Science research roundup: May and June 2021

Researchers in Arts & Sciences recently received awards from NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the USDA.

James H. Buckley, professor of physics, received a $4.9 million award from NASA to build a demonstration version of a large satellite experiment for gamma-ray astronomy research. Washington University leads the entire effort to develop the Antarctic Demonstrator for the Advanced Particle-astrophysics Telescope (ADAPT), which is planned to launch on a scientific balloon from Antarctica in 2024. ADAPT incorporates all of the critical components of an instrument — the APT (Advanced Particle-astrophysics Telescope) — that Buckley has been working on for more than 10 years. Success with this suborbital mission will hopefully lead to an opportunity to build the APT for a larger space mission. Read more from The Source.

Johanna Nagy, assistant professor of physics, and collaborators at Princeton, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Caltech, and NIST won a five-year grant from NASA's Astrophysics Research and Analysis (APRA) program to support their collaborative research project, known as Taurus. Taurus is a super-pressure balloon-borne telescope mission designed to map the polarization of the microwave sky. These measurements will allow physicists to examine what happened when the first stars formed by looking at photons that have been traveling for nearly 13 billion years. Read more from The Ampersand.

Chancellor Emeritus Mark S. Wrighton received a 2021 Moonshot Award this month from LaunchCode, a St. Louis-based nonprofit organization focused on teaching people to code and expand their careers. Wrighton was chosen for the Collaboration Award in recognition of his work on the STL2030 Jobs Plan, a proposal focused on creating more jobs in the St. Louis region in the next decade. Wrighton supports the work of the plan as chair of the St. Louis team. Read more from The Source.

Maria Piarulli, assistant professor of physics, won $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program. Piarulli was selected for her project titled, “From Atomic Nuclei to Infinite Nucleonic Matter within Chiral Dynamics,” which falls under the Office of Science’s Nuclear Physics program office. The award is meant to support individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers. Read more from The Source.

Arpita Bose, associate professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, and Mark Meacham, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science in the McKelvey School of Engineering, received Washington University’s first Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) award from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) since 1996. The three-year, $600,000 award supports combined research by Bose and Meacham on understanding extracellular electron uptake in bacteria using a combination of acoustic microfluidics and microscale electrochemistry. With the DEPSCoR funding, Meacham, Bose and members of their labs will seek ways to leverage different microfluidic approaches to answer fundamental questions about bacterial behavior. Read more from the McKelvey School of Engineering.

Himadri Pakrasi, the George William and Irene Koechig Freiberg Professor in the Department of Biology, was awarded $75,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support greenhouse gas reduction initiatives. Pakrasi is using the funding to help organize a series of soil carbon positive farming workshops being held during this calendar year. These workshops bring together stakeholders from the USDA, the U.S. Department of Energy, several academic institutions, and various large industrial organizations, and are part of a larger effort to understand and address issues related to climate solutions by 2030. The group’s ultimate goal is to create net-zero carbon economies in the United States and globally.

Joe Rowles, a postdoctoral research associate working with Gary Patti in the Department of Chemistry, won a Molecular Oncology Training Grant to support his participation in the Siteman Cancer Center’s Cancer Biology Pathway Program. The program provides training in the biology of cancer and opportunities for future cancer research. Read more from the Department of Chemistry.

The Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS) has awarded Research Excellence Awards to two students in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. The awards honor student scientists and investigators who have completed research “of superior quality and with broader societal impact.” Graduate student Katherine Lopez received the Doctoral Dissertation Research Excellence Award for her dissertation, titled “Cognitive, personality and neural signatures of impulsivity in childhood suicide.” Undergraduate student Megan Maxwell earned the Undergraduate Research Excellence Award for her research, titled “Evidence that neighborhood threat and brain volume mediate the relationship between neighborhood poverty and children’s psychopathy.” Both Lopez and Maxwell were advised by Deanna Barch, chair of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences and the Gregory B. Couch Professor of Psychiatry and professor of radiology​ at the School of Medicine. Read more from The Source.

Did we miss something? Contact Shawn Ballardcommunications specialist in Arts & Sciences.