Molecular motor mystery solved: Novel protein rounds out plant cells’ machinery

A research team led by Prof. Weihong Qiu and collaborators from University of California, Davis has discovered a novel motor protein that significantly expands current understanding of the evolution and design principle of motor proteins.

White arrowheads indicate the microtubule plus end, and red and yellow arrowheads indicate the leading ends of two different actin filaments.

The findings of the research team, led by of the OSU College of Science and Bo Liu ­of UC Davis, were published today in Nature Communications.

Read the full OSU announcement at:


Trio Receives Prestigious Scialog Award To Study Collective Cancer Cell Dynamics

A cancerous tumor has cells that act as leaders as the tumor invades and degrades the body’s extracellular matrix, a collection of molecules secreted by healthy cells that provides for their structural and biochemical support. Little is known about how cancer cells become leader cells or how a hierarchy is established as the invasion moves forward.

Three scientists — Michelle Digman, University of California Irvine, Steve Pressé, Arizona State University, and Bo Sun, Oregon State University – have formed a collaboration to screen novel metabolic and rheological (i.e., flow) markers within an invading group of cancer cells. Specifically they aim to determine the probabilities of a cell belonging to a certain type within the invading tumor, and also determine how to eliminate leading cells, as well how new leaders are “elected.”

Among the three scientists, who have not worked together before, there is considerable expertise in live cell imaging and analysis, mathematical analysis and statistical modeling, and tumor patterning and cancer migration.

Digman, Presse and Sun formed their collaboration at the most recent Scialog: Molecules Come to Life conference organized by the private foundation Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA).
Scialog is a combination of “science” plus “dialog.” The unique conference encourages early career scientists to form multidisciplinary teams to identify and tackle critical research challenges. The program is designed to fund highly innovative, but untested, ideas with the potential for high impact on challenges of global significance.

“Funding early stage, potentially high-impact research of this nature can be riskier than funding well-established lines of research,” notes RCSA Senior Program Director Richard Wiener, “but it represents an approach to accelerating the pace of breakthrough scientific discoveries.”

The $168,750 in funding for the trio’s research is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which is co-sponsoring Scialog: Molecules Come to Life.


About Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA):
Founded in 1912, Research Corporation for Science Advancement ( is the second-oldest foundation in the United States (after the Carnegie Corporation) and the oldest foundation for science advancement. RCSA is a leading advocate for the sciences and a major funder of scientific innovation and of research in America’s colleges and universities.

Media Contact:
Research Corporation for Science Advancement
Dan Huff

The work of OSU physics graduate student Lee Aspitarte was featured as a Scientific Highlight on the American Institute of Physics website. Lee’s recent experiments in Ethan Minot’s lab provide new insights about nanoscale pn-junctions. Nanoscale pn-junctions are a promising technology for maximizing the efficiency of light-to-electricity conversion.

Headshot of Oksana Ostroverkhova

Oksana Ostroverkhova has been chosen by the American Physical Society as their Woman Physicist of the Month for May 2017. The Woman Physicist of the Month is a program of the APS’s Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP). It highlights exceptional female physicists, recognizing their positive impact other individuals’ lives and careers.

Read the full article here.

Bethany Matthews has been awarded the Ben and Elaine Whiteley Endowment for Materials Research Fellowship.  This endowment, established in 2007, provides support for materials research in the College of Science.

Ms. Matthews is a fourth-year PhD student working with Prof. Janet Tate. Her research involves the design, synthesis, and characterization of thin film semiconductors for the improvement of renewable energy applications such as solar cells, thermoelectrics (materials which can convert heat to usable energy), or piezoelectrics (materials which can convert a mechanical stress or push to a usable energy). These semiconductors are stabilized in higher energy states than they would normally be found in through alloying and appropriate temperature control to improve their properties and make them more suitable for devices. She is particularly interested in studying the microstructure (e.g. size, composition, structure, and orientation of crystals on a very small scale) of these materials by electron microscopy and learning how changes to that microstructure explain changes to properties on a much larger scale. This fellowship will allow her to study these materials and similar systems in greater detail at the microscopy facility at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado and to explain anomalous property behaviors which, if they can be controlled, could greatly increase device efficiency.

Physics students and faculty have received a total of 7 SURE Science Awards.

The SURE Science Awards support an undergraduate student for a summer of research in a faculty member’s lab.

our student and faculty awardees are:

Cassandra Hatcher (Physics) in the Lazzati Group
Garret Jepson (Physics) in the Schneider Group
Michelle Zhou (Physics) in the Johns Lab (Vet-Med)
Youngmin Park (BB) in the Qiu Lab
Theresa Dinh (Biology) in the Sun Lab
Dublin Nichols (Physics) in the Minot Lab
Attila Varga (Physics) in the Hadley Group

Congratulations to all – we’re looking forward to hearing your reports at the end of the summer.

Bethany Matthews, a 4th-year graduate student in Prof. Janet Tate’s lab, has won a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research Award.  The award is for the proposed research project, “Microscopy Analysis of Metastable Heterostructural Alloys with Anomalous Piezoelectric Response”, to be conducted at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO during the summer and fall of 2017.

The award citation states that, “The SCGSR award is in recognition of outstanding academic accomplishments and the merit of the SCGSR research proposal, and reflects Bethany Matthews’s potential to advance the Ph.D. studies and make important contributions to the mission of the DOE Office of Science.” Congratulations, Bethany!

Bethany will work with Dr. Andrew Norman of NREL and also with Prof. Brian Gorman and Dr. Andriy Zakutayev, her collaborators in the DOE-funded Energy Frontier Research Center, the Center for Next-Generation Materials by Design. The EFRC members study metastable materials of many types, and Bethany’s role has been understanding metastable alloys.  Her developing interest in transmission electron microscopy, using OSU’s Electron Microscopy Facility under the guidance of Dr. Pete Eschbach, led her to submit a proposal to DOE to study metastable alloys with microscopists at NREL and Colorado School of Mines.

SPIE – the international society for optics and photonics has chosen Matt Graham as one of 10 Rising Researchers for 2017.  He will be honored at their meeting in Anaheim next week!–commercial-sensing/rising-researchers    has the story.

(Graham group member Hiral Patel received the poster award at SPIE last year. Go Micro-Femto group!)