NDSU Research Media Contacts:
Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity - Phone 701.231.5174.
July 28, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – Clouds of dust carried by prairie winds can impact everything from soil to crops, animals, humans, and the environment. A team at North Dakota State University, Fargo, is combing through proposals from NDSU researchers to help develop solutions focused on road dust issues stemming from oil and gas development in the Bakken region in western North Dakota. NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani has made available $350,000 in potential research funding for NDSU researchers.
"Economic successes of the area have led to increased traffic and associated road dust that have created impacts that are not yet fully known. The research funded under NDSU's Road Dust Program will help quantify and qualify impacts and create solutions to help alleviate dust issues," said Bresciani. "As a land-grant institution, we strive to engage in activities such as this one to benefit the state and its citizens. Such research programs also present opportunities for students who can see the impact that they can make by being involved in research, using their skills in real world applications that can ultimately benefit communities."
NDSU faculty had until July 21 to apply for the program which offers research seed funds. Under criteria, the proposed research must: quantify and/or qualify road dust emissions; evaluate agricultural health impacts (crops, livestock, and rangeland) from road dust; evaluate ecological impacts from road dust; and develop techniques or technologies to control road dust emissions.
North Dakota oil production surpassed more than one million barrels per day in June 2014, making the state's oil production second only to Texas. There are more than 10,600 wells in production in North Dakota with the potential for thousands of additional wells to be developed. Oil produced in North Dakota represents more than 12 percent of all oil produced in the U.S. Increased truck traffic from energy development activity and accompanying economic growth can result in higher road dust emissions. NDSU's road dust research program serves to augment the excellent work conducted by other entities, providing additional information and potential solutions.
"Research can measure the amount of dust emitted from road traffic, quantify the types of road dust emitted, evaluate the impacts dust has on agriculture, humans, and the ecosystem, and develop strategies that help mitigate road dust emissions," said Kelly A. Rusch, vice president for research and creative activity at NDSU. The research projects ultimately selected must be completed in no more than two years. "The goal is to provide quantifiable information and most importantly, provide the information to citizens, state and community leaders who can use such data for strategic planning and dust remediation," said Rusch.
NDSU's Office of Research and Creative Activity is assembling a panel of external and internal members to review the proposals for potential research funding. It is anticipated that the review process will be completed by late August, with awards beginning approximately September 1, 2014.
Initial applications for funding represent research spread across many disciplines at NDSU, including: soil science, animal science, natural resource management, engineering, transportation, pharmaceutical science, geosciences, computer science, plant science, sociology, and others. Upon final selection, grants to be awarded will range from up to $15,000 for individual research projects and up to $60,000 for multidisciplinary teams of researchers.
Prior to the road dust research program, NDSU faculty and student researchers have been engaged in providing data and information to assist community leaders in western North Dakota and others affected by the state's burgeoning energy sector. Researchers at NDSU have evaluated workforce characteristics in the Bakken, assisted cities with population projections to plan for the future, and compiled data on jobs and investment. Faculty also conduct research to assist law enforcement and community leaders as they work to match enforcement needs to population changes in western North Dakota.
Other NDSU scientists analyze North Dakota clay samples to determine composition and suitability for processes used in oil extraction. Additional scientists offer expertise in sensors that can monitor equipment and provide expertise in corrosion that can lead to pipeline degradation. NDSU representatives, including the Extension Service, are among those participating to find answers to challenges of an economic boom. NDSU faculty researchers in natural resources are evaluating native grassland reclamation methods to reestablish native vegetation and restore landscape in partnership with a pipeline company. Additional NDSU researchers will be studying groundwater in the Bakken region.
"Land grant universities and our research partners can play integral roles in solving 21st century challenges in the state we serve," said Bresciani.
NDSU, Fargo, North Dakota, USA, is notably listed among the top 108 U.S. public and private universities in the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education's category of "Research Universities/Very High Research Activity." As a student-focused, land grant, research institution, NDSU is listed in the top 100 research universities in the U.S. for R&D in agricultural sciences, chemistry, physical sciences, psychology, and social sciences, based on research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation. NDSU is part of the 11-campus North Dakota unified system of higher education governed by the State Board of Higher Education, with its mission to enhance the quality of life for all those served by the NDUS, as well as the economic and social vitality of North Dakota. www.ndsu.edu/research
July 25, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – Three North Dakota high school students scored with a summer project that tastes good and also teaches them engineering principles. They spent six weeks perfecting sugar cookies produced with a 3D printer at North Dakota State University.
Matthew Dawson, Kody Coles and Reed Erickson are in the engineering track for North Dakota Governor’s School, a state-sponsored and funded program hosted at NDSU each summer since 1990. For a month and a half each summer, North Dakota high school sophomores and juniors live at NDSU and study laboratory science, mathematics, information technology, English studies and visual arts or theatre. Agriculture, architecture and engineering joined the curriculum last year.
Dawson, Coles and Erickson were selected to work with Bashir Khoda, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, at NDSU to create the cookies.
It’s a Thursday afternoon five weeks into Governor’s School. Dawson, Coles and Erickson surround a 3D printer. An engineering lab brimming with printers, scanners and a hodgepodge of electrical components is warm due to a malfunctioning air conditioner. However, the students remain cool and focused. They’ve been here since 10 a.m.
“What’s the detail look like?” said Coles, a junior from Horace, North Dakota. He refers to the crisp outline of an incandescent light bulb taking shape in sugar cookie dough.
“It’s better than the last one,” said Dawson, a junior from Casselton, North Dakota.
The cookie looks like the Governor’s School light bulb logo, down to the threads.
Compressed air pushes dough from a black vertical cylinder that looks like a cardboard paper towel tube. The nozzle pointing down from the cylinder is half as thick as a No. 2 pencil. The dough oozes out in a small, uninterrupted line onto a shiny metal hot plate the size and shape of an iPad. The plate moves according to signals the students programmed into a computer.
Earlier in the month, Khoda and two graduate students advised the Governor’s School students as they designed the shape of their cookies in computer-aided design software. They inputted their plot points into the 3D printer. They also fabricated the brackets that hold the cylinder, which is immobilized as the hot plate moves back and forth.
The students watch their creations take shape. The light bulb is formed in 18 minutes with two crisscrossed layers of dough. The scent of baked sugar, butter and vanilla wafts through the engineering lab. The smell and the dirty mixing bowl and spatula seem out of place among the electrical components and other examples of 3D printing – a replica of a human hip joint and the body of a four-rotor drone.
Yet the students are learning the concepts of additive manufacturing, a burgeoning field used to create projects ranging from human tissue and bone to complex rocket engines to the student’s cookies.
“The underlying principle is the same,” Khoda said.
The student’s work has out-of-this-world applications. NASA is studying the feasibility of 3D printing dietary-specific meals for its astronauts in space.
The students also get a taste of the challenges the experts face. The hot plate, a recent addition, isn’t hot enough to fully bake the cookie. More fine-tuning is required. The nozzle needs resizing to keep the dough from clumping. The air pressure is lowered to prevent the dough from becoming an unrecognizable blob. The students spend the rest of the week perfecting their cookies before presenting their work to NDSU faculty and other Governor’s School students.
Other students follow a similar routine based on their academic track. Governor’s School students attend life and leadership classes and also visit local companies. NDSU has hosted North Dakota Governor’s School for 24 years. The annual six-week event gives high-achieving high school students a taste of college academics and the opportunity to work with experts, including NDSU faculty members, in a discipline that interests them.
For more information about Governor’s School, visit www.ndsu.edu/govschool.
July 25, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – Clayton Miranda takes a deep breath and gently fingers the valves of his treasured trumpet. The notes of a samba selection begin to flow, and he feels a deep connection with generations of Brazilian musicians who came before him.
The trumpet is an essential element of Brazilian music, intertwined with the history of Miranda’s homeland for centuries. It’s a story he is now sharing with the world.
Miranda is an NDSU doctoral student in trumpet performance who published a groundbreaking paper, titled “The Inception of Trumpet Performance in Brazil: An Historical Account,” in the June issue of the International Trumpet Guild Journal. The seven-page article, based on Miranda’s 14 years of research, reveals important historical material not previously published.
Miranda started playing trumpet when he was 11 years old, performing in a town band in Juiz de Fora, a small community an hour’s drive north of Rio de Janeiro. He joined a local orchestra at 15. His love for the instrument is obvious and emphatic.
“Trumpet has the potential to do what a human voice does; but it can be with more expression, either loud or soft,” explained Miranda, who is the brass and woodwind director at the Festival Internacional de Música Colonial Brasileira e Musica Antiga in Brazil.
When Miranda was a teenager, he became curious about how the trumpet came to be a strong focal point in Brazilian music. But, when he looked for information about a composition, he discovered practically nothing had been published about his instrument in his home country. And very little had been penned about the history of Brazilian music itself.
Searching for that history became his academic mission.
He studied, collected and preserved every reference, story and recollection he could find as an undergraduate student at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, master’s student at the University of North Dakota and now as a doctoral student at NDSU.
In total, he has amassed material from more than 6,000 manuscripts that trace Brazilian music back more than 400 years.
According to Miranda’s research, the trumpet first appears in Brazil during the early 1500s, shortly after the arrival of Pedro Cabral, the Portuguese nobleman, military commander and explorer who is regarded as the first European to discover Brazil. Early journal references and depictions suggest Franciscan friars traveled in one of Cabral’s caravels and used the instruments during Catholic rites.
“The friars’ job was to spread the Catholic Church throughout America, and Brazil was pretty much a jungle,” Miranda said. “With this instrument, if they are far away, you can collect people. The trumpet has the power to make people pay attention.”
Compositions for the instrument blended European classical and Baroque music with the rhythm of the indigenous people. Additional musical nuances came to the fore as slave laborers arrived from Africa. Trumpet took a prominent position in the music of the country. Composers increasingly used folk songs and merged them with the unique sound of Brazilian popular music. We now know the music as samba and chôro.
“Clayton is a driven student who is very passionate about his Brazilian roots,” said Jeremy Brekke, associate professor of music and Miranda’s adviser, noting the research is important both for Miranda’s homeland and trumpeters around the world.
July 25, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – May 2014 graduate Katherine Thoreson will soon use her talents to teach European students how to confidently converse in English. The NDSU honors student recently was named among three NDSU recipients of prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships.
As a teaching assistant, she will spend an academic year in Belgium, teaching conversational English at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, a French-language institution in Brussels. She’ll instruct students in the use of common, often-used English verbs, adjectives and phrases, which will help the learners improve their conversational skills when meeting people or building friendships.
The Fulbright program is considered the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Recent college graduates and young professionals are placed as English teaching assistants in primary and secondary schools or universities in countries around the globe. The recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
Thoreson, who graduated May 17 with majors in English and philosophy, begins her work in earnest in September, but she plans to travel to Belgium in August to have time to explore different regions of Europe and acclimate herself to her new surroundings.
“It’s going to be exciting living in a different place for nine months and getting used to the culture there,” said Thoreson, who grew up on a farm near Buxton, North Dakota, and went to May-Port CG High School. “I’ve lived in North Dakota my entire life, so I’m excited to go a different country and see how things are done there. It should be a rewarding experience.”
Thoreson completed three years of university-level instruction in French, the primary language used at her host school, and studied French literature. She also was an active participant in the NDSU English club’s Conversational English Circle since arriving as a freshman. The group allows students to conduct cross-cultural conversations with others from a variety of nations and upbringings.
“The NDSU College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the humanities experience I got there have prepared me really well for the kind of work I’ll do in Belgium,” she said.
Thoreson is among three NDSU recipients of Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Scholarships. That number is the most the university has ever been awarded during one cycle. She joins senior Emily Grenz, who will be an instructor in Turkey, and recent NDSU alumna Annie Erling Gofus, who will work in the Slovak Republic.
July 25, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – Clarity and comprehension – those are the goals of NDSU doctoral student Jessie Arneson in her work to improve science education.
According to Arneson, many incoming graduate students cannot fully understand the scientific images and intricate graphs they see in research publications. So, she’s developing training methods to give students necessary cognitive skills.
Arneson, who is researching biochemistry and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education, known as STEM, recently was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship by the National Science Foundation to follow through on her work.
NSF funded 2,000 fellowships out of more than 14,000 applicants. Arneson received three years of funding totaling about $135,000 to cover tuition and a stipend.
“A big part of science is communicated through visualization – maps, computer models or pictures showing results of experiments,” Arneson explained. “However, we identified that students going on to graduate school often can’t interpret professional images in the literature, so they struggle with that. We looked back through the undergraduate curriculum to see where the problem was. Sure enough, the primary textbooks that are used don’t include the scaffolding of skills they need.”
Arneson is developing a series of tasks students should be able to complete, based on data gleaned from a graph, photo or computer model. As the students go through the checklist of items, they’ll learn by doing. The goal is to incorporate the training in a biochemistry class, with the hope to eventually include it in other disciplines.
“We want to develop tasks students can use at every level of practice,” Arneson said. “Can you interpret the message? Can you build one? Can you use this to make an argument or pose a hypothesis?”
This is the kind of work the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program likes to see. Designed to help ensure the vitality of science and engineering in the United States, the program supports outstanding graduate students in STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at American institutions.
“Jessie is a unique student in that she can work fluidly across disciplines, a critical skill for the interdisciplinary nature of discipline-based education research,” said Erika Offerdahl, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Arneson’s academic adviser. “The impact of Jessie’s research is likely to be far-reaching. Her project is in direct response to national calls to transform undergraduate education to better reflect the practice and process of science.”
Arneson, a native of Jamestown, N.D., earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology and biotechnology from NDSU in December 2012, and then enrolled in the NDSU Graduate School to seek her doctorate and eventually teach biochemistry or microbiology at the collegiate level.
“The biggest drive for me in this research is to try to improve education in science – to provide more training for future scientists and improve the scientific literacy of the general population,” Arneson said.
The award number for Arneson’s fellowship is DGE-1010619. More information about the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program is available at www.nsfgrfp.org.
July 25, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – Unmanned aircraft systems for agriculture were the focus of an afternoon tour during the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center's annual field tours on Tuesday, July 15.
The unmanned aircraft systems tour presented information on NDSU's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Applications to Agriculture Project that is being conducted as part of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. This is one of six sites nationwide that will conduct research to assist the Federal Aviation Administration in developing regulatory standards to foster integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System.
John Nowatzki, Extension Service agricultural machine systems specialist with NDSU's Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering, provided information about the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Applications to Agriculture Project. The project's objective is to verify the effectiveness of unmanned aircraft systems-mounted sensors in assessing field crop and livestock production issues while crews from the test site gather flight data in support of aeronautical research for National Airspace System integration efforts.
Nowatzki also provided information regarding the aircraft being used in the project and their image-sensing capabilities. Al Palmer, director of the University of North Dakota's Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research, Education and Training, discussed UND's program for supporting commercialization of unmanned aircraft systems ventures.
Research flights were conducted by a flight crew from the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site and the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.
July 25, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – Science teacher, author, toy designer and Emmy Award-winning television personality Steve Spangler is scheduled to lead a hands-on science boot camp in Fargo on Aug. 14 for teachers, Extension Service staff and other educators.
The program is set for 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the NDSU Memorial Union Great Plains room. The NDSU Center for 4-H Youth Development is hosting the event.
Spangler turns ordinary science experiments into unforgettable learning experiences. His famous Mentos Geyser Experiment became an Internet sensation in 2005 and spawned more than 1,000 related exploding-soda videos.
Registration fee for the boot camp is $65, which includes a $40 take-home kit filled with science materials and an activity guide. The registration deadline is July 22.
Participants can receive one 600-level professional development credit from NDSU Distance and Continuing Education, with a cost of an additional $60 to be paid the day of the event, or 1.5 continuing education credits, with a cost of an additional $10 to be paid at the camp.
For more information, contact Linda Hauge, NDSU Extension youth development specialist, at 701-231-7964 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ndsu.edu/4h/spangler/. Go to http://tinyurl.com/spangler-ndsu to register.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.
June 24, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – NDSU researchers are taking to the air to monitor crop and livestock research projects on the ground. Several researchers on campus are working with colleagues at NDSU's Carrington Research Extension Center to evaluate whether unmanned aircraft systems, known as UAS, can be effective management tools in crop and livestock production.
"There is currently much interest in using UAS in agriculture," says John Nowatzki, the NDSU Extension Service's agricultural machine systems specialist and the lead investigator on this project. "However, there is little research to show that UAS can be used effectively or economically for crop or livestock management."
Researchers are using unmanned aircraft system-mounted thermal, infrared sensors and cameras that capture image data at specific frequencies to collect data from fields and livestock at specified times.The researchers plan to identify plant emergence and populations in corn, soybeans and sunflowers, and nitrogen deficiencies in corn and wheat. They also are hoping the unmanned aircraft systems can help them make early plant health assessments, and spot disease and insect damage symptoms, weed infestations and indications of moisture stress on irrigated crops.
In addition, they plan to use the unmanned aircraft systems to determine the impacts of tillage and crop rotations on crop emergence, vigor and yield, and the impacts of soil salinity on crop yields, as well as monitor the dry-down times of individual corn hybrids to determine when to harvest the crops.
Crop production researchers have identified at least 40 research trials at the Carrington center they want included in the unmanned aircraft systems project, according to Blaine Schatz, the center's director. For example, researchers plan to monitor the breeding activity of the center's beef cattle, count the cattle in pastures to make sure they are where they are supposed to be, detect animals that are ill so they can be isolated from the rest of the herd and treated as quickly as possible, and identify animals that are aggressive toward other livestock or humans so they can be removed from herds.
Researchers also intend to monitor animal temperatures and determine the feedlot surface temperatures of various bedding materials to mitigate stress from extreme weather conditions. The University of North Dakota's Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research, Education and Training is collaborating on this research by flying the unmanned aircraft systems at the Carrington center. In addition to finding out whether unmanned aircraft systems are effective in monitoring crop and livestock production, the researchers plan to develop methods to convert the image data to information that's useful to producers and crop consultants, and help producers identify how they can make use of unmanned aircraft systems on their operations.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private research universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.
June 24, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – Two NDSU scientists are members of a national research team that successfully completed the sequence of the common bean genome. North Dakota is the leading producer of dry beans in the U.S. NDSU team members are Phil McClean, plant genomicist, and Juan Osorno, dry edible bean breeder. Both scientists are faculty members of the NDSU plant sciences department.
McClean guided the data analysis that determined that the domestication of the common bean in Mexico and the Andean region of South America involved almost completely different sets of genes. Osorno organized a national field trial that identified regions of the genome associated with seed size and other traits of economic importance.
The sequence revealed that disease resistance genes are highly clustered in the genome. This knowledge will lead to better breeding strategies to combat the many diseases that challenge the bean crop. McClean and Osorno are cooperating locally, nationally and internationally with other bean breeders and geneticists to develop the next generation of molecular markers that will be another important tool to aid bean breeding worldwide.
The project was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The common bean research was published in "Nature Genetics" journal. McClean was a co-lead author of the article.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private research universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.
June 24, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – NDSU and the University of North Dakota have filed a provisional patent application for technology that integrates antennas into the body or other large components of manned and unmanned aircraft systems, often called UAS.
The whole-body antenna would reduce the aircraft’s weight and also reduce the drag associated with traditional antennas. That’s important, particularly with the relatively small UAS, because the concept will allow for greater range, longer endurance and enhanced reliability. The antenna system also will enhance the ability to collect and transmit data from stationary antennas or electronics. In one configuration, rotating or moving sections of the vehicle such as propellers, wheel rims, ailerons, elevators or rudders would allow for the physical movement of antenna beam patterns to improve communications and reliability.
Collaborators on the project are Michael Corcoran, UAS course manager with the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at UND, and Raj Bridgelall, program director for the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute’s Center for Surface Mobility Applications and Real-time Simulation environments at NDSU.
A provisional patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office signals the intent of NDSU and UND to patent the technology and establishes a date for locking in any potential patent rights and benefits.
This is the second provisional patent application filed jointly by the two universities in the past year. Earlier, researchers filed a provisional patent application for a concept in which aircraft bodies serve as capacitors for storing electrical charges. The capacitors could be assembled in such a way that they increase the structural strength of the aircraft while increasing efficiency and stored power available for flight time or other functions.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private research universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.
June 24, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – Outstanding students from across the country are now participating in the NDSU Summer STEM program, organized by NDSU’s Office of Multicultural Programs in the Division of Equity, Diversity and Global Outreach with support from the Office of the Provost.
Stephanie Dunton, a biology major from Virginia State University, Petersburg, is among 12 students taking part in this year’s program. “I am really enjoying it. Everything is the maximum, the top of the line for me,” said Dunton, who is conducting research on plant phenolics with postdoctoral research fellow Dipayan Sarkar and Kalidas Shetty, associate vice president for international partnerships and collaborations and professor of plant metabolism and food security in the Department of Plant Sciences.
Planning a career in health care, Dunton is using NDSU facilities to study plant chemical compounds at the molecular level. She’s looking at plant phenolics from fruits and vegetables, looking for ways to improve disease prevention and better manage illnesses.
The STEM program gives underrepresented ethnic minority students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields the opportunity to engage in research and also encourage them to apply for graduate school. The hope is that a significant number of these students will choose continuing their education at NDSU.
This year, students are working in a variety of academic areas, including pharmacy, mathematics, computer engineering and cereal and food science. They have traveled to NDSU from Prairie View A&M University, Virginia State University, Delaware State University and Mississippi Valley State University. Now in its seventh year, the program began May 20 and continues until July 15, when the students are scheduled to give oral and poster presentations on their research.
June 10, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – Faces fascinate. Babies love them. We look for familiar or friendly ones in a crowd. And video game developers and movie animators strive to create faces that look real rather than fake. Determining how our brains decide what makes a face "human" and not artificial is a question Dr. Benjamin Balas of North Dakota State University, Fargo, studies in his lab. New research by Balas and NDSU graduate Christopher Tonsager, published online in the London-based journal Perception, shows that it takes more than eyes to make a face look human.
Researchers study the brain to learn how its specialized circuits process information in seconds to distinguish whether faces are real or fake. Balas and Tonsager note that people interact with artificial faces and characters in video games, watch them in movies, and see artificial faces used more widely as social agents in other settings. "Whether or not a face looks real determines a lot of things," said Balas, assistant professor of psychology. "Can it have emotions? Can it have plans and ideas? We wanted to know what information you use to decide if a face is real or artificial, since that first step determines a number of judgments that follow."
Results of the study show that people combine information across many parts of the face to make decisions about how "alive" it is, and that the appearances of these regions interact with each other. Previous research suggests that eyes are especially important for facial recognition. The NDSU study found, however, that when you're deciding if a face is real or artificial, the eyes and the skin both matter to about the same degree.
Balas and Tonsager, as an undergraduate researcher in psychology, recruited 45 study participants who were evaluated while viewing altered facial images. Tonsager cropped images of real faces so only the face and neck showed, without any hair. A program known as FaceGen Modeller was used to transform the images into 3D computer-generated models of faces. Photos were then computer manipulated into negative images. In two experiments, transformations to real and artificial faces were used to determine if contrast negation affected the ability to determine if a face was real or artificial, and whether the eyes make a disproportionate contribution to animacy discrimination relative to the rest of the face.
"We assumed that the eyes were the key in distinguishing real vs. computer generated, but to our surprise, the results were not significant enough for us to conclude this," said Tonsager. "However, we did find that when the skin tone is negated, it was more difficult for our participants to determine if it was a real or artificial face. The research leads us to conclude that the entire 'eye region' might play a substantial role in the distinction between real or artificial."
"Beyond telling us more about the distinction your brain makes between a face and a non-face, our results are also relevant to anybody who wants to develop life-like computer graphics," explained Balas. "Developing artificial faces that look real is a growing industry, and we know that artificial faces that aren't quite right can look downright creepy. Our work, both in the current paper and ongoing studies in the lab, has the potential to inform how designers create new and better artificial faces for a range of applications."
Balas and Tonsager also presented their research findings at the Vision Sciences Society 13th Annual Meeting, May 16-21 in St. Peterburg, Florida. http://www.visionsciences.org/meeting.html
The research study of Balas and Tonsager was funded by North Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research NSF #EPS-0814442 and Center of Biomedical Research Excellence Grant GM103505 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Study contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIGMS or the NIH.
NDSU, Fargo, North Dakota, is notably listed among the top 108 U.S. public and private universities in the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education's category of "Research Universities/Very High Research Activity." As a student focused, land grant, research institution, NDSU is listed in the top 100 research universities in the U.S. for R&D in chemistry, psychology, physical sciences, social sciences and agricultural sciences, based on research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation. www.ndsu.edu/research
About PerceptionPerception http://www.perceptionweb.com/abstract.cgi?id=p7696is a scholarly journal reporting experimental results and theoretical ideas ranging over the fields of human, animal, and machine perception. For nearly 40 years, Perception has been a leading journal for everyone interested in all the senses and the perceptual processes of humans, animals, and machines. Pion, London, England, publishes high-quality academic journals in the areas of geography, physics, and experimental psychology.
February 5, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – With more than 1,600 products using nanotechnology on the market, a team of undergraduate researchers at North Dakota State University, Fargo, is examining how people perceive such products and how these products might ultimately affect the environment.
The six students from North Dakota and Minnesota form an interdisciplinary group, representing multiple majors. Led by Dr. Achintya Bezbaruah, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, the Nanoenvirology Research Group (NRG) concentrates on weaving several research areas into a single team that gets results.
“Interdisciplinary research is vital in the area of environmental nanotechnology,” said Bezbaruah. He tells his students to move the heavier stones first when conducting research. “Work hard on the right job. Show your intellect and get published,” said Bezbaruah.
Amanda Grosz, a senior in civil engineering from Bismarck, N.D., works on molecular level interactions of nanoparticles on plants to determine their environmental impact.
“My ability to think critically has improved a lot with my research job,” said Grosz. Nanoparticles are being incorporated into many products. “We need to know what the potential effects of nanoparticles are and see if there are ways to shield any potential negative effects or maximize any positive effects,” said Grosz.
“The project I am working on is figuring out the fate and transport of engineering nanomaterials in plants. I work in allium studies. This involves growing onions in nanoparticles and seeing if there are abnormalities in their root growth,” said Grosz. She also investigates potential abnormalities in the root cell division process.
Her work, along with other undergraduate research students in the group, has been published in conference papers. “I have learned perseverance because experiments don’t always go as expected,” said Grosz, pointing out that often, experiments need to be refined until necessary parameters are tested and controls properly identified.
James Tibbles, a freshman in mechanical engineering from Shoreview, Minn., is being trained to follow up on Grosz’s research after she graduates in May.
“The team and I study how materials less than 100 nanometers in size affect plants. We are looking to see if plant DNA and replication are affected,” said Tibbles. “We try to figure out if there are any long-term effects on the plants and if so, why it is happening.”
The research is important to determine if industrial products and byproducts containing nanoparticles will affect the surrounding environment, according to Tibbles. “The reason we check to see if the nanoparticles are harmful to plants is that we consume plants and depend on them for oxygen. If nanoparticles affect the plants, they could affect us.”
Tibbles enjoys working in the lab with other researchers and has learned that he possesses the tenacity and observation skills needed for such research.
Cody Ritt, a freshman from Hamel, Minn., majoring in civil engineering, works on the mechanism of phosphate removal using novel polymer and nanoparticle-based adsorbents. He is working to take a current nanopolymer product, changing it to maximize the amount of phosphate that the product can absorb, evaluating its durability, and researching how well the product performs in harsh conditions.
“This research is important because phosphorous is killing our lakes and we are working on our product so that it can remove the phosphorous from our lakes,” said Ritt. “We would like to be able to extract the phosphorous that is ruining lakes and use it for a good purpose, as it is a non-renewable resource.”
Ritt’s involvement in undergraduate research has had unintended consequences. “Using my time to solve problems in the environment has captured my attention and my imagination. I often find myself outside of the lab thinking of different ways to approach my research. It really has been a great experience for me.”
Another member of the interdisciplinary team, Hannah Hood, is a sophomore from North Saint Paul, Minn., majoring in psychology. She works with Neal Dittrich, a senior from Champlin, Minn., majoring in business administration.
The two NDSU students are working to correlate people’s perceptions about nanotechnology-based products with Bezbaruah and Dr. Rajani Pillai from the NDSU School of Business. For example, will certain technologies be accepted by people who have concerns about nanotechnology and its potential impact on the environment? Dittrich thinks the undergraduate research opportunity at NDSU provides him a better perspective on market research. Hood reviews how education, gender, geography and past technologies affect the perception of nanotechnology.
“I am mainly focused on public perception of nanotechnology, which is a combination of research, statistics and psychology,” said Hood. “Through literature and other studies, we have been able to detect trends and bring something new toward our knowledge about nanotechnology and the public,” said Hood, who is writing a scientific paper about their research findings.
The students agree that their goal is to determine potential effects of nanoparticles and find effective ways to mitigate any negative effects, while increasing the positive attributes of nanotechnology.
As the students’ experience illustrates, solving research problems takes more than expertise in one discipline. It takes a cross-section of researchers in varying fields.
Dr. Bezbaruah hopes that his students find that their research experiences provide tools to apply in whatever career path they choose. His current and former undergraduate researchers and high school research interns have published more than 20 papers in scientific journals, conference proceedings and scientific conferences worldwide.
“The students answer research questions for which there are no known answers,” said Bezbaruah. “This group of undergraduates and graduate students is involved in a number of cutting edge research projects and continues to challenge themselves. Such work always brings rewards.”
A former undergraduate research student in Bezbaruah’s group, Mary Pate of Wadena, Minn., received a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, becoming the first NDSU engineering student to win the award, which includes federal funding for her current graduate research with Bezbaruah.
The work doesn’t stop with his own students. A science evangelist, Bezbaruah works to interest kids at all levels in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
He supervised a group of junior high students in West Fargo, N. D., who took first place out of more than 300 teams in the nationwide Waste Limitation Management and Recycling Design Challenge organized by NASA. Their winning project took more than 800 research hours. Bezbaruah and the winning students were awarded a trip to NASA for VIP tours and meetings with NASA experts at the Kennedy Space Center.
Additional junior high students were mentored by Bezbaruah and presented their research findings at an international teleconference on how to re-use water. Organized by NDSU, the global teleconference included teams of middle school and high school students from Bangladesh, India, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, and the United States.
In addition, the indefatigable professor and a team from NDSU organized GlobaKonnect Undergraduate TeleSeminars, where undergraduate researchers from NDSU could exchange ideas with their peers in India, thus providing global exposure to scientific research.
No matter what the age group, Bezbaruah remains committed to inspiring students to pursue science.
“One good student makes you reassured that we have a future to look forward to. What else do I need? I feel energized by seeing them grow.”
Goodbye, Chromium. Novel Coatings Technology Introduced for Aluminum Marine and Automotive Use
Jan. 29, 2014, Fargo, N.D. –– The North Dakota State University Research Foundation (NDSU/RF) announced today that it has concluded a license agreement with Elinor Specialty Coatings, Fargo, N.D., for a breakthrough hexavalent chromium-free coatings technology. The patented coatings technology protects aluminum alloys, such as those found in vehicle and ship parts, or in vehicles made entirely from aluminum.
The licensing agreement gives Elinor Specialty Coatings exclusive rights in marine and automotive markets to further develop and commercialize the patented coatings technology developed at North Dakota State University, Fargo.
The magnesium-rich technology will be used in primers marketed to both the military and civilian auto and shipbuilding industries under the trade names Aluma45-MTMandAluma45-ATM . According to Elinor Specialty Coatings, the coatings will provide viable alternatives in manufacturing and maintenance, without the toxicity of hexavalent chromium Cr(VI). The products are designed to be applied over chromium-free pre-treatments or bare metal, eliminating Cr(VI) entirely from the coating system.
Whether on vehicles or vessels, corrosion is a culprit costing companies substantial dollars. The toxic substance, hexavalent chromium Cr(VI) prevents corrosion, but can also contaminate the environment and contribute to cancer. People more commonly may be familiar with hexavalent chromium as featured prominently in the movie Erin Brockovich.
Elinor Specialty Coatings is the first and only company offering Mg-rich Aluma45-MTM and Aluma45-ATM in the marine and automotive markets. “The long-lasting protection allows longer periods between maintenance cycles, while eliminating the toxic work conditions and long-term hazmat storage dilemmas of Cr(VI) for companies or command units,” said Dante Battocchi, chief technical officer of Elinor Specialty Coatings.
Battocchi said previous chromate-free primers on the market did not provide the anti-corrosive properties of chromate, which despite its known toxicity, has not been banned in the U.S. because it is highly effective at inhibiting corrosion of high strength aluminum. The magnesium technology formulated for Aluma45-MTM and Aluma45-ATM at NDSU and now licensed by Elinor Specialty Coatings for marine and automotive use, provides the first non-chrome corrosion inhibiting system to perform as well as, or better than chromate in laboratory and field testing, according to Battocchi.
Potential benefits of the new technology include: reduced costs by eliminating the need for mandatory extra control measures designed to reduce exposure to chromate; and potential lower density than chromate primers, thus reducing weight and resulting in lower fuel consumption. According to Battocchi, many manufacturers currently rely on toxic coatings designed for steel, which aren’t nearly as effective on aluminum as the Aluma45TM primers.
“We are thrilled to see another more environmentally-friendly coating technology reach the market through Elinor Specialty Coatings,” said Dale Zetocha, executive director of the NDSU Research Foundation, which licenses technologies developed at North Dakota State University. “It represents a great opportunity to commercialize this coating technology research for these applications through a North Dakota company.”
North Dakota State University researchers playing a role in years of development of the patented Cr-free Mg-rich technology used in Aluma45-MTM and Aluma45-ATM include Dr. Gordon Bierwagen, Dr. Dante Battocchi, and Dr. Michael E. Nanna. Previous research funding that resulted in the development of these coatings was provided by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research; the Center for Surface Protection, a state Economic Development Center of Excellence at North Dakota State University; and the Product Design Center at NDSU.
About Elinor Specialty Coatings
Elinor Specialty Coatings solves problems in coatings-related markets through innovative technology transfer and in-house scientific research and development. The company also offers manufacturing supply chain solutions with MagnaShield™ for magnesium components. Elinor is working with manufacturers in the industries of transportation (automotive, shipbuilding) to provide hexavalent chromium-free Mg-rich primers available with Aluma45-M™ and Aluma45-A™. In addition, Elinor is addressing a challenge in maintenance and preservation of historical works of art and decorative metal architecture around the world through a technology from North Dakota State University known as BronzeShield.™ www.elinorcorp.com
About the NDSU Research Foundation
The NDSU Research Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organization that supports NDSU in its teaching, research and public service missions. The Foundation manages the intellectual properties developed by faculty, staff and students doing research at NDSU and facilitates commercialization of these technologies. By commercializing intellectual property through licensing of technology, the Foundation is able to create resources that are returned to the individual inventors and to the University to promote continued research.www.ndsuresearchfoundation.org
NDSU, Fargo, North Dakota, USA, is notably listed among the top 108 U.S. public and private universities in the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education’s category of “Research Universities/Very High Research Activity.” As a student-focused, land grant, research institution, NDSU is listed in the Top 100 research universities in the U.S. for R&D in chemistry, psychology, physical sciences, social sciences and agricultural sciences, based on research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation. www.ndsu.edu/research
Jan. 23, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – Andriy Voronov, associate professor of coatings and polymeric materials, and Scott Pryor, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, published recent research in Angewandte ChemieInternational Edition, a leading journal in general chemistry. Article authors included Olena Kudina, a graduate student in Voronov’s research group The paper is featured on the front cover of the January issue at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.v53.2/issuetoc
The article, titled "Highly Efficient Phase Boundary Biocatalysis with Enzymogel Nanoparticles," introduces the principally novel mechanism of phase boundary biocatalysis. The unique research finding can be explored for localized, highly efficient bioconversion processes, as well as opens a new avenue for a variety of applications, including drug delivery and absorbable implants.
With an Impact Factor of 13.734, Angewandte Chemie is the leader among the general chemistry journals. The research project received financial support from a National Science Foundation award, Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division 0966574.
Jan. 9, 2014 – Fargo, N.D. – The North Dakota State University Electron Microscopy Center is holding an Open House on Monday, Jan. 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1307 18th Street North, just south of NDSU's Wallman Wellness Center and inside the USDA Northern Crop Science Laboratory.
The Electron Microscopy Center’s newest acquisition helps researchers and others see what’s inside an object by assembling 3D image slices, without having to physically cut or damage the item. Learn more about the Electron Microscopy Center’s new GE v|tome|x s 240kV microfocus X-ray computed tomography system, with additional 180kV high performance nanofocus submicron X-ray tube (nanoCT) and high-contrast digital flat panel detector. This and other specialized imaging equipment are available to researchers, students and industrial users.
Benefits for Research and Business
The new versatile state-of-the-art X-ray inspection and computed tomography (microCT) system enables external and internal evaluation of intact objects, not otherwise possible without permanent damage. Like computed tomography (“CAT scanning”), microCT equipment acquires successive X-ray image slices of an object.
Sophisticated software and a powerful computer workstation manipulate images to provide digital 3D reconstruction, exterior and interior measurements, density analysis, defect inspection, and surface rendering for finite element analysis. This type of nondestructive testing has wide-ranging research and commercial applications.
The NDSU Electron Microscopy Center provides comprehensive microscopy services for teaching, research and potential commercial applications, from initial project planning to publishable photographs. The facility houses nearly $5 million worth of equipment, including the following major instruments in addition to the microCT: field-emission analytical scanning electron microscope, high-resolution analytical transmission electron microscope, variable-pressure analytical scanning electron microscope, and tungsten-filament transmission electron microscope.
Join Us to See What’s Inside
Find the NDSU Electron Microscopy Center at http://www.ndsu.edu/em_lab/facility/location/ for the Open House on Jan. 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
NDSU, Fargo, North Dakota, USA, is notably listed among the top 108 U.S. public and private universities in the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education’s category of “Research Universities/Very High Research Activity.” As a student-focused, land grant, research institution, NDSU is listed in the Top 100 research universities in the U.S. for R&D in chemistry, physical sciences, psychology, social sciences, and agricultural sciences, based on research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation. www.ndsu.edu/research