Research Spotlights Digest

Investigating the Medicinal Properties of Kava ('awa)

For centuries, Pacific Islanders have used the kava (Piper methysticum G. Forster) plant to make water-based drinks for medicinal and ceremonial use. Kava, prepared with water, is also traditionally used as a daily drinking beverage at the...Read more

Effects of Alternative Fuels on Air Quality

Concern about the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resulting impacts on global climate has led many to look for alternative technologies. Since automobiles have become a major source of greenhouse gases, scientists and engineers have been working to develop cars that run on alternative fuels. There are a number of options,...Read more

molecule diagrams Using Computational Chemistry to Study Dusty Plasmas

Plasmas are used in industrial processes in several important high-technology industries, such as the semiconductor industry. One application is the use of chemically reactive plasmas to deposit extremely thin films on other materials. So-called “dusty” plasmas contain particulates; these plasmas are of great interest to industry, as...Read more

Creating Compounds to Treat Disease

Sirtuins are a group of seven compounds (SIRT1 - SIRT7) that are involved in a wide range of biological functions. Because of their role in gene regulation, researchers believe that sirtuin inhibitors may be useful as treatments for diseases. For example, drug designers believe that SIRT2 inhibition could be a useful treatment for Parkinson’s...Read more

Supernovae of Early Supermassive Stars

Most galaxies that we have observed contain at their centers a supermassive black hole. While scientists don’t know how these black holes were formed, they have surmised that they could be the remnants of supermassive stars that, at the end of their lives, collapsed to create the black holes. Researchers use computer modeling to study this...Read more

images of papyri Translational Informatics

Application of Informatics to Transcription of Ancient Papyri 

While computers can do many things, there are still a few areas in which humans excel such as the discriminatory power of the eye and the natural human ability to quickly classify objects. The visual ability of recognizing patterns is at the core of the...Read more

Blind Cavefish Genome

photo credit: Bethany A. Stahl

Animals that move from surface habitats into caves exhibit evolutionally related changes in their new environments. Perhaps the most dramatic is eye loss, but there are also other changes, such as skin pigmentation and sleeping patterns. Researchers believe that studying how these changes occur and the genes...Read more

Using Proteomics Methods to Diagnose Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a virulent form of the disease, with a nearly 50 percent mortality rate. Early diagnosis is one of the keys to successful treatment; patients whose cancer is found and treated early have a much better survival rate. Unfortunately, the current method of diagnosing the disease, which involves excision and biopsy of tissue, is both...Read more

Computational Astrophysics

The physics of diffuse, ionized gases - plasmas - and gravity in deep space are of great interest to researchers investigating how the early universe developed. The use of high-performance computing allows computational astrophysicists to create simulations that extend over cosmic times and distances.

Professor...Read more

Genetic Studies of Epstein-Barr Virus Infection

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is a common virus in the human herpes family. It is well known as the cause of infectious mononucleosis, but it also is associated with some forms of cancer and with autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and multiple sclerosis. Much of the population is infected with EBV with no symptoms, but we don’t...Read more

Air Pollution and Socioeconomic Status

Among many other disadvantages, being poor often means that people are more likely to live in polluted environments. A recent study by MSI Principal Investigators Julian Marshall (an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering,...Read more

Simulations of Interacting Objects

Anyone who plays video games or who goes to movies that use computer-generated imaging knows that virtual environments are becoming more and more realistic. Also, computers available to consumers continue to get more powerful, with multiple cores. The algorithms that use these computers to create virtual environments need to be structured in such a way that they can create realistic,...Read more

Modeling Properties of Graphene

Graphene, a form of pure carbon that exists in one-atom-thick sheets, is of great interest to scientists and engineers because of its strength and other remarkable properties. Graphene sheets can be formed into other structures. The mechanical properties of a graphene nanostructure are different than structures in the macroscale.

A graphene tube with a radius of less than one nanometer...Read more

Creating a New Fluorescent Dye

Fluorescent chromophores are compounds that can emit light under certain circumstances. They are useful to chemists as dyes or markers, and can be used for such applications as medical and biological imaging.

In a recent paper that appeared in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Professor ...Read more

Simulating the Novel Properties of Nanomaterials

Nanostructures are devices built on an extremely tiny scale - a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. Materials at this scale show unique properties that affect how they behave. These properties mean than nanomaterials may be useful for novel and interesting applications, but we need to understand how to work with them and how they will react.

One feature of nanomaterials is that they...Read more