Friday, January 31, 2020

There’s a fungus among us – Valley fever

Valley Fever fungus, Coccidioidomycosis. CDC image.

As if bark beetles and low river water levels weren’t enough, there’s another local impact of drought in New Mexico that we can think about – Valley fever. It’s a dust-borne fungal infection, common in the San Joaquin Valley of California and parts of Arizona, but more and more likely to move north through New Mexico, affecting large population centers, such as Albuquerque and Santa Fe, as heat and drought make our soils more welcoming to the fungus.

A 2019 study by a Los Alamos scientist and researchers at the University of California, Irvine documented this expansion, projecting that the fungal infection’s range will likely more than double in the United States, with the list of affected states jumping from 12 to 17, and the number of individual Valley fever cases predicted to grow by 50% by the year 2100. (Full story)

The next coronavirus nightmare is closer than you think

Coronavirus illustration.

Global warming can accelerate displacement by thawing, burning, flooding, or drying out habitats in response to hotter temperatures and stronger storms. “As habitats change and people move and wildlife moves, they’re going to be coming into contact more with each other,” said Jeanne Fair, a biosecurity and public health expert at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Increasingly close contact, in turn, significantly raises the risk that an animal disease will spill over into humans. (Full story)

Acetone plus light creates a green jet fuel additive

Scientists at Los Alamos are converting
a simple molecule into a jet fuel additive.
LANL photo.

Take biomass-derived acetone -- common nail polish remover -- use light to upgrade it to higher-mass hydrocarbons, and, voila, you have a domestically generated product that can be blended with conventional jet fuel to fly while providing environmental benefits, creating domestic jobs, securing the nation's global leadership in bioenergy technologies, and improving U.S. energy security.

"This process allows us to transform a natural product into a fuel additive, improving the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel," said Courtney Ford Ryan, a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of a paper out in preprint form in the journal Sustainable Energy and Fuels. (Full story)

Also from Inverse:

Life in the balance

Harshini Mukundan, LANL photo.

Harshini Mukundan, PhD, juggles a dizzying number of responsibilities – while somehow making it all look effortless.

As an administrator in the Chemistry Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, she serves as Deputy Group Leader for Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy and Team Leader in Chemistry for Biomedical Applications. The 2003 graduate from UNM's Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program is also a teacher, as well as a devoted parent and spouse, who, in her spare time, participates in traditional Indian dance. (Full story)

15 organizations join Los Alamos’ Efficient Mission Centric Computing Consortium in first year

Just over a year after Los Alamos National Laboratory launched the Efficient Mission Centric Computing Consortium (EMC3), 15 companies, universities and federal organizations are now working together to explore new ways to make extreme-scale computers more efficient.

“In the first year of EMC3 we have already seen efficiency improvements to HPC in a number of areas, including the world’s first NVMe-based hardware-accelerated compressed parallel filesystem, in-situ analysis enabled on network adapters for a real simulation code, identifying issues with file system metadata performance in the Linux Kernel, record-setting in situ simulation output indexing, demonstrating file-system metadata indexing, and more,” said Gary Grider, High Performance Computing division leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full story)

And more on EMC3 from InsideHPC

Also from HPCwire this week:

Los Alamos high-performance computing veteran to chair SC22

Candace Culhane, LANL photo.

Candace Culhane, a program/project director in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Directorate for Simulation and Computation, has been selected as the general chair for the 2022 SC Conference (SC22).

“We are thrilled to announce that Candy Culhane is the SC22 General Chair. She brings to the conference her deep knowledge and practical experience in working with the high-performance computing industry sector, national laboratories, and supercomputer centers,” said Michela Taufer, the Jack Dongarra Professor at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and SC Steering Committee chair. (Full story)