Duke Digest — April 14, 2014

In this week’s issue —

  • Members of Congress Visit Campus to Discuss Research, Tour Labs
  • VA Official, Duke Alum, to Join Duke Faculty 
  • Registration Open for Duke Law D.C. Summer Institute on Law and Policy
  • NSF-Funded Study Leads to Lab-Grown Self-Healing Engineered Muscle
  • Federally-funded Duke Study Draws Link Between Bad Neighborhoods, Bad Health
  • Duke Physicists Partner with Oak Ridge National Lab to Tackle Big Problems on Shoe-String Budget
  • OPINION: Duke Law Faculty Propose Market for Foreign Territories
  •  Duke Junior Leads NASA’s “Time Capsule to Mars,” Wins Goddard Memorial Scholarship 

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS VISIT CAMPUS TO DISCUSS RESEARCH, TOUR LABS
Two members of Congress visited Duke University last week to discuss regulations regarding federally-funded research and learn more about research taking place in university laboratories. On Friday afternoon, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL, G ’98) met with President Richard Brodhead to discuss a number of topics, including the FIRST Act. Rep. Lipinski is  the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Research and Technology of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Also on Friday, Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA, T ’80), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, met with Duke researchers to learn more about DoD-funded research. While on campus, Rep. Peters also participated in a Law School panel entitled “The Surveillance Society.”

VA OFFICIAL, DUKE ALUM, TO JOIN DUKE FACULTY
Tommy Sowers, assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will join the faculty of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy this summer. Sowers has received a one-year appointment as a visiting assistant professor of the practice and assistant director of the school’s Hart Leadership Program.

Read More:
VA Official to Join Duke Faculty (sanford.duke.edu)

REGISTRATION OPEN FOR DUKE LAW D.C. SUMMER INSTITUTE ON LAW AND POLICY
Course offerings in the Duke Law D.C. Summer Institute on Law and Policywill focus on topics important to current and aspiring practitioners in fields that require mastery of constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law and policymaking. The two sessions for the 2014 program are July 7-17, 2014, and July 21-July 31, 2014.  Each course is designed to offer undergraduates, recent graduates, and graduate students an accessible introduction to the pertinent legal and policy subject matter. Students who are potentially interested in attending law school are especially encouraged to enroll.

NSF-FUNDED STUDY LEADS TO LAB-GROWN SELF-HEALING ENGINEERED MUSCLE 
Biomedical engineers have grown living skeletal muscle that looks a lot like the real thing. It contracts powerfully and rapidly, integrates into mice quickly, and for the first time, demonstrates the ability to heal itself both inside the laboratory and inside an animal. The study conducted at Duke University tested the bioengineered muscle by literally watching it through a window on the back of living mouse. The novel technique allowed for real-time monitoring of the muscle’s integration and maturation inside a living, walking animal.

Both the lab-grown muscle and experimental techniques are important steps toward growing viable muscle for studying diseases and treating injuries, said Nenad Bursac, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke.

Read More:
Self-Healing Engineered Muscle Grown in Laboratory (pratt.duke.edu)

FEDERALLY-FUNDED DUKE STUDY DRAWS LINKS BETWEEN BAD NEIGHBORHOODS, BAD HEALTH 
Two Duke researchers have published a study which examines connections between how likely residents of 343 Chicago neighborhoods would be to experience adverse life events such as robbery, divorce and job loss and what happened to their health as a result. “Our findings suggest that huge, life-altering traumas, while infrequent, affect the poor to an inordinate degree and lead to a lot of health problems,” said sociologist Katherine King, a visiting assistant professor of community and family medicine at Duke. She co-authored the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency, with Christin Ogle, a postdoctoral fellow in Duke’s psychology and neuroscience department.

Read More:
In Chicago, Your Neighborhood May Make You Sick (today.duke.edu)

DUKE PHYSICISTS PARTNER WITH OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LAB TO TACKLE BIG PROBLEMS WITH SHOE-STRING BUDGET
An ambitious project is unfolding at Duke and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee — a project asking big physics questions on a small budget. The goal of the work is to probe a powerful source of neutrinos, infinitesimal and chargeless elemental particles that stream through our universe and only rarely interact with other matter. Studying these phantom particles could provide a glimpse into the chemistry of dying stars, explain some mysteries of the atomic nucleus, and just possibly lead to the discovery of new physics beyond the standard model that describes our world.

“For now, we’re using what we can, all the free resources around us,” said Phillip Barbeau, assistant physics professor and collaborator on the project with physics professor Kate Scholberg. So far, he said they’ve been able to carry out an important preliminary leg of the experiment — that would otherwise cost $500,000 — for less than $3,000.

Read More:
Physics on a Shoe-String Budget (research.duke.edu)

OPINION: DUKE LAW FACULTY PROPOSE MARKET FOR FOREIGN TERRITORIES
In a guest post on a Financial Times-sponsored blog, Joseph Blocher and Mitu Gulati, both law professors at Duke University, argue that a “market”  for selling foreign territory could be a viable option to resolve conflicts, and should be considered in public international law. They write “A ‘market’ for sovereign territory might incentivise better governance overall, by encouraging the kind of inter-jurisdictional competition familiar to all fans of federalism. ”

Read More:
What if Putin had bought Crimea? (ft.com)

DUKE JUNIOR, LEADS NASA’S “TIME CAPSULE TO MARS,” WINS GODDARD MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
Speaking before 2,000 of the best and brightest that the space industry has to offer, Emily Briere, a junior in mechanical engineering and materials science, outlined an endeavor that could “refocus the space race.” The recipient of the Goddard Memorial Dinner Keynote Scholarship, Briere was referring to “Time Capsule to Mars,” which aims to raise money through crowd-sourced contributions and corporate donations to design, launch and land a time capsule on the surface of Mars using emerging technologies.

Watch Briere’s speech on YouTube or visit the Time Capsule to Mars’ website to learn more about the project.

Read More:
Piecing Together a Time Capsule to Mars (pratt.duke.edu)