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2008 News (in reverse chronological order)

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A multi-page list of all press releases issued in 2008

Modified Plants May Yield More Biofuel
Modified Plants May Yield More Biofuel 22 December 2008Plants, genetically modified to ease the breaking down of their woody material, could be the key to a cheaper and greener way of making ethanol, according to researchers who add that the approach also could help turn agricultural waste into food for livestock.
Maroncelli Named Fellow of AAAS
Maroncelli Named Fellow of AAAS 15 December 2008Mark Maroncelli, professor of chemistry at Penn State, has been honored with the title of Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Awarded to 486 individuals this year, the honor is bestowed upon members of the AAAS whose efforts to advance science or its applications are deemed to be scientifically or socially distinguished. Maroncelli was recognized for his distinguished work in the field of liquid-phase dynamics, especially for his contributions to elucidating the time-dependence of solvation in conventional and unconventional solvents.
Drama in the Heart of the Tarantula
Drama in the Heart of the Tarantula 11 December 2008A new image of the Tarantula Nebula, a massive star-forming region close to the Milky Way, will be released on 11 December 2008 by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. The image, which will help astronomers to understand how massive stars shape other worlds, represents almost 31 hours of observing time with the Chandra X-Ray Telescope -- three times longer than previously recorded.
Probing Question: What is Nanotechnology?
08 December 2008You might not realize it, but there's probably some cutting-edge science in your dresser drawer. If you've ever bought a stain-resistant shirt or wrinkle-proof khakis, then you've experienced products created by one of the hottest arenas in scientific research: nanotechnology.
Properties of Unusual Virus Revealed in Research
Properties of Unusual Virus Revealed in Research 08 December 2008A team of researchers from Penn State University and the University of Chicago has uncovered clues that may explain how and why a particular virus, called N4, injects an unusual substance — an RNA polymerase protein — into an E. coli bacterial cell. The results, which are published in the current issue of the journalMolecular Cell, contribute to improved understanding of the infection strategies used by viruses that attack bacterial cells. Such viruses are known as bacteriophages, or phages. The results also may help other researchers to come up with new ideas about ways to kill E. coli bacteria, which can be dangerous to humans.
Eberly College of Science Honors Five with Outstanding Science Alumni Award
01 December 2008Five Eberly College of Science alumni were honored recently with the Outstanding Science Alumni Award for the year 2007. Receiving this award were Mildred S. Christian, Stephen DiBiase, John Patton, Angelo G. Scopelianos, and Chi Kong Shue. The award, established in 1997 by the Board of Directors of the Eberly College of Science Alumni Society, recognizes alumni who have a record of significant professional achievements in their field and who are outstanding role models for current students in the college.
Scientists Sequence Woolly-Mammoth Genome
Scientists Sequence Woolly-Mammoth Genome 19 November 2008Scientists at Penn State are leaders of a team that is the first to report the genome-wide sequence of an extinct animal, according to Webb Miller, professor of biology and of computer science and engineering and one of the project's two leaders. The scientists sequenced the genome of the woolly mammoth, an extinct species of elephant that was adapted to living in the cold environment of the northern hemisphere. They sequenced four billion DNA bases using next-generation DNA-sequencing instruments and a novel approach that reads ancient DNA highly efficiently. More information about this project is on the Web at http://rw.mammoth.psu.edu/.
Scientists Discover New Planet Orbiting Dangerously Close to Giant Star
Scientists Discover New Planet Orbiting Dangerously Close to Giant Star 18 November 2008A team of astronomers from Penn State and Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland has discovered a new planet that is closely orbiting a red-giant star, HD 102272, which is much more evolved than our own Sun. The planet has a mass that is nearly six times that of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. The team includes Alexander Wolszczan, the discoverer of the first planets ever found outside our solar system, who is an Evan Pugh Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the director of the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds at Penn State; and Andrzej Niedzielski, who leads his collaborators in Poland. The team suspects that a second planet may be orbiting HD 102272, as well. The findings, which will be published in a future issue of The Astrophysical Journal, shed light on the ways in which aging stars can influence nearby planets.
C.I. Noll Award Presented to Hanna-Rose and Hopkins
18 November 2008Wendy Hanna-Rose, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, and John Duff Hopkins, senior instructor of physics, are the 2007 recipients of the C.I. Noll Award. Sponsored by the Alumni Society of the Eberly College of Science at Penn State University, this award recognizes faculty members who have taken a special interest in students and who, through their interaction with students, have had a positive impact on them. Instituted in 1972 and named in honor of Clarence I. Noll, dean of the college from 1965 to 1971, the award is the highest honor for undergraduate teaching in the college. Winners are chosen by a committee of students and faculty members from nominees suggested by students, faculty members, and alumni.
Researchers Shed Light on Evolution of Gene Regulation
 Researchers Shed Light on Evolution of Gene Regulation 18 November 2008Scientists at Penn State have shed light on some of the processes that regulate genes -- such as the processes that ensure that proteins are produced at the correct time, place, and amount in an organism -- and they also have shed light on the evolution of the DNA regions that regulate genes. The team focused on regulatory regions that, when bound to the protein GATA1, are thought to turn on genes that play an important role in the development of red blood cells. "Our findings could help others to develop drugs to treat people who suffer from sickle-cell anemia and other blood disorders," said Ross Hardison, the T. Ming Chu Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the team's leader. The results will be published on 1 December 2008 in the journal Genome Research.
Underwater Eden: Dispatches from Northeast Brazil
Underwater Eden: Dispatches from Northeast Brazil 18 November 2008Researchers have been embarking on a quest to document the uniqueness of Brazil’s coral species by studying the symbiotic algae that they require to survive. These dispatches chronicle their expedition.
Probing Question: What is a Molecular Clock
17 November 2008It doesn’t tick, it doesn’t have hands, and it doesn’t tell you what time of day it is. But a molecular clock does tell time—on an epoch scale. The molecular clock, explains Blair Hedges, is a tool used to calculate the timing of evolutionary events.
Neeb to Represent Penn State's Eberly College of Science as Student Marshal at Fall-Semester Commencement
12 November 2008Henry Neeb of Media, Pennsylvania will be honored as the Eberly College of Science student marshal during Penn State's winter commencement ceremonies on 20 December 2008 at the University Park campus. Neeb has selected his mother Elizabeth Dudkin, associate professor of biology at Penn State's Brandywine campus, to be his faculty escort for the commencement exercises. Neeb, who will be completing a bachelor's degree in mathematics, has a 4.0 grade-point average. He won the President's Freshman Award in 2006, the President Sparks Award in 2007, and the Evan Pugh Scholar Award in 2008.
Global Warming Link to Amphibian Declines in Doubt
12 November 2008Evidence that global warming is causing the worldwide declines of amphibians may not be as conclusive as previously thought, according to biologists. The findings, which contradict two widely held views, could help reveal what is killing the frogs and toads and aid in their conservation.
Penn State Ranked in Top 5 for Astrophysics Research
Penn State Ranked in Top 5 for Astrophysics Research 07 November 2008Penn State is ranked among the top five institutions in the United States for its research in astronomy and astrophysics, according to a new research study published this week in the on-line journal of astrophysics, Astro-Ph. The study was conducted by A. L. Kinney, the former director of the astrophysics division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The investigation evaluated 36 institutions with doctoral-degree programs for the impact of their published research in astronomy from 1993 to 2003. Penn State ranked fourth in the nation for the astronomical research performed in its academic departments, laboratories, centers, and other research facilities.
Sara DiNardo Selected as 2008 Cooperative Education Student of the Year
04 November 2008Sara DiNardo of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania has been selected as the recipient of the 2008 Co-op Student of the Year Award, which is sponsored by the Eberly College of Science Cooperative Education Program. The award recognizes the student's academic achievements and contributions to the participating employer, the University, the community, and the field of cooperative education.
National Academy of Science Member to Present Stone Memorial Lecture on 17 November 2008
National Academy of Science Member to Present Stone Memorial Lecture on 17 November 2008 03 November 2008Jeffrey W. Roberts, Robert J. Appel Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Cornell University, will present the 2008/2009 Stone Memorial Lecture at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, 17 November 2008, in 101 Althouse Laboratory on the Penn State University Park campus. This free public lecture, titled "Transcription Termination and Its Control in E. coli," is sponsored by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Mercedes Richards Receives Musgrave Gold Medal
 Mercedes Richards Receives Musgrave Gold Medal 03 November 2008Mercedes Richards, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, has been awarded a Musgrave Gold Medal by the Institute of Jamaica for her accomplishments in the field of astronomy. The institute was founded in 1879 by Sir Anthony Musgrave to encourage achievements in literature, science, and art. The medal, which is given to recipients who have attained international recognition in their particular field, is the highest academic honor awarded by the Government of Jamaica, the country where Richards was born. Since 1941, only 15 of the institute's gold medals have been awarded to scientists.
Scott Phillips Wins Dreyfus Foundation's New-Faculty Award
Scott Phillips Wins Dreyfus Foundation's New-Faculty Award 03 November 2008Scott Phillips, an assistant professor of chemistry at Penn State, has won a New Faculty Award from The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The award provides unrestricted grants to incoming faculty members in the chemical sciences to help initiate their independent research programs. The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation is a nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of the chemical sciences.
Center for Nanoscale Science Receives $13.2 Million NSF Grant
22 October 2008Penn State's Center for Nanoscale Science has received a six-year, $13.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to continue research and educational activities in its Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.

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