IT department warns U of L community about scam emails Thursday, Oct 8 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville’s Information Technology department sent out an email on Oct. 4, warning the U of L community of scam emails being sent to some U of L email addresses. The scam emails claim to provide coronavirus relief funds to those who fill out a form.

The IT department advises everyone to look out for these emails, which are being sent from multiple email addresses.

“The emails have the subject ‘Covid-19 Benefits’ or no subject and references a $920 payment and a Giveaway. These messages are fake and are part of a phishing scam,” the IT department said.

Those who receive a scam email should report it by using the “Report Message” button on Outlook. They should also make sure they don’t fill out the form or give any personal information to the scammers.

“If you have provided any personal information on this form, please monitor your related accounts, and cease any further contact,” the email said. “If you receive a phone call from the scammer, ITS asks that you contact the ITS Helpdesk and provide the phone number that the scammer is texting you from. If you provided any account information, you should change your passwords.”

File Photo//The Louisville Cardinal

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Tool that tests for E. Coli in water developed by U of L students Wednesday, Sep 30 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

A group of U of L undergraduate students have created a new water pollution testing tool that tests for E.coli bacteria in water sources.

The testing tool was inspired by the students’ service project with the Metropolitan Sewer District, Bernheim Forest and The Nature Conservancy. Their work entailed monitoring, cleaning and restoring streams in Louisville.

Part of these tasks included testing the streams for E.coli bacteria, a type of bacteria found in biological waste that can cause disease. However, with the type of testing required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, the students were having to travel to each of the 10 sites at least five times a month.

Sam Kessler was the leading student behind the project and is a current Grawemeyer Scholar.

“With our class schedules, going to each of those sites multiple times per month wasn’t going to work for very long,” Kessler said in a U of L News article.

In response, Kessler and his team invented a new type of water pollution test that works by being mounted to concrete in a stream. After a certain amount of time has passed, the test is taken out and sampled for E.coli bacteria.

“The number of colonies you count from that give a really good estimate of the total amount of E.coli pollution over time,” Kessler said.

The test is more time and cost efficient than other common methods.

The other standards of water testing measure E.coli levels present at the time the test is taken and does not account for potential fluctuating levels of E.coli on the days in between tests.

“You can leave it in the stream or river all month and test once instead of making at least five different trips,” Kessler told U of L News. “And, because it’s in the stream all month instead of the isolated tests we currently do, you get more insightful results from a cumulative sample.”

When asked what his future plans were in terms of promoting the invention and increasing access to it, Kessler said the device is patent-pending and the patent is co-owned by the United States Government, which will serve to increase access to the technology.

In addition, Kessler is working on a peer-reviewed publication for the invention and hopes that someone is able to take the technology to developing screening for COVID-19 in wastewater.

Photo Courtesy // U of L News

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U of L becomes first Kentucky university named Adobe Creative Campus Thursday, Sep 24 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

The University of Louisville has partnered with Adobe to become the first Adobe Creative Campus in Kentucky, offering all students, faculty and staff complete access to Adobe’s Creative Cloud applications.

The partnership, which will last for at least three years, provides those with a U of L email address free access to Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Adobe XD and other Adobe products.

Karen Freberg, an associate professor in strategic communication at U of L, was one of the driving forces behind the partnership.

Freberg brought the program to the attention of U of L President Neeli Bendapudi last year who, along with the rest of university administration, gave support and encouragement to make the goal of Adobe Creative Campus status a reality.

“Both U of L and Adobe are extremely excited about this partnership since this will not only benefit our campus, but the community and industry as well,” Freberg said. “Our students will have the knowledge and skills in Adobe products that will make them very marketable as they apply for jobs and internships.”

In addition to full access to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Freberg said that the partnership with U of L will include fellowships, grants, communication with Adobe contacts, trainings and additional campus-wide events.

“Students will be able to get free access to Adobe products, allowing them to use industry level tools that will help them gain creativity and digital literacy skills, making them marketable for future positions,” Freberg said.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr // The Louisville Cardinal

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Facebook partners with U of L to launch new campus platform Friday, Sep 18 2020 


By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville has become one of 30 universities in the country to pilot the new Facebook platform, Facebook Campus.

This platform is a college-only space to help university students connect with their fellow classmates through features like a Campus-only News Feed, events, groups and group rooms.

Students will be able to access the Campus channel through their personal Facebook accounts and find other participating U of L students in a directory.

To participate in Facebook Campus, students will have to provide their graduation year and louisville.edu email address. They will then be required to design a new profile specifically for the Campus platform, where they can add information including their classes, dorm and major.

The U of L specific Facebook Campus page will include groups and events students can join to find fellow students with similar interests.

“In the early days, Facebook was a college-only network, and now we’re returning to our roots with Facebook Campus to help students make and maintain these relationships, even if they’re away from their college,” Facebook said in a story on  their Facebook Newsroom.

In a U of L news release, President Bendapudi said, “The University of Louisville is so honored that Facebook has given our students the opportunity to be among the first in the nation to use this incredible product. We know they can’t wait to explore and discover all of the ways this tool can help them communicate with their peers. Facebook Campus is the latest innovation that makes our community unique. It is a tremendous asset to Card Nation.”

U of L will be joined by the likes of universities including Duke, the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins in the pilot program.

“U of L became one of these 30 universities because Facebook saw U of L as a great potential university partner in this initiative and has been impressed with the work we have done as a university,” Karen Freberg, an associate professor in strategic communication at U of L, said.

When asked how she thought this new feature would help U of L students struggling to make meaningful connections due to COVID-19 restrictions, Freberg said, “This new feature is exactly designed to create a sense of community during this time with COVID, but also allow students to network, connect and bring the U of L culture to the online space.”

“There will also be some potential professional opportunities for students as part of this partnership as well,” she said.

The Facebook Campus platform is available now for students to use.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr // The Louisville Cardinal

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UPS donates $100,000 to U of L in support of COVID-19 research Monday, May 11 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

UPS has pledged a $100,000 donation to the University of Louisville to fund research into a potential COVID-19 treatment.

The UPS donation will help fund the trials and pay for the test materials needed for COVID-19 research.

The funding will go to support research like Paula Bates’, which has shown promise in inhibiting COVID-19. Wanting to apply her prior research to the current COVID-19 outbreak, Bates partnered with Kenneth Palmer, the director of U of L’s Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Bates’ treatment involves an aptamer, a piece of synthetic DNA, that she discovered along with John Trent and Don Miller. U of L is hoping that they will be able to fast track approval of the treatment because it has already been used in human clinical trials on cancer patients and has been shown to be safe.

“I deeply appreciate the gift from UPS that helps support my work,” Bates, a professor of medicine, said. “It is with gifts such as this that we will be able to advance our research and our ability to treat the novel coronavirus. I’m also thankful to be in such a collaborative setting with great facilities and a supportive environment for translational research. There are only a few places where we could have tested this idea so quickly.”

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L researchers discover a treatment that could be useful against COVID-19 Wednesday, May 6 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered that a piece of synthetic DNA could be a useful treatment for COVID-19 patients.

This synthetic DNA, also known as an aptamer, was discovered by Paula Bates, John Trent and Don Miller. Bates was originally interested in this technology for its potential in cancer patients.

“I’m actually a cancer researcher by training, and one of the things I’ve investigated in the past is developing a drug that specifically targets cancer cells,” Bates said. “It turns out that the protein that this drug binds to is also involved with helping a lot of viruses do their thing.”

Bates said that she first had the idea in February as she was trying to think of ways that she could help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. When she realized that her drug could be effective against COVID-19, she reached out to Kenneth Palmer, director of U of L’s Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Palmer tested Bates’ treatment and found out that it was able to inhibit COVID-19. The treatment will still have to go through testing and human clinical trials before it will be ready for widespread use on COVID-19 patients.

Bates is still unsure how the drug will be used if it gets approved, but thinks that it could be useful for either very sick patients or those who are just starting to experience symptoms. She said she will know more about how it can be used once they design the clinical trial.

Bates is also hoping that the testing process could be quicker than normal because the drug has already been used in clinical trials with cancer patients. She believes that this advantage will make it so this treatment could become available before a vaccine.

“We’re all hoping for a vaccine that will work and be safe and available to everyone as soon as possible but best case scenario I think that’s going to be a year at least,” Bates said. “So the goal is to have something out before then so that the more options we have to treat the coronavirus, the more we can return to some sense of normalcy.”

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

 

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U of L researchers from various departments help combat COVID-19 Friday, Apr 3 2020 

–By Eli Hughes

The University of Louisville announced April 3 the actions its researchers are taking to respond to COVID-19, which includes actions from the school of medicine, the school of public health, the school of social work and J.B. Speed School of Engineering.

These U of L departments are manufacturing kits used in COVID-19 testing, manufacturing personal protective equipment, disinfecting N-95 masks and working on ways to contact trace the spread of the virus.

“There is an incredible amount of work and I am really proud of researchers we have here who have really responded incredibly well to this crisis and the need for all of these types of activities,” said Kevin Gardner, the executive vice president of research for U of L, in the April 3 U of L trustee’s meeting, which was held virtually.

The Speed School has partnered with the School of Medicine to create and distribute swab kits. The lack of these kits is a limiting factor to widespread COVID-19 testing, so U of L hopes that this contribution can make it possible to increase the amount of testing.

Researchers at the Speed School are also manufacturing face shields, which medical professionals can use to protect themselves when they are in contact with COVID-19 patients. These masks will be distributed not only to hospitals in Kentucky but across the country to places where the virus is spreading more rapidly such as New York.

U of L has also developed a process for sanitizing N-95 masks, which are the medical-grade masks that have been valuable resources since the beginning of this outbreak. Gardner has said their facilities will be able to sanitize 10,000 N-95 masks a day.

The Schools of Public Health and Social Work are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak by helping with contact tracing. This means they are helping identify who might have come into contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

This action can help prevent the spread of the virus by quickly isolating those who have been in contact with the virus.

More information on U of L’s research can be found on the U of L research website.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L researches treatment for COVID-19 using protein grown in tobacco Thursday, Apr 2 2020 

By Eli Hughes —

Researchers at the University of Louisville are working on a possible treatment for COVID-19 that uses a protein grown in tobacco.

This treatment is being designed as a preventative nasal spray that researchers are hoping will reach human clinical trials by the end of the year.

Kenneth Palmer, director of U of L’s Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, said that the protein active in the treatment was first studied by his team for its usefulness in preventing HIV.

“We knew that this protein had very good activity against HIV and we wondered some years ago whether it would have activity against other viruses,” Palmer said. “One group of viruses that we were interested in were SARS-Coronavirus.”

Palmer’s group found that this protein was successful in inhibiting many different strains of the coronavirus. Now, almost 15 years later, they wondered if this protein would be successful in preventing the newest strain of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

“We got the virus into our labs,” Palmer said, “And tested to see if the protein would also inhibit the new coronavirus, SARS-coronavirus II, and indeed it does.”

“So, now we are using our tobacco produced product to inhibit the new coronavirus.”

The protein works by binding to the sugar structures that many viruses have on their surfaces. This prevents the virus from replicating.

Palmer says that his team chose to use a lab rat relative of tobacco to grow this protein because tobacco produces the protein well and it is easy to extract.

Palmer has 15 years of experience working with proteins in tobacco plants. He says that Kentucky’s experience with growing tobacco and the enviroment suitable for growing the plant in Kentucky makes it a good choice.

The researchers are now applying for funding to get their treatment into a human clinical trial. Palmer says that their nasal spray could be available before a vaccine becomes available.

Even if this treatment comes out after a vaccine it could still be valuable to public health by combatting other types of the coronavirus.

“Over the last 15 years or so we’ve had three serious public health concerns from the coronavirus,” said Palmer. “And our product is active against all coronaviruses while a vaccine will tend to be more specific to a single coronavirus strain.”

Research is currently being conducted in U of L’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory and strict safety measures are being upheld to ensure the safety of the researchers.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Green energy researcher at U of L wins grant Sunday, Feb 2 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

Joshua Spurgeon, a University of Louisville renewable energy researcher, won the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. Along with the award, he will receive a $500,000 grant from the NSF that will go towards research and education over the next five years.

Spurgeon is theme leader for solar fuels at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research in the J.B. School of Engineering. “The basic concept is to find ways to direct the energy of sunlight to run electrochemical reactions such as water-splitting to make clean fuels like hydrogen,” he said.

His research is geared towards increasing energy independence and sustainability of society. “Specifically, making clean fuels like H2, which have no CO2 emissions when used, are a way to have energy-dense storage of solar energy,” said Spurgeon. “This H2 could be used in fuel cells for onsite electricity generation for utilities, or it could be used for transportation applications, or it can be a clean feedstock in the chemical industry. But it is a way to store intermittent solar energy so that it can be used at any time, like when the sun isn’t shining.”

Spurgeon said the grant will be used to research microparticles capable of spontaneously splitting water under illumination. “We will improve the design of these particles, verify their performance capabilities, and study their behavior under different conditions,” he said. “We will also study and try to improve a whole system, which would be a slurry of these solar water-splitting particles suspended in water.”

In addition to the research aspect of the grant, some of it will go towards education. “The educational part of the grant involves helping to develop a new master’s program in energy and materials science, bringing in underrepresented students for research internships, and getting more senior graduate students into entrepreneurial education to help them commercialize their successes,” said Spurgeon.

To be considered for this award, Spurgeon had to submit a proposal detailing the research he would conduct over the five years and education initiatives to tie students into the work. He is unique in winning this award because he is non-faculty, placing him among a small group of recipients like himself.

He has been researching the solar fuels field since earning his PhD from the California Institute of Technology in 2010. Before coming to U of L in 2014, he worked at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, researching solar fuels.

Photo Courtesy of The University of Louisville 

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U of L research funding highest since 2012 Friday, Jul 19 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville announced its most successful year of securing research funding since 2012 on July 18. The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation (EVPRI) showed preliminary numbers that U of L faculty received $152 million in competitive awards last fiscal year. This is a $14 million increase from the last year.

The EVPRI is responsible for this increase. “We provided grant writing and preparation support on a select number of grants, which increased the competitiveness of some grant applications,” said Robert Keynton, U of L’s interim executive vice president for research and innovation.

From 2018 to 2019, U of L conducted research on e-cigarettes, gum disease, robots and sexual assault. The grants received made this type of research possible for the university.

“This is great news for our community and those touched by U of L’s research in medicine, education, engineering, art and countless other disciplines,” Keynton said. “Our faculty work tirelessly to secure the funding needed to explore, test and translate that research, so it can change, improve and even save lives.”

Among the projects that received grants:

  • $18.1 million/5 years from the National Institutes of Health for a biomedical research center. Professor Nigel Cooper in Anatomical Science/Neurobiology runs the center. The main purpose of the center is to build a capacity for bioinformatics to serve the needs of Kentucky genomics researchers. Bioinformatics is a field that develops software to better understand biological data.
  • $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation to develop a small additive manufacturing platform using microrobots and 3D printing. Speed School of Engineering professor Dan Popa secured the grant. Popa directs the Next Generation Systems robotics lab.
  • $1.5 million from the Kentucky Department of Education to support systems for improving students’ academic and behavioral outcomes in every Kentucky school district. College of Education and Human Development faculty Terry Scott received the grant.

To help U of L stay competitive in research fields the EVPRI plans to continue support of the internal grant programs in place. Additionally, they plan to add a new program to support multidisciplinary team projects across the university.

All of the research U of L departments did were funded by grants. U of L faculty received a preliminary total of 950 grants from federal and state governments along with private sources. Keynton said that the U of L School of Medicine received the majority of extramural funding.

Photo Courtesy of The University of Louisville

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