Spring 2018

Large enhancement of response times of a protein conformational switch by computational design

  • By Leena Aggarwal
  • 16 April 2018

Lillian Chong and her colleagues have recently reported, in the Journal of Nature Communications, a computational design strategy in synergistic combination with biophysical experiments to rationally improve the response time of an engineered protein-based Ca2+-sensor in which the switching process occurs via mutually exclusive folding of two alternate frames. This strategy identifies mutations that increase switching rates by as much as 32-fold, achieving response times on the order of fast physiological Ca2+ fluctuations. This computational design strategy is general and may aid in optimizing the kinetics of other protein conformational switches.

Quantum Computing in Chemical and Materials Sciences

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 13 April 2018

Proposals are requested for basic experimental and theoretical research focused on using quantum computers to solve scientific problems in chemical and materials sciences. Proposals should address the Priority Research Opportunities identified in the report from the “Basic Energy Sciences Roundtable on Opportunities for Quantum Computing in Chemical and Materials Sciences.” Areas of research include: controlling the quantum dynamics of nonequilibrium chemical and materials systems; unraveling the physics and chemistry of strongly correlated electron systems; embedding quantum hardware in classical frameworks; and bridging the classical–quantum computing divide. Proposals must focus on fundamental research that will target computations on realistic problems relevant to Basic Energy Sciences priorities using quantum computers that are available today and in the near (<10 year) term. For example, quantum materials, such as superconductors and complex magnetic materials, show novel kinds of ordered phases that are difficult to access via computation on classical computers. Quantum sensors based on solid materials could be greatly improved with insight from quantum computations, as could materials for information technologies. Another example is quantum chemical dynamics, which is a problem that is intrinsically well suited to studies on quantum computers, with applications including catalysis and artificial photosynthesis. Proposals that focus solely on algorithmic advances, software tools, or on engineering and/or building quantum computers will not be responsive.

 

Critical heat flux enhancement in pool boiling through increased rewetting on nanopillar array surfaces

  • By Leena Aggarwal
  • 12 April 2018

Boiling is a key heat transfer process for a variety of power generation and thermal management technologies. The enhancement in both the critical heat flux (CHF) and the critical temperature at CHF of the substrate and effectively increase the limit of boiling before the boiling crisis is triggered. By using only nanopillars with a systematic variation in height and well-defined geometrical dimensions, Paul W. Leu and colleagues have established a direct link between the enhancement in capillary force and the boiling performance of a substrate. This provides new insights about design of surface textures not only to amplify the heat flux, but also to achieve an enhancement in the temperature at critical heat flux. These results are published in Scientific Reports.

NSF's Big Ideas: Understanding the Rules of Life and The Quantum Leap

Speaker(s): 
Angela Wilson
Dates: 
Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Join Angela Wilson of NSF, Cynthia Burrows of the University of Utah, Theodore Goodson of the University of Michigan, and Glenn Ruskin of ACS for an introduction of two of the most impactful "Big Ideas" as well as an overview of this innovative NSF program that will advance prosperity, security, health, and well-being in the United States.

Learn more about : "Why Quantum entangled processes may play a role in our understanding of biological processes?"

Highly Efficient Strategy for Constructing New Types of Peptide Macrocycles

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 10 April 2018

Peng Liu and his colleagues report a highly efficient and generally applicable strategy for constructing new types of peptide macrocycles using palladium-catalyzed intramolecular C(sp3)–H arylation reactions on their newly published paper in Nature Chemistry. 

This strategy provides a powerful tool to address the long-standing challenge of size- and composition-dependence in peptide macrocyclization, and generates novel peptide macrocycles with uniquely buttressed backbones and distinct loop-type three-dimensional structures.

D.2 Transformational Tools and Technologies (TTT)

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 10 April 2018

Amendment 2 to the NASA ARMD Research Opportunities in Aeronautics – 2018 (ROA-2018) NRA has been posted on the NSPIRES site. Research proposals are sought in seven subtopic areas for Appendix D.2 in support of Transformational Tools and Technologies (TTT). The Transformational Tools and Technologies (TTT) Project advances state-of-the-art computational and experimental tools and technologies that are vital to aviation applications in the six strategic thrusts. The project develops new computer-based tools, computational fluid dynamics models, and associated scientific knowledge that will provide first-of-a-kind capabilities to analyze, understand, and predict aviation concept performance. These revolutionary tools will be applied to accelerate NASA’s research and the community’s design and introduction of advanced concepts. The Project also explores technologies that are broadly critical to advancing ARMD strategic outcomes. Such technologies include the understanding of new types of strong and lightweight materials, innovative controls techniques, and experimental methods. TTT also develops improved Multi-Disciplinary Design, Analysis, & Optimization (MDAO) and systems analysis tools to enable multi-disciplinary integration. All of these technologies will support and enable concept development and benefits assessment across multiple ARMD programs and disciplines.

Careers in Science: Science Policy and General Advice 

Speaker(s): 
Edward Dunlea
Dates: 
Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm

Considering a career path outside academia? It can be confusing to figure out what else is out there, how to look for jobs, and how to decide what's right for you. Edward Dunlea, Special Assistant to the Dean of MCS, has been down this road and will offer some insights gleaned from his experiences in program management within the government, science policy both at a non-profit and within the private sector, and research administration in academia. His talk will focus on the field of science policy - what it is and how to find jobs - and he will also offer some general advice with an emphasis on careers outside of academia.

Beyond Classical Thermodynamics

Speaker(s): 
Victor Berdichevsky
Dates: 
Monday, April 23, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

This colloquium aims to explain why classical thermodynamics is insufficient for solids. After a review of classical equilibrium and non-equilibrium thermodynamics, two examples will be considered, grain growth and crystal plasticity, the latter one in more details. The major complication for development of thermodynamic theory for these cases was the lack of understanding of phase flow geometry. Recently, this geometry was described for dynamics of edge dislocations. Based on this finding, thermodynamics of crystal plasticity can be constructed. It includes two new thermodynamic parameters, entropy and temperature of microstructure.They have simple physical meaning: the rate of microstructure entropy coincides with the rate of slip avalanches while microstructure temperature is average energy drop in a slip avalanche. Perhaps, the phase flow geometry and the corresponding thermodynamic are common for many avalanche-type phenomena.

Cottrell Scholar

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 10 April 2018

The Cottrell Scholar program develops outstanding teacher-scholars who are recognized by their scientific communities for the quality and innovation of their research programs and their academic leadership skills.

J Evans Attwell Welch Postdoctoral Fellowship

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 6 April 2018

Applicants must be able to complete the appointment within five (5) years of the award of the PhD degree. Since the length of the fellowship is two years, they must be able to start their appointment by the third anniversary dates of their PhD. In addition, if the PhD is pending at the time of application, the applicant must defend his/her PhD thesis successfully before accepting the offer.

The stipend will be $58,000 per year, plus standard staff benefits. Moving expenses to Rice of up to $2,000 will be provided, if needed. Original receipts for all expenses must be provided. No moving expenses will be provided at the end of the fellowship, in keeping with the intent of the fellowship. In addition, a travel fund up to $5,000 per year is included for travel to technical conferences, and for travel essential to the performance of the research. A supplies and minor equipment fund to support the Fellow’s research will also be provided in the amount of up to $10,000 per year.

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