News

2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The evolution of language in humans continues to perplex scientists and linguists who study how humans learn to communicate. Considered by some as “operant learning,” this multi-tiered trait involves many genes and modification of an individual’s behavior by trial and error. Toddlers acquire communication skills by babbling until what they utter is rewarded; however, the genes involved in learning language skills are far from completely understood.

J. Brian Houston

J. Brian Houston, assistant professor of communication, received a 2014 Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award, which is presented to junior faculty members who demonstrate superior research and creative activity.

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— Completing an agreement signed in 2011, the University of Missouri and the Missouri Symphony Society announced today that MU has purchased the Missouri Theatre for $3.7 million. Acquiring the Missouri Theatre will save the university an estimated $57.8 million in future construction costs. Additionally, the Missouri Symphony Society will continue to use the venue for offices and performances.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Many languages spoken in Africa do not have a written tradition, and relatively few are well documented. In rural western Kenya, the oral traditions of several distinct varieties of Luyia, a cluster of Bantu languages of Kenya and Uganda, remain largely unstudied. With increasing pressure from the more widespread languages of Swahili and English, there are potential threats to the longevity of these languages.

Michael Marlo and Harun Inyanje Masambu, a Tiriki consultant for the storytelling project, standing near the Yala River in Luyialand.

Why should you say “the round blue ball” instead of “ball blue round the”? Native speakers have the rules of their language engrained in them from a very young age. But a non-native speaker must ask, “What are the rules?” Answering that question leads to a broader one, “How and why do languages vary in the rules they have?” Studying closely related languages can tell us important details of how languages vary, which sheds light on the nature of human language.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – This summer, the University of Missouri hosts the 30th gathering of the Missouri Scholars Academy (MSA). During the program, approximately 330 Missouri high school students will have the opportunity to participate in the comprehensive educational experience that, the end of the summer, will boast more than 9,500 alums.

Ricardo Holdo

The University of Missouri has named Ricardo Holdo, assistant professor of biological sciences, as recipient of the 2014 Provost Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award.

The annual award is presented to a junior faculty member on campus who demonstrates superior research and creative activity.

For 103 years geology students have been enjoying world-class geology field training at the University of Missouri's Camp Branson Field Laboratory located in the Wind River Range near Lander, Wyo. This year, the Geological Society of America (GSA) recognized the program with the GSA/ExxonMobil Field Camp Excellence Award. This $10,000 award is given each year to a geology field camp to assist with the summer field season. It is based on safety awareness, diversity, and technical excellence.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The 1918 Flu Pandemic infected over 500 million people, killing at least 50 million. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has analyzed the pandemic in two remote regions of North America, finding that despite their geographical divide, both regions had environmental, nutritional and economic factors that influenced morbidity during the pandemic. Findings from the research could help improve current health policies.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The human body is full of proteins called enzymes that help nearly every function in the body. Scientists have been studying enzymes for decades in order to learn how they work and how to create better drugs and medical treatments for many ailments. Now, University of Missouri researchers have completed a 3-D map of an enzyme called Proline utilization A (PutA). PutA facilitates metabolism by adding oxygen to molecules.

Noah Heringman

Noah Heringman, a professor in the English department, and his family will pack their bags this summer and travel from Columbia to the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina to spend a year at the National Humanities Center (NHC). Heringman was selected as a fellow of the NHC from a competitive field of 362 applicants.

Edward S. Buckler

MU alum Edward S. Buckler has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Professor Tom Phillips joined the faculty in the Division of Biological Sciences in 1986.

The University of Missouri has named Tom Phillips, professor of biological sciences, as the recipient of the 2014 Maxine Christopher Shutz Award and Lecture for Distinguished Teaching.

Professor Candi Galen

Columbia Public Schools has named Professor Candi Galen a “Science Hero.”

The award recognizes Galen’s role in establishing and serving as faculty director of MU’s Show-Me Nature GK-12 program. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the program enhances science learning in elementary schools by partnering graduate students in the sciences with fourth and fifth grade teachers and students.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Lowland South America, including the Amazon Basin, harbors most of the last indigenous societies that have limited contact with the outside world. Studying these tribes, located deep within Amazonian rainforests, gives scientists a glimpse at what tribal cultures may have been like before the arrival of Europeans.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The term “tween” denotes a child who is between the ages of 8 and 12 and is used to describe a preadolescent who is “in between” being a child and a teen. This demographic watches more television than any other age group and is considered to be a very lucrative market. Tween television programming consists of two genres: “teen scene” (geared toward girls) and “action-adventure” (geared toward boys).

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Cambrian Period is a time when most phyla of marine invertebrates first appeared in the fossil record. Also dubbed the “Cambrian explosion,” fossilized records from this time provide glimpses into evolutionary biology when the world’s ecosystems rapidly changed and diversified. Most fossils show the organisms’ skeletal structure, which may or may not give researchers accurate pictures of these prehistoric organisms.

Ray Semlitsch, Curators’ Professor of biological sciences, is corresponding author of the study.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Currently, there are more than 18,300 golf courses in the U.S. covering over 2.7 million acres. The ecological impacts of golf courses are not always straightforward with popular opinion suggesting that environmentally, golf courses have a negative impact on ecosystems.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Coding genes contain DNA sequences that are used to assign functions required for development and maintenance within a cell. These coding genes articulate how a fingernail grows, help develop nerve cells responsible for chewing, and are vital in helping the spinal cord facilitate movement in arms or legs.

Dr. Weicai Yang recognizes Dr. James Birchler with a prestigious Einstein Professorship in a ceremony held on March 18 at the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing.

Columbia, MO—The Chinese Academy of Sciences has named James Birchler, Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri, a recipient of an Einstein Professorship.

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