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Cosmic Explosion is New Candidate for Most Distant Object in the Universe
25 May 2011A gamma-ray burst detected by NASA's Swift satellite in April 2009 has been newly unveiled as a candidate for the most distant object in the universe. At an estimated distance of 13.14 billion light years, the burst lies far beyond any known quasar and could be more distant than any previously known galaxy or gamma-ray burst. Multiple lines of evidence in favor of a record-breaking distance for this burst, known as GRB 090429B for the 29 April 2009 date when it was discovered, are presented in a paper by an international team of astronomers led by former Penn State University graduate student Antonino Cucchiara, now at the University of California, Berkeley.
Packaging Process for Genes Discovered in New Research
19 May 2011Scientists at Penn State University have achieved a major milestone in the attempt to assemble, in a test tube, entire chromosomes from their component parts. The achievement reveals the process a cell uses to package the basic building blocks of an organism's entire genetic code -- its genome. The evidence provided by early research with the new procedure overturns three previous theories of the genome-packaging process and opens the door to a new era of genome-wide biochemistry research.
New Technique Sheds Light on the Mysterious Process of Cell Division
18 May 2011Using a new technique in which models of primitive cells are constructed from the bottom up, scientists have demonstrated that the structure of a cell's membrane and cytoplasm may be as important to cell division as the specialized machinery -- such as enzymes, DNA or RNA -- which are found within living cells. Christine Keating, an associate professor of chemistry at Penn State University, and Meghan Andes-Koback, a graduate student in the Penn State Department of Chemistry, generated simple, non-living model "cells" with which they established that asymmetric division -- the process by which a cell splits to become two distinct daughter cells -- is possible even in the absence of complex cellular components, such as genes.
George Andrews Awarded Honorary Professorship at Nankai University
18 May 2011George Andrews, Evan Pugh Professor of Mathematics at Penn State University, has been has been awarded an honorary professorship at Nankai University in China. Andrews receives this honor in recognition of his many important contributions to research fields including number theory and combinatorics. In addition, he is recognized for solving a number of well-known long-standing problems in these fields. Andrews has expressed that, as an honorary professor of Nankai University, he would do his best to support the teaching and research projects at the Nankai University's Center for Combinatorics -- one of the leading national academic institutions for mathematical research.
Lin Receives Don Owen Award from the American Statistical Association
17 May 2011Dennis Lin, Distinguished Professor of Statistics at Penn State University, has been awarded the 2011 Don Owen Award from the American Statistical Association's San Antonio chapter. The president of the chapter, John Schoolfield, presented Lin with the award at the 2011 Conference of Texas Statisticians at Texas A&M University. Lin is recognized for his groundbreaking work in designing statistical experiments called supersaturated designs. These designs provide a major tool for practical use in industry and allow investigation of a large number of variables. He also is well known for his research on statistical data mining.
Zombie Ants Have Fungus on the Brain, New Research Reveals
09 May 2011New research has revealed how infection by a parasitic fungus dramatically changes the behavior of tropical carpenter ants (species Camponotus leonardi), causing them to become zombie-like and to die at a spot that has optimal reproduction conditions for the fungus. The multinational research team studied ants living high up in the rainforest canopy in Thailand. A paper describing the research will be published in the BioMed Central open-access journal BMC Ecology on 9 May 2011.
Graduating Senior Studies the Shadows of Galaxies
05 May 2011Most of the universe is empty space -- galaxies lie few and far between. Moreover, distant galaxies are difficult, if not impossible, to observe by their meager light. So, what if astronomers studied not the light of the galaxies themselves, but also their shadows?
Daniel Matasic Receives CEIA 2010 Co-op Student of the Year Award
04 May 2011Daniel Matasic, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, received the 2010 Cooperative Education and Internship Association (CEIA) Co-op Student of the Year award. This national award recognizes students’ academic achievements and contributions to their co-op employers, the University, the community, and the field of cooperative education. The CEIA presented this award to Dan at their national conference in San Antonio, Texas in April 2011.
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Have Evolved a Unique Chemical Mechanism, New Discovery Reveals
28 April 2011For the first time, scientists have been able to paint a detailed chemical picture of how a particular strain of bacteria has evolved to become resistant to antibiotics. The research is a key step toward designing compounds to prevent infections by recently evolved, drug-resistant "superbugs" that often are found in hospitals, as well as in the general population. A paper describing the research, by a team led by Squire Booker, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State University, was posted by the journal Science on its early-online Science Express site on 28 April. This paper is a continuation of research led by Booker published in another paper in Science earlier this month.
Jinchao Xu Named a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
25 April 2011Jinchao Xu, the Francis R. and Helen M. Pentz Professor of Science and the director of the Center for Computational Mathematics and Applications at Penn State University, has been honored as a 2011 Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) for his outstanding contributions to the theory and applications of multilevel and adaptive numerical methods. He will be recognized later this year at the 7th International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM 2011) in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Scientists Recreate Brain Cells from Skin Cells to Study Schizophrenia Safely
13 April 2011A team of scientists at Penn State University, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and other institutions have developed a method for recreating a schizophrenic patient's own brain cells, which then can be studied safely and effectively in a Petri dish. The method brings researchers a step closer to understanding the biological underpinnings of schizophrenia.
Alberto Bressan Receives the Fichera Prize from the Italian Mathematical Union
06 April 2011Alberto Bressan, Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Mathematics at Penn State University, will be awarded the Fichera prize from the Italian Mathematical Union (IMU). The prize, which will be awarded during the general congress of the IMU in Bologna, Italy later this year, is assigned once every four years to the author of a paper of great significance in the field of mathematical analysis and applications.
Search for Advanced Materials Aided by Discovery of Hidden Symmetries in Nature
03 April 2011A new way of understanding the structure of proteins, polymers, minerals, and engineered materials will be published in the May 2011 issue of the journal Nature Materials. The discovery by two Penn State University researchers is a new type of symmetry in the structure of materials, which the researchers say greatly expands the possibilities for discovering or designing materials with desired properties.
Department of Chemistry Receives Grant to Sponsor Summer Undergraduate Research
22 March 2011The Penn State Department of Chemistry has been selected to receive a $50,000 grant as part of the 3M Summer Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program. The grant will be used to recruit and mentor undergraduate students interested in pursuing graduate degrees in math and science.
Bojowald Awarded the Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Physical Science
17 March 2011Martin Bojowald, a Penn State associate professor of physics, has been selected to receive the 2011 Penn State Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Physical Science. Established in 1980, the award recognizes scholarly or creative excellence represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. A committee of faculty peers reviews nominations and selects candidates.
Hedges Awarded the Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Life and Health Sciences
17 March 2011Blair Hedges, a professor of biology at Penn State University, has been selected to receive the 2011 Penn State Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Life and Health Sciences. Established in 1980, the award recognizes scholarly or creative excellence represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. A committee of faculty peers reviews nominations and selects candidates.
Stephenson Receives the Distinguished Professor Title
14 March 2011Andrew Stephenson, a professor of biology at Penn State University, has been selected to receive the title of Distinguished Professor of Biology. Stephenson is recognized for his groundbreaking discoveries in the evolutionary biology of plants. His contributions to the understanding of Darwin's theories of sexual selection and the evolution of mating systems are recognized internationally and his work also affects broad areas of plant biology, including plant physiology and breeding. He has demonstrated that, regardless of the haphazard nature of pollen deposition, plants can exercise a great deal of control over which of the deposited pollen grains actually fertilize the ovules, which of the immature seeds mature, and which abort during development.
Steen and Tucker to Represent Penn State's Eberly College of Science as Student Marshals at Spring Commencement 2011
11 March 2011Kalila Anne Steen of Danville, Pennsylvania, and Steven Tucker of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, will be honored as the student marshals for the Eberly College of Science during Penn State's spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, 14 May 2011 at the University Park campus. Faculty escorts for Steen and Tucker will be Kimberlyn Nelson of the Department of Biology and David Proctor of the Department of Kinesiology, respectively. Steen and Tucker have been close friends and classmates since their freshman year at Penn State.
New Kind of Optical Fiber Developed
01 March 2011A team of scientists led by John Badding, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, has developed the very first optical fiber made with a core of zinc selenide -- a light-yellow compound that can be used as a semiconductor. The new class of optical fiber, which allows for a more effective and liberal manipulation of light, promises to open the door to more versatile laser-radar technology.
Penn State Astronomy Student's Background in Music Helps him Appreciate the Beauty of Space
25 February 2011When Emmanuel Fonseca first told his mother he wanted to be a cosmologist, she asked, "Why would you want to do people's nails?" Now his family shares his excitement about how cosmological research will impact the world. They ask him about black holes and tease him with the question, "When are you going to take us to the moon?"

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