This Week in Science Policy: April 4.2 Edition

NIH Scientists Develop Macaque Model to Study Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever
National Institutes of Health

This week, scientists from the National Institutes of Health have found a viable model system to study the deadly hemorrhagic fever, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), where 1 in 3 people perish from the disease. Researchers were able to successfully to transplant the disease into a monkey species, cynomolgus macaques, to observe the effects. The disease was transmitted either under the skin, or via direct injection into the blood stream, to observe the effects. Of the 12 monkeys tested, all monkeys that received an intravenous injection acquired the disease, while only two monkeys with skin injections contracted the disease. The study should help researchers study the disease and one day find a cure.

Theft of US R&D by Other Nations Grabs Attention of Science Committee

In the House Science Committee, the topic this week focused on the theft of American research from foreign nationals. Chairman Lamar Smith highlighted how 9 Iranian researchers stole $3.4 billion worth of data, research, and other data from academic universities. What was concerning from this committee meeting was the proposals to  scrutinize foreign researchers coming to study in the United States. Ranking member, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson was in slight agreement, but was also quick to point out, that between 1960 and 2017, over 81 Nobel Prizes were awarded to foreign researchers who were studying in the United States. While the bulk of the hearing was devoted to the rising challenge of China’s Science and Technology sector, the committee also made the point of stating that this was not directed only at China. However, the theft of American Intellectual Property is of major concern to the Trump Administration as they consider adding on additional tariffs, ranging from $50 billion on advanced technologies. Overall, the discussion highlights how the United States may be losing its edge in Science & Technology and we could be seeing the rise of China’s R&D sector.

Systems Will Solidify Leadership in the “Exascale” Computing Era
Department of Energy

This week, Secretary Perry announced a new Request for Proposal (RFP) that will schedule to bring on an additional two super computers within the 2021-2023 time period. The Department of Energy has already proposed a supercomputer, coded named Aurora, currently in production at Argonne National Laboratory. However, these two new super computers will be built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Livermore National Laboratory. These new computer will generate processing power 50-100 times greater than any super computer that we currently possess now. The new super computers carry a price tag anywhere from 400-600 million dollars. The collaboration to build these new supercomputers is has been christened as CORAL, or the Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne, and Livermore.

2018 Community College Innovation Challenge Finalists Announced
National Science Foundation


This week, a collaboration between the National Science Foundation, and the American Association of Community Colleges, has nominated 10 recipients for its fourth annual Community College Innovation Challenge. This year, projects will focus on topics such as solutions for knee injuries, detecting land mines, and harnessing energy from waste projects. Each team is composed of 3-5 students, a faculty mentor, and an industry partner. The finalists are as follows:

  1. Central Lakes College, Minnesota. Project: Supporting our Service Members
  2. Forsyth Technical Community College, North Carolina. Project: Illumination Innovation
  3. Laney College, California. Project: Integrated Thermal Electric Solar Water Heater
  4. Los Angeles Mission College, California. Project: Using Wastewater to Generate Electricity in L.A.
  5. Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia. Project: Chariteering
  6. Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Wisconsin. Project: Easy Cast
  7. Oakton Community College, Illinois. Project: Heat Recovering Silencer
  8. Ohlone College, California. Project: Drone System for Detection of Landmines
  9. Red Rocks Community College. Project: Knee Assisting Exoskeleton
  10. Western Dakota Tech, South Dakota. Project: Electrical Automation to Solver Hunger

Soft “Vine Robots” Grow Into Solutions
National Science Foundation

This week, the National Science Foundation announced the work of Allison Okamura, and her collaborators, from both Stanford University, and University of California, are developing robots that emulate vine structures. The purpose of these robots are so that they can operate in narrow spaces, especially in disaster situations. Whether that be a hose for fires, or oxygen for someone trapped under debris, this innovation could be in numerous situations. It just goes to show how useful robots will be in the coming years as they help us solve complex challenges.

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