David Kirkpatrick

July 8, 2010

Citizen journalism v. traditional media

This University of Missouri study shows citizen journalism (read: bloggers, et.al.) is not filling the void created by the collapse of traditional media. In an ideal world the two complement each other to provide a more rich picture of what’s going on in the world. The reality is traditional media has done an absolutely terrible job of transitioning to the digital world and reacting to web 2.0 technologies, and now it’s being hammered by an incredibly weak economy. The end result? We all lose out in the long run. Maybe some new paradigm for professional journalism grows out of the media mess of the last ten years or so.

The release:

Citizen Journalism v. Legacy News: The Battle for News Supremacy

MU researchers say citizen journalism does not match void left by legacy news organizations

July 08, 2010

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A team of researchers from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and two other schools say that even the top 60 citizen websites and bloggers are not filling the information shortfall that has resulted from cutbacks in traditional media.

“While many of the blogs and citizen journalism sites have done very interesting and positive things, they are not even close to providing the level of coverage that even financially stressed news organizations do today,” said Margaret Duffy, associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. “Not only do these blogs and websites lack the staff to adequately cover stories, but most citizen journalism managers do not have the financial resources and business experience to make their websites viable over time.”

Duffy collaborated with Esther Thorson, associate dean for graduate studies at the MU School of Journalism, and Mi Jangh, doctoral candidate at MU, along with others at Michigan State and North Carolina. The Pew and Knight foundations underwrote the research.

The researchers identified a number of factors including how much linking each website included, how much public participation they allowed or invited, how frequently news and content were updated, and whether the citizen websites provided contact information for the public.

Duffy says it is important to understand how citizen journalism and legacy news organizations co-exist. She believes it is critical that democracy have an effective journalistic presence. With many newspapers and broadcast news outlets struggling financially, she is concerned about the future of journalism.

“A strong democracy depends on vibrant, robust news coverage with informed citizens and voting public,” Duffy said. “If news media have to cut back and are unable to provide the same level of coverage for their communities that they did in the past, citizen journalism may need to step in. That is why it is important to examine what these websites need to do to improve and survive. “

Elements of the study were published in the Newspaper Research Journal as well as presented at the International Communication Association conference June 24 in Singapore.

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February 17, 2010

Home cancer detection …

… may not be all that far off. The release doesn’t get into any sort of time-to-market predictions, but if this becomes reality it will be one amazing medical breakthrough.

The release:

Small Liquid Sensor May Detect Cancer Instantly, Could Lead to Home Detection Kit

MU researcher developing a sensor to detect diseases, such as breast cancer, in bodily fluids

Feb. 17, 2010

COLUMBIA, Mo. – What if it were possible to go to the store and buy a kit to quickly and accurately diagnose cancer, similar to a pregnancy test? A University of Missouri researcher is developing a tiny sensor, known as an acoustic resonant sensor, that is smaller than a human hair and could test bodily fluids for a variety of diseases, including breast and prostate cancers.

“Many disease-related substances in liquids are not easily tracked,” said Jae Kwon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at MU. “In a liquid environment, most sensors experience a significant loss of signal quality, but by using highly sensitive, low-signal-loss acoustic resonant sensors in a liquid, these substances can be effectively and quickly detected — a brand-new concept that will result in a noninvasive approach for breast cancer detection.”

Kwon’s real-time, special acoustic resonant sensor uses micro/nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS), which are tiny devices smaller than the diameter of a human hair, to directly detect diseases in body fluids. The sensor doesn’t require bulky data reading or analyzing equipment and can be integrated with equally small circuits, creating the potential for small stand-alone disease-screening systems. Kwon’s sensor also produces rapid, almost immediate results that could reduce patient anxiety often felt after waiting for other detection methods, such as biopsies, which can take several days or weeks before results are known.

“Our ultimate goal is to produce a device that will simply and quickly diagnose multiple specific diseases, and eventually be used to create ‘point of care’ systems, which are services provided to patients at their bedsides,” Kwon said. “The sensor has strong commercial potential to be manifested as simple home kits for easy, rapid and accurate diagnosis of various diseases, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.”

Last January, Kwon was awarded a $400,000, five-year National Science Foundation CAREER Award to continue his effort on this sensor research. The CAREER award is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent teaching, and the integration of education and research. Kwon’s sensor research has been published in the IEEE International Conference on Solid-state, Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems and the IEEE Conference on Sensors.

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October 8, 2009

Building a better nuclear battery

Some of the latest in battery technology.

The release:

MU Researchers Create Smaller and More Efficient Nuclear Battery

Mizzou scientist develops a powerful nuclear battery that uses a liquid semiconductor

Oct. 07, 2009

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Batteries can power anything from small sensors to large systems. While scientists are finding ways to make them smaller but even more powerful, problems can arise when these batteries are much larger and heavier than the devices themselves. University of Missouri researchers are developing a nuclear energy source that is smaller, lighter and more efficient.

“To provide enough power, we need certain methods with high energy density,” said Jae Kwon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at MU. “The radioisotope battery can provide power density that is six orders of magnitude higher than chemical batteries.”

Kwon and his research team have been working on building a small nuclear battery, currently the size and thickness of a penny, intended to power various micro/nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS). Although nuclear batteries can pose concerns, Kwon said they are safe.

“People hear the word ‘nuclear’ and think of something very dangerous,” he said. “However, nuclear power sources have already been safely powering a variety of devices, such as pace-makers, space satellites and underwater systems.”

His innovation is not only in the battery’s size, but also in its semiconductor. Kwon’s battery uses a liquid semiconductor rather than a solid semiconductor.

“The critical part of using a radioactive battery is that when you harvest the energy, part of the radiation energy can damage the lattice structure of the solid semiconductor,” Kwon said. “By using a liquid semiconductor, we believe we can minimize that problem.”

Kwon has been collaborating with J. David Robertson, chemistry professor and associate director of the MU Research Reactor, and is working to build and test the battery at the facility. In the future, they hope to increase the battery’s power, shrink its size and try with various other materials. Kwon said that the battery could be thinner than the thickness of human hair. They’ve also applied for a provisional patent.

Kwon’s research has been published in the Journal of Applied Physics Letters and Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry. In addition, last June, he received an “outstanding paper” award for his research on nuclear batteries at the IEEE International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems in Denver (Transducers 2009).

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October 1, 2009

Investment strategies affect financial aid eligibility

Who’d a thunk a government program for distributing funds might not be all that equitable, or in the parlance of this research, not achieving “horizontal equity.”

The research:

Financial Aid Rules Influence Household Portfolio Decisions

Current system for determining eligibility creates unequal aid distribution, MU researchers find

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Student Aid Financial Responsibility Act to address problems with the current financial aid system. The act calls for several changes to simplify the Federal Application for Student Financial Aid- FAFSA. In a new study, a University of Missouri researcher found flaws in the FAFSA’s method for assessing net worth that can create inequalities in the distribution of financial aid.

“The findings support the act and the need to simplify the financial aid application process. It is important to find a method that will provide a better picture of household net worth,” said Tansel Yilmazer, assistant professor in the MU Department of Personal Financial Planning. “One option would be to combine FAFSA questions with questions on tax forms.”

Currently, assets in retirement funds or home equity are not considered in the calculation of need for financial aid. Because of this, families with more money in other types of savings are eligible for less financial aid.

“Ideally, two families with the same income stream should be eligible for the same amount of financial aid,” Yilmazer said. “Right now, if one family invests more in retirement or in huge homes with high equity, then that family might be eligible for more financial aid than the family that doesn’t make these investments. Thus, the current system might not be achieving horizontal equity.”

In the study, Yilmazer examined the impact the marginal financial aid tax rate – a rate calculated using age, income, and number of children in college to determine aid eligibility – has on the assets in retirement funds and home equity. The researchers found that the current system allows for families to intentionally or unintentionally adjust their portfolios to receive more financial aid.

“We hope these findings will influence policy change that will eliminate the current loophole and make the financial aid system more efficient and equal,” Yilmazer said.

The study, “The Impact of College Financial Aid Rules on Household Portfolio Choices,” included household financial data from the 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances. The study will be published in the December 2009 issue of the National Tax Journal.

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September 28, 2008

Green gold nanotech

The release from Friday:

MU scientists go green with gold, distribute environmentally friendly nanoparticles

Mizzou scientist named as one of the 25 most influential people in radiology

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Gold nanoparticles are everywhere. They are used in cancer treatments, automobile sensors, cell phones, blood sugar monitors and hydrogen gas production. However, until recently, scientists couldn’t create the nanoparticles without producing synthetic chemicals that had negative impacts on the environment. A new method, created by a University of Missouri research team, not only eliminates any negative environmental impact, but also has resulted in national and international recognition for the lead scientist. The research was published recently in the journal Small.

“I have always believed that nature is smarter and stronger than humankind,” said Kattesh Katti, professor of radiology and physics in MU’s School of Medicine and College of Arts and Science, senior research scientist at the MU Research Reactor, and director of the MU Cancer Nanotechnology Platform. “This new procedure to create nanoparticles is wonderfully simple, yet it will help create very complex components. There is so much to learn from energy generation, chemical and photochemical reactions of plants.”

Katti, who was recently recognized by rt Image magazine as one of the 25 most influential people in radiology, and his research team have formed Greennano Company, a company that is in the beginning stages of producing environmentally friendly gold nanoparticles. The company will focus on the development, commercialization and worldwide supply of gold nanoparticles for medical and technological applications. Katti believes that because of this new process to produce the nanoparticles, researchers are developing other ways to use them.

The MU research team, which was led by Katti, Raghuraman Kannan and Kavita Katti, found that by submersing gold salts in water and then adding soybeans, gold nanoparticles were generated. The water pulls a phytochemical out of the soybean that is effective in reducing the gold to nanoparticles. A second phytochemical from the soybean, also pulled out by the water, interacts with the nanoparticles to stabilize them and keep them from fusing with the particles nearby. This process creates nanoparticles that are uniform in size in a 100-percent green process. No toxic waste is generated.

“I’m very proud to be one among the list of ’25 Most Influential Scientists’ in the world, especially in the company of all time greats and former awardees including: Elias Zerhouni, director of National Institutes of Health (2003); Henry N. Wagner Jr., recognized as the Father of Nuclear Medicine (2004); Henry D. Royal, Peter S. Conti, past presidents of the Society of Nuclear Medicine; and Barry B. Goldberg, pioneer of ultrasound (2007),” Katti said. “This recognition is a tremendous honor and brings a large amount of prestige to our research group, the Departments of Radiology and Physics, the MU Research Reactor Center and the overall research and education enterprise of our University.”

“They all had one thing in common; they possessed the integrity, drive and passion deserving of the title ‘Most Influential,'” said Heather B. Koitzsch, publisher of rt Image. “In this year’s list, you’ll read about people who are changing the face of medicine, associations that are advocating for better patient care, and researchers whose efforts are uncovering new diagnostic techniques. Whether through speaking, campaigning, researching, creating or leading, someone who is “Most Influential” is committed to making things happen in radiology.”

 

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Katti’s research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute in the National Institutes of Health.