Headliners

COSMIC IMPACT: The research of a team of scholars, including Adrian Melott, professor of physics and astronomy, regarding comet impacts on Earth, is cited in Science News. Melott and a team of colleagues authored a study showing that spikes of ammonium in Greenland ice cores is evidence that a giant comet struck Earth at the end of the last ice age. The data shows a comet likely exploded over Tunguska, Siberia. “The presence of ammonium suggests that the Tunguska object was most likely a comet, rather than asteroids or meteoroids, Melott says. Any object slung into the Earth’s atmosphere from space typically moves fast enough to heat the surrounding air to about 100,000 degrees Celsius, says Melott, so hot the nitrogen in the air splits and links up with oxygen to form nitrates. And indeed, nitrates are found in snow around the Tunguska blast. But ammonium, found along with the nitrates, contains hydrogen that most likely came from an incoming object rich in water — like an icy comet,” the article states.

WELL-PAYING CLASS: Lisa Wolf-Wendel, professor of higher education, was quoted in Inside Higher Ed and USA Today about faculty members profiting off textbooks they authored. There is ongoing discussion about potential conflicts of interest from faculty members who assign textbooks they helped author. Many universities do not have policies regarding such situations, but KU does. Faculty members are required to donate profits they make from their students to their department, schools, scholarship funds or other non profit groups. “I think this is sort of the most honorable way to do it,” said Wolf-Wendel. “There’s sort of an ethic to it that feels right to me. It’s an on-your-honor thing, so you decide how much profit you get back.”

A GIANT DISCOVERY:The work of a team of KU researchers in the discovery of a new species of giant lizard in the Philippines has been reported widely, including a story in the New York Times. Working with local researchers, the KU team helped identify a golden spotted monitor lizard. It is rare to discover new species as large as the 6.5 foot long lizard. "I knew as soon as I saw the animal that it was something special," Luke Welton, a graduate student at the University of Kansas and one of the co-authors of the study, said

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Lynn S. Villafurerte, program coordinator, Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program and Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity
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