News » Archives » December 2016

Interdisciplinary collaboration leads to revised model of brain activity

Author: Tammi Freehling

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Assistant Professor Robert Rosenbaum, in the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (ACMS), coauthored a paper that was recently published in the journal Nature Neuroscience titled “The spatial structure of correlated neuronal variability.” In the paper, a culmination of research in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, the scientists propose an extension of "balanced network theory" to explain relationships between the seemingly random activity of neurons in the brain.

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Notre Dame research a “top pick” by Nature Microbiology for Best of 2016

Author: Sarah Craig

Alex Perkins

Alex Perkins, PhD, Eck Family Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health, is among the “Best of 2016” editor’s top 10 picks for the publication Nature Microbiology, a nature research journal. According to the publication, each year the most popular content is chosen to highlight research that is being viewed, shared, blogged, and picked up by the news.

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Reuters names Timothy Beers and Prashant Kamat 2016 highly cited researchers

Author: Marissa Gebhard

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Thomson Reuters has named Timothy Beers, the University of Notre Dame Chair of Astrophysics, and Prashant Kamat, the Rev. John A. Zahm, C.S.C., Professor of Science, to its 2016 Highly Cited Researchers list. After Reuters analyzed Essential Science Indicators that included 128,887 highly cited papers ranked in the top 1 percent by total citations, the work of Beers and Kamat stood out as being among the most valuable and significant in their fields.

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How we live in the 46556 . . . and beyond

Author: Natalie Ambrosio '17

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A first-of-its-kind class rotates from Notre Dame to Holy Cross to Saint Mary’s each week, with students from each school asking how we might live better in relation to creation.

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QuarkNet impacts physics education in Africa

Author: Tammi Freehling

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The Fourth Biennial of the African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications (ASP) was held in Kigali, Rwanda, from August 1 to 19, 2016. As part of the program, the International Particle Physics Outreach Group, in which QuarkNet participates, invited their partners to present workshops for high school physics teachers. QuarkNet was one of the main groups that took up the call and organized the effort.

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Improving snow measurement

Author: Brandi Klingerman

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Although it may seem simple to calculate, snowfall cannot be well measured by simply placing a yardstick in the ground. In actuality, snow measurement is much more complicated and oftentimes the most accurate snow measurement devices are costly. However, two Notre Dame graduate students are working to improve the snow measurement process in an effective and affordable manner.

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Virginia Tech researchers explain the Flint water crisis

Author: Grant Johnson

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The Flint, Mich., water crisis made headlines across the country last year. Social media campaigns and crowdfunding sites urging people to donate towards relief efforts to help get clean water for the citizens, while definitely useful in illustrating the severity of the problem, do not tell the whole story. Kelsey Pieper and Siddhartha Roy, two of the 30 members of the research team that helped uncover the catastrophe that is the Flint water crisis, gave a presentation telling the complete story of the crisis.

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Lincoln named Fellow of the AAAS

Author: Shelly Goethals

Don Lincoln at CERN. Photo courtesy of

Dr. Donald Lincoln has been named a 2016 Fellow of the AAAS. Election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications. The AAAS Council elected 391 members as Fellows in 2016. His citation reads, “For distinguished contributions to the field of experimental high energy physics, especially to the study of quantum chromodynamics, and to particle physics outreach.”

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Study shows RNA protects nucleoprotein complex against radiation damage

Author: Gene Stowe

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Researchers including Ian Carmichael, director of the Radiation Laboratory and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Notre Dame, have devised a method for gauging radiation damage in macromolecules and have applied it to nucleoprotein complexes. Such damage, which occurs during X-ray crystallographic data collection, is a major hindrance to determining reliable macromolecular structures. A report on the discovery, “RNA protects a nucleoprotein complex against radiation damage”, was published in the International Union of Crystallography’s Acta Crystallographica Section D: Structural Biology.

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Studying evolution in the place that inspired the theory: The Galapagos Islands

Author: Anna Chang

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Before arriving to the islands, each student developed a research proposals and collected as much preliminary data as possible. Our research ranged among many varieties of flora and fauna, often either comparing organisms or studying species living in a certain ecosystem. The projects encouraged us to develop our scientific thinking and understand connections between an organism and its environment more deeply. Below are a few examples of research projects and findings from the trip:

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Bethlehem Star may not be a star after all

Author: Jessica Sieff

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Studying historical, astronomical and biblical records, Grant Mathews believes the event that led the Magi was an extremely rare planetary alignment occurring in 6 B.C., and the likes of which may never be seen again.

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