For over a week, from April 12 to 21, children and visitors to campus—including the ones pictured in the Science Theatre enjoying a presentation on radioactivity—enjoyed the first-ever MSU Science Festival, a celebration of the science that touches everyday lives.
More than150 diverse offerings spanning the science spectrum, from astronomy to human behavior to robotics to zoology, were showcased during the joint effort of the MSU scientific community and University Outreach and Engagement.
“There was something for everyone—children, teens, adults and seniors,” notes Carla Hills, communications manager of University Outreach and Engagement. “Thousands in the community turned out to experience this festival presented by members of the MSU scientific community, including dedicated faculty, staff and students.”
In the photo, festival attendees roll objects of differing geometry and weight down an inclined plane to compare their rolling speeds and to show that objects with the weight closest to their center of mass always win.
? For more information, visit sciencefestival.msu.edu.
BINGE EATING AND GENDER
Female rats are much more likely to binge eat than male rats, according to new MSU research that provides some of the strongest evidence yet that biology plays a role in eating disorders.
The MSU-led study is the first to establish sex differences in rates of binge eating in animals, with implications for humans. Binge eating is a core symptom of most eating disorders, including bulimia nervosa and the binge/purge subtype of anorexia nervosa. Females are four to 10 times more likely than males to have an eating disorder.
“Most theories of why eating disorders are so much more prevalent in females than males focus on the increased cultural and psychological pressure that girls and women face,” says Kelly Klump, lead author and professor of psychology. “But this study suggests that biological factors likely contribute as well, since female rats do not experience the psychosocial pressures that humans do, such as pressures to be thin.”
Klump and colleagues ran a feeding experiment with 30 female and 30 male rats over a two-week period, replacing the rodents’ food pellets periodically with vanilla frosting. They found that the rate of binge eating “proneness” was up to six times higher in female as compared to male rats.
NEW BUILDING FOR BIO ENGINEERING
A new Bio Engineering Facility on the MSU campus has been given the green light by the MSU Board of Trustees.
The proposed project will stand four stories tall and contain about 130,000 square feet of laboratory and office space. The goal is to bring together research teams from the colleges of Engineering, Human Medicine and Natural Science to promote the development of bioengineering and engineering health sciences.
“By housing faculty from several colleges in this facility—with complementary research talent—we will be able to make great strides in medical technology through daily collaboration,” says Leo Kempel, acting dean of the College of Engineering. “This not only benefits the research enterprise, but it also will provide new learning opportunities for our students.”
Located between the Life Sciences and Clinical Center buildings on south campus, the building will connect to the Clinical Center C-Wing and Life Sciences B-Wing, in the proximity of the Radiology Building. About half of the projected $60.8 million cost will be covered by the state of Michigan.
Every semester, MSU faculty, staff and students earn kudos too numerous to list exhaustively here. Some examples:
Mike Kolar, assistant director of admissions, has earned the Gen. William E. DePuy Award, the highest civilian award given by the U.S. Army Cadet Command. Kolar has served as the university’s Army ROTC liaison since 1996.
Anne Mervenne, co-director of MSU’s Michigan Political Leadership Program in the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, has been named among the Women Officials Network Foundation’s “Wonder Women of 2013.” Mervenne is CEO of Mervenne & Company, a governmental relations consulting firm.
Rocío Quispe-Agnoli, teacher-scholar of Peruvian and Andean studies and associate professor of spanish in MSU’s Dept. of Romance and Classical Studies, has been named a 2013 Successful Peruvian Woman in America. She is one of four recipients selected this year by the Embassy of Peru in the U.S.
A student team representing the MSU chapter of the American Advertising Federation (MSUAAF) has advanced to the 2013 National Student Advertising Competition finals in Phoenix, AZ. The team won an 18-school district competition.
Doug Buhler, former interim dean of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has been named director of MSU AgBioResearch and CANR senior associate dean for research. He replaces Steve Pueppke, who has been named director of CANR Global and Strategic Initiatives. Pueppke will also continue as MSU associate vice president for research and graduate studies.
GRAD PROGRAMS TOPS IN THE NATION
MSU has the nation’s top graduate programs in elementary and secondary education, nuclear physics and industrial/organizational psychology, according to the annual U.S. News & World Report.
The four top-rated programs—from three different colleges—represent the breadth of MSU’s graduate education in the magazine’s 2014 edition of Best Graduate Schools.
Also supply chain/logistics is at No. 2, African history at No. 3 and veterinary medicine at No. 9. The elementary and secondary graduate education programs have both ranked No. 1 for 19 years in a row. The College of Education boasts five programs ranked first or second—more top-two programs than any other education school in the country.
For the fourth straight year, MSU nuclear physics was ranked at the No. 1 spot. MSU is home to the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, a world-leading center for rare isotope research and nuclear science education. MSU also is designing and building the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, MSU and the state of Michigan.
The overall college ranking reflects the quality of the curriculum, faculty, students and research within the college, as well as data from surveys of education deans and school superintendents nationwide. The individual program rankings are based on the survey of deans.
ULTRASOUND CAN DETECT AUTISM RISK
Low-birth-weight babies with a particular brain abnormality are at greater risk for autism, according to a new study that could provide doctors a signpost for early detection of the still poorly understood disorder.
Led by MSU, the study found that low-birth-weight newborns were seven times more likely to be diagnosed with autism later in life if an ultrasound taken just after birth showed they had enlarged ventricles, cavities in the brain that store spinal fluid. The results appear in the Journal of Pediatrics.
“For many years there’s been a lot of controversy about whether vaccinations or environmental factors influence the development of autism, and there’s always the question of at what age a child begins to develop the disorder,” says lead author Tammy Movsas, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at MSU and medical director of the Midland County Department of Public Health.
“What this study shows us is that an ultrasound scan within the first few days of life may already be able to detect brain abnormalities that indicate a higher risk of developing autism.”
Movsas and colleagues reached that conclusion by analyzing data from a cohort of 1,105 low-birth-weight infants born in the mid-1980s. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
DECODING DNA OF ANCIENT LAMPREYS
When it comes to evolution, humans can learn a thing or two from primeval sea lampreys.
As reported in Nature Genetics, scientists have decoded the DNA sequence of the sea lamprey—one of the few ancient, jawless species that has survived through the modern era. The finding provides insights into the evolution of all vertebrates, says Weiming Li, MSU fisheries and wildlife professor, who coordinated the team.
“Sea lampreys are amazing survivors,” says Li. “Even though they diverged from our lineage 500 million years ago, they give us a template of how vertebrates, including humans, evolved into the modern species that we have today.”