The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences


Penn State team wins Department of Energy poster competition

A group of Penn State scientists from the Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation led by Huck Institutes affiliate Daniel Cosgrove took first prize in a U.S. Department of Energy "Ten-Hundred and One Word Challenge" contest in which scientists were challenged to explain their research using only images, cartoons, photos, and the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language.

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Dark chocolate lovers show tolerance for bitterness in ice cream

In light of the global obesity epidemic, many consumers and health professionals are concerned about the levels of added sugars in foods. Now, a study by Penn State researchers including Huck Institutes affiliate John Hayes has shown that some consumers may not need all the added sugars in order to enjoy one of America's favorite comfort foods: chocolate ice cream.

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Unique pathogen requires a novel approach to studying virulence

Huck Institutes researcher Moriah Szpara takes an interdisciplinary tack in her work -- using tools from neurobiology, virology, bioinformatics, and comparative genomics to find keys to a cure for human herpesvirus.


By Seth Palmer
July 29, 2013


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Announcing the new Predoctoral Training Program in Computation, Bioinformatics and Statistics (CBIOS)

The Huck Institutes announce a new NIH-funded predoctoral training program the CBIOS Training Program aimed at preparing a cadre of young scientists to excel in cross-disciplinary genomics research cutting across the traditional disciplines of life sciences, computer science, bioinformatics, and statistics.

This training program, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), builds on the faculty and curriculum of multiple graduate programs at Penn State and is led by Drs. Ross Hardison,

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Even zombies need an agent

While unraveling a dramatic case of mind control, biologist David Hughes brought the real science behind zombies to the big-screen Hollywood blockbuster "World War Z."

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Avocado farmers face unique foe in fungal-farming beetle

Beetles with unusual "green thumbs" for growing fungi are threatening avocado crops and could transform into a more destructive pest, according to an international team of researchers that includes Huck Institutes affiliate David Geiser.

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Mathematical models target disease with drugs chosen by your DNA

Medicines that are personally tailored to your DNA are becoming a reality, thanks to the work of U.S. and Chinese scientists including Huck Institutes affiliate Rongling Wu who have developed statistical models to predict which drug is best for a specific individual with a specific disease.

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Drought response identified in potential biofuel plant

Drought resistance is key to large-scale production of Jatropha, a potential biofuel plant, and an international group of scientists that includes Huck Institutes affiliate John Carlson has identified the first step toward engineering a hardier variety.

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Understanding bulls' gene-rich Y chromosomes may improve herd fertility

Researchers including Huck Institutes affiliate Wansheng Liu have found that, surprisingly, the Y chromosomes of cattle have more genes and are more active than the Y chromosomes of a variety of primates and other mammals.

According to Liu – an associate professor of animal genomics at Penn State and a faculty member of the Huck Institutes' Bioinformatics and Genom

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How does oil affect corals?

By the time a coral exposed to oil shows signs of sickness, it may already be close to death. That's why Huck Institutes affiliate Iliana Baums is investigating the use of molecular tools to detect signs of stress in corals before they become ill and to determine just how much oil is lethal to corals.

"Our goal is to understand how deep-sea corals react to oil and dispersant exposure so that ecosystem managers can be better prepared to respond during and after oil spills," said Baums.

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Biologist investigates lasting ecological impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil spill

At the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, in the vicinity of the Macondo well, Huck Institutes affiliate Charles Fisher discovered previously unseen impacts on coral communities.

Fisher, a Penn State biology professor and a faculty member of the Huck Institutes' Ecology graduate program, has been closely collaborated with by both BP and t

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When people go viral over plant viruses

While we tend to think of viruses as nasty germs that we try desperately to get rid of, only a small percentage of viruses are pathogens, said Huck Institutes affiliate Marilyn Roossinck in a recent presentation at the Millennium Cafe.

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Video data-sharing library for developmental science established

In the largest project of its kind, Databrary an open-source, web-based video-data-sharing library sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health is being created by an interdisciplinary team of scientists that includes Huck Institutes affiliate Rick Gilmore.

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Infectious disease research gets a boost from websites, blogs, and social media

While public health officials around the world are on alert about the pandemic potential of new disease threats, a team that includes Penn State University biologist Marcel Salathe is developing innovative new systems and techniques to track the spread of infectious diseases, with the help of news websites, blogs, and social media.

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Microbiology experts will visit Penn State for the American Society for Virology's annual meeting

More than 1,200 leading microbiology and virus experts will take part in the American Society for Virology's 32nd annual meeting, to be held from July 20-24 at Penn State's University Park campus.

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Penn State biologist is among 3 winners of 2013 Kyoto Prizes

Masatoshi Nei, an evolutionary biologist at Penn State and an affiliate of the Huck Institutes, is among the three winners of the Kyoto Prizes for 2013, the Inamori Foundation announced on Friday.

The honors, which are awarded annually in three categories, are worth about $511,000 this year. They recognize “people who have contributed significantly to the progress of science, the advancement of civilization, and the enrichment and elevation of the human spirit.”

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Researchers to focus on factors affecting forest regeneration

Over the next several years, Penn State researchers including Huck Institutes affiliate Duane Diefenbach in the College of Agricultural Sciences will study factors affecting forest regeneration in Pennsylvania.

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Genome instability studies could change treatment for cancer and other diseases

Making steps toward the realization of personalized genomic medicine, Huck Institutes affiliates at the Center for Medical Genomics are finding and analyzing hotspots of genomic instability and mutation known as microsatellites.

By: Seth Palmer

Counterintuitive as it may seem, genetic mutation is key to our evolution and survival.

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Sound waves precisely position nanowires

An interdisciplinary team of Penn State researchers that includes Huck Institutes affiliate Tony Jun Huang can, by using sound waves, place nanowires in repeatable patterns for potential use in a variety of sensors, optoelectronics, and nanoscale circuits.

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Rescuing honey bee hives

Honey bee colonies are collapsing in record numbers, and Penn State entomologists -- including Huck Institutes affiliate Christina Grozinger -- are leading the pack of researchers scrambling to figure out why.

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