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  • Alumnus

    The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill., July 20) – To 9-year-old Scott Altman of Wenona, Illinois, the astronauts of Apollo 11 seemed at once like friends and gods. “It was amazing to go outside, look at the moon and know there were people up there like us,” Altman says, remembering the first moon landing July 20, 1969. Altman would go on to graduate from the U. of I. with a degree in astronautical engineering, serve as a Navy pilot and fly on four Space Shuttle missions.

  • Media

    Variety (Los Angeles, July 10) – CNN will use a “live draw” to select which Democratic candidates appear on two nights of debates, possibly to preempt a point of contention. The current generation of news aficionados is ready to take on mainstream outlets like CNN or The New York Times and argue with them about the way they chose to present an event or the motives they may have in doing so. “The idea of the passive audience has been obliterated and gone for a while,” says Nikki Usher, a professor of media at Illinois who studies changes in news production.

  • Supercomputing

    Eos (Washington, D.C., July 10) – In a study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers announced that they finally demonstrated Bardeen-Petterson alignment, in which a spinning black hole causes the inner portion of a tilted accretion disk to align with the black hole’s equatorial plane. To accomplish the most detailed and highest-resolution black hole simulation to date, researchers used the Blue Waters supercomputer at Illinois.

  • Genetics

    Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (New Rochelle, N.Y., July 9) – The results of field trials carried out by scientists at Cornell University and the U. of I. suggest that genetically engineered tobacco plants could be grown as crops for producing pharmaceutical and industrial enzymes and other proteins.

  • Labor and employment relations

    Chicago Sun-Times (June 26) – On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court delivered what seemed a potential death knell to public-sector unions in the landmark Illinois Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 case. A year later, the government worker unions in Illinois are doing OK. Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at Illinois, says if now-former state worker Mark Janus and his allies thought that in Illinois, “this decision would lead to seriously damaging public-sector unions, that doesn’t seem to have occurred.”

  • Alumnus

    Las Vegas Review-Journal (June 24) – Moments before playing high-stakes poker for the first time in more than a decade Monday, “Jeopardy!” sensation James Holzhauer, an Illinois alumnus, said his strategy was simply not to embarrass himself at the World Series of Poker. The Las Vegas professional sports bettor certainly accomplished his mission, but he went 0-for-2 in his quest to win prize money in WSOP events.

  • Epidermal electronic system

    Epidermolysis Bullosa News (Pensacola, Fla., June 21) – A skinlike device that measures heart rate, breathing, blood oxygen, blood pressure and body temperature may provide a safer way to monitor vital signs of those in intensive care who have fragile skin, such as newborns and patients with epidermolysis bullosa. The technology, referred to as an epidermal electronic system, is a wireless, battery-free, ultrathin device that gently contacts the skin in a noninvasive way. It was developed by a team of multidisciplinary researchers from several universities, including scientists from the U. of I.

  • Wheelchair athletes

    Chicago Tribune (June 19) – Two wheelchair racers with U. of I. ties are competing for ESPY Awards, to be given out July 10 in Los Angeles by the ESPN sports network. Wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden, an Illinois alumna, is vying for Best Female Athlete With a Disability. Daniel Romanchuk, a member of the U. of I. Wheelchair Racing Team who won last year’s Chicago Marathon and this year’s Boston Marathon, is competing for Best Male Athlete With a Disability.

  • State education budget

    Chicago Tribune (June 19) – Illinois’ public universities and community colleges are getting an increase in state funding not seen in nearly three decades. The state budget Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed June 5 raises higher education general funding by $154 million or 8.2%, the largest year-over-year percentage jump since 1990, according to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Tim Killeen, president of the University of Illinois System, says the budget marked “a significant step in rebuilding the trust and confidence” in the state’s higher education system.

  • Archaeology

    Chicago Tribune (from the Daily Southtown; June 17) – Mark Ryan, the executive director of the Prairie Research Institute at Illinois, where the Illinois State Archaeological Society is located, says that a day’s work digging at a site in the Cook County Forest Preserves revealed insight into a civilization that was on the edge of encountering western culture. As they unearthed trade items from the early 1600s, the scientists were able to denote that European goods had made their way to the Chicago area through tribal networks even before the French arrived in the area.

  • DNA study

    Daily Herald (from The Associated Press; Arlington Heights, Ill., June 15) – Sealaska Heritage Institute officials say they are collaborating with a university that is studying how the DNA of Indigenous people might have been affected by trauma linked to European colonization. Researchers from the U. of I. will be at the Juneau-based institute next week for the project focusing on Tlingit people with ties to Hoonah.

  • Entomology

    Ohio’s Country Journal (Columbus, Ohio, June 14) – Some early season caterpillars and slugs are out and feasting on small, late-planted corn and soybean fields. These fields are especially vulnerable to damage from insects this year, according to University of Illinois Extension entomologist Nick Seiter. “In general, the later the planting, the younger the plant is when they feed on it,” Seiter says. “And younger plants are less able to overcome that stress.”

  • Materials science and engineering

    R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., June 11) – The process of chaining together the amino acids needed to build the new protein molecules for drug and biomaterial development is often very long and complex for scientists. However, a research team from the U. of I. has created a faster, easier and cheaper technique to produce new amino acid chains called polypeptides, using a streamlined process to purify amino acid precursors while simultaneously building the chains.

  • Nuclear Fuel Recycling

    Slate (Brooklyn, N.Y., June 7) – Nuclear fuel waste can be reduced by recycling. By separating out uranium and plutonium from used nuclear fuel, engineers can reuse those in reactors to generate additional energy and throw out the rest. “Ninety-five percent of original energy is in the unused fuel,” says Kathryn Huff, a professor of nuclear engineering at Illinois.

  • Supercomputing

    HPC Wire (San Diego, June 6) – An international team of researchers, including researchers from the U. of I., has finally solved a long-standing cosmic mystery – and to do it, they needed to produce the most detailed black hole simulation ever created. The team ran the simulation on the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at Illinois.

  • Agricultural economics

    USA Today (June 6) – American farmers already plagued by a near biblical parade of misfortune that includes years of low prices and a trade war with China are now grappling with record Midwest rain that will likely prevent a large portion of this year’s crop from even getting planted. “This is more than a cyclical thing,” says Gary Schnitkey, a professor of agricultural economics at Illinois. “It’s a series of events that we’ve never seen come together. ... It’s going to be a blow to everyone’s financial position.”

  • Alumnus

    Forbes (New York City, June 5) – Tom Siebel, 66, whose fortune Forbes pegs at $2.9 billion, is announcing today that his company,, will cover the total cost for employees to earn a master’s degree in computer science online. Siebel got his own master’s in computer science from the highly ranked program at the U. of I., the school where his employees can earn the same degree.

  • Housing affordability rankings

    RE Journals (Chicago, May 31) – Proximity to campus is the strongest determining factor for where college students decide to live during their time at school, leading to worries about rent costs. On a new ranking of the most affordable areas near top universities, the state of Illinois had three of the top 10 spots, including the U. of I. at number one.

  • Journal subscriptions

    Inside Higher Ed (May 30) – A growing number of U.S. institutions are not renewing their bundled journal subscriptions with big publishers, citing rising costs that have made these deals unsustainable. Lisa Hinchliffe, a professor and coordinator of information literacy services at Illinois, says the percentage of total institutional budget is not a particularly useful frame for examining the cost, or the value, of subscriptions. “Spending even $1 for something that is not needed is a waste. Spending $10,000 that meets $1 million in need is probably a pretty good deal,” she says.

  • Faculty

    Gizmodo (Sydney, May 27) – Pioneering physicist Murray Gell-Mann, who worked and taught at the U. of I., among other institutions, died at age 89. Among his many scientific contributions, the Nobel laureate will be remembered for bringing order to the chaotic field of particle physics and for coining the term “quark” – a fundamental building block of matter.

  • Agriculture

    Successful Farming (Des Moines, Iowa, May 20) – Mired by a rainy and chilly spring, U.S. farmers may soon give up on planting corn in rain-soaked parts of the Farm Belt because it is getting too late for money-making yields, says Scott Irwin, an agricultural economist at Illinois.

  • I-TICK program

    The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill., May 16) – You can be a citizen scientist and fight diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks by taking part in the Illinois Tick Inventory Collaboration Network, called I-TICK, a project involving the Illinois Natural History Survey and the College of Veterinary Medicine, both at Illinois, and the Illinois Department of Public Health and Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease.

  • Trade wars hurting farmers

    Bloomberg (New York City, May 14) – American farmers, among Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, face mounting financial pain from the president’s trade war with China and the growing risk that the damage will outlast the conflict. Jonathan Coppess, a professor of agricultural policy at Illinois and former head of the U.S. Farm Service Agency, says that U.S. farmers’ overseas competitors will gain more advantage as the dispute persists.

  • Suburban Express shuts down

    Chicago Tribune (May 8) – Suburban Express, a bus company in Urbana-Champaign that served U. of I. students, is shutting down. The company was sanctioned recently by the Illinois attorney general for discriminatory and harassing business practices.

  • Education

    Daily Chronicle (Opinion; DeKalb, Ill., May 7) – Elizabeth T. Powers, a professor of economics at Illinois and a member of the Education group at the University of Illinois System’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs, favors the passage of Illinois Senate Bill 2075 by the Illinois House. The legislation would require all children who turn age 5 by May 31 in the 2020-21 school year and subsequent years to enter kindergarten in the fall.

  • Storing carbon

    Tribune-Star (Terre Haute, Ind., May 4) – Legislation passed in the just-completed Indiana General Assembly will allow a pilot project in Vigo County for underground storage of carbon dioxide. The $450 million project by Wabash Valley Resources LLC would store 50 million metric tons of carbon byproducts created by the production of anhydrous ammonia. In conjunction with the project, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $10.2 million grant to the U. of I., with an eye toward later recovering stored carbon to help boost crude oil production.

  • NCAA transfer rules

    Chicago Tribune (April 28) – Illinois tight end Luke Ford’s family said they have hired attorney Tom Mars, who has helped other college athletes earn NCAA transfer waivers to play immediately. Ford learned last week that the NCAA denied his request of a family hardship waiver that would allow him to play football immediately at Illinois in the fall after transferring from the University of Georgia.

  • Meteotsunami warning system

    Chicago Tribune (April 25) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin, the U. of I. and the University of Michigan, is working to create a forecast and warning system to alert boaters and beachgoers about meteotsunamis as they develop across the Great Lakes.

  • Corn crop planting speed

    Hoosier Ag Today (Zionsville, Ind., April 23) – While it is true today’s equipment can plant a single acre of corn much faster, it still takes about the same amount of time to plant the whole crop, says Scott Irwin, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois. It takes about the same time to plant the whole U.S. corn crop today as it did 40 years ago.

  • HathiTrust Digital Library

    EdTech (Vernon Hills, Ill., April 22) – “If there’s a book sitting on the shelf at the University of Michigan library, University of California, Illinois, Virginia or Harvard, there’s a very good chance we have a copy of it,” says J. Stephen Downie, the associate dean for research at the School of Information Sciences at Illinois and the co-director of the HathiTrust Research Center.

  • Faculty-grad student relationships

    The Scientist (Philadelphia, April 19) – Princeton University is the first school to ban relationships between faculty and graduate students campuswide, but others will follow, says Jamelle Sharpe, a professor of law at Illinois who has surveyed academic policies in this area. “In the last couple of years, universities have essentially gone in one direction, which is to make their policies more restrictive,” Sharpe says.

  • Education Justice Project

    WUIS-FM (Springfield, Ill., April 18) – The Education Justice Project brought U. of I. classes to the Danville Correctional Center in Illinois. Since 2009, more than 220 incarcerated people have taken classes through the program. But there’s a growing debate over how to measure the success of programs like EJP beyond how many students are released and return to prison.

  • Capital investment incentives

    Crain’s Chicago Business (April 15) – Michelle D. Layser, a professor of law at Illinois, writes about how lawmakers often tout pro-gentrification ideas such as the new federal “opportunity zone” tax incentive as tools to promote capital investment in poor neighborhoods. If history is any guide, the latest effort to create these zones in Chicago won’t yield wide-reaching benefits, Layser says.

  • Political science

    Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill., April 11) – The 2020 campaign season is starting early for central Illinois, as Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan announced Thursday she plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis again next year. Brian Gaines, a professor of political science at Illinois, says it’s not extraordinarily unusual for someone to announce his or her candidacy so far ahead of an election. “It’s not crazy to try and get your name out earlier,” he says. “… The only real advantage is trying to get a jump on other potential challengers to try to scare them out of the race.”

  • Agricultural economics

    Bloomberg (April 10) – The number of U.S. farms that are either very big or pretty small probably grew during a period when agriculture incomes fell 22 percent, pressuring mid-sized growers whose debt skyrocketed. “We’ve had sort of a hollowing out of the middle,” says Todd Kuethe, an agricultural economist at Illinois. “Either you’re one of these large farms or you’re one of these rural, residential farms.”

  • Teaching cursive

    KRIS-TV (Corpus Christi, Texas, April 8) – There is a debate on whether cursive is a valuable enough skill to be required in elementary education. Valerie Hotchkiss, a library director at the U. of I., thinks it is necessary for understanding historical documents. Without knowing cursive, students "will be locked out of doing research with literary papers and archival collections, they will not even be able to read their grandmother’s diary or their parents’ love letters.”

  • Student experiences

    Daily Herald (from The Associated Press; Arlington Heights, Ill., April 7) – Two fourth-year students at the U. of I. College of Veterinary Medicine are already getting some hands-on work with vaccinations, testing and other care. They were at the Coles County Animal Shelter on March 14, doing work that not only helps them prepare for their careers, but also provides care for pet owners who might not be able to get it otherwise.

  • Higher education funding

    The Southern Illinoisan (from Capitol News Illinois; Carbondale, Ill., April 3) – University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen called investment in higher education “part of the solution” to Illinois’ well-documented fiscal issues Wednesday during the system’s 10th annual lobby day at the Illinois State Capitol.

  • Aerospace engineering

    Sustainability Times (Paris, April 3) – U. of I. scientists have looked at various configurations of fuel and battery to see which ones would yield the best results in ensuring that planes kept their carrying capacity and range but with drastically reduced emissions. To do so, they explored how much net carbon emissions various hybrid-electric planes would emit based on their fuel use as well as on carbon use needed to charge their batteries. “In the energy supply chain there’s a phrase, from ‘well to wake.’ That is, fuel production begins at the oil well and ends at the wake of the airplane,” says Phillip Ansell, a professor of aerospace engineering at Illinois.

  • Hydrology

    Eos (Washington, D.C., March 28) – Over the past 50 years, hydrology has experienced a revolution in theory, technical application and interdisciplinary collaboration. Space-based topographic data, real-time weather telemetry and advances in computer technology have created a new, data-rich environment that has drastically changed how hydrology research is conducted and applied. “There’s an elephant in the room, though, the direct change that comes from humans,” says Murugesu Sivapalan, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Illinois.

  • Psychology

    Pacific Standard (Santa Barbara, Calif., March 22) – The results of a new study suggest that environmentally enlightened religious leaders could coax congregants into viewing the fight against climate change as a vital moral issue. “With an increasingly polarized political climate in the U.S., there is a growing need for other channels of communication to promote environmental concerns,” write psychologists Faith Shin of the U. of I. and Jesse Preston of the University of Warwick.

  • Labor and employment relations

    The State Journal-Register (Springfield, Ill., March 20) – Illinois lawmakers could create better working conditions for nurses and higher employee retention rates by passing a bill limiting the number of patients a registered nurse could care for at any one time, according to a new study from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. Lawmakers also could address a shortage of nurses in Illinois by taking steps to encourage unionization, says Robert Bruno, one of the report’s authors and a professor of labor and employment relations at Illinois.

  • Nutrition

    Vox (Washington, D.C., March 20) – Only 5 percent of people in the U.S. meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily target of 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men. To increase dietary fiber, consider snacking on whole fruits, replacing white bread with whole-grain alternatives, eating potatoes with the skins on and tossing berries, nuts and seeds on your yogurt, cereals or salads, says Hannah Holscher, a professor of nutrition at Illinois. “Lots of small changes can add up.”

  • Cinema and media

    The New York Times (March 15) – Lilly Singh, a Canadian of Indian descent who built a career on YouTube as a comedian, is getting her own late-night show on NBC in September. Experts like Rini Bhattacharya Mehta, who teaches Indian and global cinema and media at Illinois, say they hope Singh will be able to use her position to bring on a diverse set of guests and avoid becoming a token pressured to produce a show similar to that of her white male peers.

  • Law

    San Francisco Chronicle (March 14) – A national effort to bypass the Electoral College and pick the president by popular vote – which may or may not be constitutional – is picking up new support and moving closer to success. The Constitution’s framers set up the Electoral College to ensure that the new nation’s few cities would not be able to enforce their political will on the rest of largely rural America. Today, however, the Electoral College “is anachronistic and outdated,” says Vikram Amar, the dean of the College of Law at Illinois, who co-wrote with his brother, Akhil Amar, a 2001 paper that showed how the interstate compact could work.

  • New Cystic Fibrosis Drug

    Chemical & Engineering News (Washington, D.C., March 13) – An antifungal small molecule drug could restore some of the function lost in cystic fibrosis, according to a study by U. of I. researchers. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that mainly affects the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing.

  • Finance

    Chicago Tribune (March 11) – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says his income tax plan would generate $3.4 billion in revenue. Some tax experts question whether it’s enough. “It sounds to me a little cynical to promise a tax cut for 97 percent of taxpayers when the state is in such financial difficulty,” says Don Fullerton, a professor of finance at Illinois and a senior scholar at the University of Illinois System’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

  • Alumna

    The Washington Post (March 7) – Carolee Schneemann, 79, a painter and performance artist whose taboo-bursting works explored gender, sexuality and the body politic, often by using her own nude figure as a canvas, died of breast cancer March 6 at her home in New Paltz, New York. She received a master of fine arts degree from the U. of I.

  • Architecture school rankings

    Arch Daily (March 4) – Quacquarelli Symonds, a British company specializing in education, revealed its ranking of the world’s top universities for the study of architecture for 2019, based upon academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact. The Bartlett School of Architecture at University College, London has been named the best university for studying architecture, taking Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s place, which has topped the rankings for the past four years. The U. of I. ranked 47th.

  • Construction needs

    Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, Ill., March 1) – With talk of the first capital bill in nearly a decade permeating the Capitol, representatives of Illinois’ public universities and community colleges put in their wish lists at a House Appropriations Committee hearing Thursday. University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen reported $2.1 billion in deferred maintenance needs throughout the system, although the university’s official request was for $722 million for fiscal year 2020.