blog posts Wrongful conviction course now required for all police recruits in Illinois Feb 1, 2023 9:00 am795 views Starting in 2023, all police recruits in the state of Illinois must take a Wrongful Conviction Awareness and Avoidance course as part of their training. This course was first developed by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Police Training Institute director Michael Schlosser with leaders of the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield. The course impresses upon new recruits the importance of carefully gathering and analyzing evidence in investigations and not jumping to conclusions about potential suspects. It offers real-world examples of the harm that accrues from wrongful convictions, including a presentation from an exoneree. Seven Illinois faculty members elected to AAAS Jan 31, 2023 9:00 am1522 views Seven professors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been elected 2022 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellows are chosen by their peers for outstanding contribution to the field. Probe can measure both cell stiffness and traction, researchers report Jan 25, 2023 1:00 pm858 views Scientists have developed a tiny mechanical probe that can measure the inherent stiffness of cells and tissues as well as the internal forces the cells generate and exert on one another. Their new “magnetic microrobot” is the first such probe to be able to quantify both properties, the researchers report, and will aid in understanding cellular processes associated with development and disease. Paper: California's proposal to manufacture insulin could curb prices, improve public health Jan 24, 2023 8:00 am417 views A new paper co-written by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign legal scholar Jacob S. Sherkow argues that the state of California’s proposal to manufacture and distribute insulin at cost could be a game-changer for curbing out-of-control price increases and a boon to public health. Camera-trap study provides photographic evidence of pumas' ecological impact Jan 23, 2023 8:00 am1496 views A camera-trap study of two ecosystems – one with pumas and one without – adds to scientists’ understanding of the many ways apex predators influence the abundance, diversity and habits of other animals, including smaller carnivores. Microelectronics give researchers a remote control for biological robots Jan 18, 2023 1:00 pm3537 views First, they walked. Then, they saw the light. Now, miniature biological robots have gained a new trick: remote control. The hybrid “eBiobots” are the first to combine soft materials, living muscle and microelectronics, said researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University and collaborating institutions. Team streamlines DNA collection, analysis for elephant conservation Jan 12, 2023 1:00 am596 views A new DNA-collection approach allows scientists to capture genetic information from elephants without disturbing the animals or putting their own safety in jeopardy. The protocol, tested on elephant dung, yielded enough DNA to sequence whole genomes not only of the elephants but also of the associated microbes, plants, parasites and other organisms – at a fraction of the cost of current approaches. New website compiles ocean data from landmark 19th-century scientific voyage Jan 10, 2023 10:30 am793 views English professor Gillen D’Arcy Wood’s Oceans 1876 project makes a treasure trove of 19th-century marine data accessible to help scientists better understand how our oceans have changed and how to protect them. First test of anti-cancer agent PAC-1 in human clinical trials shows promise Dec 22, 2022 12:00 pm5627 views A phase I clinical trial of PAC-1, a drug that spurs programmed cell death in cancer cells, found only minor side effects in patients with end-stage cancers. The drug stalled the growth of tumors in the five people in the trial with neuroendocrine cancers and reduced tumor size in two of those patients. It also showed some therapeutic activity against sarcomas, scientists and clinicians report in the British Journal of Cancer. How can we tame the gun violence epidemic? Dec 21, 2022 8:00 am631 views Thomas O’Rourke, a professor emeritus of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about how previous efforts to institute public health measures succeeded and how the same approaches can be employed to reduce the scourge of gun violence in the U.S. Study: Network neuroscience theory best predictor of intelligence Dec 20, 2022 8:00 am1163 views Scientists have labored for decades to understand how brain structure and functional connectivity drive intelligence. A new analysis offers the clearest picture yet of how various brain regions and neural networks contribute to a person’s problem-solving ability in a variety of contexts, a trait known as general intelligence, researchers report. Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations extends RIPE funding with $34M grant Dec 13, 2022 8:30 am1999 views Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations has awarded a grant of $34 million to the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency project, an international research effort led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In its 10-year history, RIPE has demonstrated large increases in crop productivity in replicated field trials on the university farm. Experts boost activity of potential therapeutic target in triple-negative breast cancer Nov 30, 2022 8:00 am836 views Less than 20% of diagnosed breast cancers are designated “triple-negative,” meaning that the affected tissues lack three types of receptors often found in other breast cancer types, but TNBCs are often aggressive with a higher risk of recurrence, metastasis and mortality. In a study conducted in TNBC cells and in a mouse model of the disease, researchers found that targeting a specific estrogen receptor that is sometimes present in TNBCs alters the activity of dozens of cancer-related genes and slows the growth and metastasis of these breast cancers. Second year of pandemic deadlier for middle aged than the first, analysis finds Nov 17, 2022 8:30 am1099 views The first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in mortality rates, both from COVID-19 and other causes, but the groups hardest hit shifted between the first and second years, according to an analysis of publicly available data. Both years saw an increase in deaths over the five years preceding the pandemic, even with COVID-19 numbers removed. But while the first year was most deadly for those over age 65, the second year hit middle-aged adults the hardest, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers found. Nine Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential Nov 15, 2022 8:00 am6673 views Nine U. of I. researchers have been named to the 2022 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list. The list recognizes research scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated exceptional influence – reflected through their publication of multiple papers frequently cited by their peers during the last decade. This year’s list includes 6,938 individuals from around the world whose papers rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in the Web of Science. How can the 2022 Global Carbon Budget report help inform UN Climate Summit? Nov 11, 2022 11:00 am493 views The Global Carbon Project published the Global Carbon Budget 2022 today, giving world leaders access to data on atmospheric carbon concentrations, emissions and trends for the 2022 United Nations Climate Summit – or COP27 – in Egypt. Illinois atmospheric scientist Atul Jain was among the many scientists worldwide who contributed data to the report. Jain talked about this year’s findings with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian. Artificial intelligence and molecule machine join forces to generalize automated chemistry Oct 28, 2022 11:30 am2082 views Artificial intelligence, building-block chemistry and a molecule-making machine teamed up to find the best general reaction conditions for synthesizing chemicals important to biomedical and materials research – a finding that could speed innovation and drug discovery as well as make complex chemistry automated and accessible. Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators in Poland and Canada reported their findings in the journal Science. Model calculates energetics of piercing fangs, claws and other biological weapons Oct 18, 2022 6:15 pm709 views Researchers have created a model that can calculate the energetics involved when one organism stabs another with its fangs, thorns, spines or other puncturing parts. Because the model can be applied to a variety of organisms, it will help scientists study and compare many types of biological puncturing tools, researchers said. It also will help engineers develop new systems to efficiently pierce materials or resist being pierced. Team uses digital cameras, machine learning to predict neurological disease Oct 11, 2022 8:00 am1456 views In an effort to streamline the process of diagnosing patients with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, researchers used digital cameras to capture changes in gait – a symptom of these diseases – and developed a machine-learning algorithm that can differentiate those with MS and PD from people without those neurological conditions. Male/female plumage differences in thrushes promote species recognition Oct 10, 2022 8:30 am176 views In 1868, the naturalist Charles Darwin wrote that differences in plumage coloration between male and female birds of the same species were likely the result of sexual selection: Female birds – he used the peahen and peacock as an example – seemed to prefer the showiest males. A new study of thrushes offers evidence that another dynamic is at play, and helps explain why this phenomenon, called sexual dichromatism, is not universal among birds, its authors say. More physical activity, less screen time linked to better executive function in toddlers, study finds Sep 29, 2022 8:00 am1741 views A new study found that 24-month-old children who spent less than 60 minutes looking at screens each day and those who engaged in daily physical activity had better executive function than their peers. Executive function includes the ability to remember, plan, pay attention, shift between tasks and regulate one's thoughts and behavior. Experimental composer headlines events examining art-science connections Sep 27, 2022 11:15 am636 views David Rosenboom, a pioneer in experimental music, will lecture, perform and conduct workshops with students during a two-week series of events beginning Oct. 3. “Experimental Arts & Sciences at UIUC” is hosted by the School of Music. DNA nets capture COVID-19 virus in low-cost rapid-testing platform Sep 23, 2022 11:00 am1636 views Tiny nets woven from DNA strands can ensnare the spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19, lighting up the virus for a fast-yet-sensitive diagnostic test – and also impeding the virus from infecting cells, opening a new possible route to antiviral treatment, according to a new study led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Krannert Center performance combines art, science to examine what makes us human Sep 15, 2022 2:30 pm576 views “The Joy of Regathering” combines science, music and movement to explore humanity’s place in the universe in a Sept. 17 performance at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Study tracks waterbird use of Chicago-area wetlands Sep 14, 2022 8:30 am599 views A three-year study in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana found that – even at small scales – emergent wetlands or ponds support many wetland bird species. The study also found that, at least in the years surveyed, the level of urbanization had little effect on most of the studied species’ use of such sites, provided the right kinds of habitat were available. Cowbird chicks do best with two warbler nest mates – not four, not zero, study finds Sep 13, 2022 6:00 pm603 views Brown-headed cowbirds are generalist brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of many other bird species and letting the host parents raise their young. A new study seeks to understand the strategies cowbird chicks use to survive in prothonotary warbler nests when they hatch with different numbers of warbler nestlings. The study reveals that a cowbird chick does better with two than with four or zero warbler nest mates. Paper: Valuable antibody patents vulnerable to overly broad doctrinal shift in patent law Aug 17, 2022 8:00 am1139 views A new paper co-written by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign legal scholar Jacob S. Sherkow advocates for a middle ground in patent claims involving antibodies, the backbone of modern bioscience. How do we measure community disaster resilience? Aug 12, 2022 8:00 am769 views In a new study, retired Illinois State Water Survey engineer Sally McConkey and Eric R. Larson, a professor of natural resources and environmental sciences at the U. of I., examined the metrics used at a county scale for national assessments to determine whether communities are prepared to withstand and recover from natural disasters such as floods and fires. McConkey spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about what they found. Study links protecting Indigenous peoples' lands to greater nonhuman primate biodiversity Aug 10, 2022 1:00 pm1070 views By comparing geographic patterns of nonhuman primate biodiversity and human land-use, researchers discovered that areas managed or controlled by Indigenous peoples tend to have significantly more primate biodiversity than nearby regions. They also found that lorises, tarsiers, monkeys and apes whose territories overlap with Indigenous areas are less likely to be classified as vulnerable, threatened or endangered than those living fully outside Indigenous lands. Light-activated technique helps bring cell powerhouses back into balance Aug 2, 2022 11:00 am631 views Light-activated proteins can help normalize dysfunction within cells and could be used as a treatment for diseases such as cancer or mitochondrial diseases, new research suggests. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University at Buffalo published the results of their study in the journal Nature Communications. The research centers on the functions of mitochondria, organelles within a cell that act as the cell’s “power plant” and source of energy. Study tracks plant pathogens in leafhoppers from natural areas Aug 2, 2022 8:00 am490 views Phytoplasmas are bacteria that can invade the vascular tissues of plants, causing many different crop diseases. While most studies of phytoplasmas begin by examining plants showing disease symptoms, a new analysis focuses on the tiny insects that carry the infectious bacteria from plant to plant. By extracting and testing DNA from archival leafhopper specimens collected in natural areas, the study identified new phytoplasma strains and found new associations between leafhoppers and phytoplasmas known to harm crop plants. Study links insulin resistance, advanced cell aging with childhood poverty Jul 25, 2022 12:15 pm706 views Black adolescents who lived in poverty as children and were pessimistic about their future had accelerated immune cell aging and greater levels of insulin resistance in their mid- to late twenties, according to a study by Allen W. Barton, a professor of human development and family studies. North 'plaza' in Cahokia was likely inundated year-round, study finds Jul 21, 2022 8:00 am2587 views The ancient North American city of Cahokia had as its focal point a feature now known as Monks Mound, a giant earthwork surrounded on its north, south, east and west by large rectangular open areas. These flat zones, called plazas by archaeologists since the early 1960s, were thought to serve as communal areas that served the many mounds and structures of the city. New paleoenvironmental analyses of the north plaza suggest it was almost always underwater, calling into question earlier interpretations of the north plaza’s role in Cahokian society. The study is reported in the journal World Archaeology. In survey, COVID-19 vaccine recipients report changes in menstrual bleeding Jul 15, 2022 1:00 pm2229 views A new analysis of reports from more than 35,000 people offers the most comprehensive assessment so far of menstrual changes experienced by pre- and post-menopausal individuals in the first two weeks after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Published in the journal Science Advances, the study adds to the evidence that significant numbers of people experience this unexpected side effect. Study: Individualized eating program helps dieters lose weight, keep it off Jul 14, 2022 10:30 am2808 views An individualized diet plan developed by nutritionists at the U. of I. shows promise at helping users lose weight and keep it off. The program uses a visual tool that encourages dieters to select foods high in protein and fiber. Study explores unusual interaction between viruses, live vaccines Jul 6, 2022 8:00 am5131 views A study of a herpes virus that infects chickens offers new insights into potentially problematic interactions between vaccines made from live viruses and the viruses they are meant to thwart. COVID-19 virus spike protein flexibility improved by human cell's own modifications Jul 5, 2022 8:00 am1035 views When the coronavirus causing COVID-19 infects human cells, the cell’s protein-processing machinery makes modifications to the spike protein that render it more flexible and mobile, which could increase its ability to infect other cells and to evade antibodies, a new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found. The researchers created an atomic-level computational model of the spike protein and ran multiple simulations to examine the protein’s dynamics and how the cell’s modifications affected those dynamics. This is the first study to present such a detailed picture of the protein that plays a key role in COVID-19 infection and immunity, the researchers said. Study explores coevolution of mammals and their lice Jul 4, 2022 10:00 am749 views According to a new study, the first louse to take up residence on a mammalian host likely started out as a parasite of birds. That host-jumping event tens of millions of years ago began the long association between mammals and lice, setting the stage for their coevolution and offering more opportunities for the lice to spread to other mammals. Will renaming carp help control them? Jun 27, 2022 8:30 am1181 views Illinois officials this month announced that Asian carp would now be called “copi” in an attempt to make the fish more desirable for eating. Joe Parkos, the director of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Kaskaskia, Ridge Lake and Sam Parr biological stations in Illinois, spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about scientific initiatives to study and control carp/copi fish populations and the potential for rebranding to aid those efforts. Small molecule transports iron in mice, human cells to treat some forms of anemia Jun 24, 2022 9:00 am862 views A natural small molecule derived from a cypress tree can transport iron in live mice and human cells lacking the protein that normally does the job, easing a buildup of iron in the liver and restoring hemoglobin and red blood cell production, a new study found. Staring at yourself during virtual chats may worsen your mood, research finds Jun 13, 2022 1:00 pm1814 views A new study finds that the more a person stares at themself while talking with a partner in an online chat, the more their mood degrades over the course of the conversation. Alcohol use appears to worsen the problem, the researchers found. Reported in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, the findings point to a potentially problematic role of online meeting platforms in exacerbating psychological problems like anxiety and depression, the researchers said. Latin dance may be a step toward better working memory for older Latinos Jun 10, 2022 8:15 am1368 views Latin dance lessons may boost the working memory of Latino older adults and help prevent age-related cognitive decline, says new research by kinesiology and community health professor Susan Aguiñaga. SHIELD program a model for effective pandemic management, data show Jun 9, 2022 7:30 am3586 views In the fall of 2020, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign welcomed students back for in-person instruction amid the powerful first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The university successfully maintained operations throughout the semester – with zero COVID-19-related deaths or hospitalizations in the campus community – thanks to its “SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell” program. In a sweeping report, the team behind the campuswide collaboration details the innovations in modeling, saliva testing and results reporting that helped mitigate the spread of the virus, and shares the data collected and lessons learned through the process. Corn genetic heritage the strongest driver of chemical defenses against munching bugs May 3, 2022 10:30 am1010 views Plants release chemical distress signals when under attack from chewing insects. These “911 calls" alert other bugs that dinner or a nice place to lay their eggs is available nearby. If predatory or parasitic insects detect the right signal, they swoop in like saviors to make a meal out of – or lay their eggs in – the bodies of the herbivore insects. A new study explores the factors that contribute to corn plants’ chemical signaling capacity, comparing how different corn varieties respond to herbivory in the presence or absence of a soil bacterium known to promote plant health. Scientists create viable, reproducing yeast-cyanobacterial hybrids May 2, 2022 9:00 am507 views Every plant, animal or other nucleus-containing cell also harbors an array of miniature “organs” that perform essential functions for the cell. In plants, for example, organelles called chloroplasts photosynthesize to generate energy for the organism. Because some organelles contain their own DNA and resemble single-celled organisms, scientists have long theorized that the evolution of complex life forms got its start when one cell engulfed another and the two learned to live in harmony – eventually forming, and belonging to, a single entity. Study tracks COVID-19 infection dynamics in adults Apr 28, 2022 10:00 am1020 views A team led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign tracked the rise and fall of SARS-CoV-2 in the saliva and nasal cavities of people newly infected with the virus. The study was the first to follow acute COVID-19 infections over time through repeated sampling and to compare results from different testing methodologies. Machine-learning model can distinguish antibody targets Apr 21, 2022 1:30 pm881 views A new study shows that it is possible to use the genetic sequences of a person’s antibodies to predict what pathogens those antibodies will target. Reported in the journal Immunity, the new approach successfully differentiates between antibodies against influenza and those attacking SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. New approach enhances muscle recovery in aged mice Apr 13, 2022 8:00 am1361 views Scientists have developed a promising new method to combat the age-related losses in muscle mass that often accompany immobility after injury or illness. Their technique, demonstrated in mice, arrests the process by which muscles begin to deteriorate at the onset of exercise after a period of inactivity. Study: First-pass metabolism of alcohol occurs in women's stomachs Mar 22, 2022 8:45 am1231 views Research led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign identifies the stomach, not the liver, as the site of alcohol first-pass metabolism in women who had sleeve gastrectomies and control-group peers. Team identifies compound with potent antiseizure effects Mar 22, 2022 8:00 am1174 views Researchers studying epileptic seizures of the temporal lobe – the most common type of epilepsy – discovered a compound that reduces seizures in the hippocampus, a brain region where many such seizures originate. The compound, known as TC-2153, lessened the severity of seizures in mice.