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From Dinosaurs to Data Networks: Texas and the Arctic in the Anthropocene

“Report from the Top of the World!”

The flier caught my attention immediately. The U.S. Embassy in Oslo and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, DC wanted to send graduate journalism students to the Norwegian Arctic as part of a new internship program.

I applied because I wanted to gain a global perspective on my research and reporting. Less than a year later, I found myself standing on an empty beach near Bugøynes on the northern coast of Norway, silent except for the call of a distant bird and the lapping of cold water against the shore. Towering overhead were the sharp black rocks and dark islands of the fjords, silhouetted by midnight sun that glowed a soft, radiant white behind a sheet of fog…

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Art + Science. Cool! But what is it?

The intersection of art + science is not a place to which a map can be drawn. Its practitioners won’t give you a neat definition of the field or summarize the nut graph of its literature.

They will tell you that it’s not about answering the question, “What is art + science?” It’s about asking it. And then immersing yourself in the virtual space of discovery that follows. Taking notes on the journey between the asking and the answering. It’s also about learning to ask really good questions…

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Permafrost thaw cracks urban infrastructure, students dig in

[Image: Google satellite image of the city of Norilsk, Russia.]

Students from Russia, U.S., Norway, Germany, Italy, China and U.K. arrived this week in Norilsk, Russia where they will spend two weeks in a field school to assess the effects of permafrost thaw on Russian urban infrastructure.

The student researchers will conduct permafrost research in the field as well as meet with representatives of the Norilsk-Nickel mining company and of local production plants and geological, planning, social and migration services to form a science-based dialogue about problems and solutions.

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N-ICE: Studying Arctic ice from cradle to grave

[Image: Researchers collect an ice core to measure its temperature and salinity near “RV Lance” during the N-ICE test cruise in February 2014. Photo by Paul Dodd/Norwegian Polar Institute]

When spring 2015 approaches, sun spilling the landscape will find a group of scientists adrift at sea on “RV Lance” – once a top-of-the-line seal hunting boat, now turned research vessel.

On board the ship, an international collection of researchers will watch up-close as the arctic wakes, with instruments tuned not only to wildlife but to the most important creature of them all – the sea ice.

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Climate change study heats up Arctic soil

[Images: Amelia Jaycen]

Students from Russia, U.S., Norway, Germany, Italy, China and U.K. arrived this week in Norilsk, Russia where they will spend two weeks in a field school to assess the effects of permafrost thaw on Russian urban infrastructure.

The student researchers will conduct permafrost research in the field as well as meet with representatives of the Norilsk-Nickel mining company and of local production plants and geological, planning, social and migration services to form a science-based dialogue about problems and solutions.

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Semiconductor Research Corporation funds UNT chemist’s microchip fabrication research

[Image: Dr. Oliver Chyan]

A single microchip can have several billion circuits built into a predetermined design according to its final purpose, whether for an iphone or a laptop.  Creating the chip involves a procedure of about 3,000 different steps, many of which involve chemical coatings, cleanings, and etching processes performed on microscopic electrical parts.

Professor of chemistry Dr. Oliver Chyan has been awarded a grant of nearly $130,000 from the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) in cooperation with Intel to create and implement new tools for measuring and characterizing plasma-etch-polymers in microchip fabrication.

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Researchers track West Nile Virus, study mosquito species

[Image: Amelia Jaycen]

University of North Texas Regents Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. James Kennedy is conducting his twelfth year of mosquito sampling and testing for West Nile Virus (WNV) in cooperation with the City of Denton, and this year is the first year samples are analyzed at UNT as well as sent to the Texas Department of Health State Services.

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Begging to write about science

So I got into grad school, after completing a large chunk of my studies, considering an interdisciplinary degree, and then deciding to choose the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. Here’s the essay that made them decide to let me in and support my goals. It explains a little about why I love writing about science.

Excerpt: “The first project on which I chose to test this skill set was a UNT chemist who created a compound that offered promising results for a team of scientists trying to solve “the incandescent lamp problem,” as they called it. I immersed in their studies and experiments, documenting interchangeably with photographs, audio, and impromptu questions at a series of interviews with various researchers who each performed different parts of this journey toward successful scientific innovation. The process of documenting their work became like a fast-paced puzzle with many layers of components. The experience was a fascinating whirlwind, and it was my first introduction to many of the basic challenges of communicating—as well as understanding— science. I was determined to work until the story shaped into a multi-media piece that conveyed not only the inherent technical information but also the broader impacts of my sources’ work on society, in a format and on a platform that could
reach non-scientists.”

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Professor awarded patent for digital video security

[Diagram showing Mohanty’s content provider end method. Photo: Courtesy Mohanty]

Saraju Mohanty’s invention provides comprehensive solutions for securing digital video, and it offers advantages for content providers like Netflix, digital television companies, Hollywood movie studios, their distributors and end-users, and private parties posting to YouTube or sending video files over the internet.

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Next generation tools aid interdisciplinary genome research

In 1953, James D. Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double-helix structure of the DNA strand –a ribbon of genetic information that lives in each cell of a living organism.   Later, in 1990, a group of organizations including the National Institutes of Health launched  the Human Genome Project, a global collaborative effort to identify all the genes in the human DNA strand.  At that time, the event was heralded as the largest investigative project in modern science, and it took 13 years and nearly $3 billion to yield a complete human genome.

The Human Genome Project completed in 2003 was followed by a variety of other DNA research projects conducted by various organizations.  The widespread study of DNA ushered in a “genomic revolution” characterized by constant technological advances in the fields of genetics and molecular biology.  Nearly a decade later, its momentum is still steady as hundreds of new biological tools amass stores of genomic data.

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UNT polymer engineers partner with industry leader to develop advanced coatings technology

Building contractors across the country may owe certain thanks to UNT plastics engineers over the next few years.  Regents Professor of materials science and engineering Dr. Witold Brostow and his team at the Laboratory of Advanced Polymers and Optimized Materials(LAPOM) just completed their first contract with McKinney, TX based Encore Wire Corporation.

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Paula Gaetano-Adi, UNT new media artist, receives prestigious VIDA grant award

College of Visual Arts and Design new media assistant professor Paula Gaetano-Adi has been awarded the prestigious VIDA Art and Artificial Life Awards‘ Artistic Production Incentives grant — an international grant award for art and artificial life projects created by people from Iberoamerica (Spain, Portugal, and Latin-America).  The award will allow Gaetano-Adi to pursue her proposed artificial life system project over the course of the next year.

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