Engineer making rechargeable batteries with layered nanomaterials

Gurpreet Singh, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering.

Gurpreet Singh, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, and his research team are developing more efficient ways to save costs, time and energy when creating nanomaterials and lithium-ion batteries.

The group published two recent articles on newer, cheaper and faster methods for creating nanomaterials that can be used for lithium-ion batteries. In the past year, Singh has published eight articles — five of which involve lithium-ion battery research.

“We are exploring new methods for quick and cost-effective synthesis of two-dimensional materials for rechargeable battery applications,” Singh said. “We are interested in this research because understanding lithium interaction with single-, double- and multiple-layer-thick materials will eventually allow us to design battery electrodes for practical applications. This includes batteries that show improved capacity, efficiency and longer life.”

Singh’s work has been supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Kansas National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Researchprogram.

More about Singh’s research can be found at

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New ice cream flavor celebrates university’s 150th

What’s a birthday without ice cream and cake?

The traditional birthday treats will play a special role in Kansas State University’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2013. The Call Hall dairy bar, which features university-made ice cream, is adding a new flavor to its ice cream selections in honor of the university’s 150th — and it lets you enjoy cake with the ice cream, too.

Named “Wildcat Birthday 150,” this new flavor will be featured throughout the nine-month 150th celebration in 2013, including at the 150th kickoff celebration, Feb. 14-17.

“Wildcat Birthday 150″ is a white ice cream with a cake batter-based flavoring added to it, said Jared Parsons, manager of the Dairy Processing Plant. Actual birthday cake pieces are added to the mix, and it’s all topped with royal purple sprinkles.

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Peterson receives CASE award for enhancing relationship between university, government


Sue Peterson, Kansas State University’s director of governmental relations and assistant to the president, was chosen to receive the Marvin D. “Swede” Johnson Achievement Award. The award is one of two stage goverment relations awards presented annuelly by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE); the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC); the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU); and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

The award recognizes extraordinary contributions that have advanced an academic institution’s government relations.

Read about Peterson’s accomplishments at

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Family expert says parents should let kids’ beliefs about Santa develop naturally

When it comes to Santa Claus, let children believe in the jolly old elf as long as they want, says  Jared Durtschi, an assistant professor in Kansas State University’s marriage and family therapy program.

According to Durtschi, there is no particular age when a child should stop believing in Santa, and that children will often come to realize the truth gradually as they grow older.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for parents to decide upon a time to tell their children there is no Santa,” Durtschi said. “As children develop, the magical thinking that is so common in kids, which allows them to so readily accept all the details of Santa Claus, will give way and they will soon figure it out on their own.”

Durtschi said that by telling the truth about Santa before a child has figured it out on his or her own, parents might unintentionally lessen the excitement of the Christmas season for their children.


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New wheat variety recognizes university’s 150 years

A new Kansas State University-themed wheat variety will be introduced in February 2013 — the month the university begins its sesquicentennial celebration. The variety is named 1863 in honor of the year Kansas State University opened as the nation’s first operational land-grant university under the Morrill Act.

The 1863 wheat is a hard red winter wheat and is a good yielding variety.

In addition to the 1863 name, a 4-inch by 4-inch waterproof sticker with the 150th image for Kansas State University will be included for planters to post on their field signage.

The 1863 wheat will be commercially available for purchase from the Kansas Wheat Alliance licensed seed producers in fall 2013.

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Study finds prioritizing rather than canvassing entire plant genome may lead to improved crops

A new study may help scientists produce better climate-resistant corn and other food production plants by putting a spin on the notion that we are what we eat.

Kansas State University geneticists and colleagues found that by applying a genetic-analysis method used to study and prioritize the genes in humans, it improved the likelihood of finding critical genes in food production plants. These genes control quantitate traits in plants, such as how the plants grow and when they flower.

Additionally, this method can be used to study how food production plants respond to drought, heat and other factors — giving scientists a greater chance at improving crops’ resistances to harsh weather and environments.

“Right now we know most of the genes that make up several of these food production plants, but finding the right genes to increase food yield or heat tolerance is like finding a needle in a haystack,” said Jianming Yu, associate professor of agronomy at Kansas State University and the study’s senior author.

Read more about the study at

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Researchers explore social media as preventative method for infectious diseases

A Kansas State University-led research team is looking at social media as a tool to reduce and prevent diseases from spreading. Researchers are studying whether a well-timed post from a public authority or trustworthy person could be as beneficial as flu shots, hand-washing or sneezing into an elbow.

Researchers believe that because an online message can be relayed instantaneously around the world, social media could be used to develop a more robust preventative network against infectious diseases.

The team is gathering information about human behavior and is identifying the various groups that need to be reached with social media.

Kansas State University researchers are Faryad Sahneh, doctoral candidate in electrical engineering who is modeling the spread of epidemics in an effort to reduce them; Caterina Scoglio, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and expert in complex network modeling; Gary Brase, associate professor of psychology who studies how people make decisions; and Walter Schumm, professor of family studies and human services who studies family dynamics.

Read more about the study at

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Kirk Schulz named 2012 CASE executive leader of the year


Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University.

Kirk Schulz, Kansas State University president, is receiving the 2012 Chief Executive Leadership Award by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, or CASE. The award recognizes the leadership of a higher education chief executive officer who demonstrates the ability to create a vision and inspire others.

According to the criteria used by the selection committee, Chief Executive Leadership Award recipients have established a positive image for the institution; increased the institution’s stature in the community; encouraged innovation among employees; and actively supported advancement.

“I was so surprised to learn that I had been nominated for the council’s Chief Executive Leadership Award, and was even more surprised to learn that I had received it,” Schulz said. “According to the selection committee’s comments, they were thoroughly impressed with the initiatives started at Kansas State University and the strides we’ve made since I joined in 2009. Committee members were also enthused by the comprehensive K-State 2025 plan that will elevate Kansas State to a Top 50 public research university by 2025.”

The award will be presented to Schulz on Dec. 11 at the council’s District V and VI joint conference in Chicago.

Read more about Schulz’s accomplishments in and contributions to higher education at

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Research finds being weak link in team activities may lead to longer, more intense workouts

Brandon Irwin, assistant professor of kinesiology.

The key to motivation in physical activity may be feeling inadequate, according to research by Brandon Irwin, assistant professor of kinesiology at Kansas State University.

Irwin was the principle investigator in a study that tested whether individuals engage in more intense physical activity when alone, with a virtual partner or competing against a teammate. The study found  that those who exercised with a teammate whom they perceived to be better increased their workout time and intensity by as much as 200 percent.

“People like to exercise with others and make it a social activity,” Irwin said. “We found that when you’re performing with someone who you perceive as a little better than you, you tend to give more effort than you normally would alone.”

Read more about the study at

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College of Architecture, Planning and Design ranks among best in nation

Seaton Hall, home to the College of Architecture, Planning and Design.

DesignIntelligence magazine ranked three of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design’s programs among the Top 10 programs in the nation, and five among the Top 15, according to the newly released “America’s Best Architecture and Design Schools 2013” issue.

The DesignIntelligence data is compiled by surveying professional practice leaders about which schools are best preparing students for successful careers in the design professions. A total of 392 professional practice organizations participated in the research for the 2013 rankings.

The magazine ranked the college’s programs in its Top 10 in its 2012 issue as well.

Similarly, The New York Times named Kansas State University’s College of Architecture, Planning and Design one of the best colleges in the nation in September.

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