blog posts Making a homemade COVID mask? Study explains best fabric choices May 1, 2020 9:45 am35562 views Health authorities believe COVID-19 spreads by the transmission of respiratory droplets, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends homemade cloth face coverings for use in public spaces. Starting today, Illinois joins many other states in requiring people to wear masks while out. However, initial uncertainty regarding the masks’ effectiveness in reducing exhaled droplets leaves some people unsure or skeptical of their usefulness during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Mechanical science and engineering professor Taher Saif spoke with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about a study that he and his graduate students, Onur Aydin and Bashar Emon, performed on the effectiveness of common household fabrics for use in homemade masks. Could Legionnaires' bacteria lurk in idled buildings? Apr 29, 2020 2:00 pm1136 views Many businesses are closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and some building managers have shut off water and air conditioning to conserve resources. Unfortunately, warmth and lack of clean water flow can contribute to the growth of potentially dangerous microbes, including the bacteria that contribute to Legionnaires’ disease. Illinois Sustainable Technology Center chemist and industrial water treatment specialist Jeremy Overmann spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the problem and potential solutions. What effect will COVID-19 have on consumer bankruptcies? Apr 29, 2020 8:15 am3872 views Most households struggle financially for two to five years before filing for bankruptcy, making a pandemic-related surge in consumer bankruptcy filings unlikely, said University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign law professor Robert M. Lawless, a leading consumer credit and bankruptcy expert. Are bats to blame for the coronavirus crisis? Apr 24, 2020 8:15 am3053 views Horseshoe bats in China are a natural wildlife reservoir of SARS-like coronaviruses. Some health experts think wildlife markets – specifically in Wuhan, China – led to the spillover of the new coronavirus into human populations. Though not confirmed, the hypothesis has given bats around the world a bad rap, and public fears of exposure to bats are on the rise. Illinois Natural History Survey wildlife biologist Tara Hohoff, the project coordinator of the Illinois Bat Conservation Program, spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about bat biology and conservation, and the flying mammals’ role in human health. What's new with the plague? More than you might think Apr 23, 2020 10:00 am2461 views Pandemics of the past are getting new attention, among them the plague of the 14th century. Known as the Black Death, it was medieval, European, bubonic and spread by rats – at least that’s what most of us think. Much of that needs adjustment, however, in large part due to discoveries of the past decade, says Carol Symes, a professor of medieval history at Illinois. What drives us to blame the marginalized for epidemics? Apr 16, 2020 9:15 am2650 views There’s a long history of scapegoating marginalized people in epidemics, and of seeing difference in the way those of different races respond to disease, says Rana Hogarth, a U. of I. professor who studies the history of both medicine and race, and the connections between. How can researchers predict social behavior during pandemics to enhance public health policies? Apr 14, 2020 8:45 am820 views Eunice E. Santos, the dean of the School of Information Sciences, studies how computational models can help explain social behaviors and the factors that influence decision-making during pandemics. What messages best influence public health behavior? Apr 8, 2020 7:45 am648 views Dolores Albarracín, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has spent much of her career studying how people respond to public health messages asking them to change their behavior. She speaks about the special challenges of the present moment. How should we talk about our relative risk for COVID-19? Apr 7, 2020 9:30 am1324 views A key message coming through about COVID-19 is that older folks face much greater danger, but what does that suggest to the young? Cabral Bigman, a communication professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, talks about the challenge of “social comparison frames” in an epidemic. How to foster children’s learning while sheltering at home Apr 6, 2020 8:30 am1898 views Parents sheltering at home with their kids sometimes struggle to foster their children’s continued engagement with learning. Eva Pomerantz, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studies the factors that promote children’s motivation and achievement at school. She spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about her research on the topic and her own efforts to keep her children academically engaged while at home. Is it safe to fly during the coronavirus pandemic? Apr 1, 2020 8:00 am17391 views Sheldon H. Jacobson discusses the risks of air travel during the pandemic and what preventive measures airports and passengers can take. Can relationships flourish through tech alone? Mar 31, 2020 8:45 am733 views Technology can be our friend in sustaining relationships now lacking in face time due to COVID-19, but it depends on how we use it, says John Caughlin, a communication professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. What challenges are professors and college students facing with the migration of classes online? Mar 26, 2020 8:00 am3664 views School of Information Sciences instructor Melissa Wong offers suggestions for how professors and college students can adapt to online learning. What protections do no-show workers have during a pandemic? Mar 26, 2020 6:45 am7169 views The U.S. government can take measures to ensure that essential workers such as health care workers report to their jobs, but forced labor isn’t allowed under the Constitution, says U. of I. labor expert Michael LeRoy. Could the social distancing of COVID-19 revolutionize online learning and higher education? Mar 25, 2020 9:00 am3377 views Professors Mary Kalantzis and Bill Cope, who teach only online courses and develop learning technologies, discuss the potential impact of social distancing on postsecondary distance learning. How can parents help children cope with COVID-19 disruptions? Mar 23, 2020 2:30 pm1264 views Professor of human development and family studies Kelly Tu discusses ways parents can help children cope with the changes and uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. What do Russians hope to gain from U.S. elections interference? Mar 12, 2020 10:15 am6906 views Russia is trying to sow disruption and division around the U.S. presidential election in order to promote its own geopolitical interests. Is the US ready for the 2020 census? And what's at stake for Illinois? Mar 10, 2020 10:15 am940 views A demographer who’s followed the 2020 census praises outreach and education efforts, but also raises concerns about budget delays and testing – and notes that though the count in Illinois can be challenging, it needs to be accurate to avoid losing “a lot of green” in the form of federal dollars. Does lack of paid sick time make US susceptible to global health crisis? Mar 9, 2020 8:30 am1381 views Lack of paid sick time makes the U.S. acutely susceptible to a global health crises like COVID-19, and is part of the larger problem of tying health care to employment, says U. of I. labor expert Robert Bruno. Why does the census matter? What are the challenges this time? Mar 2, 2020 10:00 am634 views The 2020 census kicks into high gear this month with information arriving in millions of mailboxes. A professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who also chairs a U.S. Census Bureau advisory committee explains why the census matters and describes challenges in making it work. What are the novel coronavirus health risks? Feb 28, 2020 9:45 am4082 views The novel coronavirus that first broke out in Wuhan, China in late 2019 has now spread to 111 countries. As the first case of possible community spread has been reported in the United States, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discusses how the virus spreads and what makes it a public health concern. Are there alternatives to declining, disappearing newspapers? Jan 30, 2020 2:00 pm1636 views As many newspapers decline and disappear – highlighted by two Chicago Tribune reporters recently sounding the alarm about a perceived threat to the Trib – a journalism professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign touts the growth and viability of nonprofits and other alternatives. Targeted ads are coming to mainstream media. Should we care? Jan 27, 2020 10:30 am1725 views Targeted advertising is coming to mainstream media, says an Illinois professor of digital media, bringing concerns about equality, division and “total surveillance.” What is the coronavirus spreading across the globe? Jan 23, 2020 10:30 am4432 views The first case of a novel strain of coronavirus has been confirmed in the United States. Virologist Leyi Wang, a professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois, discussed the outbreak of the new strain with News Bureau biomedical sciences editor Liz Ahlberg Touchstone. Would modifying payment of the earned income tax credit help struggling families? Jan 23, 2020 9:30 am301 views Receiving the earned income tax credit in installments rather than a lump sum benefitted more than 500 families living in Chicago public housing, U. of I. researcher Karen Kramer's team found in a new study. The US used a drone to kill an Iranian general. What might be the consequences? Jan 9, 2020 8:45 am2082 views An expert on the growing role of drones in warfare and terrorism discusses the implications of the recent killing of Iranian general Qassim Suleimani in a Q&A. What do we really know about poverty? Dec 16, 2019 9:45 am1019 views The holidays are a time we focus on those in need and heap scorn on the Scrooges and Mr. Potters who don’t. But how well do we understand poverty, in either the U.S. or globally? Illinois sociologist Brian Dill addresses some misconceptions. What’s in the global carbon budget? Dec 9, 2019 1:45 pm657 views The Global Carbon Project recently released its 2019 annual report, giving decision-makers access to data on atmospheric carbon concentrations, emissions and trends. Illinois atmospheric scientist Atul Jain is among the many scientists worldwide who contributed data to the report. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with Jain about this year’s findings. US politics aside, what's the bigger picture in Ukraine? Dec 4, 2019 11:45 am405 views There’s more happening in Ukraine than just U.S. politics. A U. of I. professor talks about how the country is dealing with a long-term war and its consequences. Will anything ever change for the Kurds? Nov 7, 2019 12:00 pm1448 views A U. of I. specialist on Middle Eastern politics explains why Kurds often feel they have “no friends but the mountains,” why they’re a political threat to Turkey’s president and motivations for the recent Turkish attack on the Kurds in Syria. Will hiding 'like' counts and other numbers improve social media? Oct 31, 2019 8:00 am1513 views Social media companies are experimenting with hiding metrics on their platforms – something University of Illinois art professor Ben Grosser has been exploring since 2012 with his Demetricator projects. Could cannabis be a pain relief alternative to opioids? Oct 25, 2019 1:15 pm1318 views The Opioid Alternative Pilot Project offers medical cannabis as a pain-relief option for those looking to avoid or reduce opioid use, said Julie Bobitt, the director of the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences program at Illinois. Impeachment is underway: So who makes the rules? Oct 17, 2019 9:30 am884 views An impeachment investigation may be based in charges of wrongdoing, but it’s still a political process, says Illinois political science professor Gisela Sin. Even the design of rules and procedures is done strategically and with an eye on the outcome. What’s behind surge in unaccompanied minors crossing southern U.S. border? Oct 17, 2019 8:30 am1129 views The surge in unaccompanied children seeking refuge across the U.S. border can be attributed to poverty, natural disasters and the rise of gang recruitment in their home countries. But the biggest factor is that their countries of origin – Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico – are effectively as violent as war zones, says Lauren R. Aronson, an associate clinical professor of law and the director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Illinois College of Law. What explains the persistence of Hong Kong protest? Oct 1, 2019 1:30 pm1287 views Hong Kong’s nearly four-month protest is only the latest in a series, all centered on concerns about retaining freedoms and gaining the right to choose the city’s leadership, says University of Illinois history professor Poshek Fu, a Hong Kong native and specialist on modern China. The current protest movement is notable, however, for its social media-driven, guerrillalike tactics, its longevity and the international attention it has received. How are Illinois birds faring? Sep 24, 2019 8:00 am3122 views According to a new study reported in the journal Science, bird populations in North America have experienced a troubling decline in the past five decades. The scientists estimate the continent has lost close to 3 billion birds, roughly 29% of their total numbers in 1970. Senior wildlife ecologist Thomas J. Benson of the Illinois Natural History Survey discusses the status of birds in Illinois with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates. Benson leads the Critical Trends Assessment Program, which monitors the biological condition of the state’s forests, wetlands and grasslands, and collects data on plants, birds and arthropods. What’s at stake in auto workers strike? Sep 24, 2019 8:00 am262 views The strike of more than 47,000 auto workers is a way of recouping some of what union members lost during the Great Recession, says Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois and the director of the Labor Education Program in Chicago. Would changes to capital gains taxes spur the economy? Sep 4, 2019 9:00 am1790 views Indexing capital gains to inflation could be a simple fix to stimulate a teetering economy, but several significant implementation hurdles remain, said Richard L. Kaplan, an internationally recognized expert on U.S. tax policy and the Guy Raymond Jones Chair in Law at Illinois. Would cutting payroll taxes help prevent recession? Aug 26, 2019 8:30 am1030 views Cutting the payroll tax could represent the middle-class tax cut that President Trump campaigned on – although changes would need to go through the legislative process and any economic stimulus likely wouldn’t been seen until after the November 2020 election, said Richard L. Kaplan, an internationally recognized expert on U.S. tax policy and the Guy Raymond Jones Chair in Law at Illinois. Germany transformed under Nazis in 100 days. Do we understand why? Aug 20, 2019 10:00 am17023 views With world leaders gathering Sept. 1 to mark the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II in Europe, U. of I. history professor Peter Fritzsche describes how Germans came to embrace Nazi rule, especially in Hitler’s first 100 days. How can educators, coaches support student-athletes’ academic success? Aug 9, 2019 8:15 am1800 views Coaches and educators should work together to help athletes achieve their full potential, U. of I. scholars and former collegiate athletes Joseph L. Cross and Bruce W. Fouke say in a new study. Can a state copyright its own laws – and prevent citizens from republishing them? Jul 15, 2019 9:00 am659 views The pending Supreme Court case Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org will test the legality of a state copyrighting its own laws, which could pose a challenge to legal research, scholarship and public access to the law, said U. of I. copyright law expert Sara R. Benson. How might 'Medicare for All' reshape health care in the U.S.? Jul 2, 2019 8:45 am1010 views University of Illinois professor emeritus of community health Thomas W. O’Rourke, an expert on health policy analysis, the possible impact of establishing a single-payer health care system in the U.S. Citizenship and the census: What happens now? Jul 1, 2019 7:30 am415 views An Illinois professor who studies how Latinos deal with the census responds to the Supreme Court’s decision on the citizenship question. Will there be any constraints now on partisan gerrymandering? Jun 28, 2019 2:45 pm589 views The Supreme Court this week said it can’t provide the cure to partisan gerrymandering, so the focus will have to be on prevention, says an Illinois political science professor who hopes her research can play a part. Will legalizing marijuana be a boon to the state of Illinois? Jun 20, 2019 9:00 am1347 views By legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana, the state of Illinois could fund additional pension payments while making investments in public education, construction projects, and drug treatment and prevention programs, says Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois and the director of the Labor Education Program in Chicago. Does more rain mean more risk of mosquito-borne diseases in Illinois? Jun 18, 2019 8:45 am1331 views Experts have ranked May 2019 as one of the wettest Mays on record in central Illinois. Is it possible that the incidence of mosquito-borne illnesses increases with the amount of rainfall? To find out, News Bureau science writer Ananya Sen asked Brian F. Allan, an entomology professor at the University of Illinois. What happened at Stonewall 50 years ago? And why did it matter? Jun 11, 2019 10:30 am962 views An Illinois historian describes how everything changed for those involved in the Stonewall riots 50 years ago, and the event’s place in the history of gay rights. Does the Supreme Court need to care about public opinion? May 29, 2019 9:45 am291 views The Supreme Court has to consider public opinion and its popularity in deciding politically divisive cases, says a University of Illinois political scientist. What changes should be made to modernize consumer bankruptcy law? May 8, 2019 9:00 am480 views The primary reason why current bankruptcy law doesn’t work well is that it dates back to 1978, before the explosion of consumer credit, says Robert M. Lawless, the Max L. Rowe Professor of Law at Illinois and a leading consumer credit and bankruptcy expert. Lawless served as reporter for the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy, which recommended several changes to the law.