- Pavements with increased content of recycled paving materials;
- Different additives or binders to increase a pavement’s service life; and
- Improved configurations of pavement layers under the driving surface for better performance.
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute students win Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program awards
Blacksburg, Virginia, Sept. 25, 2015 – Two graduate students working with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have each won a scholarship award from the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program.</p?
Alexandria Noble of Newark, Delaware, a student in the Virginia Tech Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Holly Vasquez of Mukwonago, Wisconsin, a student in the Virginia Tech Grado Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, have each been awarded a 2015 Eisenhower Fellowship.
Noble is the first student to have enrolled in the Transportation Institute’s Human Factors of Transportation Safety graduate certificate program. She has worked on a variety of in-development, groundbreaking projects, including an effort to replace traditional road signage by showing this information on an adaptive in-vehicle display. Her award is for $5,000. “One really cool thing about this award is that your travel to Transportation Research Board conferences is covered, and you can present your research progress there,” said Noble, who earned her bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University before coming to Virginia Tech specifically to work with the Transportation Institute.
This is the second year in a row that Vasquez has been awarded the annual Eisenhower fellowship. She won $5,000 last year and was awarded $11,500 this year. Vasquez previously earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Virginia Tech College of Science. She is currently working on a master’s thesis focused on how drivers interact with automated vehicle systems. “Specifically, I am looking at how false alarms issued by driver monitoring systems affect driver trust, satisfaction, and performance with automated vehicles,” Vasquez added.
The fellowship is managed by the Technology Partnership Program, part of the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, and named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States and World War II hero. Eisenhower is widely credited as launching the modern U.S. Interstate System, inspired in-part by his tours of Germany and its cross-country highway system. The fellowship program encompasses all modes of transportation and recognizes students pursuing transportation-related disciplines and careers in transportation. Awards are given annually based on merit, a submitted essay, and personal recommendations.
The National Science Foundation just announced the winners of a collective $81 million in funding for the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI), and Virginia Tech is one of the universities involved.
The NNCI will be a network of 16 centers, each with a unique area of expertise in nanotechnology. Virginia Tech’s center will focus on earth and environmental nanoscience—an area in which Tech has achieved international recognition, thanks to the leadership of University Distinguished Professor Mike Hochella, a professor of geosciences.
The NNCI network will serve as a central resource for colleges, universities, and companies who are interested in pursuing nanoscience and nanotechnology, but don’t have access to specialized equipment, or the expertise to analyze materials at scales a hundred thousand times smaller than the thickness of a sheet of paper. NNCI centers can offer access to instrumentation and internationally renowned experts, speeding up the pace of discovery in the rapidly expanding “nano” sector.
So membership in the network dramatically raises a university’s profile in the world of nanotechnology, identifying it as a source of cutting-edge research and a hub for scholarship and technology transfer.
As the university moves forward, it’s not surprising that nanotechnology will be an area of growth. The Virginia Tech Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, directed by Hochella, and the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory (both initiatives of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science) have helped make the university a destination for nanoscience, particularly environmental nanoscience. Virginia Tech president Timothy D. Sands’ own background is in nanoscience, both in academia and industry, and he directed the Birk Nanotechnology Center at Purdue before becoming that university’s provost.
In a letter of support for the NNCI proposal, Sands wrote that his long-term vision for Virginia Tech “includes a continued commitment to nanoscience and nanotechnology,” and praised Hochella’s leadership in preparing the university to become “the dominant force in this relatively new and now critical area of study and development.”
With this award, the Virginia Tech is well on its way.
Watch VT News for the official university announcement!
You’re never too young to be an engineer.
The primary mission of the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology is to educate the next generation of leaders in national security technologies. One way they do that through is through outreach across the K-12 spectrum—to students who may not know, yet, that they’re already engineers at heart.
The Science Museum of Western Virginia’s Science Girls! summer camp offers elementary-school girls hands-on experience with science. Dr. Kira Gantt, the Hume Center’s Associate Director of Outreach and Education, visited the camp to talk about careers in science and engineering.
To learn about the kinds of things they might do as an engineer, rising kindergarteners, first-, and second-graders experimented with basic coding, instructing the computer to display text and to perform arithmetic equations. They also learned about cybersecurity, including geo-tagging of cell phone photos. A second visit, to rising third-through-fifth graders, focused on basic coding, cybersecurity and general online safety practices—including knowing what information is included in those posted selfies.
Summer camps organized by Virginia Tech’s Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) introduce middle- and high-school students to engineering; this summer, as in years past, Hume Center scientists lent their expertise to the program. Zach Leffke, a research associate at the Hume Center, taught middle-school students in CEED’s Imagination camps and high-school girls in the CTECH2 program about how versatile radio communications are—including how software-defined radio can be used to listen in on land-based radios as well as satellite communications.
Hume Center faculty Dr. Joey Ernst and Dr. Chris Headley, along with graduate students Deirdre Beggs, Kayla Straub, and Seth Hitefeld, led demonstrations on topics including satellite communications, software-defined radio, and wireless security. These outreach programs gave students a taste of the cutting-edge technology that’s used in national security—and Virginia Tech research that they could, one day, be involved in themselves.
The Hume Center is organized under Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.
Not everyone’s office gathering place is a front row seat to a storied body of water.
But for Virginia Tech scientists in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences the office IS the Chesapeake Bay, and as a premier research team they conduct leading research on determining what it’s going to take to keep one of the nation’s most famous proverbial water coolers a sustainable water source for generations to come.
Stephenson investigates how and to what extent financial incentives can be created for pollution prevention from programs like nutrient credit trading.
“The first inclination is for source reductions,” said Stephenson. “But the goals for cleanup of the Chesapeake are so ambitious, we need to consider other avenues we have for mitigating excess nutrients. I’m asking, ‘How do you create incentives to enhance the assimilation of nutrients already in the system?'”
In theory, regulated dischargers could purchase credits from entities and individuals who make investments to lower pollutant levels in the bay. Wastewater treatment plants successfully use nutrient credits to lower the cost of complying with stringent regulatory requirements.
Stephenson is looking at ways to expand the range of potential investments that could be used and credited for improving bay water quality.
According to Stephenson, Virginia is the only state in the country that has authorized the use of in situ nutrient removal in a nutrient trading program. The commonwealth approved the system in 2012.
Pollution reduction investments lead to a cleaner bay more quickly, Stephenson said.
Another researcher in the college, Zach Easton, has also been ensuring that the Chesapeake Bay will remain a healthy water resource for decades to come.
Easton, an assistant professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, recently won a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the impact of climate change on the bay and develop strategies to mitigate the stresses of climate change on water quality and bay function, particularly with respect to farming and land development.
Easton also helped to alleviate runoff when legislation passed that dramatically reduced the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous allowed to flow from rivers and estuaries into the bay.
He developed a cost-effective biofilter that filtered out excess nutrient runoff and was easily incorporated into farming operations.
Other scientists from the college working on developing solutions to keep the Chesapeake Bay clean include Gene Yagow, senior research scientist in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. One aspect of his research seeks to calculate the total maximum daily load of pollutants that the bay can accommodate using a method that breaks down water use by population segments.
Another scientist, Brian Benham, a professor of biological systems engineering, Extension specialist, and director of the Center for Watershed Studies, works to mitigate the harmful effects of agricultural and other land-disturbing activities and disseminate information about sustainable water resources management.
In the Department of Entomology, Thomas Kuhar, professor and Extension specialist, is working to develop sustainable and integrated pest management practices to minimize the use of toxic pesticides that could make their way into the bay from farming vegetable crops. He conducts some of his research at the
Saving one of the nation’s most storied and fragile bodies of water? That’s all in a day’s work for researchers in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
We at @VTResearch are continually impressed by the panoramic “slider” photos on the Virginia governor’s website.
This hit home when browsing through the site news and coming across a fantastic shot from the Let’s Fly Wisely event, where Virginia Tech oversaw some important unmanned aircraft research flights. Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands was in the midst of what amounts to a gigantic media flash mob at the normally sedate Lonesome Pine airport. Scroll through and you can see it.
This is the best image yet to capture the scene. We can’t really do it justice here with our screen grab.
Most of us who have to freshen Web pages know that art can be a big challenge. But the state site makes it look easy.
How @GovernorVA are you nailing these shots?
Kiho Lee works with pathways.
Whether these pathways are responsible for food intake, or pathways that viruses use as entryways to the host, Lee and his collaborators want to use these conduits to develop vaccines for humans and find ways for pigs to utilize feed more efficiently.
“Studying pathways means that we effectively have a platform to develop vaccines for a large number of infectious diseases,” said Lee, an assistant professor of animal and poultry sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
He collaborates with Lijuan Yuan, an associate professor of virology and immunology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, to study norovirus and rotavirus, both of which cause gastroenteritis.
Their goal is to develop effective vaccines against norovirus gastroenteritis — a condition that is especially prevalent among elderly people and young children and is responsible for 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and approximately 800 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Their work is conducted in a gnotobiotic pig facility at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, where pigs are studied.
Lee said pigs display disease symptoms similar to humans and they also correlate to human health better than rodent vaccine testing models.
While Lee conducts research on pigs together with Yuan to develop vaccines, he is also making inroads in hog production.
“Basically I am a pig farmer,” said Lee. “I’m still interested in production. The question I am asking is how can I produce these animals at a high rate and with high efficiency.”
He is developing a way to design models that both agricultural and biomedical industries can utilize to increase profit margins.
Typically it takes two-and-a-half years to select for traits in pigs through conventional genetic engineering approaches, but Lee’s techniques shave two years from the process, which is helpful for agriculture specialists and pharmaceutical companies alike.
“That’s a huge difference,” said Lee. “In six months you have your model. The cost is lowered, and the low cost makes this kind of research practical for agriculture when it was not practical before.”
Lee believes the research will increase livestock production. By revealing pathways in charge of food intake, the animals can better metabolize feed to increase muscle mass.
Lee works in conjunction with Dr. Sherrie Clark, an associate professor of theriogenology — the study of the physiology and pathology of reproductive systems — in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. Her work in embryo transplantation has helped move the research forward.
Whether it’s biomedicine or hog production, Lee said the research in treating enteric viruses will itself be a pathway for research on more deadly viral diseases.
A moment to bask in an aviation accomplishment: It’s not a commercial delivery yet, but it won’t be long
With the reassuring whirr of drones still in our recent memories, a couple of thoughts on Friday’s medical transport flights in Wise, Virginia.
First, the research flights proved that commercial delivery of medications and products in the right circumstances is indeed possible. In many respects it was a Kitty Hawk moment.
But it is important to note, the flights were research flights, not commercial deliveries — no transactions took place.
As Rose Mooney, the executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, said: “This was a very controlled research environment, and of course there are many logistical and safety concerns that would need to be resolved before these deliveries could become routine. But today’s flights show the capabilities of this technology and its value to the public.”
But nothing speaks to the sheer excitement of the event better than the video and still images that came from Wise County on Friday.
Aziz Ansari’s character Tom Haverford on the series “Parks and Recreation” has made the catch phrase “treat yourself” a popular refrain for those who want to justify indulgent behavior.
But indulgent behavior, which includes overeating and eating high-fat foods even in the short term, is more damaging to your health than previously thought, which means even Tom Haverford might be skipping the extra brownie in the break room.
Eating behavior that justifies short-term food benders during holidays, vacations, and even that seemingly harmless afternoon fix of salt, sugar, and fat may become trends of the past thanks to research conducted by Matt Hulver, associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and his team.
Hulver and his colleagues found that muscles’ ability to oxidize glucose after a meal is disrupted after five days of eating a high-fat diet, which could lead to the body’s inability to respond to insulin, a risk factor for the development of diabetes and other diseases.
“Most people think they can indulge in high-fat foods for a few days and get away with it,” said Matt Hulver, an associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “But all it takes is five days for your body’s muscle to start to protest.”
Sorry, Tommy H. Looks like you’re going to have to stick to the fragrances, fine leather goods, and low-cal smoothies for that.
To conduct the study, healthy college-age students were fed a fat-laden diet that included a lot of what Anzari himself might use to treat himself as a native South Carolinian: sausage biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and food loaded with butter to increase the percentage of the daily fat intake. Students in this study consumed diets that were about 55 percent fat compared to a normal 33 percent. Their overall caloric intake during the study remained the same as it was prior to the high fat diet. Muscle samples were collected to see how they metabolized glucose. Although the study showed the manner in which the muscle metabolized glucose was altered, the students did not gain weight or have any signs of insulin resistance.
Hulver and the team are now interested in examining how these short-term changes in the muscle can adversely affect the body in the long run and how quickly these deleterious changes in the muscle can be reversed once someone returns to a low-fat diet.
So, treat yo’self. Just not to a baker’s dozen of rainbow sprinkles cupcakes.
By Ashley WennersHerron in international development, Research, Science, Virginia Tech No Comments Tags: Antarctica, Michael Friedlander, U.S. Palmer Station, Virginia Tech Carilion, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute
Written by Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.
A research scientist and a medical student from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and the School of Medicine are back from a scientific journey of a lifetime at Palmer Station, a United States research station in Antarctica. What they learned might shed light not only on the biological systems of the icefish, but also on the global impact of climate change.
Iskander Ismailov and Jordan Scharping are a part of a multi-university team of heart and brain researchers investigating the mechanisms that threaten the survival of a species that represents 90 percent of the biomass in the great Southern Ocean – icefishes.
Icefishes are unique as the only vertebrate species on Earth that lack hemoglobin in their blood. Instead, icefishes developed a type of antifreeze in their blood that allows oxygen to dissolve directly rather than having to be transported to their organs by hemoglobin. However, all is not well for the icefishes.
The Southern Ocean is warming rapidly above the freezing point of water. While we still find the water extremely cold, it’s too warm for the icefishes’ physiological systems to operate efficiently, which leads to deleterious changes in their biology and behavior and causes their ultimate demise. We believe the primary problem may be that the icefish heart malfunctions because of excessive stress, or a failure of the signaling mechanism of the nerve cells in the brain to generate normal patterns of electrical signals, or a combination of the two.
The expedition, funded by the National Science Foundation, is populated with experts aiming to elucidate the primary precipitating mechanism. That’s how the expedition, at least for Iskander and Jordan, started in my laboratory at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.
When I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois, working in the laboratory of C. Ladd Prosser, we conducted pioneering studies on the effects of temperature variations on the molecular biology, physiology, and behavior of goldfishes. Although my current research tends to focus on mammalian brain plasticity in development, learning, and injury, the Antarctica team approached me to participate in their expedition. Unfortunately, for me, I couldn’t personally make the commitment of several months in Antarctica, with my responsibilities at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, at the Virginia Tech Carilion the School of Medicine, and on the main Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg. Instead, Iskander and Jordan volunteered.
Iskander, originally from Russia and accustomed to the cold, volunteered instantly. He’s an excellent neurophysiologist in my laboratory, as well as adventurous, so I wasn’t surprised at his enthusiasm.
I was more uncertain when it came to offering the opportunity to medical students, who typically pursue research more immediately and directly related to human health. Yet, to my delight, several volunteered. Jordan, a native Californian, was selected and began an intensive training period of 15 months to learn how to perform the delicate procedures necessary in brain research. He did this while also taking medical school classes, attending patient case presentations, and studying for the national board exams.
Jordan and Iskander did outstanding work in preparation for the expedition. All of our delicate instrumentation, microscopes, and surgical setups had to be sufficiently miniaturized and made durable for the flight to Punta Arenas, Chile, where it was transferred to a ship and taken south to Palmer Station. As such, the last year has been as much a systems engineering and design project as an experimental biology project.
Iskander and Jordan solved numerous problems, overcame obstacles, and engineered solutions throughout the process. Now, they’ve finally carried out the experiment. Iskander was in Antarctica for three months, while Jordan was there for six weeks. They’re due back in the United States this week.
It’s winter in Antarctica, so the conditions are cold, windy, and dark, with heavy seas on the crossing. The multiple research teams, including Jordan and Iskander, worked around the clock in a laboratory hut equipped with the necessary instrumentation for their research. The living conditions are Spartan, but wholesome meals were provided and the station was staffed with a surgeon in case of medical emergencies.
The teams even got to go on fishing trips – to catch their laboratory specimens.
The teams are returning with treasure troves of data to analyze over the coming years. We will likely not only learn about the stresses that icefishes experience, but we should also gain valuable new insights into how extreme low temperatures affect brain and heart function in general. We could learn new things from these amazing critters that may apply to human health, including strategies for treating conditions such as stroke, drowning, traumatic brain injury, myocardial infarction, and heart failure.
I am extremely proud of Iskander and Jordan for their dedication to this project, innovative work, and willingness to carry out fundamental research that will likely lay the foundations for future medical breakthroughs as well as enhance our understanding of our planet. If we can help inform rational decisions about managing our precious planet and the species that we share it with as well as learn new principles that may benefit human health, it will be a good day at the office.
Photos of the journey can be found on the Virginia Tech Carilion website.