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InsideIllinois

Sept. 4, 2014 (Vol. 34, No. 5)
The new building includes a first-of-its-kind undergraduate nanofabrication lab to give students hands-on experience with micro- and nanoelectronics.
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Nanofab lab
The new Electrical and Computer Enginering Building includes a first-of-its-kind undergraduate nanofabrication lab to give students hands-on experience with micro- and nanoelectronics.

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Workshop series to address underrepresented students

Variety is said to be the spice of life, but it turns out to be an active ingredient in the learning process as well. Gretchen M. Adams, a chemistry instructor, the director of the department’s Undergraduate Studies office, and one of this year’s Distinguished Teacher-Scholars, will use a series of workshops starting this fall to emphasize the importance of classroom diversity and to offer techniques for improving the recruitment, retention and long-term success of underrepresented undergraduate students.

ON THE JOB: RANAE BUCK

Ranae Buck, an employee with the university since 1988, knows full well the professional importance of going with the tide.

SEC to review system for appointing tenured faculty

The Senate Executive Committee voted to create a task force/ad hoc committee to review aspects of the campus’s system for appointing tenured faculty.

University to expand global relations by establishing new office in India

The U. of I. will further expand its global presence by establishing an office in India. Pradeep Khanna, the associate chancellor for corporate and international relations, made the announcement in July, after the university submitted its application to Indian officials to establish a liaison office.


NEW FACES 2014

Among the newcomers to the Urbana campus are faculty members whose appointments began this summer or fall. Inside Illinois continues its tradition of introducing some of the new faculty members on campus and will feature at least two new colleagues in each fall issue.

  • Catherine A. Christian, an assistant professor of physiology, department of molecular and integrative physiology in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology and in the College of Medicine
  • Patrick H. Smith, an associate professor of bilingual education and literacy in the department of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education

Flash Index dips slightly; unemployment below 7 percent

The U. of I. Flash Index fell slightly in August to 106.0 from its 106.2 level in July. The index has fluctuated in this narrow range (106.0 to 106.2) for the past four months.

Research »

Illinois professors and students study community resilience around polluted waterways

There’s no such thing as a good place to have a natural disaster, nor has there ever been an appropriate site to release toxic pollutants. But scientists have long recognized that some areas can handle such catastrophes better than others. As early as the 1970s, they used socioeconomic data from the U.S. Census to develop a tool called the Social Vulnerability Index, known as SoVI, to gauge the likely resilience of different communities.

Researchers boost insect aggression by altering brain metabolism

Scientists report they can crank up insect aggression simply by interfering with a basic metabolic pathway in the insect brain. Their study, of fruit flies and honey bees, shows a direct, causal link between brain metabolism (how the brain generates the energy it needs to function) and aggression.

Research: Tax benefits for housing not as outsized as previously thought

New research co-written by a U. of I. expert in urban economics indicates that tax benefits for housing, including the ever-popular mortgage interest deduction and the property tax deduction, are not as distortionary as previous research and some prominent critics suggest.

Workers in collective bargaining states subsidize low-wage earners in right-to-work states

States with right-to-work laws “free ride” on the higher tax revenues generated by workers in collective bargaining states, says a new study from a University of Illinois labor expert.

A glucose meter of a different color provides continuous monitoring

U. of I. engineers are bringing a touch of color to glucose monitoring.

Study suggests hatha yoga boosts brain function in older adults

Practicing hatha yoga three times a week for eight weeks improved sedentary older adults’ performance on cognitive tasks that are relevant to everyday life, researchers report.

Paper: To deter cyberattacks, build a public-private partnership

Cyberattacks loom as an increasingly dire threat to privacy, national security and the global economy, and the best way to blunt their impact may be a public-private partnership between government and business, researchers say. But the time to act is now, rather than in the wake of a crisis, says a U. of I. expert in law and technology.

Federal stimulus fails to protect college affordability, study finds

While state lawmakers honored provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 by not slashing their appropriations for higher education during the recent economic crisis, a new analysis by higher education expert Jennifer A. Delaney indicates that the stimulus program may have failed to promote college access and affordability.

Study: Earth can sustain more terrestrial plant growth than previously thought

A new analysis suggests the planet can produce much more land-plant biomass – the total material in leaves, stems, roots, fruits, grains and other terrestrial plant parts – than previously thought.

Seatbelt laws encourage obese drivers to buckle up

Obesity is associated with many health risks, including heart disease and diabetes, but University of Illinois researchers have found a possible way to mitigate one often-overlooked risk: not buckling up in the car.

A MINUTE WITH ... ™ »

A minute With ... ™ JOURNALISM PROFESSOR CHRISTOPHER BENSON on reality and the media in ferguson

On Aug. 9, police officer Darren Wilson in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed an African-American teenager, Michael Brown. In the aftermath have come nightly protests, often met with strong responses by the police. Christopher Benson is a former Chicago and Washington reporter, and a professor of journalism and of African American studies at the University of Illinois, where he teaches courses on diversity and the media, and media law. He also is the co-author of “Death of Innocence,” about the life and death of Emmett Till, and blogs on criminal justice issues for The Chicago Reporter and on media and race for The Huffington Post. Benson spoke with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain.

A minute With ... ™ HISTORIAN PETER FRITZSCHE ON WHY THE NAZIS?

Sept. 1 marked 75 years since Germany invaded Poland, beginning World War II, and historians still debate what caused the German people to follow the Nazis into conquest and the Holocaust. Peter Fritzsche, a historian of modern Germany, has written several books based in part on the letters and diaries of average Germans, from before and through Nazi rule and the war. Perhaps the most valuable collection of letters came from four generations of a single German family, separated by politics and the German-Dutch border. Those letters were recently published in the book “Between Two Homelands,” for which Fritzsche did translation and wrote the preface. He spoke with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain.

A minute With ... ™ GEOLOGIST ROBERT BAUER ON FRACKING

On Friday, Aug. 29, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources submitted new regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking.” The Illinois Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules has 45 days to approve or reject the rules. Robert Bauer, an engineering geologist with the Illinois State Geological Survey, part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, talked about the new proposed regulations with News Bureau physical sciences editor Liz Ahlberg.