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Minds and Matters: Research at Penn State

by on June 02, 2012 6:00 AM

Hello and welcome to my first column.

I know what you're thinking.

When I first started to write about Penn State research a couple of years ago, visions of people with wild white hair, who spoke with slight German accents and who stared continuously into microscopes, swirled in my head. I pictured myself interviewing researchers who, when the phone rang, would answer their stapler.

I am happy to say that all of my stereotypes and fears were unfounded.

The Penn State researchers that I have met are passionate, committed, smart, funny, engaging and helpful. People just like you.

I hope this column will give you a taste of the research that's going on everyday at the university and how it might impact your life.

You'll also have a chance to see how broad and deep this research really is, covering everything from uncovering medical treatments to digging up new farming methods, from preventing concussions to preparing the tools for nanotechnology, and from finding more effective ways to treat substance abuse to encouraging better nutrition for children.

Here are a few examples of recent research at Penn State:

News Flash About Hot Flashes

Penn State researchers say that attitude may be a factor in how exercise affects menopausal women. According to Steriani Elavsky, assistant professor of kinesiology, women who experienced fewer hot flashes the day after participating in vigorous to moderate physical activity were more likely to be part of the group that felt they had control over their hot flashes.

Women who had more hot flashes following exercise were likely to be those who felt they had very few ways of coping with their hot flashes

Read more.

Will Convergence Widen the Digital Divide?

New technology is creating a communications convergence. Some customers can access telephone, internet and television through a single service. However, a Penn State researcher suggests that deregulation may leave rural and isolated customers on the wrong side of a digital divide.

Rob Frieden, Pioneers Chair in Cable Television and professor of telecommunications and law says that moving away from copper lines is an example of embracing technology that is faster, better, cheaper and more convenient, but it may leave some Americans with expensive and less adequate communication and information services.

Read more.

Chip May Make HIV Tests Quicker, Less Expensive

Researchers say that a chip that can produce three-dimensional focusing of a stream of cells may pave the way for inexpensive, portable devices that can rapidly screen cells for leukemia or HIV.

Tony Jun Huang, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State, and his colleagues, designed a mass-producible device that can focus particles or cells in a single stream and performs three different optical assessments for each cell.

They believe the device represents a major step toward low-cost flow cytometry chips for clinical diagnosis in hospitals, clinics and in the field.

Read more.

Not Exactly Raving . . .  Not Exactly Ravens

At times, Penn State's University Park campus looks more like the setting for a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's, "The Birds." Hundreds of crows – cousin of the raven – have taken up on-campus housing at the university.

Intelligent, competitive, and loquacious – these birds are now almost as welcome as a November visit from the Ohio State football team with a Big Ten championship on the line.

Head Science and Research Information Officer A'ndrea Elyse Messer writes about her own run-ins – or fly-bys – with these unwelcome enrollees and how the university is trying to manage the crow problem.

Read more.

Interested in finding out more about the research? Friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or check out our blog, Penn State Research Matters.

Matt is a Research and Technology Information Officer at Penn State. He also is a Public Relations Manager and Adjunct Journalism Instructor at the university.
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