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Key regulator of bone development identified
07 December 2016Loss of a key protein leads to defects in skeletal development including reduced bone density and a shortening of the fingers and toes -- a condition known as brachydactyly. The discovery was made by researchers at Penn State University who knocked out the Speckle-type POZ Protein (Spop) in the mouse and characterized the impact on bone development.
Coral genomes reveal how populations rebound after environmental catastrophes
17 November 2016New genome-sequence data show that Caribbean corals that have survived mass-extinction events caused by environmental change can rebound and expand their populations. An international team of researchers, led by scientists at Penn State University, sequenced the genomes of three species of corals in the genus Orbicella and used the data to model the population histories of these corals over the past several million years.
"Cosmic Whistle" Packs a Surprisingly Energetic Punch
14 November 2016Penn State University astronomers have discovered that the mysterious "cosmic whistles" known as fast radio bursts can pack a serious punch, in some cases releasing a billion times more energy in gamma-rays than they do in radio waves and rivaling the stellar cataclysms known as supernovae in their explosive power.
New strategy for antidepressant therapies: Increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brains of depressed mice has antidepressant effects
08 November 2016Experimentally increasing the activity of a subclass of nerve cells that produce the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) has antidepressant effects similar to pharmaceutical antidepressants in depressed mice. The discovery lends new credence to the idea that GABA-enhancing drugs could serve as rapidly acting and more effective antidepressants. A paper describing the research, led by Penn State scientists, appears online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry on November 8, 2016.
Cosgrove awarded the inaugural Masatoshi Nei Innovation Prize in Biology
03 November 2016Daniel Cosgrove, professor and Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Biology at Penn State University, has been awarded the inaugural Masatoshi Nei Innovation Prize in Biology.
Cotruvo named Louis Martarano Career Development Professor of Chemistry
03 November 2016Joseph Cotruvo, Jr., assistant professor of chemistry, has been named the Louis Martarano Career Development Professor of Chemistry at Penn State University. The Louis Martarano Career Development Professorship is supported by a gift from Louis Martarano, the former director of project finance for Merrill Lynch International and a 1976 graduate of Penn State with a bachelor's degree in chemistry.
Parasitic Plants May Form Weapons Out of Genes Stolen from Hosts
27 October 2016Sneaky parasitic weeds may be able to steal genes from the plants they are attacking and then use those genes against the host plant, according to a team of scientists.
Sensory response to environmental stimuli modulated by form of vitamin B3 in worms
12 October 2016Experiments show that too much of a form of vitamin B3 -- nicotinamide -- that is produced naturally inside of cells can lead to cell death in certain sensory cells and cause behavioral changes in the worm, Caenorhabditis elegans. The research, by a team of Penn State scientists, shows that excess nicotinamide causes overactivity of the TRPV ion channel that is involved in sensory perception by controlling the movement of certain charged particles in and out of cells. The work also provides clues to the mechanism causing the cells to die, and links these cellular processes to behavior. A paper describing the research is published in the October 12, 2016 edition of the journal Nature Communications.
New, carbon-nanotube tool for ultra-sensitive virus detection and identification
07 October 2016A new tool that uses a forest-like array of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes that can be finely tuned to selectively trap viruses by their size can increase the detection threshold for viruses and speed the process of identifying newly-emerging viruses. The research, by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at Penn State, is published in the October 7, 2016 edition of the journal Science Advances.
Using satellite images to better target vaccination
07 October 2016A team of researchers led by Penn State scientists have combined satellite imagery, vaccination records, and measles case reports to illustrate how using predictable population fluctuations can help to improve vaccination coverage -- a vital factor in combatting infectious disease outbreaks. The research is published in the October 5, 2016 edition of the journal Scientific Reports.
Closing in on high-temperature superconductivity
16 September 2016The quest to know the mysterious recipe for high-temperature superconductivity, which could enable revolutionary advances in technologies that make or use electricity, just took a big leap forward thanks to new research by an international team of experimental and theoretical physicists. The research paper appears in the journal Science on September 16, 2016.
Swift telescope detects slowest-spinning neutron star
14 September 2016A new record-holder may have been found as the slowest spinning neutron star -- the class of stars with the most powerful magnetic fields in the universe -- thanks to clues first detected by NASA's Swift space observatory, whose science and flight operations are controlled by Penn State from the University Park campus. Swift's X-Ray Telescope captured a short burst of unusual X-rays on June 22, 2016 coming from the object's location roughly 9,000 light-years from Earth.
NSF grant to promote more diversity, inclusion in STEM fields
12 September 2016Monica Medina, associate professor of biology, Penn State, is one of three researchers awarded a National Science Foundation grant aimed at building alliances and partnerships that can increase participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics -- or STEM -- for underrepresented populations.
Coral conservation efforts aided by computer simulations: New research shows that endangered corals in the eastern Pacific Ocean are isolated from healthy coral populations in the west
23 August 2016Contrary to a prevailing theory, coral larvae could not survive the five-thousand-kilometer trip across the Pacific Ocean to replenish endangered corals in the eastern Pacific, according to new research. Researchers used a supercomputer to simulate billions of coral larvae traveling on ocean currents over a 14.5-year period. The simulations showed that even during extreme environmental events that speed ocean currents, like the 1997-1998 El Niño, coral larvae could not survive long enough to make the trip from coral reefs in the western and central Pacific to help corals in the east recover from environmental damage.
New NSF Grant Aims To Learn More About Operator Algebras
14 July 2016A new National Science Foundation (NSF) focused research group grant awarded to a mathematician in the Eberly College of Science aims to learn new information about operator algebras and their connections with dynamical systems.
Record-breaking map of 1.2-million galaxies now ready to reveal secrets of dark energy
14 July 2016Astronomers are announcing this week the sharpest view yet of the properties of dark energy -- the force that currently is driving the accelerated expansion of the universe. "These results are a milestone in the study of the large-scale structure of the universe," said Penn State Professor Donald Schneider, who was the survey coordinator and scientific publications coordinator for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) -- a collaboration of hundreds of scientists whose work produced the largest-ever, three-dimensional map of distant galaxies as well as one of the most precise measurements yet of dark energy.
AstroFest 2016 is Four Evenings of Astronomy Activities and Stargazing During Arts Festival
11 July 2016Penn State University's popular "AstroFest" program, a four-night festival of astronomy activities and stargazing during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, will welcome visitors from Wednesday, July 13 through Saturday, July 16 from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. each night. All ages are welcome to participate in a variety of exciting and educational activities sponsored by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Events are free and will occur rain or shine in classrooms and in the planetarium located on the fifth floor of Davey Laboratory on the University Park campus.
New clues could help scientists harness the power of photosynthesis
07 July 2016Identification of a gene needed to expand light harvesting in photosynthesis into the far-red-light spectrum provides clues to the development of oxygen-producing photosynthesis, an evolutionary advance that changed the history of life on Earth. "Knowledge of how photosynthesis evolved could empower scientists to design better ways to use light energy for the benefit of mankind," said Donald A. Bryant, the Ernest C. Pollard Professor of Biotechnology and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University and the leader of the research team that made the discovery.
Physics Graduate Student Kelly Malone Receives DOE Award
06 July 2016 Kelly Malone, a fourth year graduate student studying particle astrophysics, has received the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program award. According to the DOE, the SCGSR program provides supplemental awards to outstanding U.S. graduate students to pursue part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE laboratory in areas that address scientific challenges central to the DOE Office of Science mission.
Penn State, TB Alliance, and GSK Partner to Discover New Treatment Options for Tuberculosis
27 June 2016A new collaboration between TB Alliance, GSK, and scientists in the Eberly College of Science seeks to find new small molecules that can be used to create antibiotics in the fight against tuberculosis (TB).

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