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  • Plant biology professor Donald Ort is one of seven U. of I. researchers on the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list for 2015.

    Seven Illinois researchers rank among the world’s most influential

    Seven University of Illinois researchers have been named to the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list for 2015. The list includes “some of the world’s most influential scientific minds,” according to a statement from Thomson Reuters.

  • As computer models predicted, genetically modified plants are better able to make use of the limited sunlight available when their leaves go into the shade, researchers report.

    Scientists tweak photosynthesis to boost crop yield

    Researchers report  that they can increase plant productivity by boosting levels of three proteins involved in photosynthesis. This confirms a hypothesis some in the scientific community once doubted was possible.

  • The crayfish Faxonius eupunctus is rare and under consideration for endangered species status.

    Scientists seeking rare river crayfish aren't just kicking rocks

    As far as anyone can tell, the cold-water crayfish Faxonius eupunctus makes its home in a 30-mile stretch of the Eleven Point River and nowhere else in the world. According to a new study, the animal is most abundant in the middle part its range, a rocky expanse in southern Missouri – with up to 35,000 cubic feet of chilly Ozark river water flowing by each second.

  • With expansion, the sugarcane-to-ethanol industry in Brazil could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 5.6 percent, an international team reports.

    Scientists: Expanding Brazilian sugarcane could dent global CO2 emissions

    Vastly expanding sugarcane production in Brazil for conversion to ethanol could reduce current global carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 5.6 percent, researchers report in the journal Nature Climate Change.

  • Illinois scientists are making advances in pharmaceutical chemistry (1); tracking invasive species (2) and emerging diseases (3); understanding pollinator biology, behavior and population status (4); exploring genomics (5); developing new imaging techniques (6); improving photosynthesis (7) and developing and harvesting biomass for bioenergy production (8).

    Science at Illinois feeds the world, furthers health, protects the planet

    Illinois scientists are helping power plants run more efficiently, designing better, longer-lasting batteries, finding new ways to target cancerous tumors, and developing robots that can aid in construction, in agricultural fields and even inside the human body.

  • From left, Sharon M. Nickols-Richardson, a professor of food science and human nutrition and director of Illinois Extension and Outreach; Cassandra J. Nikolaus, a graduate student in human nutrition and the lead author of the study; and Brenna Ellison, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics. 

    Scholars: Estimates of food insecurity among college students problematic

    A good estimate of how many college students struggle with food insecurity is a difficult number to pin down, says new research from a team of University of Illinois experts who study food choice issues.

  • Salmon baby food? Babies need omega-3s and a taste for fish

    A UI food science professor has two important reasons for including seafood in a young child's diet, reasons that have motivated her work in helping to develop a tasty, nutritious salmon baby food for toddlers.

  • Research grant will help assessment of prairie seed banks

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois Natural History Survey has received a grant from the Conservation 2000 Program to assess seed banks at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Will County.

  • These Bt corn plants in LaSalle County, Illinois, have fallen over (lodged) as a result of rootworm damage. Like other Bt plants that are becoming susceptible to rootworm damage in Iowa, these corn plants contain the Cry3Bb1 Bt protein in a field planted year after year in corn expressing the same Bt protein.

    Researcher tracks agricultural overuse of bug-killing technology

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - High corn prices are leading many growers to plant corn every year and to overuse pesticides and other bug-killing technology to maximize yields, researchers report. In many instances, pesticides are applied without scouting fields to see if they are needed, violating a bedrock principle of integrated pest management. The result is a biological diversity desert in many corn and soybean fields in the agricultural Midwest, and signs that the surviving insects are becoming resistant to several key bug-fighting tools now available to farmers.

  • Researchers study role of natural organic matter in environment

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The decomposition of plant, animal and microbial material in soil and water produces a variety of complex organic molecules, collectively called natural organic matter. These compounds play many important roles in the environment.

  • A new assessment makes grim predictions about the effects of climate change in the Great Lakes region.

    Report outlines growing climate change-related threats to Great Lakes region

    A team of Midwestern climate scientists has released a new report with grim predictions about the impact of climate change on the Great Lakes region. The report foresees a growing trend of wetter winters and springs, with increases in heavy rain events leading to flooding, particularly in urban areas with hard surfaces that cannot absorb the excess water. Rural areas will likely see more erosion, and unpredictable cycles of heat and rainfall could undermine agriculture.

  • Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweeds, while adults consume the nectar of milkweeds and many other flowering species.

    Report: Milkweed losses may not fully explain monarch butterfly declines

    Monarch butterfly declines cannot be attributed merely to declines in milkweed abundance, researchers report.

  • Auriel Fournier, the director of the Forbes Biological Station at the Illinois Natural History Survey, studies the migratory behavior of purple martins.

    Purple martin migration behavior perplexes researchers

    Purple martins will soon migrate south for their usual wintertime retreat, but this time the birds will be wearing what look like little backpacks, as scientists plan to track their roosting sites along the way. The researchers recently discovered that purple martins are roosting in small forest patches as they migrate from North America to Brazil, an unexpected behavior. The scientists published their findings in the Journal of Field Ornithology. 

  • Pollinator habitat program spreads bad seeds with the good

    Weed scientists in at least two Midwestern states have been reporting for years that a conservation program meant to provide habitat for pollinating insects is sowing bad seeds – including seeds of the potentially devastating agricultural weed Palmer amaranth – along with the good. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois have traced the weed seeds to at least one source: pollinator habitat seed sold by a company in the Midwest.

  • Research geneticist Ram Singh crossed soybean with a related wild, perennial plant from Australia, introducing new genetic diversity to the soybean plant.

    Plant breeder boosts soybean diversity, develops soybean rust-resistant plant

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It took decades of painstaking work, but research geneticist Ram Singh managed to cross a popular soybean variety (“Dwight” Glycine max) with a related wild perennial plant that grows like a weed in Australia, producing the first fertile soybean plants that are resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode and other pathogens of soy.

  • Pineapple genome offers insight into photosynthesis in drought-tolerant plants

    By sequencing its genome, scientists are homing in on the genes and genetic pathways that allow the juicy pineapple plant to thrive in water-limited environments. The new findings, reported in the journal Nature Genetics, also open a new window on the complicated evolutionary history of grasses like sorghum and rice, which share a distant ancestor with pineapple.

  • Photo of Brenna Ellison, a professor of agriculture and consumer economics at Illinois and an expert in consumer food preferences and behaviors.

    Paper: Nutrition label readers favor food quality over quantity

    Although nutrition-label users eat roughly the same amount of food as less-discerning diners, the two groups diverge when it comes to the quality of the food they eat, says a new paper co-written by Brenna Ellison, a professor of agriculture and consumer economics at Illinois and an expert in consumer food preferences and behaviors.

  • Photo of Yilan Xu, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Paper: Disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing poses dangers to drivers

    A new paper co-written by Yilan Xu, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, shows that the growing traffic burden in shale energy boomtowns resulted in a surge of road fatalities and severe accidents.

  • Nutritious frozen foods can play role in weight-loss programs

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Size matters when it comes to meal portions in weight-loss diets, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And consuming convenient, nutritious frozen dinners may be a way to control portion size.

  • Silhouette of farm silos at sunset

    Nutrient-rich human waste poised to sustain agriculture, improve economies

    The future connection between human waste, sanitation technology and sustainable agriculture is becoming more evident. According to research directed by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign civil and environmental engineering professor Jeremy Guest, countries could be moving closer to using human waste as fertilizer, closing the loop to more circular, sustainable economies.

  • Photo of three researchers standing in a field of sorghum.

    Not just CO2: Rising temperatures also alter photosynthesis in a changing climate

    A new review explores how increasing temperatures influence plant growth and viability despite the higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2.

  • Andrew Miller and his colleagues created the first comprehensive checklist of North American fungi.

    North American checklist identifies the fungus among us

    Some fungi are smelly and coated in mucus. Others have gills that glow in the dark. Some are delicious; others, poisonous. Some spur euphoria when ingested. Some produce antibiotics.

    All of these fungi - and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, more - occur in North America. Of those that are known to science, 44,488 appear in a new checklist of North American fungi, published this month in the journal Mycologia.

  • Illinois professor Andrew Smith, right, and graduate student Mohammad Zahid developed a technique to track molecules that deliver drugs and genes to cells.

    New technique can track drug and gene delivery to cells

    University of Illinois researchers say they now know how to track and map drug and gene delivery vehicles to evaluate which are most effective at infiltrating cells and getting to their targets, insight that could guide development of new pharmaceutical agents. The researchers described their tracking system and their findings on the most effective delivery vehicles in the journal Nature Communications. 

  • U. of I. crop sciences professor Patrick Tranel and his colleagues are working to understand the processes that lead to herbicide resistance in plants.

    New mutations for herbicide resistance rarer than expected, study finds

    New evidence suggests that the mutation rate in amaranth – a group that includes several agricultural weeds – is quite low and that low-level exposure to herbicides contributes little, if anything, to the onset of herbicide-resistant mutations in this group.

  • Professor Tandy Warnow developed a new statistical method that sorts genetic data to construct better species trees detailing genetic lineage.

    New method helps map species' genetic heritage

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Where did the songbird get its song? What branch of the bird family tree is closer to the flamingo - the heron or the sparrow?

  • Elizabeth Lowe, the director of the U. of I.'s Center for Translation Studies, says the program will offer a new master's program for translators and interpreters.

    New master's program at Illinois will train translators and interpreters

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The demand for translators and interpreters is projected to increase by at least 20 percent by the year 2020, and a new program at the University of Illinois will offer a master's degree to equip graduates to fill those jobs. Elizabeth Lowe, the director of the U. of I.'s Center for Translation Studies, says the program offers both on-campus and online options, and is accepting applications now for courses that will begin in the fall.

  • Two researchers in a stand of sorghum.

    New imaging, machine-learning methods speed effort to reduce crops' need for water

    Scientists have developed and deployed a series of new imaging and machine-learning tools to discover attributes that contribute to water-use efficiency in crop plants during photosynthesis and to reveal the genetic basis of variation in those traits.

  • Professor Kaiyu Guan, left, graduate student Yunan Luo and professor Jian Peng have developed a new algorithm that solves an age-old dilemma plaguing satellite imagery  whether to sacrifice high spatial resolution in the interest of generating images more frequently, or vice versa. Their algorithm can generate daily continuous images going back to the year 2000.

    New algorithm fuses quality and quantity in satellite imagery

    Using a new algorithm, University of Illinois researchers may have found the solution to an age-old dilemma plaguing satellite imagery – whether to sacrifice high spatial resolution in the interest of generating images more frequently, or vice versa. The team’s new tool eliminates this trade-off by fusing high-resolution and high-frequency satellite data into one integrated product, and can generate 30-meter daily continuous images going back to the year 2000. 

  • Researchers used neuroimaging to study how iron deficiency influences piglet brain development. The findings may have implications for human infant brain development.

    Neuroimaging reveals lasting brain deficits in iron-deficient piglets

    Iron deficiency in the first four weeks of a piglet’s life – equivalent to roughly four months in a human infant – impairs the development of key brain structures, scientists report. The abnormalities remain even after weeks of iron supplementation begun later in life, the researchers found.

  • Illinois professor of animal and nutritional sciences Kelly Swanson, left, and his research team, including Maria de Godoy, recently published a study that shows how molecular biology technologies are making the mechanisms underlying the pet obesity epidemic more easily understood.

    Molecular techniques are man's new best friend in pet obesity research

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - According to the World Health Organization, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. And it's not just humans who are packing on the pounds. Our furry companions are plagued by an obesity epidemic of their own. More than 50 percent of the dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese.

  • Joseph Spencer, an insect behaviorist at the Illinois Natural History Survey, and his colleague found that the western corn rootworm will lay its eggs on Miscanthus and that the rootworm larvae can survive on Miscanthus rhizomes.

    Miscanthus, a biofuels crop, can host western corn rootworm

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The western corn rootworm beetle, a pest that feasts on corn roots and corn silk and costs growers more than $1 billion annually in the U.S., also can survive on the perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus, a potential biofuels crop that would likely be grown alongside corn, researchers report.

  • Professor Praveen Kumar and graduate student Dong K. Woo developed a model to tell the age of inorganic nitrogen in soil, which could help farmers more precisely apply fertilizer to croplands.

    Measure of age in soil nitrogen could help precision agriculture

    University of Illinois engineers developed a model to calculate the age of nitrogen in corn and soybean fields, which could lead to improved fertilizer application techniques to promote crop growth while reducing leaching.

  • Physically active individuals have an increased sense of accomplishment, or situation-specific self-confidence, which in turn results in reduced depression and reduced fatigue, said Edward McAuley, a professor of kinesiology and community health at Illinois and lead author on the study.

    Mastery of physical goals lessens disease-related depression and fatigue

    CHAMPAIGN, lll. - Physical activity is known to reduce depression and fatigue in people struggling with chronic illness. A new study indicates that this effect may stem from an individual's sense of mastery over - or belief in his or her ability to achieve - certain physical goals.

  • Master Naturalists, from left, John Marlin, Thom Uebele and Jana Uebele stand in the Florida Orchard Prairie, one of the demonstration gardens on campus that Marlin coordinates and maintains. An entomologist, Marlin is a research affiliate with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. Thom Uebele is a research programmer with the School of Life Sciences, and his wife, Jana, is an artist.

    Master Naturalists needed to preserve Illinois' environment

    Adults who have a passion for the outdoors – and are interested in sharing that with others – are needed statewide as volunteers in the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist program.

  • American bittersweet, left, has red berries encased in orange capsules, while oriental bittersweet, right, has red berries encased in bright yellow capsules.

    Many Midwestern retailers sell mislabeled invasive vines

    Gardeners hoping to celebrate the beauty of American bittersweet – a native vine that produces orange berries in the fall and is used for wreaths – may be unwittingly buying an invasive bittersweet instead. That’s because many Midwestern retailers are selling oriental bittersweet with labels misidentifying it as the native plant, researchers report. These sales are occurring in stores and online.

  • Professor Yong-Su Jin led a team that engineered a strain of yeast to produce the low-calorie natural sweetener tagatose from lactose.

    Low-calorie sweetener derived from lactose gets manufacturing boost from yeast

    The quest to satisfy the sweet tooth without adding to the waistline has a new weapon in its arsenal: a strain of yeast that can metabolize lactose, the sugar in dairy products, into tagatose, a natural sweetener with less than half the calories of table sugar.

  • University of Illinois crop sciences and plant biology professor Stephen P. Long is one of 100 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

    Long elected to National Academy of Sciences

    Stephen P. Long, a professor of crop sciences and plant biology at the University of Illinois, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can receive.

  • Photo of U. of I. agricultural economists Peter Goldsmith and Alex Winter-Nelson.

    Livestock donation programs reduce poverty, improve food security and nutrition

    Research from U. of I. agricultural economists Peter Goldsmith and Alex Winter-Nelson found that the direct donation of livestock to impoverished communities in rural Africa had numerous positive effects ranging from a reduction in poverty to an increase in gender empowerment.

  • Craig Gundersen

    Links between hunger and health lead to recommendation that doctors screen patients for food insecurity

    Almost 50 million people in the United States are food insecure – that is, they lack access to adequate food because of limited money or other resources. University of Illinois economist Craig Gundersen and University of Kentucky’s James P. Ziliak examined recent research on food insecurity and its association with poor health, and offer suggestions including that doctors screen for hunger.

  • Photo of lead researcher, Xiao Su, in his laboratory.

    Less salt, more protein: Researchers address dairy processing's environmental, sustainability issues

    Researchers say the high salt content of whey – the watery part of milk left behind after cheesemaking – helps make it one of the most polluting byproducts in the food processing industry. In a new study, chemists demonstrate the first electrochemical redox desalination process used in the food industry, removing and recycling up to 99% of excess salt from whey while simultaneously refining more than 98% of whey’s valuable protein content.

  • Bruce M. Chassy

    Labeling genetically engineered food

    A Minute With™... Bruce M. Chassy, a professor emeritus of food science and human nutrition

  • Photo of Kimberlee Kidwell, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences effective Nov. 1, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees

    Kidwell named College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences dean

    Currently the executive associate dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University, Kimberlee Kidwell will be the new U. of I. dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences effective Nov. 1, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. She also will hold the inaugural Robert A. Easter Chair.

  • Photo of Stephen Moose

    Is the future of agriculture digital?

    With colleagues at several institutions, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign crop sciences professor Stephen Moose will lead the development of a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Research on Programmable Plant Systems. With $25 million in newly announced funding, the center will create an Internet of Living Things to learn the intimate biological language of plants and their associated organisms. Moose spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about this new initiative.

  • Photo of Craig Lemoine, the director of the Financial Planning Program at the College of ACES

    Is our flood insurance model broken?

    Craig Lemoine, the director of the Financial Planning Program at the College of ACES, discusses the flood insurance market in light of Hurricane Harvey losses.

  • Information on three new agricultural pests enhances web tool for farmers

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Three more pests - fruit tree leafroller, lilac borer and western bean cutworm - have been added this spring to the Illinois State Water Survey's Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring program, a Web-based tool that provides helpful information for the state's farmers.

  • Researchers from the Illinois Natural History Survey have surveyed fish in the Illinois River since 1957. Here, the team uses electricity to stun the fish for capture.

    Illinois sportfish recovery a result of 1972 Clean Water Act, scientists report

    Populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and other sportfish are at the highest levels recorded in more than a century in the Illinois River, according to a new report. Their dramatic recovery, from populations close to zero near Chicago throughout much of the 20th century, began just after implementation of the Clean Water Act, the researchers say.

  • Crop sciences professor Aaron Hager examines herbicide-resistant waterhemp.

    Illinois growers are running out of options in fight against waterhemp

    Resistance to multiple herbicides is the new norm for populations of waterhemp, a common agricultural weed. With their herbicide options dwindling and nothing new on the horizon, Illinois growers must be strategic in how they manage waterhemp-infested fields, says a University of Illinois expert on crop weed management.

  • Tami Bond, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, has received a 2014 MacArthur fellowship, commonly called a "genius grant."

    Illinois engineer wins MacArthur fellowship

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tami Bond, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been awarded a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as a "genius grant," from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

  • Hybrid grass may prove to be valuable fuel source

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), a hybrid grass that can grow 13 feet high, may be a valuable renewable fuel source for the future, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say.

  • University of Illinois researchers Jeremy Guest, left, John Trimmer and Daniel Miller have developed a conceptual roadmap to help guide others through the unexplored environmental and economic aspects of sanitation.

    Human waste an asset to economy, environment, study finds

    Human waste might be an unpleasant public health burden, but scientists at the University of Illinois see sanitation as a valuable facet of global ecosystems and an overlooked source of nutrients, organic material and water.