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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  2. Semrau, Jeremy D. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are opportunistic pathogens that cause chronic pulmonary disease (PD). NTM infections are thought to be acquired from the environment; however, the basal environmental factors that drive and sustain NTM prevalence are not well understood. The highest prevalence of NTM PD cases in the United States is reported from Hawai’i, which is unique in its climate and soil composition, providing an opportunity to investigate the environmental drivers of NTM prevalence. We used microbiological sampling and spatial logistic regression complemented with fine-scale soil mineralogy to model the probability of NTM presence across the natural landscape of Hawai’i. Over 7 years, we collected and microbiologically cultured 771 samples from 422 geographic sites in natural areas across the Hawaiian Islands for the presence of NTM. NTM were detected in 210 of these samples (27%), with Mycobacterium abscessus being the most frequently isolated species. The probability of NTM presence was highest in expansive soils (those that swell with water) with a high water balance (>1-m difference between rainfall and evapotranspiration) and rich in Fe-oxides/hydroxides. We observed a positive association between NTM presence and iron in wet soils, supporting past studies, but no such association in dry soils. High soil-water balance maymore »facilitate underground movement of NTM into the aquifer system, potentially compounded by expansive capabilities allowing crack formation under drought conditions, representing further possible avenues for aquifer infiltration. These results suggest both precipitation and soil properties are mechanisms by which surface NTM may reach the human water supply. IMPORTANCE Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are ubiquitous in the environment, being found commonly in soils and natural bodies of freshwater. However, little is known about the environmental niches of NTM and how they relate to NTM prevalence in homes and other human-dominated areas. To characterize NTM environmental associations, we collected and cultured 771 samples from 422 geographic sites in natural areas across Hawai’i, the U.S. state with the highest prevalence of NTM pulmonary disease. We show that the environmental niches of NTM are most associated with highly expansive, moist soils containing high levels of iron oxides/hydroxides. Understanding the factors associated with NTM presence in the natural environment will be crucial for identifying potential mechanisms and risk factors associated with NTM infiltration into water supplies, which are ultimately piped into homes where most exposure risk is thought to occur.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 10, 2023
  3. null (Ed.)
    Spatial extremes are common for climate data as the observations are usually referenced by geographic locations and dependent when they are nearby. An important goal of extremes modeling is to estimate the T-year return level. Among the methods suitable for modeling spatial extremes, perhaps the simplest and fastest approach is the spatial generalized extreme value (GEV) distribution and the spatial generalized Pareto distribution (GPD) that assume marginal independence and only account for dependence through the parameters. Despite the simplicity, simulations have shown that return level estimation using the spatial GEV and spatial GPD still provides satisfactory results compared to max-stable processes, which are asymptotically justified models capable of representing spatial dependence among extremes. However, the linear functions used to model the spatially varying coefficients are restrictive and may be violated.We propose a flexible and fast approach based on the spatial GEV and spatial GPD by introducing fused lasso and fused ridge penalty for parameter regularization. This enables improved return level estimation for large spatial extremes compared to the existing methods. Supplemental files for this article are available online.
  4. Scientists use imaging to identify objects of interest and infer properties of these objects. The locations of these objects are often measured with error, which when ignored leads to biased parameter estimates and inflated variance. Current measurement error methods require an estimate or knowledge of the measurement error variance to correct these estimates, which may not be available. Instead, we create a spatial Bayesian hierarchical model that treats the locations as parameters, using the image itself to incorporate positional uncertainty. We lower the computational burden by approximating the likelihood using a noncontiguous block design around the object locations. We use this model to quantify the relationship between the intensity and displacement of hundreds of atom columns in crystal structures directly imaged via scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). Atomic displacements are related to important phenomena such as piezoelectricity, a property useful for engineering applications like ultrasound. Quantifying the sign and magnitude of this relationship will help materials scientists more precisely design materials with improved piezoelectricity. A simulation study confirms our method corrects bias in the estimate of the parameter of interest and drastically improves coverage in high noise scenarios compared to non-measurement error models.
  5. The National Science Foundation (NSF) 2018 Materials and Data Science Hackathon (MATDAT18) took place at the Residence Inn Alexandria Old Town/Duke Street, Alexandria, VA over the period May 30–June 1, 2018. This three-day collaborative “hackathon” or “datathon” brought together teams of materials scientists and data scientists to collaboratively engage materials science problems using data science tools. The materials scientists brought a diversity of problems ranging from inorganic material bandgap prediction to acceleration of ab initio molecular dynamics to quantification of aneurysm risk from blood hydrodynamics. The data scientists contributed tools and expertise in areas such as deep learning, Gaussian process regression, and sequential learning with which to engage these problems. Participants lived and worked together, collaboratively “hacked” for several hours per day, delivered introductory, midpoint, and final presentations and were exposed to presentations and informal interactions with NSF personnel. Social events were organized to facilitate interactions between teams. The primary outcomes of the event were to seed new collaborations between materials and data scientists and generate preliminary results. A separate competitive process enabled participants to apply for exploratory funding to continue work commenced at the hackathon. Anonymously surveyed participants reported a high level of satisfaction with the event, with 100%more »of respondents indicating that their team will continue to work together into the future and 91% reporting intent to submit a white paper for exploratory funding.« less