blog postsHuman waste an asset to economy, environment, study findsJul 8, 2019 8:00 am1398 views 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.Researchers unveil how soft materials react to deformation at molecular levelJun 24, 2019 7:00 am839 views Before designing the next generation of soft materials, researchers must first understand how they behave during rapidly changing deformation. In a new study, researchers challenged previous assumptions regarding polymer behavior with newly developed laboratory techniques that measure polymer flow at the molecular level.Biochar may boost carbon storage, but benefits to germination and growth appear scantJun 19, 2019 8:15 am579 views Biochar may not be the miracle soil additive that many farmers and researchers hoped it to be, according to a new University of Illinois study. Biochar may boost the agricultural yield of some soils – especially poor quality ones – but there is no consensus on its effectiveness. Researchers tested different soils’ responses to multiple biochar types and were unable to verify their ability to increase plant growth. However, the study did show biochar’s ability to affect soil greenhouse gas emissions.New insight from Great Barrier Reef coral provides correction factor to global climate recordsJun 18, 2019 9:45 am634 views Newly developed geological techniques help uncover the most accurate and high-resolution climate records to date, according to a new study. The research finds that the standard practice of using modern and fossil coral to measure sea-surface temperatures may not be as straightforward as originally thought. By combining high-resolution microscopic techniques and geochemical modeling, researchers are using the formational history of Porites coral skeletons to fine-tune the records used to make global climate predictions.'Fettuccine' may be most obvious sign of life on Mars, researchers reportMay 29, 2019 8:00 am19694 views A rover scanning the surface of Mars for evidence of life might want to check for rocks that look like pasta, researchers report in the journal Astrobiology. The bacterium that controls the formation of such rocks on Earth is ancient and thrives in harsh environments that are similar to conditions on Mars, said University of Illinois geology professor Bruce Fouke, who led the new, NASA-funded study.Artificial photosynthesis transforms carbon dioxide into liquefiable fuelsMay 22, 2019 12:30 pm2649 views Chemists at the University of Illinois have successfully produced fuels using water, carbon dioxide and visible light through artificial photosynthesis. By converting carbon dioxide into more complex molecules like propane, green energy technology is now one step closer to using excess CO2 to store solar energy – in the form of chemical bonds – for use when the sun is not shining and in times of peak demand.Polymers jump through hoops on pathway to sustainable materialsMay 17, 2019 9:30 am1968 views Recyclable plastics that contain ring-shaped polymers may be a key to developing sustainable synthetic materials. Despite some promising advances, researchers said, a full understanding of how to processes ring polymers into practical materials remains elusive. In a new study, researchers identified a mechanism called “threading” that takes place when a polymer is stretched – a behavior not witnessed before. This new insight may lead to new processing methods for sustainable polymer materials.Mechanics, chemistry and biomedical research join forces for noninvasive tissue therapyMay 6, 2019 2:00 pm1514 views A fortuitous conversation between two University of Illinois scientists has opened a new line of communication between biomedical researchers and the tissues they study. The new findings, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, show that high-intensity focused ultrasound waves can penetrate biological tissue to activate molecules able to perform specific tasks.Excessive rainfall as damaging to corn yield as extreme heat, droughtApr 30, 2019 8:15 am1300 views Recent flooding in the Midwest has brought attention to the complex agricultural problems associated with too much rain. Data from the past three decades suggest that excessive rainfall can affect crop yield as much as excessive heat and drought. In a new study, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Illinois linked crop insurance, climate, soil and corn yield data from 1981 through 2016.How does sexual harassment affect young women in physics?Apr 23, 2019 10:30 am1789 views In a study reported in the journal Physical Review Physics Education Research, nearly 75% of 471 undergraduate women in physics who responded to a survey offered during a professional conference reported having experienced at least one type of sexual harassment – mostly gender harassment – in their field. U. of I. anthropology professor Kathryn Clancy, a co-author of the report, talked to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the study, which also examined the respondents’ feelings of belonging and legitimacy as scientists and scholars.Multistep self-assembly opens door to new reconfigurable materialsApr 18, 2019 4:00 am1594 views CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Self-assembling synthetic materials come together when tiny, uniform building blocks interact and form a structure. However, nature lets materials like proteins of varying size and shape assemble, allowing for complex architectures that can handle multiple tasks. Study: Reducing energy required to convert CO2 waste into valuable resourcesApr 17, 2019 10:45 am524 views CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Surplus industrial carbon dioxide creates an opportunity to convert waste into a valuable commodity. Excess CO2 can be a feedstock for chemicals typically derived from fossil fuels, but the process is energy-intensive and expensive. University of Illinois chemical engineers have assessed the technical and economic feasibility of a new electrolysis technology that uses a cheap biofuel byproduct to reduce the energy consumption of the waste-to-value process by 53 percent.Illinois chancellor and chemist elected to American Academy of Arts and SciencesApr 17, 2019 5:00 am1023 views Chancellor Robert J. Jones and chemistry professor Catherine J. Murphy have been elected as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.Smart antioxidant-containing polymer responds to body chemistry, environmentApr 16, 2019 1:00 pm629 views Oxidants found within living organisms are byproducts of metabolism and are essential to wound-healing and immunity. However, when their concentrations become too high, inflammation and tissue damage can occur. University of Illinois engineers have developed and tested a new drug-delivery system that senses high oxidant levels and responds by administering just the right amount of antioxidant to restore this delicate balance.How is Illinois contributing to the Event Horizon Telescope Project?Apr 10, 2019 8:15 am8967 views The Event Horizon Telescope Project announced that it has captured the first image of a black hole. The feature is located at the center of Messier 87 – a giant elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with University of Illinois physics and astronomy professor Charles Gammie, who heads up the theory working group for the large, multi-institutional collaboration.'Quantum Rhapsodies' performance explores quantum physics, its role in our universeApr 4, 2019 8:00 am510 views “Quantum Rhapsodies” uses narration, video images and the music of the Jupiter String Quartet to explore the world of quantum physics.Freshwater coastal erosion alters global carbon budgetMar 27, 2019 8:00 am747 views Shoreline erosion can transform freshwater wetlands from carbon-storage pools to carbon sources, according to a new study led by Illinois State Geological Survey researchers. Wave action and high water levels sweep away soils and plants at a rate much higher than nature can replace them. An accurate measurement of this carbon budget imbalance may help better prioritize coastal management efforts and improve global carbon-cycle models.Report outlines growing climate change-related threats to Great Lakes regionMar 22, 2019 10:15 am2078 views 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.Potential new cystic fibrosis treatment uses 'molecular prosthetic' for missing lung proteinMar 13, 2019 1:00 pm5570 views An approved drug normally used to treat fungal infections could also do the job of a protein channel that is missing or defective in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis, operating as a prosthesis on the molecular scale, says new research from the University of Illinois and the University of Iowa. Cystic fibrosis is a lifelong disease that makes patients vulnerable to lung infections. There are treatments for some but not all patients, and there is no cure. The drug restored infection-fighting properties in lung tissue donated by human patients as well as in pigs with cystic fibrosis. It has potential to become the first treatment to address all types of cystic fibrosis, regardless of the genetic mutation that causes the protein deficiency.Is there a cure for potholes?Feb 27, 2019 2:00 pm2994 views Temperatures may be on the rise, but many motorists and pedestrians remain focused on the ground as they attempt to navigate safely around the many potholes that develop this time of year. Industrial and enterprise systems engineering professor Henrique M. Reis spoke with Illinois News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about how potholes form and if there are any potential solutions.Ancient extinct sloth tooth in Belize tells story of creature’s last yearFeb 27, 2019 1:00 pm1308 views Some 27,000 years ago in central Belize, a giant sloth was thirsty. The region was arid, not like today’s steamy jungle. The Last Glacial Maximum had locked up much of Earth’s moisture in polar ice caps and glaciers. Water tables in the area were low. The sloth, a beast that stood up to 4 meters tall, eventually found water – in a deep sinkhole with steep walls down to the water. That is where it took its final drink.Two Illinois professors named Sloan Research FellowsFeb 19, 2019 10:00 am2174 views Electrical and computer engineering professor Haitham Al-Hassanieh and chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Diwakar Shukla are recipients of this year's Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. According to the foundation, the awards "honor early career scholars whose achievements mark them as among the most promising researchers in their fields."Are global warming, recent Midwest cold snap related?Feb 12, 2019 8:15 am2940 views Last month, the Midwest experienced record-breaking cold temperatures and many are wondering how, when the climate is experiencing an unprecedented warming trend, we can still experience such frigid cold. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian asked University of Illinois atmospheric sciences professor Don Wuebbles to explain.New model predicts how ground shipping will affect future human health, environmentFeb 11, 2019 10:00 am2073 views The trucks and trains that transport goods across the United States emit gases and particles that threaten human health and the environment. A University of Illinois-led project developed a new model that predicts through 2050 the impact of different environmental policies on human mortality rates and short- and long-term climate change caused by particulate and greenhouse gas emissions.Experts call for national research integrity advisory boardFeb 11, 2019 9:45 am259 views It’s been proposed before, but so far no one has heeded the call for an official advisory board to support ethical behavior in research institutions. Today, leaders in academia with expertise in the professional and ethical conduct of research have formalized a proposal to finally assemble such an advisory board. The proposal appears in the journal Nature.Microplastic contamination found in common source of groundwater, researchers reportJan 25, 2019 6:30 am4049 views Microplastics contaminate the world's surface waters, yet scientists have only just begun to explore their presence in groundwater systems. A new study is the first to report microplastics in fractured limestone aquifers – a groundwater source that accounts for 25 percent of the global drinking water supply.Researchers gain control over soft-molecule synthesisJan 14, 2019 2:00 pm1143 views By gaining control over shape, size and composition during synthetic molecule assembly, researchers can begin to probe how these factors influence the function of soft materials. Finding these answers could help advance virology, drug delivery development and the creation of new materials. Researchers diversify drug development options with new metal catalystJan 9, 2019 9:15 am1102 views A University of Illinois team of researchers led by chemistry professor M. Christina White has developed a new manganese-based catalyst that can change the structure of druglike molecules to make new drugs, advancing the pace and efficiency of drug development. Superfluidity: what is it and why does it matter?Dec 20, 2018 8:45 am1979 views 2018 marks the 80th anniversary of the landmark physics discovery of superfluidity. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian asked University of Illinois physics professor and 2003 Nobel Prize winner Anthony Leggett about the significance of the historic finding.What is on the horizon for global carbon emissions?Dec 5, 2018 11:45 am499 views On Dec. 5, the Global Carbon Project published the Global Carbon Budget 2018, giving world leaders access to data on atmospheric carbon concentrations, emissions and trends. Illinois atmospheric scientist Atul Jain was among the many scientists worldwide who contributed data to the report. Jain talked about the carbon budget and this year’s findings with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian.Team converts wet biological waste to diesel-compatible fuelDec 4, 2018 8:45 am2849 views In a step toward producing renewable engine fuels that are compatible with existing diesel fuel infrastructure, researchers report they can convert wet biowaste, such as swine manure and food scraps, into a fuel that can be blended with diesel and that shares diesel’s combustion efficiency and emissions profile. They report their findings in the journal Nature Sustainability.Can we talk about the Illinois climate?Dec 3, 2018 8:15 am512 views Jim Angel, the Illinois state climatologist, has announced that he will retire in December 2018 after 34 years at the Illinois State Water Survey. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with him about his career, climate change and the National Climate Assessment released on Black Friday.Eleven Illinois researchers rank among world’s most influentialNov 29, 2018 10:15 am10105 views Eleven faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2018 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list.Four Illinois faculty members elected AAAS FellowsNov 27, 2018 10:00 am1883 views Four professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been elected 2018 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are: mechanical science and engineering professor Narayana Aluru, computer science professor William Gropp and plant biology professors Andrew Leakey and Ray Ming.Diagnostic tool helps engineers to design better global infrastructure solutionsNov 15, 2018 7:45 am1066 views Designing safe bridges and water systems for low-income communities is not always easy for engineers coming from highly industrialized places. A new discipline called contextual engineering helps engineers think beyond personal values, expectations and definitions of project success when tackling global infrastructure problems.Monster hurricanes: Why have recent storms been so huge?Oct 15, 2018 10:45 am2146 views Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, as the first Category 4 storm in recorded history to reach shore in the northeast Gulf Coast. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with Illinois atmospheric sciences professor Deanna Hence about the storm’s size, strength and path, and the impact of global climate change on future hurricanes. New, highly stable catalyst may help turn water into fuelSep 28, 2018 8:30 am3001 views Breaking the bonds between oxygen and hydrogen in water could be a key to the creation of hydrogen in a sustainable manner, but finding an economically viable technique for this has proved difficult. Researchers report a new hydrogen-generating catalyst that clears many of the obstacles – abundance, stability in acid conditions and efficiency.Researchers develop microbubble scrubber to destroy dangerous biofilmsSep 19, 2018 10:15 am1711 views Stiff microbial films often coat medical devices, household items and infrastructure such as the inside of water supply pipes, and can lead to dangerous infections. Researchers have developed a system that harnesses the power of bubbles to propel tiny particles through the surfaces of these tough films and deliver an antiseptic deathblow to the microbes living inside.Designer enzyme conquers sulfite reduction, a bottleneck in environmental cleanupSep 13, 2018 1:00 pm922 views CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers have cleared one hurdle toward environmental cleanup of certain contaminants with a newly designed synthetic enzyme that reduces the compound sulfite to sulfide – a notoriously complex multistep chemical reaction that has eluded chemists for years.Ebert Symposium to feature IMAX film, astronaut videographer, storytelling with dataSep 13, 2018 10:15 am851 views The first Roger Ebert Symposium will explore the cinematic presentation of science with help from an IMAX film shot from space, a former astronaut and a diverse group of academics and experts.Study: Kidney stones have distinct geological historiesSep 13, 2018 4:00 am2345 views A geologist, a microscopist and a doctor walk into a lab and, with their colleagues from across the nation, make a discovery that overturns centuries of thought about the nature and composition of kidney stones. The team’s key insight, reported in the journal Scientific Reports, is that kidney stones are built up in calcium-rich layers that resemble other mineralizations in nature, such as those forming coral reefs or arising in hot springs, Roman aqueducts or subsurface oil fields.Study: Large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara would increase heat, rain, vegetationSep 6, 2018 9:45 am2297 views Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat, humidity and other factors that may be beneficial – or detrimental – to the regions in which they are situated. A new climate-modeling study finds that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighboring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation. Overall, the researchers report, the effects would likely benefit the region.Connectivity explains ecosystem responses to rainfall, droughtAug 27, 2018 2:00 pm449 views In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers reveal techniques – inspired by the study of information theory – to track how changes in precipitation alter interactions between the atmosphere, vegetation and soil at two National Science Foundation Critical Zone Observatory sites in the western United States.A professor not afraid to cross academic boundariesAug 23, 2018 11:30 am809 views Illinois professor Ruby Mendenhall is focused on issues of poverty, inequality and violence, but crosses many academic boundaries in search of answers.Study: Human wastewater valuable to global agriculture, economicsAug 15, 2018 12:45 pm1664 views It may seem off-putting to some, but human waste is full of nutrients that can be recycled into valuable products that could promote agricultural sustainability and better economic independence for some developing countries.Study finds possible connection between U.S. tornado activity, Arctic sea iceAug 6, 2018 8:15 am1507 views The effects of global climate change taking place in the Arctic may influence weather much closer to home for millions of Americans, researchers report.Nowhere to hide: Molecular probe illuminates elusive cancer stem cells in live miceAug 1, 2018 9:00 am1586 views After a primary tumor is treated, cancer stem cells may still lurk in the body, ready to metastasize and cause a recurrence of the cancer in a form that’s more aggressive and resistant to treatment. University of Illinois researchers have developed a molecular probe that seeks out these elusive cells and lights them up so they can be identified, tracked and studied not only in cell cultures, but in their native environment: the body. In a paper published in the journal ACS Central Science, the researchers described the probe’s effectiveness in identifying cancer stem cells in cultures of multiple human cancer cell lines as well as in live mice.New model reveals rips in Earth’s mantle layer below southern TibetJul 30, 2018 2:00 pm909 views Seismic waves are helping researchers uncover the mysterious subsurface history of the Tibetan Plateau, possibly lending insight to future earthquake activity in the region.Chemicals that keep drinking water flowing may also cause foulingJul 25, 2018 7:30 am1825 views Many city drinking water systems add softening agents to keep plumbing free of pipe-clogging mineral buildup. According to new research, these additives may amplify the risk of pathogen release into drinking water by weakening the grip that bacteria – like those responsible for Legionnaires’ disease – have on pipe interiors. What is a neutrino and why do they matter?Jul 18, 2018 9:30 am1426 views Scientists recently announced the discovery of a subatomic particle that made its way to Earth from an event that occurred 3.7 billion light-years away. Sensors buried within Antarctic ice detected the ghostly cosmic particle, called a neutrino, and traced its origin to a rapidly spinning galactic nucleus known as a blazar. Physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with physics professor Liang Yang about the significance of the discovery.