July 27, 2021 Newsletter

July 27

Take a look at our July 27, 2021, Newsletter with updates from the Ken Kennedy Institute.

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In This Issue

  • Phil Bedient Awarded Ray K. Linsley Award
  • News Highlight: Nakhleh Receives NSF Support for Single-Cell Genome Study
  • Community Highlights

Check out the 2021 AI and Data Science Conference!

Click here to view the conference program for Oct 25-27. Wed, Oct 27 will be an add-on day that will include hands-on tutorial sessions & additional technical talks.

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Phil Bedient honored by American Institute of Hydrology


Ken Kennedy Institute member, and Herman Brown Professor of Engineering, Phil Bedient, has been awarded the American Institute of Hydrology's Ray K. Linsley Award. Bedient is the Director of SSPEED (Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disaster Center). SSPEED is one of the Gulf Coast Region's leading university-based research centers for severe-storm and hurricane research. Bedient is also a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and is the Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University.

Phil Bedient has been awarded the American Institute of Hydrology's Ray K. Linsley Award in honor of outstanding contributions in surface water hydrology. The Institute said Bedient "has become one of the most notable national figures in surface water hydrology, especially as it related to flooding and stormwater runoff."

In the 1990s, Bedient developed one of the United States’ first radar-based rainfall flood alert systems (FAS) for Rice and the Texas Medical Center. That system, which is in its fifth generation, FAS5, has performed accurately in more than 60 storms, including Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricane Harvey. Bedient has since developed a number of FAS systems in Texas, including the City of Houston’s Flood Information and Response System, or
FIRST, which debuted this year.
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News Highlight

Luay Nakhleh earns NSF support for single-cell genome study

Ken Kennedy Institute member and William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Rice’s Brown School of Engineering, Luay Nakhleh, has been awarded a four-year, $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to analyze the genomes in colonies of single cancer cells to find not only the mutations at the root of the disease but also how they evolve from cell to cell as the tumor grows. Nakhleh, also a professor of computer science and of biosciences, and his team will use single-cell DNA data provided by colleagues at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. They expect to reveal evolutionary trees of cancer mutations that could eventually help refine treatment for patients.

Cancer is caused by mutations including single nucleotide variants and copy number aberrations in a cell, but complications often arise when that cell’s offspring develop mutations of their own.

“I do a lot of work in evolutionary biology that has nothing to do with cancer,” Nakhleh said. “But our approach to this problem is evolutionary in the sense that we’re looking at cells we know evolved from an ancestral cell. Because they come from one individual cell, they give rise to an evolutionary tree structure,” he said. “This is very exciting because we can apply our expertise in computational evolutionary biology to this specific problem.”

Nakhleh said the cells in a tumor typically incorporate a variety of mutations. “In a group of cells with mutational signatures, you see a sort of clustering: one group of cells has five specific mutations, another group has seven and so on,” he said. “Cancer biologists want to understand what role this plays in treatment outcomes for patients, and it’s been very hard to do,” Nakhleh said. “Now that we’re getting single-cell resolution, we can identify mutations on a larger scale and map them onto an evolutionary tree. That will help us know the order in which the mutations happened.”

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2021 IBB Summer Undergrad Research Symposium

Date: August 6 at 9:30-11:30 AM
Bioscience Research Collaborative


The symposium will showcase the work of students participating in the following summer undergraduate research programs at Rice: Bionetworks, BIOS 310, BioXFEL, BUILDing Scholars, EEPS, EngMed, SCRIP, SRI, SURF.

7th SCI Summer Research Colloquium

Date: August 13, 2021

This all-day event features presentations by Rice students & postdocs about their latest discoveries. Subjects include advances in photonics and optics, condensed matter physics, nanoscience, nanoengineering, nano- and quantum materials, bioengineering, solar energy, ultracold atoms, plasmonics, and more. Click here to register and click here for more info.

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