed the Texas rental market by creating upscale communities throughout suburban Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. As the real estate industry represents the largest contributor to the total GDP of the U.S., its continued success is paramount for the economic well-being of the country. Hiles believes that future economic progress at both the state and national levels require policies that will foster private sector expansion and public education excellence; improving job creation will spur financial growth and, in turn, fuel a demand for housing, while a commitment towards readying students with 21st-century skills ensures that the workforce of America's next generation remains a competitive power on the world stage. From a local perspective, Texas has shown no shortage of development. Homes are being constructed at their fastest pace in Dallas-Fort Worth in nearly a decade, and studies by the University of Texas show that employment has consistently trended positively in San Antonio, and research director of UTSA Institute for Economic Development, Thomas Tunstall, expects that "growth will continue to flow into the local economy for years." Marcus Hiles maintains that the best way to further enlarge the housing market statewide will be through sustained enactment of strong laws that protect and increase the labor force. The recent past provides a solid testimony for this position: after the housing bubble crisis decimated real estate prices nationwide, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex was less affected than nearly every other major city, with a Fortune article asserting that the cause for the robust economy traces back to the "more than 100,000 new jobs added each year in North Texas." The rationale lies in its reputation for being business-friendly region with major corporations like Toyota, State Farm and Liberty Mutual relocating to the fourth-most populous American urban center in recent years. Forbes suggests that zoning and land-use construction burdens may be lifted throughout the U.S., as the new presidential administration could usher in an era of eased regulations and lowered building costs. Relaxed protocols for small banks may allow them to conduct business differently and boost development as well, having the flexibility to approve more loans for new housing projects. While safeguarding wage and job growth in the private sector is key, Marcus Hiles notes that political efforts also need to promote educational opportunities to empower students. The Programme for International Student Assessment placed U.S. school children in the middle of the international pack for math and science, with the Pew Research Center reporting scoring 36th and 28th out of 65 countries assessed. While politicians have been denouncing the results and demanding better training for decades, new policies must encourage more children to study math and science, ultimately, at the university level; The U.S. Department of Education believes that, "only 16 percent of high school students are interested in a [science, technology, engineering or math] career and have proven a proficiency in mathematics." Though the change in learning standards and curriculum must be instituted as early as grades K-6, teenagers finishing high school need better options for mastering trade skills that equip them for jobs in the construction and health care industries. Many expect that the next presidential administration makes good on promises to offer a bigger role for community colleges in the economy, with commercial real estate and house building industry career paths readily available to students working toward a future in development and infrastructure improvement. Marcus Hiles is a respected property authority and philanthropist who proudly supports many environmental and education causes. Having personally donated more than 59 acres of parkland to the general public for wildlife conservation, Hiles has also contributed significant capital to the improvement and protection of Texas's scenic beauty. As a firm believer that all students have the right to a quality education, he has given more than $2.5 million to public and private K-12 initiatives, after school programs, and university career services and job placement programs.


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

Medication used to prevent infections may also help regenerate sperm from stem cells A new study led by Brian Hermann, assistant professor of biology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), shows promising evidence that a medication previously used to prevent infections in cancer patients can also keep them from becoming infertile. Losing fertility is a frequent problem among cancer patients, as treatments for the disease often halt sperm production. Hermann and his research team have been pursuing a number of cutting-edge research initiatives to restore fertility in men who have lost their ability to have children as a result of cancer treatments they received as children. While working on methods to restart sperm production, the researchers discovered a link between a drug for recovering cancer patients and the absence of normal damage to reproductive ability. The drug is called G-CSF or granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. It stimulates the bone marrow to produce neutrophils, which are white blood cells that are needed to fight infections. They're commonly lost after chemotherapy and radiation treatments. "We were using G-CSF to prevent infections in our research experiments," Hermann said. "It turned out that the drug also had the unexpected impact of guarding against male infertility." Because cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy often kill sperm stem cells, male reproduction can become essentially impossible. In Hermann's laboratory, G-CSF, by promoting cell growth, unexpectedly began regenerating sperm production by creating new sperm cells to replace the dead cells. A study authored by Hermann and his students describing these results was recently published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. Hermann's laboratory focuses almost exclusively on regenerating dead testicular tissue through the use of stem cells, making the project an exciting but unexpected detour that he hopes to continue, if possible. The next step would be observing whether the use of the drug, which is already prescribed often by oncologists, has any correlation with improved fertility among cancer patients. Until then, Hermann is focusing on better understanding the stem cells that make male reproduction possible, so he can find even more effective solutions to treating male infertility. "Male infertility is an intuitive disease and we need creative solutions," he said. "But we need to understand how things work before we can fix them."

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