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Listeria and Traceability: Auburn Speaks to the Importance of Tracking Food

lab testingOn Friday, April 24, 2015, Inventure Foods, Inc. in Jefferson, Georgia announced a recall of many food items due to listeria, including some found regularly in our freezers such as fresh frozen vegetables and Jamba home smoothie kits. http://www.inventurefoods.com/information/frozenrecall  This announcement adds to the growing list of foods found to contain listeria recently, including Blue Bell Ice Cream and Sabra Classic Hummus.

Listeria is a form of bacteria that causes listeriosis, an infection that can potentially harm newborns, pregnant woman, the elderly, and others whose immune systems are already compromised. Common symptoms include fever, body aches, and gastrointestinal distress. These conditions can be serious for those already in poor health and can lead to life-threatening conditions for the fetuses of pregnant women.

Recent listeria recalls point to the importance of tracking food from its origins to the table. In the 2014 edition of Auburn Speaks, entitled Food Systems, Brian Gibson, Joe Hanna, and Mark Clark overview ways that technology can track foods through supply chain management principles and technological applications. The authors argue that prompt traceability (which they define as the “ability to follow a food product through the processes of production, processing, and distribution”) helps to ensure food safety while allowing farmers, wholesalers, and retailers to track their stocks and improve supply and efficiency.

To limit the impact of contamination like that of listeria, Gibson, Hanna, and Clark recommend implementation of better data gathering techniques that will help authorities quickly identify cases of food similar to those they find to be contaminated. They suggest that two current methods, barcoding and RFID chips, may offer the most immediate solution. Both of these technologies involve placing a marker of some sort on each case of product. This marker can then be scanned to reveal information about the product’s history and handling, including who produced the product, the lot number from which it came, and the packing date.

More consistent and precise data will help authorities trace potentially damaged stock back to its original source. In addition, this information allows authorities to identify all of the produce linked to a source of contamination and eliminate it from supermarket shelves. The authors stress that information is one major method for minimizing the potential dangers of food-borne pathogens like listeria.

To learn more, and to get the stories behind the headlines, check Auburn Speaks: On Food Systems.

To purchase issues from the award-winning Auburn Speaks visit the Auburn Speaks Store.

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Taking Flight: Auburn’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight School

This month, Auburn University received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish the first Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight School in the United States. This designation will allow Auburn faculty members, students, and members of relevant public organizations to perform commercial flight training on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), often called drones. The flight school will perform flights outside and untethered in various locations around the state of Alabama.

Auburn University has an 80-year history of teaching and research about aviation, and this year’s edition of Auburn Speaks, titled On Cyber and the Digital Domain, includes a chapter by Chase Murray entitled “Air Traffic Control: Algorithms for UAV Operations: From Monitoring the Battlefield to Delivering Packages,” that describes the uses of UAVs and the processes by which UAVs fly to pre-determined destinations without a human pilot. In the chapter, Murray explains his own research, devising algorithms and other mathematical models to help UAVs reach their target locations using GPS coordinates.

Murray ends his piece by emphasizing that it is an exciting time to be studying UAVs at Auburn University. Several faculty members and their students are working on federally funded projects to improve UAV capabilities, such as Saad Biaz, who is developing software to improve UAV flight navigation and avoid collisions. With the approval of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight School, these exciting times will certainly continue.

To learn more, visit: http://ocm.auburn.edu/aviation_center/

To get your copy of Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain, visit the Auburn Speaks Store.

Cyber Hacking Competitions: Not just Fun and Games

hacker over a screen with binary codeThe need for cybersecurity experts is growing—in fact, it is outpacing the supply of workers. Nowhere is this more evident than in our nation’s defense. Last April, National Public Radio reported on an annual three-day event sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA) called CDX intended to boost skills among up and coming cyber defense specialists. In this exercise, top cyber security students from the nation’s military academies are challenged to create cyber defenses that can withstand hacking from the NSA’s specialists.

This exercise is both a training tool as well as a recruiting opportunity for the NSA, who have an acute need for cyber specialists. Similarly, these specialists are in high demand across many private sector industries, especially those involving Internet technologies.

This year’s issue of Auburn Speaks, titled On Cyber and the Digital Domain, features a piece about a related cyber security contest hosted by Facebook called Capture the Flag. Because of its vast information holdings, Facebook has a vested interest in fostering the best in cyber security talent, so they often host cyber hacking contests to find and recruit new cyber hacking specialists. In May 2014, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) hosted one of the first such events at a college, and a team from Auburn University participated.

In his chapter, “Facebook Capture the Flag: Cyber Tales from the ARRRG Sea,” Ben Denton, a member of the Auburn team offers a firsthand account of the experience.  Auburn’s team, called Pirates of the ARRRG Sea, participated in a series of challenges wherein the goal was to break into a digital entity—perhaps a website or a piece of software—and capture a virtual flag from it. These challenges required increasing levels of sophistication and hacking technique. Pirates of the ARRRG Sea placed second in the contest, but, as Denton notes in his chapter, the experience and knowledge gained was invaluable. Moreover, as cyber security becomes an increasingly vital—and understaffed—component of the digital domain, events like CDX and Capture the Flag will be essential to finding the next generation of cyber talent.

To learn more, get your copy Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain from the Auburn Speaks Store today or visit: http://www.auburn.edu/auburnspeaks.

Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain Now Available with Augmented Reality

Cyber touches all our lives, directly and indirectly. Digitized information teaches us, entertains us, keeps track of our finances, monitors our health and our food supply, facilitates rapid and open communication, allows us near instantaneous access to information, and resides at the heart of our nation’s critical infrastructure. Released April 1, 2015 (along with our new AUgmented reality app, TigerView) the latest edition of award-winning series, Auburn Speaks, focuses on the phenomenon that is “cyber”.

Written by nationally and internationally-recognized Auburn experts, a broad array of topics are featured on subjects ranging from cyber security, national security, information assurance, big data, the changing nature of news and media, as well as cyber impacts on health, literature, media, film and theatre to name a few. Highlights include:

  • Open Source Intelligence in the Cyber Age
  • Safeguarding the Wireless World
  • The Trusted Insider: A Spy in the Worst Possible Place
  • Immersive Virtual Reality: Creating Characters for The Lord of the Rings to FBI Training
  • The Future of Money: The Rise of Crypto Currency
  • Hacked Off: The Sociology of Cyber Crime
  • Agricultural Analytics: Harnessing Data to Feed a Hungry World

Featuring a special forward, “Security in the New Digital World” from Admiral Michael S. Rogers, USN Commander, US Cyber Command; Director, National Security Agency; Chief, Central Security Service- and Auburn graduate.

Tigerview_iconIn conjunction with the release of Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain, we are excited to unveil TigerView, our free augmented reality app. Throughout Auburn Speaks, articles have been enhanced with AUgmented reality that can be launched and enjoyed with TigerView. To sample enriched content, download TigerView to your smartphone or tablet, use the “View Now” feature to scan the cover of Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain (below) and experience AUgmented reality.

This image has been enhanced with augmented reality.  To view, download TigerView by Auburn University to your smartphone or tablet, open the app, then use the "view now" feature to scan the cover and enjoy augmented reality.

Auburn Speaks is an annual publication on Auburn University research targeting issues that impact life and work in our state and beyond.  Auburn Speaks is produced by the Office the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Auburn University. To learn more, click here.

Copies may be purchased from the Auburn Speaks Store

Auburn Speaks SERIES Now Available Print-On-Demand

AU_Oil_Cover

As a land-grant university, Auburn University serves the state and its people as a discoverer of new knowledge and ideas, and as a repository of science, literature, history, art, and culture. Every day, Auburn experts add to that store of knowledge–developing new processes, materials, and technologies along the way. They then take this expertise and focus it on real-world challenges and problems. In putting good ideas to work, Auburn researchers improve quality of life, strengthen the economy, and help keep us safe and secure.

Because this aspect of Auburn University is little known and often not well understood, Auburn Speaks seeks to translate and make accessible the sometimes dense and mysterious language of research, and to capture Auburn’s role in addressing the increasingly complex issues facing our state, nation and world. Produced by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Auburn Speaks is an annual book series focusing on a specific research topic of interest to a public audience.

To date, we have produced three issues in the series. Released in April of 2012, the inaugural issue, Auburn Speaks: The Oil Spill of 2010 is devoted to chronicling Auburn University’s research related to the catastrophic oil spill in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Released in the spring of 2013, the second issue, Auburn Speaks: On Water, seeks to provide readers with insight into the breadth and depth of water-related research and creative scholarship at Auburn. The third issue, Auburn Speaks: On Food Systems was released in the spring of 2014 and focuses on food, food-related topics, and hunger.

We are pleased to announce that we have partnered with EBSCO Media to make each issue of Auburn Speaks available through their print-on-demand service.  Each issue is now newly available in the same beautiful form and style as its initial release.

It is a privilege to share our research story with you. Through Auburn Speaks you are able to see firsthand what motivates our talented experts, to hear about the challenges they face, and gain an understanding of how their commitment and perseverance have led to innovation and discovery.  With your purchase of Auburn Speaks, you help fuel the engines of innovation and foster opportunities for partnership by sharing the work of Auburn experts throughout the state and region.

To purchase copies for yourself or to share with friends, visit the new Auburn Speaks store at: store.auburnspeaks.org.

Auburn University: Working to Secure the Cyber Domain

Auburn University is one of a handful of institutions in the United States that has been designated by the National Security Agency as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations, Cyber Defense and Information Assurance. This unique three-fold designation allows the Auburn University Cyber Initiative to engage at the highest levels with national agencies and industries working in the cyber domain.

On October 24, 2014, Auburn University hosted a world affairs forum where some of the security challenges related to the cyber domain were discussed. Panelists included Admiral Michael S. Rogers, ’81, Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency and Senator Jeff Sessions, United States Senator from Alabama, Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The panel was moderated by Lt. General Ronald L. Burgess (Ret.), Senior Counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs at Auburn University.

Topics included the balance of diplomacy and military force in a global crisis; military restructuring and budget constraints; the roles of the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command; the ISIS threat; and foreign policy in the Middle East. Check out an excerpt here:

http://youtu.be/V6Lk4u1Rnwo?list=UU5BE7kfbJPu9-AnZR9G4FKA

Auburn RFID Technology could revolutionize Food Safety

Mother and daughter in produce section

Imagine pointing your smart phone at a head of lettuce in the grocery store and having the phone tell you what farm the lettuce came from and that the produce arrived in the grocery store three days ago. What if your phone could even tell you what temperatures the lettuce was exposed to in transit?

Would you pay extra for that lettuce? You bet I would.

This scenario might sound like science fiction, but the technology already exists. It’s called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), the technology already used by some retailers for inventory control.

To learn more, visit: http://www.auburnspeaks.org/2014/04/10/tracing-food-history/