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sciences Accomplishments

Feb 15, 2018
Jacklyn Newsome (Life Sciences) successfully defended her master's thesis in the Schiller Laboratory of Applied Bioinformatics in December. She worked on personalized diets and a new single-cell technology called the GigaAssay. Both have been licensed commercially.  

Feb 8, 2018
Ai-Sun "Kelly" Tseng (Life Sciences) and members of the Tseng laboratory recently published a research article titled "A Model for Investigating Developmental Eye Repair in Xenopus" in the journal Experimental Eye Research. This study showed the unexpected finding that frog embryos can fully regrow their eyes after injury. The authors also identified a method to control eye regrowth. Further studies of this model can lead to new strategies for eye repair and regeneration. This study was performed by UNLV students. Ph.D. student Cindy X. Kha is supported by a Top Tier Doctoral Dissertation Grant. For this work, she also won a first-place award for science poster presentation at the recent GPSA research forum. Philip Son (currently attending the UNLV Dental School) was supported in part by a National Science Foundation EPSCoR undergraduate research fellowship and an AANAPISI undergraduate research fellowship . The Tseng lab seeks to identify the mechanisms that enable animals to regrow organs and tissues with the goal of applying this knowledge toward developing regenerative therapeutics.

Feb 7, 2018
Hong Sun (Chemistry and Biochemistry) and her laboratory's research were featured in the most recent issue of Research Features for their model on target acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) for anti-cancer therapy. Titled, "Acid Sphingomyelinase – A Novel Target for Anti-Cancer and Degenerative Diseases?," their research explores how ASM interacts with key components of the plasma membrane of the cell, thereby influencing cell signaling. Her team has discovered that mutations or abnormal expression in the gene that encodes ASM can result in a wide range of impacts, from regulating lifespan to enhancing the risk of cancer and neuron degenerative disease. According to the magazine, "As we enter the new year we look forward to showcasing new research from around the world and learning how researchers are working to make a difference. This issue we pay homage to the scientists behind our ever-increasing quality of life as we feature the latest in health research. Whether it's the technology that allows us to peer deep into the body or medicines that extend the lives of those with chronic diseases, it's easy to see how advances in health and medicine have touched the lives of nearly every person on the planet." Other laboratories featured included those at Stanford University, University of Chicago, and Brown University.

Feb 6, 2018
Innovation (Research & Economic Development), the university's research magazine, recently received a Bronze Award of Excellence from District VII of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). CASE Awards of Excellence showcase best practices in alumni relations, fundraising, public/government relations, advancement services, special events, and outstanding communications from districts across North America. The team members who produced the award-winning 2017 issue of Innovation are editor-in-chief Raegen Pietrucha; consulting editor Cate Weeks; art director S. A. Lien; photographers Josh Hawkins, R. Marsh Starks, and Aaron Mayes; editorial interns Alexandra Karosas and Rachel Glaze; contributing writers Tony Allen, Marian Alper, Afsha Bawany, Shane Bevell, Vaneh Darakjian, Kevin Dunegan, Caroline Funk, Sara Gorgon, Matt Keleman, Sean Kennedy, Kelly McDonough, Kristen Peterson, Angela Ramsey, Jason Scavone, Chelsea Sendgraff, Stan Smith, and Pashtana Usufzy; and proofreaders Liam Frink, David Hatchett, Zach Miles, Lori Olafson, Robin Toles, and Jill Zimbelman. CASE District VII annually recognizes award winners online and at the annual District VII conference, which will take place in San Francisco in March. UNLV award winners are listed online.

Jan 26, 2018
Bing Zhang (Physics and Astronomy) and a team of researchers recently published a paper in Nature Astronomy. The paper is titled, "Transition from Fireball to Poynting-flux-dominated Outflow in the Three-episode GRB 160625B," and was led by former UNLV Ph.D. student Bin-Bin Zhang. In the paper, the research team discovered for the first time a change of the composition of the gamma-ray burst (GRB) jet in one source, dubbed GRB 160625B. GRBs are the most luminous explosions in the universe, marking the birth of a black hole when a massive star collapses or two compact stars merge. A collimated “jet,” whose composition is poorly known, is launched from the system and travels toward Earth with a speed greater than 0.99995 speed of light, which is observed as a burst of gamma-rays. In the past, there has been a debate regarding whether the jet is mostly made of matter we are familiar with (which is called a “fireball”) or strong alternating magnetic and electric magnetic fields (which is called a Poynting-flux-dominated flow). The Nature Astronomy paper, which is co-authored by 54 people from 39 institutions, reported a detailed observation of a bright burst GRB 160625B, which has three clearly-separated emission episodes. A detailed analysis by the team suggests that the jet composition of the burst clearly transitions from a fireball in the first episode to a Poynting outflow in the second episode. The results shed light on the poorly known explosion mechanism of these mysterious events.  

Jan 24, 2018
Jenifer Utz (Life Sciences) has been awarded $649,407 from the National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education for a project titled "Developing the Skill and Will to Succeed in STEM." Katie Rafferty, Christy Strong, Donald Price (all Life Sciences), and Matt Bernacki (Educational Psychology and Higher Education) are Co-PIs.  The new program provides three years of scholarship support to a total of 25 academically talented undergraduate biology majors with documented financial need. A primary goal is to diversify and increase the number of students entering STEM professions. In addition to scholarship support, a number of curricular and co-curricular enhancements will be put into effect to increase achievement and career readiness of program participants. The introductory biology lecture series will be enriched by inclusion of active learning experiences that will promote student engagement and persistence for all biology majors. A prediction model that analyzes student use of digital learning resources also will be incorporated into the introductory courses. This model will facilitate early identification of students at risk to earn poor course grades, allowing redirection toward more effective learning strategies. Scholarship recipients will attend a STEM career seminar series and will participate in pursuing undergraduate research and STEM internship opportunities.  

Dec 15, 2017
Arthur Baragar (Math) recently spoke at the Princeton/Institute for Advanced Studies number theory seminar. His talk was titled "From Counting Markoff Triples to Apollonian Packings; a Path via Elliptic K3 Surfaces and their Ample Cones." 

Dec 14, 2017
Satish C. Bhatnagar (Math) is the author of Via Bhatinda: A Braid of Reflected Memoirs, Volume II, which was published this month. This is his 10th solo book in the last seven years.

Nov 22, 2017
Alexis Sauceda-Quintero (Life Sciences) was selected to give an oral presentation of his research at the recent 2017 annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in Phoenix. An undergraduate researcher in the lab of Kelly Ai-Sun Tseng (Life Sciences), Sauceda-Quintero presented “Regrowing a Tail: Does Regeneration Catch up to Normal Size?” in which he described his findings on determining if natural tadpole tail regeneration resulted in a normal-sized appendage. He received a competitive ABRCMS Travel Award and a National Science Foundation Nevada EPSCoR Travel Award to attend the meeting. His research was supported in part by an EPSCoR summer research fellowship.  The Tseng lab studies limb and eye regeneration. Their work seeks to understand if there are common genes that can be manipulated to stimulate tissue regeneration in vertebrates. The long-term goal is to use this knowledge to develop applications for human therapies.

Nov 9, 2017
Donald Price (Life Sciences) is one of the authors of a research paper, "Mapping Genomic Scaffolds to Chromosomes Using Laser Capture Microdissection in Application to Hawaiian Picture-Winged Drosophila," that was published in Cytogenet Genome Research. His fellow authors are Lin Kang, Phillip George, Igor Sharakhov, and Pawel Michalak, all of Virginia Tech.