News » Archives » March 2013

Notre Dame researchers using new technologies to combat invasive species

Author: William G. Gilroy


A new research paper by a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame’s Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI) demonstrates how two cutting-edge technologies can provide a sensitive and real-time solution to screening real-world water samples for invasive species before they get into our country or before they cause significant damage.

“Aquatic invasive species cause ecological and economic damage worldwide, including the loss of native biodiversity and damage to the world’s great fisheries,” said Scott Egan, a research assistant professor with Notre Dame’s Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics Initiative and a member of the research team. “This research combines two new, but proven, technologies — environmental DNA (eDNA) and light transmission spectroscopy (LTS), to address the growing problem of aquatic invasive species by increasing our ability to detect dangerous species in samples before they arrive or when they are still rare in their environment and have not yet caused significant damage.”

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Notre Dame researcher is studying role small dams play in pollution control

Author: William G. Gilroy


Steve Powers, postdoctoral researcher in the Environmental Change Initiative

Sometimes, little things can add up to a lot.

In short, that’s the message of a research study on small dams, streams and pollution by Steve Powers, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Notre Dame’s Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI).

“Small dams, reservoirs and ponds trap water pollution, which provides an important benefit to water resources,” Powers said. “This is especially relevant in agricultural lands of the Midwest U.S., where there are lots of small, but aging, dams.”

Powers and his fellow researchers showed in detail how a small, aging dam, which was more than 100 years old and located in agricultural Wisconsin, trapped water pollutants associated with fertilizer and manure runoff. They also showed an increase in downstream transport of nutrient pollution after the dam was removed, which occurred because of concerns about the dam’s safety.

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Four chemistry graduate students selected to attend the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Author: Stephanie Healey

Meeting of Nobel Laureates

Four University of Notre Dame graduate students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have been selected to attend the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting from June 30-July 5 in Lindau, Germany. The purpose of the annual meeting is for young researchers and Nobel Laureates to come together to exchange knowledge and ideas, share their enthusiasm for science, and to establish new contacts

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Scientia hosts Talk Science seminar

Author: Katrina Magno, '15

Talk Science seminar

Scientia, the Undergraduate Journal of Scientific Research, hosts a monthly seminar series entitled, Talk Science.  One of the goals of Talk Science is to build camaraderie amongst science undergraduate students and faculty in an informal and fun environment. Junior biological sciences major Andrew Mancini and Peter Garnavich, professor of physics, both gave presentations on their research at the most recent seminar on Thursday, March 21.

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Genetic analysis saves major apple-producing region of Washington state

Author: Arnie Phifer

Rhagoletis indifferens

In August 2011, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture were presented with a serious, and potentially very costly, puzzle in Kennewick, Wash. Since Kennewick lies within a region near the heart of Washington state’s $1.5 billion apple-growing region, an annual survey of fruit trees is performed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) to look for any invading insects. This time the surveyors discovered a crabapple tree that had been infested by a fruit fly that they couldn’t identify.

“In one of the world’s leading apple-growing regions, a great deal of produce and economic livelihood rested on quickly and accurately figuring out which one of the flies was in that tree,” says Jeffrey Feder, professor of biological sciences and a member of the Advanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics initiative (AD&T) at the University of Notre Dame. “And for these flies, it can sometime turn out to be a difficult thing to do.”

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Notre Dame Law School’s Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic expands to include Master of Science in Patent Law students

Author: Kyle Fitzenreiter

Patent Law

Notre Dame Law School’s Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic (Clinic) will be the first law school clinic to include Master of Science in Patent Law (MSPL) students practicing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program (Program).

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Students and faculty travel to Washington, D.C. for Science Policy Ethics Seminar

Author: Rachel Cotton, '14

Science Policy Ethics Seminar

Over spring break, students and faculty participating in the Center for Social Concerns and College of Science seminar, Science Policy Ethics: Guiding Science Through the Regulation of Research and Funding, traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with scientists, federal agencies, and policy makers working at the intersection of science and government.  The seminar included 12 undergraduate and graduate students from across the College of Science and College of Engineering, with diverse career interests spanning basic and translational science, medicine, and public policy.

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Notre Dame scientists announce new results on the Higgs boson

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Higgs boson

On Thursday (March 14), at the Rencontres de Moriond conference in La Thuile, Italy, the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) presented preliminary new results that further elucidate the particle discovered last summer.

“In July of last year, we presented compelling evidence for the discovery of the Higgs boson, observing its decays to vector bosons, but had insufficient data to confirm that it behaved exactly as we thought it should and to measure all of its possible decays,” says Colin Jessop, professor of physics and team leader of the Notre Dame group that is part of the CMS collaboration. “Now we have two and a half times more data, which has allowed us to confirm the existence of predicted decays to fermions, and to measure the spin and parity of the Higgs. We can now say with some surety that the new particle behaves exactly as a Higgs boson should.”

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Notre Dame to host multidisciplinary climate conference

Author: Rachel Novick

Climate Change and the Common Good

The University of Notre Dame will host “Climate Change and the Common Good,” a national conference addressing the multifaceted challenges presented by our changing climate, on April 8-10 (Monday-Wednesday). The event will engage nationally recognized scientists, ethicists and strategists in conversation with students, faculty, administrators and members of the broader community.

“We know that climate change will disproportionately impact the poor and vulnerable, those who have contributed the least to our present energy and environmental crisis,” said Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C., vice president for mission engagement and church affairs at Notre Dame. “By coming together as a community to learn about these challenges and the paths to solutions, we can better answer God’s call for us to be stewards of the finite gifts of our planet.”

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Technology that makes an impact

Author: ESTEEM Program

Shane McQuillan

You could say that ESTEEM student Shane McQuillan was Irish before he was Irish—the 23-year-old hails from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan, “a great land that not even many Irish people have heard of.” There, he studied the STEM subjects throughout secondary school and eventually majored in software engineering at Dublin City University. Even from the start, though, he had his sights set on coming stateside for the ESTEEM program.

“My undergraduate work was a really big motivator for my coming to ESTEEM,” says Shane. While still a student in Dublin, Shane developed Cloud Dial, a website bookmarking software that uses cloud technology to sync user selections between mobile devices. The software also had the potential to recommend new sites by analyzing user tendencies.


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Young researchers present their work at regional science fair

Author: Jessica Stoller-Conrad


From diaper absorbency to the detection of dark matter, student projects addressed a number of life’s mysteries last Saturday at the Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NIRSEF).

Held in the Stepan Center at the University of Notre Dame, this year’s fair featured 230 projects from area students in grades three through 12.  The students were chosen to participate at NIRSEF after winning in local and school science fairs, or based on teacher selection.

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Kelsey Weigel earns Women in Cancer Research Scholar Award

Author: Stephanie Healey

Kelsey Weigel

Kelsey Weigel, a second year graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences, has received a Women in Cancer Research (WICR) Scholar Award.  This travel grant will be used for Weigel to present her research at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting. The AACR Annual Meeting is the largest cancer research meeting in the world and brings together researchers from across the globe. This year’s meeting will be held in Washington, D.C. from April 6-10.

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NDIGD partners with Eck Institute for evaluation of cholera in Haiti

Author: Notre Dame News


Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Haiti has asked the University of Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD) to assist in conducting the Year 2 final evaluation for its cholera prevention and treatment program in Haiti. NDIGD will partner with Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health to conduct the final evaluation of the program that will draw on the initial evaluation that was conducted by NDIGD Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist Juan Carlos Guzman.

Guzman works with students from the University of Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Global Health program administered by the Eck Institute. This academic program has provided students the opportunity to help conduct the initial baseline and midline evaluation in Haiti.

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It's time to submit your abstracts for COS-JAM

Author: Stephanie Healey

COS-JAM 2013

The seventh annual College of Science Joint Annual Meeting (COS-JAM) will take place in the Jordan Hall of Science on Friday, May 3, 2013, as part of the sixth Undergraduate Scholars Conference. 

All undergraduate students from all majors in the College of Science are encouraged to participate in COS-JAM by sharing their original research with faculty and students, in either an oral presentation or poster format.

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Graduate Research Symposium showcases research from across the University

Author: Stephanie Healey

David Flagel

The fifth annual Graduate Research Symposium took place on Wednesday, February 27 in the Jordan Hall of Science Galleria. The symposium featured presentations from graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from across the University in science, engineering, social sciences, and humanities. Awards were given to the first and second place presentations in each category.

First place science winners, Geoffrey Siwo, Ian Sander, and Victoria Lam developed an online game called Fit2Cure. The group’s goal is to revolutionize the way drugs are designed computationally, by combining the ingenuity and spatial pattern recognition abilities of humans with the computing power of molecular docking software.

David Flagel’s presentation “Great Lakes forest restoration through top predator recolonization” earned second place in the science category.

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Ansel Nalin earns 2013 Weich Award

Author: Stephanie Healey

Ansel Nalin

Chemistry major Ansel Nalin has received the 2013 Norbert L. Wiech Award.  The award is presented annually to an outstanding junior who has excelled in academics and undergraduate research at the University of Notre Dame. The award was established by Norbert Wiech, a 1960 Notre Dame alumnus who has focused the majority of his professional career on drug development, especially in the area of rare diseases.

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