International Research Excellence Best Paper Awards

A new discipline in psychology at the University of Oregon is broadening the department’s inclusivity with three new dedicated faculty hires.

Part of the UO’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Psychology has welcomed assistant professors Mariah Kornbluh, Chanel Meyers and Alayna Park for fall term. Their research emphasis area in diversity science highlights a theme across work the department is already doing, said department head Sara Hodges.

“Diversity science is a no-brainer in psychology,” Hodges said. “But with these hires, we wanted to elevate it by finding exceptional scholars who directly study how group differences, real or perceived, affect individuals’ development and well-being.”

Developmental and community psychologist Kornbluh brings experience in studying how children and adolescents who are marginalized or socially excluded by systems of power find ways to challenge inequities. She researches how these youth become empowered to push back on barriers to wellness and academic achievement.

At the UO, Kornbluh will partner with local schools and agencies to engage in youth-led participatory action research. Researchers collaborate with community members to explore, in her words, “how children and youth can be their own agents of change in reimaging and transforming institutions that have systematically disadvantaged our most vulnerable communities.”

Park is a clinical psychologist who studies how to improve the quality and effectiveness of mental health care for youth of color. Youth of color typically attend fewer sessions and drop out of treatment at higher rates than their white peers due to systemic and structural barriers to engaging in mental health care.

Park’s research investigates how to adapt effective mental health programs often designed for and tested with middle-class, white clients to be more compatible with the norms, beliefs and values of racial and ethnic minoritized groups. Park directs the ADDRESS Mental Health Lab and also is affiliated with The Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health.

Trained as a social-cognitive psychologist, Meyers examines the role racial diversity plays in intergroup processes. Growing up as a multiracial kid in Hawaii, she found that much of psychology did not reflect her reality.

“My research highlights the experiences of underrepresented racial groups in psychology,” Meyers said.

She examines how race-related contexts and social norms influence cognition, perception, behaviors and social interactions. Meyers is teaching an undergraduate course on stereotyping and prejudice this term and directs the Diversity and Social Cognition Lab.

Hodges said the department is thrilled to have found new colleagues “who ask challenging questions about how diversity affects how we do psychology research and the value of the conclusions we draw from that research.”

The three new assistant professors are each recruiting undergraduate, master’s or doctoral student research assistants this year.

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Indian scientists shocked as government scraps nearly 300 awards

Scientists say that they are in the dark about the move. “Since the rationale for reducing the number of existing awards so drastically isn’t publicly known, it is unclear what problem this was supposed to address,” says biophysicist Gautam Menon at Ashoka University near Delhi.

“We need to understand the rationale behind the scrapping of awards, as well as knowing the proposed vision on how the granting and awarding system will be reformed,” says Vishwesha Guttal, a mathematical ecologist at the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore in Bengaluru.

A former senior science secretary said that the government had decided to review its science awards more than four years ago. But there seems to have been little, if any, follow-up of the initial discussion, which explains scientists’ surprise over the move. Nature contacted several science-department heads about the rationale for scrapping the awards, but none had responded in time for publication.

Adding to scientists’ concerns is the absence of any announcement about the country’s highest science honour, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize — which is awarded by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and usually given on 26 September by the prime minister.

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The National Quantum Information Science Research Centers Host Second Career Fair

 As the field of Quantum Information Science (QIS) grows, so too does the need for professionals to support and expand on the research, application, and commercialization of this exciting new area of technology. To bring key players in the field together with new talent from across the country, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science’s National Quantum Information Science (QIS) Research Centers (NQISRCs) sponsored a second virtual QIS career fair on Sept. 14, 2022, led by Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Co-design Center for Quantum Advantage (C2QA).

The virtual lobby of the Quantum Information Science Career Fair.

“The degree of participation this year demonstrated that there are many students, job seekers, and career-changers who are interested in employment opportunities within QIS but may not have known how to access them,” said Kimberly McGuire, career fair co-organizer and chief operating officer for C2QA. “Hosting this event virtually allowed it to be the largest and most accessible QIS career fair in the United States. It gave participants the ability to connect directly with hiring managers from national labs, academia, and industry, regardless of their respective locations. The large number of registrants speaks volumes; there’s a significant interest in joining the quantum workforce and it’s clear that we need to get the word out if we want to successfully fill the research, technician, and support roles that will advance this field even further.”

The event drew in nearly 1,000 registrants, 100 more than the previous year, and about half of those who registered attended—about 150 more than the previous year. About three-quarters of the attendees were students (27 percent undergrads and 39 percent graduate students) and postdocs (10 percent). To cater to the diverse makeup of attendees, several panels and breakout sessions were tailored to students and professionals of all levels and backgrounds, including sessions for candidates seeking technician and non-STEM roles in QIS.

“DOE has invested millions of dollars in quantum information science, giving the NQISRCs a unique opportunity to contribute to solutions for some of the biggest quantum challenges,” said Andrew Houck, C2QA director. “For us to rise to these challenges, it will take innovative contributions from a diverse candidate pool. Their talent, experience, and ideas are key to building the QIS workforce of both today and the future.”

“There was diverse representation from speakers, panelists, and attendees from across the QIS ecosystem on our agenda,” said McGuire. “We had participation from the DOE Office of Science, the White House, and the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) as well as from the national labs, academia, and industry. It gave attendees a good sense of the QIS landscape and help them seek internships and jobs that best match their career goals.”

Panels and discussions were researched and thoughtfully curated based on feedback from students, professionals, and experts in preparation for the event. There was something for everyone on the agenda, from introductory talks aimed at undergrads exploring the field, to more focused presentations appealing to those that are more experienced in the field.

“We came up with some really unique programming that engaged students directly in topics they were most interested in,” remarked Jake Douglass, operations deputy director for Quantum Systems Accelerator (QSA) and member of the QIS career fair planning team. “By working with students across the five NQISRCs to identify meaningful programming, utilizing pre-event surveys, and jointly supporting planning and outreach efforts, we were able to reach a broad audience and prepare material and programming that directly met student needs.”

C2QA’s Virtual Exhibitor Booth.

Virtual exhibitor booths got quite a bit of action, racking in 4,537 visits in total through the duration of the event. Industry leaders, including Amazon, IBM, and Rigetti Computing, presented alongside national laboratories, like Brookhaven National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and academic institutions, like Harvard, Purdue, and University of Illinois. These are just a few of the 27 booths comprising the virtual exhibitor floor. Using the vFairs online platform, participating institutions reached a large, broad candidate pool, bringing in more than 100 job applications directly through the platform during the career fair. Candidates directly engaged with hiring managers through the exhibit booths and virtual networking lounges and were informed about current openings and opportunities.

The QIS Career Fair underscored DOE’s mission to strengthen recruitment, retention, and promotion while removing inequitable barriers to workforce opportunities by providing a pathway for those in underrepresented communities to attend. A significant number of students and postdocs represented Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including North Carolina A&T State University, University of Illinois Chicago, Coppin State University, and CUNY Bronx Community College. During the planning process, an important goal of the NQISRCs was to ensure direct access to hiring managers for these communities.

This event could not have been possible without the cooperation of the five NQISRCs, the time and effort volunteered by all panelists and moderators, and the coordination of Diana Murphy, C2QA’s former head of Outreach, Education, & Workforce Development (OEWD), and Kimberly McGuire.

With plans already underway for the fall 2023 QIS career fair, the goal for that next gathering will be to expand the visibility and access to students in community and four-year colleges and universities, technicians, non-STEM support roles, and professionals interested in making a career change and applying their skills to the quantum workforce. By showcasing the passion, progress, and potential that drives experts in QIS to achieve amazing things, these career fairs aim to inspire and aid the quantum workforce of the future.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit

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Australian Winemakers Turn to Science to Help Weather Climate Change

If the world can limit future greenhouse gas emissions, scientists are hopeful that adaptations can help a battered industry survive.

(Inside Science) — It’s a hectic time of year among the wineries of Orange, New South Wales, which are nestled in the fertile foothills of a long-extinct volcano. The southern hemisphere’s summer is about to start after a particularly wet spring, and vineyard owners are hustling to prep their crops before the precious grapes start to sprout. 

“It’s a high-pressure time because as soon as you have vines with leaf growth and rainfall, stuff really starts to happen,” said Ben Crossing, the general manager and owner of Angullong Wines. Workers are busy spraying fungicides to kill off any burgeoning infections; mowing the grass between vines to increase airflow; and inspecting the vines to make sure they’re growing properly, all while tending to the important steps of turning last summer’s harvest into wine.

At 470 acres, Angullong is one of Orange’s biggest vineyards, and the rolling hills, flourishing with vines, look exceptionally green. But growers like Crossing expect the heavy precipitation in September and October that fueled this year’s lush growth will be rarer in the future because of climate change. 

Farmers mow the grass to increase airflow to blow fungal pathogens away from the vines.

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The town of Orange and its wine country surroundings are about a four-hour drive inland from Sydney, away from the cool breezes of the Pacific coastline. For the most part, summer is too hot this far from the ocean for wine-grade grapes, but the region’s hills offer a reprieve. Orange is the highest wine region in Australia, with vineyards between 600 meters and one kilometer above sea level. Thanks to this wide range of elevations, almost any type of wine can be made in Orange — grapes for reds occupy the lower vines while grapes for whites and sparkling wines are found higher up. This makes Orange something of a microcosm of the wider Australian wine industry. 

Even with an advantageous microclimate, winemakers here aren’t immune from the stresses that climate change has in store. For years, scientists have been warning that global warming will hit Australia harder than the rest of the world. In addition to reduced rainfall, experts say grape growers in Australia can expect to grapple with rising temperatures, more frequent wildfires and the arrival of new pests. All of which will make the task of producing high-quality wines, for which Orange is celebrated, all the more taxing. 

“It’s not just average temperatures rising across the board, it’s the heatwaves that are challenging because they’re hard to predict and eventually you reach temperatures that just burn fruit on the vine,” said Jason Smith, a researcher who studies the cultivation of grapes for winemaking at Charles Sturt University in Orange. “It also comes with fire risks.”

The McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) pools data on various weather conditions to assess the risk of a bushfire happening. By 2050, the daily FFDI value is projected to increase by at least 15%, but possibly by as much as 70%, in southeast Australia where many of the country’s famed wine regions, Orange included, are located. 

Uninsurable vines 

The 2019-2020 wildfire season was one of Australia’s worst on record; fires burned an area the size of Florida, and so much smoke billowed forth that it crossed the Pacific Ocean, according to one study. Wildfires pose an immediate danger to any vines caught in the path of a blaze, but smoke can also ruin the grapes of vineyards away from the frontline, said Markus Herderich, an analytical chemist at the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI).

Volatile, aromatic compounds in smoke called phenols can easily penetrate mature grapes and bind to the fruit’s sugar molecules. “The phenols are then turned into taste compounds,” said Herderich. “You essentially have a smoky time bomb for your wine.” That’s why the AWRI has developed a test to gauge the level of a grape’s smoke taint. Should the fruit be irredeemable, the vineyard owner can at least decide to cut their losses before committing to the expensive wine-making stages. The test could also help winemakers who procure grapes from outside vineyards to screen for smoke damage before buying. 

“There are biomarkers in grapes following smoke events,” said Herderich. “We’ve done a lot of work on this, and we now have a good idea of what a clean grape’s chemical profile looks like.”

The risk posed by smoke taint is so great that most Australian grape growers can’t secure insurance to offset the risk, said Crossing. It’s also becoming increasingly tough to find coverage for other extreme events that are expected to worsen with climate change. Crossing, for example, was recently refused insurance for hailstorm damage. Other vineyard owners in Orange, however, are luckier on that front. Justin Jarrett owns See Saw Organic Wines, which unlike Angullong, grows grapes on several different parcels of land dotted around the region. Jarrett still has hail insurance, and he thinks it’s because the insurance brokers assume it’s unlikely that there would be a hailstorm big enough to obliterate all his grapes at once. “It would be extremely stressful to grow the whole season without that cover,” he said. “If you have a storm, it can be 100% of your income gone for some vineyards.” 

Yet more and more winemakers like Crossing are having to take on these additional financial risks. It’s one of the reasons that they’re looking to science for help alleviating the burden of climate change. 

Science-based solutions

Both Crossing and Jarrett host researchers at their vineyards. Smith from Charles Sturt University, for example, is placing specially designed water trappers around the stems of young vines on the Angullong estate. The devices are designed to funnel rainfall and irrigated water towards the nascent roots while also reducing evaporation from the soil. 

Jason Smith deploys water catchers around grape plants at Angullong Wines.

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Young vines can find it hard to get enough water with moisture-sucking grass and weeds close by. “If they get a lot of competition, they never seem to recover,” said Smith. With projections of reduced rainfall, scientists hope that interventions like this will enable young vines to continue to properly establish themselves. The water trappers aren’t cheap, though. At approximately $3.70 a piece, they can cost roughly the same as the young saplings themselves, therefore doubling the cost of planting new vines. 

That’s why Smith is conducting an experiment to see whether they produce a tangible difference in crop quality. “The cost isn’t negligible and it’s also a lot of plastic to put in the vineyards, so our trial is needed to see whether it’s worth it,” said Smith.

He’s comparing three different ways to plant new vines. The first group receives a normal amount of irrigation without a water catcher; the second receives a normal amount of irrigation with a water catcher; and the third receives 30% less irrigation with a water catcher. “We’ll follow them throughout the coming seasons and compare how they establish and whether the yields differ,” said Smith. The working hypothesis is that the water catchers with normal irrigation would increase the bounty of grapes while the water catchers with less irrigation would produce a similar number of grapes to the vines without water catchers. If that turns out to be true, it’ll strengthen the case for rolling out such infrastructure vineyard-wide.

Other researchers, meanwhile, are looking at the changing suite of pathogens and pests that hamper Australia’s vines. “The geographical range of various species will change in response to climate change,” said Geoff Gurr, an ecologist at Charles Sturt University in Orange. Specifically, scientists expect that warmer weather species will migrate from the subtropical regions of Australia down into the winegrowing regions of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. 

The Queensland fruit fly, which lays its eggs within the fruit, could be one such example. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat away at the fruit — destroying the crop. “You don’t get them in Orange historically because it’s too cold, but the warming conditions could allow them to become a seasonal invader or even establish themselves permanently,” said Gurr. “That would be really bad news.”

To combat the threat of pests, Gurr is evaluating the effect of introducing various non-grape plant species between the vine rows of the Angullong and See Saw estates. He’s chosen plants that provide nectar for insects like the trichogramma wasp, which would destroy the eggs of certain pests, controlling their populations. The experiment will run for the next couple of years, by which time Gurr hopes to have figured out the optimum mix of plant species to occupy the mid row.  

While climate predictions can make it feel as so though the odds are stacked against Australia’s wine industry, Herderich from the AWRI is confident that partnerships between vineyard owners and scientists will win out in the end. If future global greenhouse gas emissions could at least be limited, then researchers will find ways to help wineries down under continue to thrive, he thinks. “It’s not all doom and gloom,” he said. “It can be managed if we act.”

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International Research Excellence Best Paper Awards


In 2017, 120 University West nursing students
wrote a scientific report as an examination. Merely 30 students passed on their
first attempt and one of the identified shortcomings concerned information
literacy. In collaboration with the course coordinators, the liaison librarian
modified the course design adding new contents as well as new assignments to
create a kick start for the students who lack the information literacy required
in higher education. The module in information literacy training was extended
to provide the students with the skills needed for successful results and thus
making them better equipped for the rest of their studies, as well as for
lifelong learning. This best practice article accounts for the course
development, focusing on library instruction. Furthermore, it posits that the
principles of andragogy, student activating methods and the united effort to
meet the students where they are, have enhanced their learning process and
consequently their information literacy. In 2020 and 2021, the students who
passed the scientific report examination on their first attempt more than
doubled. Due to librarian involvement, new pedagogical approaches, and a
fruitful collaboration with course coordinators, these students’ information
literacy skills seem to have improved.

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