As countries seek to reduce their stockpiles of NUCLEAR MATERIAL, they face a hurdle in verifying that other nations are doing the same. Engineering and international affairs professor Alexander Glaser is pioneering a new way to help close that gap using virtual-reality technology. Glaser recently received a $400,000 grant from the Carnegie and MacArthur foundations to train inspectors and check up on other countries in a virtual environment without exposure to toxic materials.
In order for bacteria to succeed in infecting a host, millions of individual bacterial cells must collaborate. They do this through a process called QUORUM SENSING, in which bacteria release tiny molecules that are detected by other bacteria, causing them to coordinate their attack. Molecular biology postdoc Sampriti Mukherjee and professor Bonnie Bassler recently discovered a new quorum-sensing molecule that increases the virulence of one particularly nasty bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which has become resistant to antibiotics. The finding, published in PLoS Pathogens in July, could create new ways to defeat many forms of resistant bacteria.