In this edition of Research Connections, find links to researchers in the news, updates on important deadlines, and more news for University of Rochester researchers. Email not displaying correctly?
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Images of research

When stem cells are used to regenerate bone tissue, many wind up migrating away from the repair site, which disrupts the healing process. But a technique employed by a University of Rochester research team keeps the stem cells in place, resulting in faster and better tissue regeneration. The key, as explained in a paper published recently in Acta Biomaterialia, is encasing the stem cells in polymers that attract water and disappear when their work is done.

The technique is similar to what has already been used to repair other types of tissue, including cartilage, but had never been tried on bone.

"Our success opens the door for many -- and more complicated -- types of bone repair," said Danielle Benoit, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering. "For example, we should now be able to pinpoint repairs within the periosteum -- or outer membrane of bone material."

The polymers used by Benoit and her team are called hydrogels because they hold water, which is necessary to keep the stem cells alive. The hydrogels, which mimic the natural tissues of the body, are specially designed to have an additional feature that's vital to the repair process; they degrade and disappear before the body interprets them as foreign bodies and begins a defense response that could compromise the healing process.

The graphic above, by Micheal Osadciw, graphic designer in Creative Services at the University, is a representation of hydrogel polymers (straight lines) trapping stem cells (light-colored figures) and water (blue).

Click here to read more.

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Pre-college sessions offer an introduction to research

This summer, 15 high school students synthesized biodiesel fuel from vegetable oil in a recently refurbished lab at the Department of Chemical Engineering. They also mixed crystal violet solution with sodium hydroxide in a batch reaction, then used computer-interfaced colorimeters to study reaction kinetics using the relationship between reactant concentration and optical density. They created polyurethane foam and nylon, and they evaluated the generation of voltage and current from a solar panel under different exposures to light.

The extensive hands-on lab experience was part of a week-long Rochester Scholars introduction to chemical engineering, taught by Asst. Prof. Wyatt Tenhaeff and Senior Technical Associate Rachel Monfredo.

A total of 375 high school students from this country and abroad came to the University of Rochester this summer for pre-college programs that allowed them to experience college life, explore new careers and, in many instances, see what it is like to do research at a University. Many of the students who have participated in these programs -- about 150 to 175 students each of the last two years -- have subsequently applied to attend our University, said Ursula Balent, the University's Pre-College Programs Manager.

The programs, which include Rochester Scholars, Taste of College, Hajim Engineering Programs, Mini Medical School, Art of the Short Film, and English Immersion, are also an opportunity for University faculty to engage in meaningful youth outreach, share knowledge with an eager and receptive audience -- and perhaps inspire a budding scholar who will one day join them in their lab. Faculty, staff, graduate students, and alumni interested in teaching a course during next summer's pre-college sessions can click here to download the course proposal form. Proposals are due by Sept. 26.

Schottenfeld researched pawn shops for new novel

When writing his new novel Bluff City Pawn, Stephen Schottenfeld, the James P. Wilmot Assistant Professor of English, researched pawnshops in Memphis by talking to workers about everything -- from their lives to the items inside the stores. "I like to write about work lives," says Schottenfeld, who often takes a journalistic approach to fiction writing. "I'm looking for the texture and specificity of what they do."

The book follows Memphis pawnshop owner Huddy Marr as he enlists his brother's help in a scheme to acquire a valuable gun collection. Through the lives of three brothers, the book explores themes of class, race, ownership, and loyalty.

Inspired by a long stretch of commercial strips on Summer Avenue in Memphis, Tenn., Schottenfeld created the shop in Bluff City Pawn from research conducted in several stores over a year. Once the setting and characters were shaped by the research, the story took on a life of its own, he said. Nevertheless, throughout the five years of drafting the novel, he continued talking to pawnbrokers, as well as antique gun collectors, gold buyers, jewelers, and home builders.

A winner of multiple awards for short stories, Schottenfeld spent five years on the faculty of Memphis's Rhodes College before coming to Rochester in 2008. In 2013, he was appointed the James P. Wilmot Assistant Professor of English. He holds a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Schottenfeld teaches fiction writing, screenwriting, and modern and contemporary literature. He is also working on several short stories and has plans for a second novel based in Rochester.

Click here for more information about Bluff City Pawn (Bloomsbury Press, 2014).

Hajim school welcomes collaborations on senior design projects

A device to store and transport red blood cell units to patients requiring transfusion . . .

A system to consolidate signals from hospital floor monitoring devices, alerting caregivers with non-audible signals to reduce alarm fatigue. . .

A sterile drape that fits any gantry to create a sterile environment for performing parts of a biopsy procedure on patients inside a CT scanner. . .

A live feedback system to decrease the number of screws misplaced during spinal fusion surgery.

These are examples of senior design projects that students in the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences worked on for Medical Center faculty and researchers this past school year. (Click here for a complete list.)

The Hajim School welcomes opportunities for its students to collaborate with faculty members and researchers from any part of the University. If you have a project you would like to propose, now is the time to do so before the new academic year begins.

Contact Jim Zavislan, Associate Dean, Education and New Initiatives, (585)-275-9819, or these persons in individual departments:

Biomedical Engineering: Assoc. Prof. Amy Lerner, (585) 275-7847, 307 Goergen Hall, or Assoc. Prof. Scott Seidman, (585) 273-2122, Box 603, 601 Elmwood Ave., Rochester, NY 14642.

Chemical Engineering: Assoc. Prof. F. Douglas Kelley, (585) 275-7696 or (585) 613-1944, 201C Gavett Hall; also Senior Technical Associate Rachel Monfredo, (585) 275-7885, 109C Gavett Hall.

Computer Engineering:, (585) 275-5671, Box 270226, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627-0226

Electrical and Computer Engineering: Adjunct Prof. Victor V. Derefinko, (585) 275-9402, 305 Hopeman Hall, or Assoc. Prof. Jack Mottley, (585) 275-4308, 306 Hopeman.

Mechanical Engineering: Assoc. Prof. Christopher Muir, (585) 276-7171, Hopeman 407 or Prof. and Dept. Chair John Lambropoulos, (585) 275-4070, 236 Hopeman.

The Institute of Optics: Prof. Wayne Knox, (585) 273-5520, 507 Goergen Hall.

Submission deadline for Disability Studies Cluster Symposium extended

The deadline for submitting proposals for the University's first disabilities studies cluster symposium, "Complicating Normalcy: Disability, Technology, and Society in the 21st Century," has been extended to Sept. 3. The symposium will be held Nov. 14. Click here to learn more.

NSF grants conference aimed at new faculty, researchers

Would you like a better understanding of National Science Foundation grants, including the state of current funding, new programs and initiatives, and how to prepare a proposal? New faculty and researchers, especially, should consider attending the NSF's Grants Conference Oct. 6-7 at George Washington University.

Key NSF representatives, as well as faculty ,researchers and administrators from colleges and universities across the United States will also discuss:

1. NSF's merit review process

2. Cross-disciplinary and special interest programs

3. Conflict of interest policies.

Registration fills up fast, so interested faculty should register here as soon as possible.

Introducing a new faculty member

Chigusa Kurumada has joined the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences as an assistant professor. Kurumada's research involves the way adults and children find coherent patterns in input signals and induce linguistic representations -- such as words and meanings. Kurumada's recent work focuses on roles of the adaptive nature of the human cognitive system in language comprehension, investigating how it navigates variability in prosodic information and achieves robust pragmatic inferences. Bridging topics on child language acquisition and psycholinguistics, Kurumada explores the mechanism of language learning and use throughout the lifespan. Kurumada earned a PhD in linguistics from Standford University in 2013, then was a postdoctoral research fellow here.

UR research in the news

Cardiology researchers from the School of Medicine and Dentistry have received a $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the genetic mechanisms and preventive therapies for a genetic heart rhythm disorder that can cause sudden cardiac death. Arthur J. Moss, the Bradford C. Berk, MD, PhD Distinguished Professor of Medicine and founding director of the Heart Research Follow-up Program, will lead a five-year analysis of the genetic condition called Long QT Syndrome, type 3. The research focuses on identifying the basic cellular mechanisms involved in the disorder and any overlap with common heart rhythm disorders that can occur and cause heart attacks. Read more . . .

Researchers at the Medical Center have commenced a study that will help shape the Food and Drug Administration's regulations on e-cigarettes, hookahs, and miniature cigars. A team led by Thomas J. Mariani, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Medicine, and Environmental Medicine is taking a three-pronged approach to the issue, studying the effects of e-cigarettes and other nontraditional tobacco products on humans, in rodents, and on the cellular level. The studies will place an added emphasis on how these products affect newborns and children. Tirumalai Rangasamy, Research Assistant Professor of Medicine, is also part of the team. Read more...

Congratulations to . . .

Lesley Chapman and Molly Jaynes, students in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute's PhD Program in Translational Biomedical Science, who recently received F31 awards from the National Institutes of Health. Chapman received an F31 from NIAID for her project "Mechanisms of microRNA-451 mediated regulation of malaria infection in mice." Jaynes received an F31 from NINDS for her project "Dysfunctional Motor Automaticity in Focal Hand Dystonia in Musicians." Read more at the CTSI Stories blog.

PhD dissertation defenses

Meghan Bushway, Microbiology and Immunology, "Analysis of Cellular Signaling Within the Human Placenta: Implications for Vascular Development and Trophoblast Cell Function." 10 a.m., Aug. 21, 2014, K207 (2-6408). Advisor: Shawn P. Murphy.

Yusufu Sulai, Optics, "Optical Design and Optimization of Translational Reflective Adaptive Optics Ophthalmoscopes." 1 p.m., Aug. 25, Goergen 108. Advisor: Alfredo Dubra.

Andreas Liapis, Optics, "Optical Time Delays in Structured Media." 3:30 p.m., Sept. 8, B&L 109. Advisor: Robert Boyd.

Mark your calendar

Sept. 1: Applications due for pilot grants for aging research, offered by The Rochester Aging Research Center and the Office for Aging Research and Health Services. Send to to Contact Dirk Bohmann, Yeates Conwell, or Vera Gorbunova with questions. NOTE: New funding for projects that are related to HIV and aging has become available from the Center for AIDS Research. See the updated request for applications.

Sept. 2: Deadline to submit abstracts for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute's Pilot Awards program, its Incubator program and for SMD Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) "superpilot" awards.

Sept. 3: Deadline to submit proposals for disabilities studies cluster symposium, "Complicating Normalcy: Disability, Technology, and Society in the 21st Century." The symposium will be held Nov. 14. Click here to learn more.

Sept. 5: Fellowships Workshop, 10 a.m. to noon, Computer Studies Building Room 209. Resources the University offers graduate studemts as they search for and apply for external fellowship opportunities. A panel of students who have received fellowships will offer their thoughts and advice. Read more . . .

Sept. 11: NSF Fellowships Workshop, 4 to 5:30 p.m., Dewey Hall, Room 1-101. To inform graduate students about the merit review criteria (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact) for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), with a panel of faculty who have reviewed applications for the GRFP as well as students who have been awarded the GRFP. Read more . . .

Sept. 15: Deadline for initial abstracts for CTSI Novel Biostatistical and Epidemiologic Methods pilot projects. Click here to learn more.

Sept. 26: Deadline for letters of intent for CTSI KL2 Mentored Career Development program proposals, which provide two years of support for new investigators interested in a career in clinical or translational research. Click here for more information.

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. To see back issues, click here.

Copyright 2013, All rights reserved.
Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter for all faculty, scientists, post docs and graduate students engaged in research at the University of Rochester. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Rochester community with an interest in research topics.