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2013 Research Press Releases

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The Origin of Flowers: DNA Study Provides Insight into the Evolution of Food Crops and Other Flowering Plants
The Origin of Flowers: DNA Study Provides Insight into the Evolution of Food Crops and Other Flowering Plants 19 December 2013New light has been shed on a major event in the history of life on Earth -- the origin of all major food crops and all other flowering plants -- by the publication of the newly sequenced genome of the Amborella plant. The research addresses the question of why flowers suddenly proliferated on Earth millions of years ago. A paper by the Amborella Genome Sequencing Project, which includes Penn State scientists and Penn State students, will be published by the journal Science in the 20 December 2013 issue.
Brain Repair after Injury and Alzheimer's Disease: In vivo reprogramming of reactive glial cells into functional neurons
Brain Repair after Injury and Alzheimer's Disease: In vivo reprogramming of reactive glial cells into functional neurons 19 December 2013Researchers at Penn State University have developed an innovative technology to regenerate functional neurons after brain injury, and also in model systems used for research on Alzheimer's disease. The scientists have used supporting cells of the central nervous system, glial cells, to regenerate healthy, functional neurons, which are critical for transmitting signals in the brain.
DNA of Storied Plant Provides Insight into the Evolution of Flowering Plants, Study Finds
DNA of Storied Plant Provides Insight into the Evolution of Flowering Plants, Study Finds 19 December 2013The newly sequenced genome of the Amborella plant addresses Darwin's "abominable mystery" -- the question of why flowers suddenly proliferated on Earth millions of years ago. The genome sequence sheds new light on a major event in the history of life on Earth: the origin of flowering plants, including all major food crop species.
Marine Biologists Unmask Species Diversity in Coral Reefs
Marine Biologists Unmask Species Diversity in Coral Reefs 12 December 2013Rising water temperatures due to climate change are putting coral reefs in jeopardy, but a surprising discovery by a team of marine biologists suggests that very similar looking coral species differ in how they survive in harsh environments. "We've found that previously unrecognized species diversity was hiding some corals' ability to respond to climate change," says Iliana Baums, associate professor of biology at Penn State University.
Neutrino Detector at the South Pole Gets Breakthrough of the Year Award
Neutrino Detector at the South Pole Gets Breakthrough of the Year Award 12 December 2013A massive astronomy telescope buried in the Antarctic ice has been given the Breakthrough of the Year award for 2013 is given to by Physics World magazine. The telescope, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, is a project of an international team of researchers that includes Penn State scientists.
A Blast from Its Past Dates the Youngest Neutron-Star Binary
A Blast from Its Past Dates the Youngest Neutron-Star Binary 04 December 2013X-rays streaming toward Earth from the region near a neutron star that is cannibalizing its companion star have revealed the pair to be the youngest "X-ray binary" yet known.
Ultra-Bright Gamma-Ray Burst Shakes Up Theories of Light Production in the Most Powerful Explosions
Ultra-Bright Gamma-Ray Burst Shakes Up Theories of Light Production  in the Most Powerful Explosions 25 November 2013One of the brightest gamma-ray explosions ever seen is the focus of five papers being published this week in the journals Science Express and Astrophysical Journal Letters by research teams that include Penn State Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics David Burrows. Discovered on 27 April 2013, this gamma-ray burst, named GRB 130427A, has been the subject of intense study with advanced space observatories including NASA's Swift X-ray Telescope, for which science and flight operations are controlled by Penn State from the Mission Operations Center at the University Park campus.
New Tool Developed for Profiling Critical Regulatory Structures of RNA Molecules
New Tool Developed for Profiling Critical Regulatory Structures of  RNA Molecules 24 November 2013A molecular technique that will help the scientific community to analyze -- on a scale previously impossible -- molecules that play a critical role in regulating gene expression has been developed by a research team led by a chemist and a plant biologist at Penn State University. The scientists developed a method that enables more-accurate prediction of how ribonucleic acid molecules (RNAs) fold within living cells, thus shedding new light on how plants -- as well as other living organisms -- respond to environmental conditions.
Neutrinos on Ice Now the Coolest New Astronomy Tool
Neutrinos on Ice Now the Coolest New Astronomy Tool 21 November 2013A massive telescope buried in the Antarctic ice has detected 28 record-breaking, extremely high-energy neutrinos -- elementary particles that likely originate outside our solar system. The achievement, which comes nearly 25 years after the pioneering idea of detecting neutrinos in ice, provides the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from cosmic accelerators and has been hailed as the dawn of a new age of astronomy. The team researchers that detected the neutrinos with the new IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica, which includes Penn State scientists, will publish a paper describing the detections on 22 November 2013 in the journal Science.
Investigating Roles of Rare Genetic Variants in Disease
Investigating Roles of Rare Genetic Variants in Disease 14 November 2013Researchers at the Center for Systems Genomics are developing bioinformatics software to facilitate analysis of rare variation in human genome sequence data.
New Type of Black-Hole Quasar Discovered
New Type of Black-Hole Quasar Discovered 07 November 2013Like our Milky Way, every known large galaxy has at its center a supermassive black hole, some of which are surrounded by a super-bright disk of hot gas called a quasar -- but now a research team that includes Penn State astronomers has discovered a surprising new class of quasars in distant galaxies that even the most current theories had not predicted.
Male Lizards Prefer More-Feminine Lizards to "Bearded Ladies," New Research Finds
Male Lizards Prefer More-Feminine Lizards to "Bearded Ladies," New Research Finds 07 November 2013Which females do male lizards find to be the sexiest? Tracy Langkilde, an associate professor of biology at Penn State University, and Lindsey Swierk, a graduate student in Langkilde's lab, tackle this question by examining the mating behavior and blue-color patterns of fence lizards in Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi. The results of their research, which offer a snapshot into the evolution of male-female differences, are published in the early online edition of The Royal Society journal Biology Letters on 6 November 2013.
Caribou May Be Indirectly Affected by Sea-Ice Loss in the Arctic
Caribou May Be Indirectly Affected by Sea-Ice Loss in the Arctic 01 October 2013Melting sea ice in the Arctic may be leading, indirectly, to fewer caribou calf births and higher calf mortality in Greenland, according to scientists at Penn State University. Eric Post, a Penn State University professor of biology, and Jeffrey Kerby, a Penn State graduate student, have linked the melting of Arctic sea ice with changes in the timing of plant growth on land, which in turn is associated with lower production of calves by caribou in the area. The results of the study will be published in the journal Nature Communications on 1 October 2013.
"Transformer" Star Discovered with X-rays and Radio Waves
"Transformer" Star Discovered with X-rays and Radio Waves 25 September 2013A fleet of orbiting X-ray telescopes that includes NASA's Swift orbiting observatory, which is controlled by Penn State University -- has been used by an international team of scientists in the discovery of a "millisecond pulsar" star with a dual identity. In a feat that has never before been observed, the star readily shifts back and forth between two mutually exclusive styles of pulsed emissions -- one in X-rays, the other in radio waves. The discovery, the scientists say, reveals a long-sought intermediate phase in the life of these powerful objects.
Scientists Discover the Origins of Genomic "Dark Matter"
Scientists Discover the Origins of Genomic "Dark Matter" 13 September 2013A duo of scientists at Penn State University has achieved a major milestone in understanding how genomic "dark matter" originates. This "dark matter" -- called non-coding RNA -- does not contain the blueprint for making proteins and yet it comprises more than 95 percent of the human genome. The researchers have discovered that essentially all coding and non-coding RNA originates at the same types of locations along the human genome. The team's findings eventually may help to pinpoint exactly where complex-disease traits reside, since the genetic origins of many diseases reside outside of the coding region of the genome. The research, which will be published as an Advance Online Publication in the journal Nature on 18 September 2013, was performed by B. Franklin Pugh, holder of the Willaman chair in Molecular Biology at Penn State, and postdoctoral scholar Bryan Venters, who now holds a faculty position at Vanderbilt University.
Novel Self-Powered Nanoparticles Developed to Deliver Healing Drugs Directly to Bone Cracks
Novel Self-Powered Nanoparticles Developed to Deliver Healing Drugs Directly to Bone Cracks 29 August 2013A novel method for finding and delivering healing drugs to newly formed microcracks in bones has been invented by a team of chemists and bioengineers at Penn State University and Boston University. The method involves the targeted delivery of the drugs, directly to the cracks, on the backs of tiny self-powered nanoparticles. The energy that revs the motors of the nanoparticles and sends them rushing toward the crack comes from a surprising source -- the crack itself.
Graduate student studying ecological impacts of increased noise on animals
Graduate student studying ecological impacts of increased noise on animals 28 August 2013Graduate student's work takes a novel approach to measuring the effects of foreign sounds on the natural world.
Zeal to Heal: Penn State Researchers Develop Way to Transport Medicine Directly to Cracks in Bones
Zeal to Heal: Penn State Researchers Develop Way to Transport Medicine Directly to Cracks in Bones 27 August 2013This article, written by Barbara Kennedy and featuring the work of Penn State chemists, originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times (CDT) on 25 August 2013 in the weekly "Focus on Research" column, which highlights different research projects being conducted at Penn State.
New Characterization of the Human Genome's Ability to Mutate Catalyzes Biomedical Research
New Characterization of the Human Genome's Ability to Mutate Catalyzes Biomedical Research 19 August 2013As biomedical researchers continue to make progress toward the realization of personalized genomic medicine, their focus is increasingly tuned to highly mutable regions of the human genome that contribute significantly to genetic variation as well as many inherited disorders.
Protein Changes Linked to Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease
Protein Changes Linked to Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease 14 August 2013A research discovery that helps point the way to potential therapies for memory-related disorders including Alzheimer's Disease has been made by a team of neuroscientists that includes Douglas Cavener, a professor of biology at Penn State University. A paper describing the research is published in the 12 August 2013 issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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