blog postsHuman waste an asset to economy, environment, study findsJul 8, 2019 8:00 am2296 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.Biochar may boost carbon storage, but benefits to germination and growth appear scantJun 19, 2019 8:15 am663 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.A warming Midwest increases likelihood that farmers will need to irrigateJun 18, 2019 8:45 am613 views If current climate and crop-improvement trends continue into the future, Midwestern corn growers who today rely on rainfall to water their crops will need to irrigate their fields, a new study finds. This could draw down aquifers, disrupt streams and rivers, and set up conflicts between agricultural and other human and ecological needs for water, scientists say.Study: Irritable bowel syndrome may be underdiagnosed in athletesJun 13, 2019 11:45 am678 views Gastrointestinal problems are common among endurance athletes, and many of them may be struggling with undiagnosed irritable bowel syndrome, a new study by University of Illinois food scientists suggests.New mutations for herbicide resistance rarer than expected, study findsMay 28, 2019 10:00 am756 views 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.'Engineering Fire' documentary premieres on BTNMay 9, 2019 8:45 am612 views “Engineering Fire,” 30-minute documentary video chronicling the work of University of Illinois engineers to introduce a solar-cooking device in Haiti, premieres May 12 at 7 p.m. CDT on the Big Ten Network.Long elected to National Academy of SciencesMay 1, 2019 8:00 am984 views 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.Excessive rainfall as damaging to corn yield as extreme heat, droughtApr 30, 2019 8:15 am1345 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.Scholars: Estimates of food insecurity among college students problematicApr 24, 2019 1:00 pm793 views 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.Study: Reducing energy required to convert CO2 waste into valuable resourcesApr 17, 2019 10:45 am566 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.Low-calorie sweetener derived from lactose gets manufacturing boost from yeastApr 15, 2019 11:15 am1188 views 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.Study: Phenols in purple corn fight diabetes, obesity, inflammation in mouse cellsApr 15, 2019 9:45 am2433 views Scientists at the University of Illinois developed new hybrids of purple corn with differing combinations of phytochemicals that may fight obesity, inflammation and diabetes, a new study in mice indicates -- and give the food industry sources of natural colorants.Counties with more trees and shrubs spend less on Medicare, study findsApr 1, 2019 8:00 am14975 views A new study finds that Medicare costs tend to be lower in counties with more forests and shrublands than in counties dominated by other types of land cover. The relationship persists even when accounting for economic, geographic or other factors that might independently influence health care costs, researchers report.Report outlines growing climate change-related threats to Great Lakes regionMar 22, 2019 10:15 am2101 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.Study: Impact of food waste campaigns muted, but point toward right directionMar 8, 2019 8:45 am813 views Food waste campaigns are a low-cost way to curb waste at all-you-can-eat dining establishments, but they may need to be combined with other environmental changes to make a difference, says new research co-written by Brenna Ellison, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois.Future of US citrus may hinge on consumer acceptance of genetically modified foodFeb 13, 2019 10:45 am1885 views A tiny insect, no bigger than the head of a pin, is threatening to topple the multibillion-dollar citrus industry in the U.S.The battle to save it is pitting producers and researchers against a formidable brown bug, the Asian citrus psyllid.Team converts wet biological waste to diesel-compatible fuelDec 4, 2018 8:45 am2882 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 am518 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.North American checklist identifies the fungus among usNov 28, 2018 8:15 am2065 views 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.Four Illinois faculty members elected AAAS FellowsNov 27, 2018 10:00 am1907 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 am1077 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.Caterpillar, fungus in cahoots to threaten fruit, nut crops, study findsNov 5, 2018 8:00 am461 views New research reveals that Aspergillus flavus, a fungus that produces carcinogenic aflatoxins that can contaminate seeds and nuts, has a multilegged partner in crime: the navel orangeworm caterpillar, which targets some of the same nut and fruit orchards afflicted by the fungus. Scientists report in the Journal of Chemical Ecology that the two pests work in concert to overcome plant defenses and resist pesticides.Berenbaum named PNAS editor-in-chiefOct 31, 2018 8:30 am1128 views University of Illinois entomology professor and department head May Berenbaum, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and longtime editorial contributor to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and other journals, has been appointed editor-in-chief of PNAS, effective Jan. 1.Honey bee researcher Gene Robinson elected to National Academy of MedicineOct 15, 2018 8:15 am2097 views Entomology professor Gene Robinson, an international leader in honey bee research, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine “for pioneering contributions to understanding the roles of genes in social behavior.” Robinson directs the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.Study: Human wastewater valuable to global agriculture, economicsAug 15, 2018 12:45 pm1689 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.New algorithm fuses quality and quantity in satellite imageryJun 4, 2018 8:30 am2175 views 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. New technique can track drug and gene delivery to cellsMay 21, 2018 8:00 am1171 views 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. Ag robot speeds data collection, analyses of crops as they growMar 12, 2018 8:45 am3469 views A new lightweight, low-cost agricultural robot, developed by a team of scientists at the University of Illinois, could transform data collection and field scouting for agronomists, seed companies and farmers. Scientists seeking rare river crayfish aren't just kicking rocksFeb 27, 2018 8:30 am751 views 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.Would replacing food stamps with food boxes reduce hunger?Feb 22, 2018 8:30 am1559 views Swapping food stamps for food boxes would mean scrapping 'the most successful government program we have going today,' said U. of I. professor Craig GundersenNeuroimaging reveals lasting brain deficits in iron-deficient pigletsFeb 20, 2018 4:30 pm767 views 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.Agricultural fungicide attracts honey bees, study findsJan 8, 2018 9:30 am4403 views When given the choice, honey bee foragers prefer to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.Many Midwestern retailers sell mislabeled invasive vinesJan 8, 2018 9:00 am3673 views 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.Genomic study explores evolution of gentle ‘killer bees’ in Puerto RicoNov 16, 2017 9:30 am2420 views A genomic study of Puerto Rico’s Africanized honey bees – which are more docile than other so-called “killer bees” – reveals that they retain most of the genetic traits of their African honey bee ancestors, but that a few regions of their DNA have become more like those of European honey bees. According to the researchers, these changes likely contributed to the bees’ rapid evolution toward gentleness in Puerto Rico, a change that occurred within 30 years.Scientists: Expanding Brazilian sugarcane could dent global CO2 emissionsOct 23, 2017 9:45 am2494 views 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 sportfish recovery a result of 1972 Clean Water Act, scientists reportOct 18, 2017 9:45 am1949 views 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.Some plants grow bigger – and meaner – when clipped, study findsOct 11, 2017 8:30 am3379 views Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these “overcompensators,” as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry – think plant venom – when they are clipped.Is our flood insurance model broken?Sep 8, 2017 8:30 am948 views 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.Should states be in the lottery business?Sep 5, 2017 1:00 pm538 views A major downside to record-breaking lottery jackpots is that money flows from poorer communities into the hands of one incredibly lucky person, said Craig Lemoine, the director of the Financial Planning Program at the College of ACES.Study links fish stress hormones to whether they take the baitAug 22, 2017 10:00 am1291 views Take a fish out of water and its stress hormones will go up. Adrenaline and noradrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormones, peak first, followed more gradually by cortisol. A new study finds that largemouth bass whose cortisol levels rise most after a brief bout of stress are inherently harder to catch by angling.Study finds parallels between unresponsive honey bees, autism in humansJul 31, 2017 2:00 pm1857 views Honey bees that consistently fail to respond to obvious social cues share something fundamental with autistic humans, researchers report in a new study. Genes most closely associated with autism spectrum disorders in humans are regulated differently in unresponsive honey bees than in their more responsive nest mates, the study found.Two undergrads improve plant carbon-cycle modelsJul 24, 2017 10:00 am852 views In the summer of 2012, two undergraduate students tackled a problem that plant ecology experts had overlooked for 30 years. The students demonstrated that different plant species vary in how they take in carbon dioxide and emit water through stomata, the pores in their leaves. The data boosted the accuracy of mathematical models of carbon and water fluxes through plant leaves by 30 to 60 percent.Corn better used as food than biofuel, study findsJun 20, 2017 9:00 am4720 views Corn is grown not only for food, it is also an important renewable energy source. Renewable biofuels can come with hidden economic and environmental issues, and the question of whether corn is better utilized as food or as a biofuel has persisted since ethanol came into use. For the first time, researchers at the University of Illinois have quantified and compared these issues in terms of economics of the entire production system to determine if the benefits of biofuel corn outweigh the costs.Genetic study shakes up the elephant family treeJun 6, 2017 3:00 am4805 views New research reveals that a species of giant elephant that lived 1.5 million to 100,000 years ago – ranging across Eurasia before it went extinct – is more closely related to today’s African forest elephant than the forest elephant is to its nearest living relative, the African savanna elephant.Paper: Nutrition label readers favor food quality over quantityApr 18, 2017 8:45 am1407 views 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.Science at Illinois feeds the world, furthers health, protects the planetApr 17, 2017 8:30 am1299 views 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.Team nebulizes aphids to knock down gene expressionMar 17, 2017 2:45 pm980 views Researchers are nebulizing soybean aphids with RNA to speed the process of discovering the function of many mystery genes.Report: Milkweed losses may not fully explain monarch butterfly declinesMar 13, 2017 4:15 pm3604 views Monarch butterfly declines cannot be attributed merely to declines in milkweed abundance, researchers report.Hand-picked specialty crops ‘ripe’ for precision agriculture techniquesMar 2, 2017 9:15 am2822 views Using precision agriculture, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed an algorithm to help producers of hand-picked crops such as strawberries determine the optimal time to transport their highly perishable crop from the field to cold storage.Study rewrites early history of corn in corn countryFeb 14, 2017 8:15 am1835 views A new study contradicts decades of thought, research and teaching on the history of corn cultivation in the American Bottom, a floodplain of the Mississippi River in Illinois. The study refutes the notion that Indian corn, or maize, was cultivated in this region hundreds of years before its widespread adoption at about 1000 A.D.