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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Research News In Brief

    SB Mentors 13 Siemens Regional Finalists and 12 Semifinalists

    Announced on October 25, Stony Brook University professors mentored 25 high school students who ranked either regionally or nationally in Siemens competition.

    According to a recent press release, this year, SB is home to the largest group of winning regional finalists for any university in the country. 13 of the 19 New York state regional finalists were mentored at SB. Additionally, with 12 of the 54 NYS semifinalists were mentored by SB professors.

    The largest single lab to contribute to this number was the GARCIA center led by Miriam Rafailovich , Ph.D., professor of the department of material sciences and engineering. The GARCIA center mentored 16 of the Siemens ranking high school students.

    Furthermore, 9 of the qualifying students were participants in SB’s Simons Fellowship program.

    Other professors mentoring these students included: Danny Bluestin, Ph.D., professor in the department of biomedical engineering; Drs. J. Craig Gordan and Marian Evinger of the department of pediatrics; Benjamin Chu, Ph.D., Iwao Ojima, Ph.D. and Carlos Simmerling, Ph.D., professors in the department of chemistry; Martin Rocek, Ph.D., professor of the department of physics and astronomy.

    SB Professors Recognized for Findings Contributing to Nobel Peace Prize Win for Gore and the IPCC

    According to an Oct. 18 press release, three faculty members from SB’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences were recognized by the Nobel Prize Committee for their contributions to understanding and controlling global warming. These professors were among the more than 2000 global scientists serving on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize this year along with Al Gore, former vice president.

    Robert Cess, Ph.D., SB distinguished professor, published the first IPCC report discussing radiation and climate processes. He was lead author.

    Minghua Zhang, Ph.D., professor, contributed to the second IPCC report on climate models.

    Finally, Edmund Change, Ph.D., associate professor, published the fourth IPCC report. He was contributing author for this report, released in May 2007, which discussed climate variability.

    Additionally, Prasad Varanasi, Ph.D., professor, also contributed to research on infrared spectroscopy measurements of chlorofluorocarbons and the water vapor continuum, sponsored by the IPCC.

    ‘The four IPCC reports since 1988 presented the most comprehensive analysis of the scientific basis and the observational evidences of global climate change. We are very proud to have been part of the IPCC,’ said Zhang, director of the Institute of Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres. ‘The aggregates of theoretical, observational, and numerical studies suggest, with over 95 percent confidence level, that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is caused by human activities.’

    ‘The contributions of these Stony Brook professors demonstrate the quality of the research conducted on this critical challenge for the 21st Century,’ said David Conover, Dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

    The Nobel Prize Committee named the IPCC as one of the leading contributors to achieving global warming awareness for the last 20 years.

    SB Researchers Find that Low Intensity Vibrations Reduce Risk of Obesity in Mice

    Clint Rubin, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of the department of biomedical engineering, led a study indicating that high-frequency, low-magnitude vibrations make experimental mice lose weight. According to an Oct. 22 press release, the study points to a potential solution for obesity in humans that is not exercise-heavy as well as drug free.

    Rubin collaborated with scientists at SB, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories and the Jackson Laboratory in Maine to investigate the consequences of fat cell vibrations. In the study, mice were subjected to a regimen of daily 15 minute periods of undetectable vibrations for 15 weeks.

    The vibrations used for this study were, according the study, imperceptible to the human eye and amounted to magnitudes that were much less than that observed during human walking motion.

    Results reported that the experimental mice were found to have 28% less fat in their torsos than control mice. Further findings indicated that compounds directly linked to type II diabetes such as triglycerides and free fatty acids were significantly reduced in the livers of experimental mice.

    ‘These low-magnitude mechanical signals appear to do something remarkable, and that is inhibit the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] into fat cells,’ said Dr. Rubin. MSCs are stem cells that are fated to be either fat, bone or muscle cells. ‘Theoretically, a mechanical signal that controls the differentiation of stem cells could prevent obesity and perhaps osteoporosis by inducing the cells to develop into bone or muscle cells rather than fat cells,’ he continued.

    The study, although promising, does not yet reveal a viable alternative to exercise and dieting for reducing fat in humans. It does, however, suggest a potential alternative to fat reducing methods that are metabolically based.

    ‘The results are somewhat contrary to a ‘metabolic’ perspective of fat reduction because they illustrate that the inhibition of fat production can be achieved by developmental pathways other than an exercise-mediated increase in metabolic activity,’ said Dr. Rubin, This study, entitled, ‘Adipogenesis is inhibited by brief, daily exposure to high-frequency, extremely low-magnitude mechanical signals’ was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, week of Oct. 19 online edition.

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