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How did the giraffe get its long neck? Clues now revealed by new genome sequencing
17 May 2016For the first time, the genomes of the giraffe and its closest living relative, the reclusive okapi of the African rainforest, have been sequenced -- revealing the first clues about the genetic changes that led to the evolution of the giraffe’s exceptionally long neck and its record-holding ranking as the world’s tallest land species. The research will be published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on May 17, 2016.
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.
New, better way to build circuits for world's first useful quantum computers
27 June 2016The era of quantum computers is one step closer as a result of research published in the current issue of the journal Science. The research team has devised and demonstrated a new way to pack a lot more quantum computing power into a much smaller space and with much greater control than ever before. The research advance, using a 3-dimensional array of atoms in quantum states called quantum bits -- or qubits -- was made by David S. Weiss, professor of physics at Penn State University, and three students on his lab team.
A tale of two pulsars' tails: Plumes offer geometry lessons to astronomers
17 January 2017In two studies, international teams of astronomers suggest that recent images from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory of two pulsars — Geminga and B0355+54 — may help shine a light on the distinctive emission signatures of pulsars, as well as their often perplexing geometry.
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.
Measuring entropy: A scanning-tunneling microscope provides a glimpse of the mysterious property
13 February 2017New research shows that a scanning-tunneling microscope (STM), used to study changes in the shape of a single molecule at the atomic scale, impacts the ability of that molecule to make these changes. The study, appearing this week in the journal Nature Communications, demonstrates that the position of the tip of the STM relative to the molecule changes the energy requirements of the molecule to make changes in shape, and in turn, changes the entropy of the system.
New targets for vaccines identified on the surface of the malaria parasite
23 May 2016Dozens of potential new protein targets for malaria vaccines have been identified and characterized on the surface of the transmitted sporozoite stage of the malaria parasite. The research also demonstrates for the first time that some proteins on the surface of the parasite have sugar additions that could cloak them from the human immune system. A paper describing the research by a collaboration of scientists from Johns Hopkins University; the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Seattle, Washington; the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington; Harvard Medical School; and Penn State University, is available online in the April 29, 2016 issue of the journal PLOS Pathogens.
Catalytic Conveyer Belt: A new method for controlled delivery of particles via fluid flow
20 February 2017Researchers have developed a new method of transporting particles that utilizes chemical reactions to drive fluid flow within microfluidic devices. The research, which capitalizes on previous studies in self-powered chemo-mechanical movement, is a collaboration between scientists at Penn State’s Department of Chemistry and the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.
Grant to help pave a big data highway to explore genome, enhance health
15 February 2017A $6.1 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health may help researchers leverage massive amounts of genomic data to develop medical treatments and pharmaceuticals, according to an international team of researchers.
New gravitational-wave finder scores again
15 June 2016Less than four months after the historic first-ever detection of gravitational waves, scientists on a team that includes Penn State University physicists and astronomers now have detected another gravitational wave washing over the Earth. "I would never have guessed that we would be so fortunate to have, not only one, but two definitive binary black-hole detections within the first few months of observations," said Chad Hanna, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy & astrophysics at Penn State and co-chair of the Compact Binary Coalescence Group of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), which detected both the first gravitational wave and this new one since beginning observations last fall.
Discovery rewriting the evolutionary history of the nervous system
08 March 2017Penn State researchers at the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences uncover a long-standing, fundamental error in the story of the nervous system’s evolution.
Under Pressure: New technique could make large, flexible solar panels more feasible
13 May 2016A new, high-pressure technique may allow the production of huge sheets of thin-film silicon semiconductors at low temperatures in simple reactors at a fraction of the size and cost of current technology. A paper describing the research by scientists at Penn State University appears May 13, 2016 in the journal Advanced Materials.
Fastest-spinning brown-dwarf star is detected by its bursts of radio waves
24 June 2016Astronomers have detected what may be the most-rapidly-rotating, ultra-cool, brown-dwarf star ever seen. The super-fast rotation period was measured by using the 305-meter Arecibo radio telescope -- the same telescope that was used to discover the first planets ever found outside our solar system.
Deepest x-ray image ever reveals black hole treasure trove
09 January 2017An unparalleled image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is giving an international team of astronomers the best look yet at the growth of black holes over billions of years beginning soon after the Big Bang. This is the deepest X-ray image ever obtained, collected with about 7 million seconds, or 11 and a half weeks, of Chandra observing time.
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.
Next-generation dark matter detector in a race to finish line: Mile-deep U.S.-based experiment is on a fast track to help solve science mystery
24 February 2017The race is on to build the most sensitive U.S.-based experiment designed to directly detect particles of dark matter. Department of Energy (DOE) officials formally approved a key construction milestone that will propel the project named LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) toward its goal for completion by April 2020.
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.
Caught in the act: 3D structure of an RNA-modifying protein determined in action
21 April 2016The structure of a bacterial RNA-binding protein has been determined in the act of modifying a molecule of RNA -- an achievement that provides researchers with a unique view of the protein's function in action and could lead to clues that would help in the fight against the development of antibiotic-resistant infections. A paper describing the findings by a team of Penn State University researchers is published in the current issue of the journal Science.
NSF funds supercomputer cluster at Penn State
21 February 2017The Penn State Cyber-Laboratory for Astronomy, Materials, and Physics (CyberLAMP) is acquiring a high-performance computer cluster that will facilitate interdisciplinary research and training in cyberscience and is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
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.

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