‘Dead Zone’ researcher asked to step down as marine lab director

Read the full story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Nancy Rabalais, the marine ecologist whose research has outlined the devastating effects of the annual low-oxygen “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, has been asked to step down after 10 years as executive director of theLouisiana Universities Marine Consortium(LUMCON), a marine laboratory operated by a consortium of state and private universities in Cocodrie, according to a statement released Monday (Nov. 2) by an executive board overseeing the laboratory…

It’s likely the research lab will need Rabalais, if only because a significant chunk of the research dollars held by the institution are for grants on which she is the lead researcher.

According to the board’s new strategic plan approved on Oct. 29, the marine lab is underwritten by $2.3 million it receives from the state each year. But it also has a carryover fund of $3 million available for 2016, with much of the money coming from two major grants listing Rabalais as the lead researcher.

Both were issued by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, an independent marine science organization created within months of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 with a $500 million grant from BP.

But the strategic plan suggested that tight budget times will require an executive director who spends much less time doing research and a lot more time fundraising by networking with academic, community, political, civic, industry and sponsor/agency leaders.

New children’s health research projects funded by NIH

Read the full story in Environmental Factor.

Researchers working to improve children’s health now have more opportunities to understand the role environmental exposures play in children’s health and development, thanks to new funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

NIEHS joined with NIH Sept. 28 in announcing the recipients of new projects that will provide researchers an expanded range of tools to accurately measure, record, and analyze environmental exposures in children.

2015-16 LiveBIG: Illinois’ Sustainable-Electronics ‘Mission’

In “Mission: Impossible,” one of the recurring plot devices is the message that self-destructs in order to keep that information a secret. The University of Illinois has a different kind of mission: developing electronics that self-destruct for the sake of sustainability.

BESC, Mascoma develop revolutionary microbe for biofuel production

Read the full story from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Biofuels pioneer Mascoma LLC and the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center have developed a revolutionary strain of yeast that could help significantly accelerate the development of biofuels from nonfood plant matter.

The approach could provide a pathway to eventual expansion of biofuels production beyond the current output limited to ethanol derived from corn…

Researchers announced that while conventional yeast leaves more than one-third of the biomass sugars unused in the form of xylose, Mascoma’s C5 FUEL™ efficiently converts this xylose into ethanol, and it accomplishes this feat in less than 48 hours. The finding was presented today at the 31st International Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Minneapolis.

Why is there a huge methane hotspot in the American Southwest?

Read the full story from PBS Newshour.

A team of scientists scrambles to better understand a gigantic cloud of methane looming over the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest. This single cloud is believed to comprise nearly 10 percent of all methane emissions derived from natural gas in the United States. But its origins remain a mystery.

Underfunding of Research Offers States an Economic Opportunity

Read the full story in Governing.

When trying to grow the economy, it’s really tempting for elected officials to spend the public’s money on things that have an immediate impact on jobs and wages. What better way to endear yourself to your constituents than to be the driving force behind a new shopping center or luxury hotel that not only brings jobs but also increases local spending? It’s certainly a lot sexier than spending money on research for some scientific mumbo-jumbo that most people haven’t heard of — especially when you can’t guarantee that research will yield any significant results.

It may be unsexy and it may be risky, but it also may be the best way for states and localities to drive innovation and economic growth. At least that’s the hunch of a growing number of think tank analysts. As the federal government spends less on research and development, they say, states could have a key role to play.