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Probing Question - What is a Near Earth?
22 September 2010In the 1997 movie Contact (based on the novel by Carl Sagan) actress Jodie Foster plays an astrophysicist devoted to SETI—the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Despite doubting colleagues, she vigilantly monitors signals from radio telescopes aimed at thousands of nearby sun-like stars, hoping to receive a message from alien life forms. While the large dish telescope in the movie is real (the movie was filmed on location at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico), the contact isn’t. So far, the skies remain silent. Are we alone in the universe? The more basic question may be whether a planet like ours exists, says Jason Wright, assistant professor of astronomy at Penn State.
First Responder: The Swift Satellite
21 September 2010After five remarkable years of discovery, the Swift satellite has rewritten the book on the tremendous deep-space explosions known as gamma-ray bursts.
Barbara Garrison Selected as a 2010 American Chemical Society Fellow
21 September 2010Barbara Garrison, the Shapiro Professor of Chemistry and the head of the Department of Chemistry at Penn State, has been selected as a 2010 American Chemical Society (ACS) Fellow. ACS Fellows are distinguished scientists who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in chemistry and have made important contributions to the ACS. Earlier this year, the ACS honored Garrison by dedicating the April 2010 edition of the Journal of Physical Chemistry C to the celebration of her scientific career. The 2010 ACS Fellows were recognized on 23 August 2010 during the Society's national meeting in Boston.
There's an App for That Too: New App for Genes on Earth is Tool for Scientists and Entertaining for All
20 September 2010The scientists who put an innovative tree of life online last year now have made that same resource available -- free -- for smartphones. The new "TimeTree" application lets anyone with an Apple iPhone harness a vast Internet storehouse of data about the diversity of life, from bacteria to humans. The intuitive interface is designed to answer a simple question, quickly and authoritatively: how long ago did species A and species B share a common ancestor?
Analysis of the Chocolate Genome Could Lead to Improved Crops and Products
17 September 2010The sequencing and analysis of the genome for the Criollo variety of the cacao tree, generally considered to produce the world's finest chocolate, was completed by an international team led by Claire Lanaud of CIRAD in France, with Mark Guiltinan of Penn State University, along with scientists from 18 other institutions. "The large amount of information generated by this project dramatically changes the status of this tropical plant and its potential interest for the scientific community," said Guiltinan, professor of plant molecular biology.
Alumni Spotlight - Angelo Fields
15 September 2010College students are notorious for being unsure with decision making, with boyfriends and girlfriends, and with majors. Taking a general route to explore options isn’t such a bad idea, especially when it means stepping outside comfort zones to study abroad or participate in a co-op. Proud alum Angelo Fields still bleeds blue and white, and he has one of the coolest job ever. Fields graduated in December 2004 as a general Science major. While he was a Penn State student, he participated in a Johnson & Johnson co-op that taught him exactly what he wanted- or rather didn’t want to do- for the rest of his life.
Penn State Partners with Peking University
08 September 2010Want to study abroad and see another culture? Math and biology students can do that in the summer through a partnership with Peking University (PKU), one of China’s top-ranked universities. Penn State students work in small groups with PKU students either at University Park or in Beijing. For the past two years, math students have visited PKU. This year, twelve PKU students studied at University Park. “I applied because I was interested in learning about differential equations and the numeric method,” said Yuqiang Wang, a PKU student at Penn State this summer. I thought, ‘If I participate, then maybe I can understand it better.’ The experience was wonderful.”
Peter Hudson Elected a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
08 September 2010Peter J. Hudson has been elected a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and letters. Hudson is the Willaman Chair in Biology, the founding director of the Penn State Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, an affiliate of the Penn State Institutes of the Environment, and the Director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State. In 2008, he was elected a Fellow of the The Royal Society, the United Kingdom's National Academy of Science.
Winners of Plant-Biology Video Contest Announced by ChloroFilms Project at Penn State University
07 September 2010Winners of an international competition organized at Penn State University for new plant-biology videos on YouTube are being announced today. The winners, whose awards include a share of over $5,000 in cash prizes, are the second group of awardees in a series of competitions organized by the nonprofit collaborative project ChloroFilms, which was started by Daniel Cosgrove, the Eberly Chair of Biology at Penn State. ChloroFilms has awarded $13,600 in prizes since the competitions began in 2009. "ChloroFilms promotes the creation of fresh, attention-getting, and informative videos about plant life," Cosgrove said. The winning videos, as well as all the contest entries, are on the ChloroFilms web site at http://www.chlorofilms.org/
Ayusman Sen Awarded the Medal of the Chemical Research Society of India
03 September 2010Ayusman Sen, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Penn State University, has been honored with the Chemical Research Society of India (CRSI) Medal. Sen is only the second recipient of the medal, which is awarded exclusively to outstanding chemists of Indian origin who work outside of India.
Elizabeth Essinger-Hileman selected by Dept. of Energy as Science Graduate Fellows
31 August 2010University Park, Pa. – The United States Department of Energy's Office of Science Graduate Fellowship Program has selected 150 students throughout the U.S. to receive graduate fellowship awards in an effort to strengthen the nation’s scientific work force. Deemed part of the nation’s “next generation of scientific and technical leaders” by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, two of these fellows are Elizabeth Essinger-Hileman of Masontown, Pa., and Kara Sulia of Cookstown, N.J. Both are currently graduate students conducting research at Penn State.
Evolution of a Scientist: An interview with Beth Shapiro
31 August 2010If there is a sweet spot at the intersection of talent, hard work, drive and luck, Beth Shapiro has found it. At thirty-four years old, Shapiro—an evolutionary molecular biologist who came to Penn State in 2007 as the Shaffer Career Development assistant professor in biology—has already received more awards and honors than many scientists do in a lifetime.
Atmosphere of Far Worlds Probed with New Technique and Large Telescope
31 August 2010Astronomers on two research teams, including an astronomer at Penn State University, have demonstrated the power of a new technique to determine the chemical composition of the atmospheres of planets far outside our solar system. Using the technique -- called narrow-band transit spectrophotometry, -- the teams discovered the element potassium in the atmospheres of giant planets similar in size to Jupiter.
Scientists Develop the First Atomic View of Key Genetic Processes
25 August 2010In a landmark study to be published in the journal Nature, scientists have been able to create the first picture of genetic processes that happen inside every cell of our bodies. Using a 3-D visualization method called X-ray crystallography, Song Tan, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University, has built the first-ever image of a protein interacting with the nucleosome — DNA packed tightly into space-saving bundles organized around a protein core. The research is expected to aid future investigations into diseases such as cancer
Penn State's 2010 Forensic Science Lecture Series
16 August 2010Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the public are invited to a series of presentations on forensic science, criminal justice, and crime fiction. The 2010 Forensic Science Lecture Series will feature four leaders within the forensic-science field. Lecturers will discuss innovative techniques for identifying human remains, analyzing crime scenes, tracking down criminals, and authoring best-selling thriller novels. All lectures are free and will be held on Mondays from 12:20 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. in 111 Wartik Laboratory on the Penn State University Park campus.
Penn State is Partner in Large Telescope Awarded Top U.S. Priority
13 August 2010A report released this morning for the National Academy of Sciences by a committee of the National Research Council ranked the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) as its top priority for the next large ground-based astronomical facility. The "Astro2010" report states that, of all the competing astronomy projects, the LSST achieved the top rank for its compelling science objectives and because "the committee judged that LSST was the most ready-to-go."
Bob Shaler, Founding Director of the Penn State Forensic Science Program, Retires
13 August 2010Robert C. Shaler, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, has retired after having served as the founding director of the Penn State Forensic Science Program since 2005. Shaler is well known for supervising the massive DNA-testing effort to identify thousands of victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, and he is the author of Who They Were: Inside the World Trade Center DNA Story: The Unprecedented Effort to Identify the Missing.
To the Point: Astronomer discusses NASA's future
12 August 2010After more than a half-century of involvement sending humans into space, the United States is now preparing for the shut down of NASA's human space flight programs. Findings from the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, known as the Augustine Commission, report that the current human space program, the Constellation program, was underfunded, behind schedule and over budget. Because of these findings the program was not included in the 2010 U.S. budget and the program is winding down. Chris Palma, senior lecturer in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State, whose specialty is education and outreach in astronomy, explains the implications of the end of this NASA program.
Public Astronomy Presentation on Other Worlds Set for August 16
11 August 2010A free public presentation by astronomer John Johnson, an assistant professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, will be given at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, 16 August 2010, in room 101 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. His talk on the study of planets in orbit around other stars is titled "Other Worlds."
Gaertner to Represent Penn State's Eberly College of Science as Student Marshal at Summer Commencement 2010
06 August 2010Carol Lynn Gaertner of Wexford, Pennsylvania, will be honored as the student marshal for both the Eberly College of Science and the College of Engineering during Penn State's summer commencement ceremonies on 14 August 2010 at the University Park campus. Gaertner has selected Victor Nistor of the Department of Mathematics and Moses Ling of the Department of Architectural Engineering to be her faculty escorts for the commencement exercises.

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