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  • The researchers stand in a field at the U. of I. Energy Farm.

    Study identifies best bioenergy crops for sustainable aviation fuels by U.S. region, policy goals

    Researchers analyzed the financial and environmental costs and benefits of four biofuels crops used to produce sustainable aviation fuels in the U.S. They found that each feedstock — corn stover, energy sorghum, miscanthus or switchgrass — performed best in a specific region of the rainfed United States. Their study will help growers and policymakers select the feedstocks most suited to meeting goals like reducing production costs, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and building soil carbon stocks.

  • Two men look at cell images on a screen

    Light targets cells for death and triggers immune response with laser precision

    A new method of precisely targeting troublesome cells for death using light could unlock new understanding of and treatments for cancer and inflammatory diseases, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers report.

  • The researchers in a laboratory. Between them is a fish tank with an octopus inside that has been placed in the temporary tank for the photograph.

    From 'CyberSlug' to 'CyberOctopus': New AI explores, remembers, seeks novelty, overcomes obstacles

    By giving artificial intelligence simple associative learning rules based on the brain circuits that allow a sea slug to forage — and augmenting it with better episodic memory, like that of an octopus — scientists have built an AI that can navigate new environments, seek rewards, map landmarks and overcome obstacles.

  • Two men in front of projected microscope images.

    A heart of stone: Study defines the process of and defenses against cardiac valve calcification

    The human body has sophisticated defenses against the deposition of calcium minerals that stiffen heart tissues, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators at UCLA Health and the University of Texas at Austin found in a new study that provides the first detailed, step-by-step documentation of how mineralization progresses.

  • Zeynep Madak-Erdogan photo portrait.

    Study links neighborhood violence, lung cancer progression

    Scientists have identified a potential driver of aggressive lung cancer tumors in patients who live in areas with high levels of violent crime. Their study found that stress responses differ between those living in neighborhoods with higher and lower levels of violent crime, and between cancerous and healthy tissues in the same individuals.

  • The researchers in a laboratory.

    Gut microbes from aged mice induce inflammation in young mice, study finds

    When scientists transplanted the gut microbes of aged mice into young “germ-free” mice — raised to have no gut microbes of their own — the recipient mice experienced an increase in inflammation that parallels inflammatory processes associated with aging in humans. Young germ-free mice transplanted with microbes from other young mice had no such increase.

  • The research team standing on stairs.

    New antibiotic kills pathogenic bacteria, spares healthy gut microbes

    Researchers have developed a new antibiotic that reduced or eliminated drug-resistant bacterial infections in mouse models of acute pneumonia and sepsis while sparing healthy microbes in the mouse gut. The drug, called lolamicin, also warded off secondary infections with Clostridioides difficile, a common and dangerous hospital-associated bacterial infection, and was effective against more than 130 multidrug-resistant bacterial strains in cell culture.

  • Portrait of researchers in a laboratory. They are sitting in front of two computer monitors displaying data and visualizations of their experiments.

    By listening, scientists learn how a protein folds

    By converting their data into sounds, scientists discovered how hydrogen bonds contribute to the lightning-fast gyrations that transform a string of amino acids into a functional, folded protein. Their report, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers an unprecedented view of the sequence of hydrogen-bonding events that occur when a protein morphs from an unfolded to a folded state.

  • A colored microscope image depicting a green nerve surrounded by red and blue muscle cells.

    Nerves prompt muscle to release factors that boost brain health

    Exercise prompts muscles to release molecular cargo that boosts brain cell function and connection, but the process is not well understood. New research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found that the nerves that tell muscles to move also prompt them to release more of the brain-boosting factors.

  • Photo of Dr. Lowe standing near a cattle feed lot.

    How does bird flu infect so many species?

    Dr. James Lowe, a professor of veterinary clinical medicine at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, describes the factors that influence infection with the H5N1 virus in humans and other animals.

  • A collage of the portraits of the five honorees.

    Five Illinois faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Five University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty members have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest honorary societies in the United States. Nancy M. AmatoRashid BashirAlison BellCharles Gammie and Paul Selvin are among the 250 inductees for 2024.

  • a gif showing molecules in motion

    Electron videography captures moving dance between proteins and lipids

    In a first demonstration of “electron videography,” researchers have captured a microscopic moving picture of the delicate dance between proteins and lipids found in cell membranes. The technique can be used to study dynamics of other biomolecules, breaking free of constraints that have limited microscopy to still images of fixed molecules, say University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers and collaborators at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

  • Photos of birds seen in the study. Clockwise, from top left: ring-necked pheasant, common redpoll, common nighthawk, red-bellied woodpecker and dickcissel.

    Illinois study: Backyards, urban parks support bird diversity in unique ways

    Researchers tracked bird diversity in public parks and private backyards in twin cities in Illinois with significantly different development histories and green space management practices. They found that birds rely on both public and private spaces in different seasons and for different reasons. The study linked park management practices aimed at conservation and restoration to increased bird diversity and the persistence of rarer species.

  • Portraits of all seven professors named new fellows of the AAAS

    Seven Illinois professors elected AAAS Fellows

    Seven University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professors have been elected 2023 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are among the 502 scientists, engineers and innovators recognized for their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements by the world’s largest general scientific society. 

    The new U. of I. fellows are computer science professor Sarita Adveevolution, ecology and behavior professor Rebecca Fullercivil and environmental engineering professor Praveen Kumarchemistry professor Christy Landescommunication professor Marshall Scott Poolenatural resources and environmental sciences professor Cory Suski; and crop sciences and NRES professor Martin Williams, an ecologist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.  

  • Diptych image with headshots of Alison Bell and Paul Hardin Kapp.

    Two Illinois professors awarded Guggenheim Fellowships

    Two University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professors have been awarded 2024 Guggenheim Fellowships.

  • Two researchers stand in suits while a shadowed research subject performs a motor task while wearing a sensor on their hand.

    Wearable sensors for Parkinson’s can improve with machine learning, data from healthy adults

    Low-cost, wearable sensors could increase access to care for patients with Parkinson’s disease. New machine-learning approaches and a baseline of data from healthy older adults improve the accuracy of the results from such sensors, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers and clinical collaborators found in a new study.

  • Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo

    Perinatal women of Mexican descent propose solutions to pandemic-related stressors affecting Latinos

    Perinatal women of Mexican descent living in San Diego proposed solutions to the hardships they faced obtaining food and mental health treatment during the pandemic in a study led by kinesiology and community health professor Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

  • Carl Bernacchi stands in front of a large image of a solar eclipse.

    What can researchers learn about ecosystems and the environment during the total solar eclipse?

    Scientists across the U.S. and Mexico are engaging in a one-day data-gathering operation to record how the 2024 total solar eclipse affects various aspects of life on Earth. At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, crop sciences and plant biology professor Carl Bernacchi and his colleagues will focus on atmospheric and ecosystem-scale responses to the eclipse. Bernacchi describes what is planned and how it fits into the bigger research effort.

  • Photo of LaKisha David in a stairwell

    Can genetic genealogy restore family narratives disrupted by the transatlantic slave trade?

    Some political figures seek to remove references to slavery from the study of American history, adding to the vast knowledge gaps that stem from the transatlantic slave trade. To better understand these histories, scholars and individuals are turning to genetic genealogy to discover and retrace descendant-family lineages. In a recent paper published in the journal American Anthropologist, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign anthropology professor LaKisha David described these efforts. She spoke about the work to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates. 

  • A bulldog on a veterinary table with a stethoscope at its nose

    Veterinary expert: Spare flat-faced pets the respiratory distress

    The popularity of bulldogs and other flat-faced pets is at an all-time high. According to the American Kennel Club, from 2006-2016, the number of registered bulldogs and French bulldogs in the U.S. increased by 60% and 476%, respectively. In 2023, the French bulldog topped the AKC’s most popular breeds list. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign veterinary surgeon Dr. Heidi Phillips devotes much of her practice to treating the respiratory problems of flat-faced breeds like bulldogs. She argues for better breeding practices to avoid perpetuating the many health problems these breeds experience.

  • Public domain of plants growing in laboratory designed to be used in space.

    Study brings scientists a step closer to successfully growing plants in space

    New, highly stretchable sensors can monitor and transmit plant growth information without human intervention, report University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers in the journal Device. The polymer sensors are resilient to humidity and temperature, can stretch over 400% while remaining attached to a plant as it grows and send a wireless signal to a remote monitoring location, said chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Ying Diao, who led the study with plant biology professor and department head Andrew Leakey.

  • Two researchers sit with an image of an atomic-level simulation of DNA, shown in red, packed into a viral capsid, shown in blue

    First atom-level structure of packaged viral genome reveals new properties, dynamics

    A computational model of the more than 26 million atoms in a DNA-packed viral capsid expands our understanding of virus structure and DNA dynamics, insights that could provide new research avenues and drug targets, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers report in the journal Nature.

  • Two researchers stand next to equipment onto which an image of neuron scans is projected in the Tsai Lab at Burrill Hall.

    Earliest-yet Alzheimer’s biomarker found in mouse model could point to new targets

    A surge of a neural-specific protein in the brain is the earliest-yet biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease, report University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers studying a mouse model of the disease. Furthermore, the increased protein activity leads to the seizures associated with the earliest stages of neurodegeneration, and inhibiting the protein in the mice slowed the onset and progression of seizure activity.

  • Illinois scientists Erik Nelson, Kelly Swanson and Brett Loman

    Mice study suggests metabolic diseases may be driven by gut microbiome, loss of ovarian hormones

    The findings of a study in mice led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign may shed light on the reasons why postmenopausal women have higher incidence of metabolic problems, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

  • Image of the logo for the 41st Insect Fear Film Festival featuring an ant.

    Insect Fear Film Festival features 'Ant-Men' – movies about humans shrunk to size of ants

    The 2024 Insect Fear Film Festival will feature films in which humans are shrunk to the size of ants and participate in ant societies.

  • Flooded farm field draining into stream

    Study: 'Legacy' phosphorus delays water quality improvements in Gulf of Mexico

    The same phosphorous that fertilizes the thriving agriculture of the Midwest is also responsible for a vast “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mississippi Delta. Efforts to reduce the amount of phosphorus that enters the Mississippi River system are underway, but research led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign suggests that remnants of the contaminant are left behind in riverbeds for years after introduction and pose an overlooked – and lingering – problem.  

  • Photo of Yong-Su Jin in the laboratory

    Microbial division of labor produces higher biofuel yields

    Scientists have found a way to boost ethanol production via yeast fermentation, a standard method for converting plant sugars into biofuels. Their approach, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, relies on careful timing and a tight division of labor among synthetic yeast strains to yield more ethanol per unit of plant sugars than previous approaches have achieved.

  • James Dalling in the plant conservatory on the U. of I. campus

    Back from the dead: Tropical tree fern repurposes its dead leaves

    Plant biologists report that a species of tree fern found only in Panama reanimates its own dead leaf fronds, converting them into root structures that feed the mother plant. The fern, Cyathea rojasiana, reconfigures these “zombie leaves,” reversing the flow of water to draw nutrients back into the plant.

  • Portrait of Catherine Dana in the laboratory. She is standing behind a display of cicada specimens in a specimen drawer. Her colleague, who is closer to the camera, is using a magnifying glass to magnify a few of the cicada specimens in the drawer.

    Will 2024 be the year of the cicada in Illinois?

    According to cicada expert Catherine Dana, 2024 will be an eventful year in Illinois with the emergence of two periodical cicada broods across most parts of the state.

  • Portrait of Susan Schantz and Megan Woodbury in the Beckman Institute at the U. of I.

    Higher acetaminophen intake in pregnancy linked to attention deficits in young children

    A new study links increased use of acetaminophen during pregnancy – particularly in the second trimester – to modest but noticeable increases in problems with attention and behavior in 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds. The study adds to a growing body of evidence linking the frequent use of acetaminophen in pregnancy to developmental problems in offspring.

  • Portrait of Susan Schantz

    Study: Acetaminophen use during pregnancy linked to language delays in children

    Acetaminophen is considered the safest over-the-counter pain reliever and fever reducer available during pregnancy and studies have shown that 50%-65% of women in North America and Europe take the analgesic during pregnancy. A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign explored the relationship between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and language outcomes in early childhood. It found that increasing acetaminophen use was associated with language delays.

  • Photo of Stephen Long holding a soybean leaf in the sun.

    In TED Talk, Long describes three photosynthetic changes that boost crop yields

    In a newly released TED Talk, Stephen Long, a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professor of plant biology and crop sciences, described his and his colleagues’ efforts to boost photosynthesis in crop plants. He described three interventions, each of which increased crop yields by 20% or more.

  • Research team portrait.

    Team discovers rules for breaking into Pseudomonas

    Researchers report in the journal Nature that they have found a way to get antibacterial drugs through the nearly impenetrable outer membrane of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that – once it infects a person – is notoriously difficult to treat.

  • An artists rendering of an amphotericin B sterol sponge

    New antifungal molecule kills fungi without toxicity in human cells, mice

    A new antifungal molecule, devised by tweaking the structure of prominent antifungal drug Amphotericin B, has the potential to harness the drug’s power against fungal infections while doing away with its toxicity, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report in the journal Nature.

  • Photo of James O'Dwyer

    Single model predicts trends in employment, microbiomes, forests

    Researchers report that a single, simplified model can predict population fluctuations in three unrelated realms: urban employment, human gut microbiomes and tropical forests. The model will help economists, ecologists, public health authorities and others predict and respond to variability in multiple domains, the researchers say. The new findings are detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Thomas Benson stands outside the Beckman Institute on campus.

    Do we need a new approach to prevent bird window strikes?

    In early October, nearly 1,000 birds perished after colliding with the windows of a convention center near Lake Michigan in Chicago, marking the largest mass bird die-off in decades. But bird window-strike fatalities are an ongoing threat. Illinois Natural History Survey wildlife ecologist Thomas J. Benson, an expert in bird population trends in Illinois, spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the problem and what new strategies may help.

  • Portrait of Helaine Silverman

    How can Illinois better preserve its cultural identities?

    Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently announced new funding to support communities working to preserve and celebrate their unique cultural heritage. The “State Designated Cultural District” initiative will provide $3 million to selected cultural districts to aid such efforts. U. of I. anthropology professor Helaine Silverman, whose work focuses on the ways that nations and communities create and deploy cultural heritage as a means of building identity and attracting tourism, spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the new program and its implications for the state.

  • Portrait of Nicolas Martin standing in front of the Morrow Plots cornfield on the U. of I. campus

    Management zone maps of little use to corn growers, study finds

    A multiyear analysis tested whether management zone maps based on soil conditions, topography or other landscape features can reliably predict which parts of a cornfield will respond best to higher rates of seeding or nitrogen application. The study found that – contrary to common assumptions – crop-plot responses to the same inputs vary significantly from year-to-year. The most unpredictable factor – the weather – seemed to have the biggest impact on how the crops responded to these inputs.

  • Portrait of Lisa Lucero.

    Paper: Ancient Maya reservoirs offer lessons for today’s water crises

    Ancient Maya reservoirs, which used aquatic plants to filter and clean the water, “can serve as archetypes for natural, sustainable water systems to address future water needs," writes U. of I. anthropology professor Lisa Lucero in a perspective in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Portrait of Xinzhu Yu holding a model of a brain

    Yu receives NIH Director's New Innovator Award

    Xinzhu Yu, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is a recipient of the National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award from the NIH Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program. 

    According to the NIH, the New Innovator Award “supports investigators at each career stage who propose innovative research that, due to their inherent risk, may struggle in the traditional NIH peer-review process despite their transformative potential.” The award provides $2.4 million in funding over the next five years.

  • Lynette Strickland, Brian Allan and Samantha Capel

    State politics, industry drive planetary health education for K-12 students in US

    While the climes may be a-changing, the state science standards that shape what U.S. schoolchildren learn about environmental problems are shaded by state politics, leaving many unprepared for the challenges ahead, a new study says.  

  • Professor Zeynep Madak-Erdogan in her lab

    ER-positive breast cancer presents differing metabolic signatures in African American, white women

    New research finds that blood levels of amino acids may predict estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer in African American women while free fatty acid levels may predict the disease in non-Hispanic white women.

  • Co-authors include members of Alaska Native groups

    Study links epigenetic changes to historic trauma in Alaska Native communities

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers investigated the relationship between historical traumatic events experienced by Alaska Native communities and epigenetic markers on genes that previous studies have linked to trauma. The new study found a similar pattern among Alaska Native participants, with specific epigenetic differences observed in those who reported experiencing the most intense symptoms of distress when reflecting on historic losses. 

    The study also found that individuals who strongly identified with their Alaska Native heritage and participated in cultural activities generally reported better well-being. The new findings are detailed in the International Journal of Health Equity.

  • Margo Schiro, 7, gets her blood pressure taken.

    IKIDS child health research gets another boost in funding

    Seven years after an initial $17.9 million award from the National Institutes of Health, the Illinois Kids Development Study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will receive approximately $13.7 million – awarded in two phases – to continue its work for another seven years. The money coming to Illinois is part of a national collaborative effort to explore how environmental exposures influence child development, cognition, growth and health.

  • Professor Makoto Inoue stands outside wearing a dark grey suit.

    T-cells infiltrate brain, cause respiratory distress in condition affecting the immunocompromised

    When an immunocompromised person’s system begins to recover and produce more white blood cells, it’s usually a good thing – unless they develop C-IRIS, a potentially deadly inflammatory condition. New research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has found that the pulmonary distress often associated with C-IRIS is caused not by damage to the lungs, but by newly populated T-cells infiltrating the brain. Knowing this mechanism of action can help researchers and physicians better understand the illness and provide new treatment targets.

  • Researchers, from left, Sanda Dolcos, Florin Dolcos and Paul Bogdan

    Study: People expect others to mirror their own selfishness, generosity

    New research shows that a person’s own behavior is the primary driver of how they treat others during brief, zero-sum-game competitions. Generous people tend to reward generous behavior and selfish individuals often punish generosity and reward selfishness – even when it costs them personally. The study found that an individual’s own generous or selfish deeds carry more weight than the attitudes and behaviors of others.

  • "Old Man Sorrowing (At Eternity's Gate)," a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, depicts a man hunched in a chair with his head in his hands.

    GABA receptors in brain could be targets to treat depression and its cognitive symptoms

    A new paper spanning known data about the neurotransmitter GABA and its principal receptors showcases evidence of the receptors’ importance in depression and potential as therapeutic targets. Based on evidence from research on the receptors’ function in the brain and the drugs that can activate or inhibit them, the authors propose possible mechanisms by which GABA-modulating treatments could help address the cognitive and affective symptoms associated with depression.

  • The research team sits and stands together as a group in a research setting.

    CAR-T immune therapy attacks ovarian cancer in mice with a single dose

    CAR-T immune therapies could be effective against solid tumors if the right targets are identified, a new study led by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers suggests. The researchers successfully deployed CAR-T in a mouse model of ovarian cancer, a type of aggressive, solid-tumor cancer that has eluded such therapies until now.

  • The team included, from left, research scientist Chengjian Mao, graduate student Xinyi Dai, biochemistry professor David Shapiro, graduate student Junyao Zhu and molecular and integrative physiology professor Erik Nelson.

    Team identifies key driver of cancer cell death pathway that activates immune cells

    Scientists have identified a protein that plays a critical role in the action of several emerging cancer therapies. The researchers say the discovery will likely aid efforts to fine-tune the use of immunotherapies against several challenging cancers. They report their findings in the journal Cancer Research.

  • Daniel Simons portrait.

    New book explores the psychology of being duped

    According to two psychologists who study memory and perception, fraudsters tend to exploit the common habits of thought and decision-making that make us susceptible – and often oblivious – to their fabrications. Their book, “Nobody’s Fool: Why We Get Taken In and What We Can Do About It,” gives readers an overview of dozens of types of scams, hoaxes and strategies used by cheaters to deceive, and explains how to evaluate their ploys and avoid becoming a victim.