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In The News

Genome Diversity
plosgenetics . org (Aug. 7) -- Anthopologist Ripan Malhi and colleagues published the paper "Patterns of Admixture and Population Structure in Native Populations of Northwest North America." From the author summary: We collaborated with six indigenous communities in British Columbia and Southeast Alaska to generate and analyze genome-wide data for over 100 individuals.  We then combined this dataset with existing data from populations worldwide, performing an investigation of the genetic structure of indigenous populations of the Pacific Northwest both locally and in relation to continental and worldwide geographic scales.  On a regional scale, we identified differences between coastal and interior populations that are likely due to differences both in pre- and post-European contact histories.  On a continental scale, we identified differences in genetic structure between populations in the Pacific Northwest and Central and South America, reflecting both differences prior to European contact as well as different post-contact histories of admixture.  This study is among the first to analyze genome-wide diversity among Indigenous North American populations, and it provides a comparative framework for understanding the effects of European colonization on indigenous communities throughout the Americas.
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Energy
Phys . org (Aug. 7) -- If the hottest new plant grown as a biofuel crop is approved based solely on its greenhouse gas emission profile, its potential as the next invasive species may not be discovered until it’s too late. Lauren Quinn, an invasive plant ecologist at U of I’s Energy Biosciences Institute and other researchers at Illinois have developed both a set of regulatory definitions and provisions, and a list of 49 low-risk biofuel plants from which growers can choose.
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Also:
Farm Futures (St. Charles, Ill., Aug. 8)

Cancer Cells
Medical Xpress (Isle of Man, Aug. 7) -- Cancer cells that break away from tumors to go looking for a new home may prefer to settle into a soft bed, according to new findings from Illinois researchers led by Ning Wang, professor of mechanical science and engineering.
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Entomology
io9 (Aug. 6) -- Illinois entolomology professor May Berenbaum answers questions ranging from whether having a single beehive will help prevent bee declines to honey bee population and honey availability.
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Agriculture
Farmers’ Advance (Camden, Mich., Aug. 6) -- An Illinois plant pathologist is reporting that head scab of wheat (Fusarium head blight) is now showing up in portions of southern Illinois. In many cases, incidence of the disease is moderate to high (over 50 percent of the heads affected), says Carl Bradley, a professor of crop sciences. Affected wheat heads will appear “bleached” in color.
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Photosynthesis
oryza . com (August 4) -- Yu Tanaka, a visiting professor from Kyoto University, is investigating on how to radically improve the productivity of staple food crops globally and achieve new innovations in rice production with Prof. Steve Long, team leader at University of Illinois of the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) project (a $25 million five-year project from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).
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Science 2034
science2034 . org (August 4) -- Professor Gene Robinson, director of the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has an entry on the newly launched Science 2034 website entitled "Help for People With Mental Illness." Science 2034 is an initiative by The Science Coalition to mark their 20th anniversary by looking forward 20 years and focusing on the possibilities of the future.
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Departments of Agriculture and Energy Announce Projects
csrees . usda . gov (Washington, July 30) -- Professors of Crop Sciences Patrick Brown and Erik Sacks are embarking on new research efforts to improve biofuel production. Projects proposed by Brown and Sacks were two of just 10 that were awarded funding this July by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The USDA and DOE awarded a total of $12.6 million in research grants to promote the development of better plant feedstocks. Sacks and colleagues, including Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences Steve Long, will use field trials and DNA sequencing to identify and characterize genetic markers associated with hardiness and higher productivity in the biofuel crop Miscanthus.  Brown and a collaborator will perform similar investigations in another promising biofuel crop, sorghum.
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Entomology
Live Science (New York City, July 28) -- A municipal worker in Wichita Falls, Texas, who got stung by an estimated 1,000 bees while mowing a park lawn last week was in stable condition. Africanized honey bees, or “killer bees,” have been in the United States since about 1990, according to May Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology at the U. of I. But despite their dramatic nickname, these insects aren’t that deadly.
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Medicine
Health Canal (Melbourne, Australia, July 21) -- A new Illinois study in mice reveals that mesenchymal (mezz-EN-chem-uhl) stem cells (MSCs) help rejuvenate skeletal muscle after resistance exercise.
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Emergence of Life MOOC
scoop . co (July 17) -- Susan Mazur interviews Bruce Fouke, Professor of Geology and lead instructor for the Coursera Emergence of Life class. Fourteen thousand students from one-hundred-thirty countries have signed up for the eight-week course highlighting the entire history of life on Earth. UIUC's Institute for Universal Biology, Institute for Genomic Biology, and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have structured it around the teachings of the late Carl Woese with contributions from other distinguished names in science, among them, Nigel Goldenfeld, Michael Russell, and Elbert Branscomb.
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Evolution
National Geographic (July 16) -- Gustavo Caetano-Anolles, a bioinformatics specialist at Illinois, traced the evolutionary history of proteins found in several giant viruses in a 2012 study in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. His work shows that these viruses “represent a form of life that either predated or coexisted with the last universal common ancestor,” the most recent organism from which all other organisms on Earth are descended.
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Highly Cited Researchers
Thomas Reuters (July 3) -- Stephen Long, Professor of of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences, was included on the list of Highly Cited Researchers 2014, from online searchable database highlycited.com. According to the site, the list “represents some of the world’s leading scientific minds.” More than 3,000 researchers are included on the list, earning the distinction by “writing the greatest numbers of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators as Highly Cited Papers – ranking among the top 1 percent most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact.”
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Bioengineering
bioengineering . illinois . edu (July 3) -- Assistant Prof. Sua Myong and a multi-institutional research team are developing a better understanding about the aging process of cells that could lead to more effective cancer drugs and delivery methods. Since most cancer cells can suppress their aging with the enzyme telomerase, if that specific molecular process can be unlocked, it could allow targeted delivery of cancer drugs. Myong's team also is developing ways of measuring telomerase.
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Bio-Bots
Forbes (July 2) -- Engineers from the bioengineering department at Illinois have combined muscle cells with electrical pulses to move and control a tiny 3-D printed robot. Engineers hope these bio-bots can be used to pave the way to a new generation of biological machines for use in energy, environment or medical environments.
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Also:
TechCrunch (California, July 2)
Engineering and Technology Magazine (U.K., July 2)
NBC News (July 1)
The Engineer (U.K., July 2)
Business Standard (New Delhi, July 2)
Daily Mail (U.K., July 1)

NCSA Fellowships
NCSA (July 1) -- Nine researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been selected to receive fellowships with research support that will enable them to pursue collaborative projects with the researchers and computer technology experts at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), including three from IGB: Matthew Hudson, associate professor of Bioinformatics and Genomics; Iwona Jasiuk, professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering; and David LeBauer, research scientist.
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Social Systems
“PBS NewsHour” (June 6) -- Queen bees have no authority. Bee colonies are complex social systems, but they work together without a leader, says U. of I. entomology professor Gene Robinson, who is the director of the Institute for Genomic Biology. So how do they decide who does what if no one is in charge? Robinson and colleagues Harry Dankowicz, a mechanical engineering professor at Illinois, and Whitney Tabor, a psychologist from the University of Connecticut, are studying asynchronous communication to understand how humans and bees work together without direct orders – or without words.
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Entomology
Medill Reports (Evanston, Ill., June 4) -- U. of I. entomology professor May Berenbaum has dedicated her life to insects, which she says are less appreciated than most other animals.
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Arthropod Venom
The Week (New York City, June 3) -- “The thing about arthropod stings that makes them so scary is not just that they hurt – it’s that they’re actually designed to hurt,” says U. of I. entomology professor May Berenbaum. “Arthropod venom is a fiendish mixture of pharmacologically active substances that for the most part serve no function in the life of the organism producing them other than to inflict pain on other organisms.”
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Stem Cells
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., May 30) -- The gap between stem cell research and regenerative medicine just became a lot narrower, thanks to a new technique that coaxes stem cells, with potential to become any tissue type, to take the first step to specialization. It is the first time this critical step has been demonstrated in a laboratory. U. of I. researchers, leb by Ning Wang, in collaboration with scientists at Notre Dame University and the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, published their results in the journal Nature Communications.
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Also:
Bioscience Technology (Rockaway, N.J., June 2)

Insects
Chicago Reader (May 29) -- May Berenbaum, a professor of entomology at the U. of I., believes insects are useful to us in ways our minds can’t comprehend yet.
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Soybean
Voice of America (Washington, D.C., May 20) -- According to the United Nations, the world’s population will increase by 34 percent by 2050. A recent study involving soybeans, one of the major food crops and sources of protein, may be one step in helping solve what is expected to be a global food crisis though the power of computers. The next step is to take the computer’s model plant and test it in the field by artificial manipulation, says U. of I. plant biology professor Stephen Long.
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Biofuel
Voice of America (Washington, D.C., May 19) -- Several companies plan to turn garbage – and in other cases, corn stalks and wheat straw – into biofuel ethanol that can power vehicles. U. of I. consumer and agricultural economics professor Madhu Khanna says scientists know how to make cellulosic ethanol in the lab but, “the main problem is doing that in a continuous way, cost effectively on a large scale.”
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Bees
The Washington Post (from The Associated Press, May 15) -- Nearly a quarter of American honeybee colonies died this winter – a loss that’s not quite as bad as recent years, a new U.S. Department of Agriculture survey of beekeepers says. “It’s encouraging that if anything it’s not a steady downward trend,” says U. of I. entomology professor May Berenbaum.
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Honey Bees
National Geographic (May 15) -- Despite brutal weather in much of the nation, the die-off of honey bees over the winter of 2013-2014 was significantly lower than the average annual losses recorded over the previous seven winters, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “This year’s survey results, while encouraging, do not provide much comfort because it is not known why the bees seemed to do better this past winter than previous winters,” says Gene Robinson, the director of the Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois. “We can’t rest until we really understand the factors that drive differences in losses.”
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Anthropology
Smithsonian (May 15) -- DNA from a 12,000-year-old skeleton of a teenage girl has helped to answer the question: Who were the first Americans? “We were able to identify her genetic lineage with high certainty,” says Ripan Malhi, a professor of anthropology at Illinois. Malhi’s lab was one of three that analyzed the girl’s mtDNA; all three analyses yielded the same results. “This shows that living Native Americans and these ancient remains of the girl we analyzed all came from the same source population during the initial peopling of the Americas.”
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Also:
Archaeology News Reports (May 15)
Bioscience Technology (Rockaway, N.J., May 15)
Nature World News (New York City, May 15)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., May 15)
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., May 15)

Entomology
The New York Times (May 11) -- U. of I. animal biology professor Alison M. Bell says recent experiments with spiders neatly illustrate the mix of plasticity and predilection that underlies personality. “I think it’s such an appealing idea that social interactions could cause social niches, and it resonates with our own experience as humans,” she says. “When you go into a group, your behavior changes depending on the nature of that group, but it can only change so far.”
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C02 Consequences
Reuters (May 7) -- Grains, legumes and other crops that provide a large percentage of the world with most of their dietary zinc and iron will have dramatically reduced concentrations of those nutrients by 2050 because of rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study from Andrew Leakey, a professor of plant biology at Illinois, and colleagues at Harvard.
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Also:
CBC News (Canada, May 7)
Scientific American (May 7)

Cellphone Monitor
illinois . edu (May 7) -- By simply carrying around their cellphones, patients who suffer from chronic disease could soon have an accurate health monitor that warns their doctors when their symptoms worsen. Unlike apps that merely count steps, GaitTrack, an app developed by researchers at the University of Illinois including professor of computer science Bruce Shatz, uses eight motion parameters to perform a detailed analysis of a person's gait, or walking pattern, which can tell physicians much about the patient's cardiopulmonary, muscular and neurological health.
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video

Crops
National Geographic (May 7) -- Stephen Long, Stephen Long, a U. of I. plant biology and Institute for Genomic Biology professor, talks about balancing changes in yield against changes in the nutritional value of crops as part of the "Future of Food" series.
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Honey Bees
Quanta Magazine (New York City, May 7) -- Although honey bees are known for their complex cooperative societies, the vast majority of bee species are solitary creatures. Few can adopt either lifestyle, living alone or as part of a community as circumstances dictate. “What does it take to make a social bee?” asks Gene Robinson, IGB Director and professor of entomology.
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Cellphone Health Monitor
Medical Xpress (Douglas, Isle of Man, May 7) -- By simply carrying around their cellphones, patients who suffer from chronic disease could soon have an accurate health monitor that warns their doctors when their symptoms worsen. GaitTrack, an app developed by researchers at the U. of I., turns a smartphone into a sophisticated medical device.
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Global Warming
Pacific Standard Magazine (May 1) -- Plant biologist Stephen Long with colleagues have used computer models to imagine a world where crops are specially bred to reflect away more light and heat, without compromising productivity.
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Carl Woese
“NOVA Next” (April 30) -- An appreciation of former U. of I. microbiology professor Carl Woese. “Woese is to biology what Einstein is to physics,” says Norman Pace, a microbiologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Woese, 84, died Dec. 30, 2012, of complications from pancreatic cancer.
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Soybean
Clarksville Online (Clarksville, Tenn., April 16) -- A new study led by Illinois researchers shows that soybean plants can be redesigned to increase crop yields while requiring less water and helping to offset greenhouse gas warming.
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Nutrition
Medical Xpress (Douglas, Isle of Man, April 14) -- A study that began with messy diapers is helping scientists understand how nutrition helps babies grow into healthy children, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research nutritionist Rober Chapkin. He credited the collaboration of researchers as being able to accomplish the work – including Sharon Donovan, who works with infant nutrition at the U. of I.
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Drug Delivery
Chemistry World (Royal Society of Chemistry; London, April 7) -- Recent research, led by Brian Cunningham, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Illinois, has produced biomedical tubing that uses surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy to monitor the contents and concentrations of drugs within a patient’s intravenous line.
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Soybeans
Phys . Org (Douglas, Isle of Man, April 3) -- Crops that produce more while using less water seem like a dream for a world with a burgeoning population and already strained food and water resources. This dream is coming closer to reality for U. of I. researchers who have developed a new computer model that can help plant scientists breed better soybean crops.
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Website Launch
Bioenergy Connection, the Energy Biosciences Institute’s magazine forum for discussion of issues relevant to the future of the field, has launched a new website at www.bioenergyconnection.org.

Biology
Smithsonian Magazine (March 27) -- An international team of researchers has built a yeast chromosome and integrated it into a living yeast cell. Their work marks a significant advance in the field of synthetic biology – and a cautious step toward the ability to create designer genomes for plants and animals. “This work reports the first designer eukaryotic chromosome that has been synthesized from scratch, which is an important step toward the construction of a designer eukaryotic genome,” says Huimin Zhao, a professor of biomolecular engineering at Illinois.
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Entomology 
Smithsonian Magazine (March 24) -- May Berenbaum, the head of the department of entomology at Illinois, explains where the science goes wrong in seven films featuring arthropod antagonists.
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Anthropology 
WAMC-FM (90.3) (NPR; Albany, N.Y., March 21) -- Advances in biotechnologies have been vital in the analysis of the DNA of the first peoples of America. Ripan Malhi, a professor of anthropology at Illinois, discusses both the importance and the difficulty of this type of research.
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Sugarcane 
Farmers’ Advance (Camden, Mich., March 19) -- A team led by U. of I. researchers reports that it can increase sugarcane’s geographic range, increase its photosynthetic rate by 30 percent, and turn it into an oil-producing crop for biodiesel production. These are only the first steps in a bigger initiative that will turn sugarcane and sorghum – two of the most productive crop plants known – into even more productive, oil-generating plants. “Biodiesel is attractive because, for example, with soybean, once you’ve pressed the oil out it’s fairly easy to convert it to diesel,” says Stephen P. Long, a U. of I. plant biology researcher and the leader of the initiative. “You could do it in your kitchen.”
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Alternate Fuel 
Biomass Magazine (Grand Forks, N.D., Feb. 28) -- A new study led by a researcher from the University of Georgia has determined that the greenhouse gas intensity of a unit of electricity generated in the United Kingdom using imported wood pellets is at least 50 percent lower than the greenhouse gas intensity of grid electricity derived from fossil fuels. U. of I. agricultural and consumer economics professor Madhu Khanna contributed to the study.
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Bioenergy Crops Industry
Phys Org (Douglas, Isle of Man, Feb. 28) -- The viability of the bioenergy crops industry could be strengthened by regulatory efforts to address nonpoint source pollution from agricultural sources. That, in turn, means that the industry should be strategic in developing metrics that measure the ability to enact positive changes in agricultural landscapes, particularly through second-generation perennial crops, according to a paper by Jody Endres, a professor of bioenergy, environmental and natural resources law at Illinois.
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Entomology
The Journal News (White Plains, N.Y., March 3) -- Researchers are suggesting that the high-fructose corn syrup commercial beekeepers have been feeding their bees for decades may be eroding the bees’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to toxins and colony collapse disorder. A team of entomologists from the U. of I. outlines their research and findings in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Chemistry
Health Canal (Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 26) -- U. of I. researchers led by chemistry professor Wilfred van der Donk, in collaboration with an international team, have identified a previously unknown role of an amino acid in catalyzing enzyme reactions. The discovery could lead to the design of new proteins with bioengineering and medical applications.
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Entomology
The Washington Post (Feb. 19) -- Wild bumblebees worldwide are in trouble, probably contracting deadly diseases from their commercialized honey bee cousins, a new study shows. It shows that “the spillover for bees is turning into boil-over,” says May Berenbaum, a U. of I. entomology professor who was not involved in the study.
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Anthropology
USA Today (Feb. 12) -- Scientists have analyzed the DNA of a boy buried in Montana more than 12,000 years ago, shedding light on the contentious subject of who peopled the New World. The discovery “puts the final nail in the coffin” for the idea that the ancestors of Native Americans may have crossed to the New World from Europe, says study author Ripan Malhi, an anthropologist at Illinois.
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Cellular Research
Phys . Org (Douglas, Isle of Man, Feb. 12) -- Ribosomes, the cellular machines that build proteins, are themselves made up of dozens of proteins and a few looping strands of RNA. A new study, reported in the journal Nature, offers new clues about how the ribosome, the master assembler of proteins, also assembles itself. “The ribosome has more than 50 different parts – it has the complexity of a sewing machine in terms of the number of parts,” said University of Illinois physics professor Taekjip Ha, who led the research with U. of I. chemistry professor Zaida Luthey-Schulten and Johns Hopkins University biophysics professor Sarah Woodson. “A sewing machine assembles other things but it cannot assemble itself if you have the parts lying around,” Ha said. “The ribosome, however, can do that. It’s quite amazing.”
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Lecture
News-Gazette (Champaign, IL, Feb. 12) -- University of Illinois entomologist Gene Robinson will deliver the Center for Advanced Study's 23rd annual lecture next week.
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Agricultural Research
Office of International Programs (Champaign, IL, Feb. 5) -- Two University of Illinois alumnae spoke as representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation during a special seminar sponsored by the Institute for Genomic Biology.
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Materials Science
Science 360 (Washington, D.C., Feb. 5) -- Thanks to new dynamic materials, removable paint and self-healing plastics soon could be household products. The research team was led by U. of I. materials science and engineering professor Jianjun Cheng.
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Intellectual Property
The New York Times (Feb. 4) -- The case of the missing corn seeds first broke in May 2011 when a manager at a DuPont research farm in east-central Iowa noticed a man on his knees, digging up the field. After a year of FBI surveillance, the man digging was arrested last December and indicted with five other Chinese citizens on charges of stealing trade secrets in what the authorities and agricultural experts have called an unusual and brazen scheme to undercut expensive, time-consuming research. “These are quite brazen facts,” said Jay P. Kesan, a professor at the U. of I. who specializes in intellectual property and technology law. “What makes this different, I guess, is really the extent to which these entities seem to have gone to try to get at these trade secrets.”
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Entomology
USA Today (from The Associated Press, Jan. 28) -- Vermont beekeepers face mite infestations, extreme temperature swings and the possibility of colony collapse. Last fall, a new threat emerged: zombie bees. A fly called Apocephalus borealis attaches itself to the bee and injects its eggs, which grow inside the bee. U. of I. entomology professor May Berenbaum says, “We’re getting every conceivable kind of plague.” Given the way bee populations have become so homogenized and how they are shipped cross country to aid in pollenating, the first Eastern infection of the zombie fly makes sense, Berenbaum says. “It’s not surprising; it’s certainly not good news,” she says. “There are so many pathogens and parasites that we’re aware of that are afflicting bees.”
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War Elephants
Yahoo! News (Jan. 22) -- U. of I. research is cited regarding the types of war elephants used in a battle in Egypt in 217 B.C.
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History
Smithsonian Magazine (Jan. 13) -- U. of I. research is cited regarding the types of war elephants used in a battle in Egypt in 217 B.C.
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DNA
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Jan. 9) -- Through DNA analysis, U. of I. researchers have disproved years of rumors and hearsay surrounding the ancient Battle of Raphia, the only known battle between Asian and African elephants.
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Also:
Wired (London, Jan. 10)

Engineering
DVICE (New York City, Jan. 8) -- Scientists at Illinois and Daktari Diagnostics have teamed to create a business-card sized biochip that can not only scan for HIV, but also give accurate T-cell counts. Once in wide use, the reader would cost less than $1,000 and each test would run less than $10, according to project lead Rashid Bashir, a U. of I. professor of electrical and computer engineering.
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Entomology
Live Science (New York City, Dec. 30) -- Scientists in Germany have discovered a caterpillar that can use nicotine to ward off wolf spiders. The researchers found a gene in hornworm caterpillars that allows them to puff nicotine out through their spiracles (tiny holes in their sides), from the tobacco they consume, as a warning to their would-be predators. Researchers called this tactic "defensive halitosis." "A very intriguing aspect of this study is the really state-of-the-art methodology that was used to determine the fate of nicotine," says May Berenbaum, a professor and head of the department of entomology at Illinois, who edited the study for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Biofuels
Ethanol Producer Magazine (Grand Forks, N.D., Dec. 26) -- Illinois researchers have reported results from a decade of field trials with miscanthus, the first plots to be planted in the U.S. The average annual yield of miscanthus grown in seven Illinois locations over a period of eight to 10 years was 10.5 tons per acre, compared with 4.5 tons per acres for switchgrass grown in the side-by-side trials. “If cellulosic comes on stream, these yields would be competitive with corn on poor land,” says Stephen Long, a U. of I. plant biology and Institute for Genomic Biology professor.
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Microbes
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., Dec. 18) -- Halomonas are a hardy breed of bacteria. They can withstand heat, high salinity, low oxygen, utter darkness and pressures that would kill most other organisms. These traits enable these microbes to eke out a living in deep sandstone formations that also happen to be useful for hydrocarbon extraction and carbon sequestration, U. of I. researchers report in a new study.
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Also:
Alaska Native News (Homer, Dec. 18)
Astrobiology Magazine (Moffett Field, Calif., Dec. 19)
Bio-Medicine (Chongqing, China, Dec. 18)
e! Science News (Quebec City, Dec. 18)
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Dec. 18)
R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., Dec. 18)
Red Orbit . com (Dallas, Dec. 19)

Biosensor
ece . illinois . edu (Urbana, Illinois, Dec. 5) -- Professor Brian Cunningham has received NIH funding for the development of biosensors for early-stage cancer detection. The biosensor utilizes a photonic crystal to detect biomarkers and antibodies in droplet-sized blood samples. With the new grant funding, the team will develop a device that automates this process, doing everything from blood filtration to sample analysis.
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Animal Biology 
The Scientist (Midland, Ontario, Dec. 5) -- All animal personality scientists grapple with how to reduce the human bias embedded in their experiments. “Trying to eliminate research bias is what this field is devoted to,” says U. of I. animal biology professor Alison Bell.
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Biofuels 
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Dec. 4) -- The first long-term U.S. field trials of Miscanthus x giganteus, a towering perennial grass used in bioenergy production, reveal that its exceptional yields, though reduced somewhat after five years of growth, are still more than twice those of switchgrass, another perennial grass used as a bioenergy feedstock, says U. of I. plant biology and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Stephen P. Long.
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Engineering 
Medical Daily (New York City, Dec. 4) -- The holy grail for AIDS health workers would be a handheld HIV detector. U. of I. researchers have taken a major step toward achieving this goal by developing a microchip that can diagnosis the virus with the same efficiency and accuracy as sophisticated hospital equipment. Such a device could “eliminate the barriers that currently prevent access to 69 percent of HIV-infected people in resource-limited settings like Sub-Saharan Africa,” write the researchers, who were led by Rashid Bashir, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois.
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Law 
Western Australia Today (Perth, Nov. 28) -- It might be easy to click “I agree” on the bottom of endless software end user license agreements (EULAs) without a second thought, but when it comes to putting one’s data on the cloud the one-size-fits-all approach needs to be overhauled, according to U. of I. law professor Jay Kesan. He says people need to be better informed about what happens to their data when they accept terms and conditions.
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Synthetic Biology
Barrington Courier-Review (Illinois, Nov. 26) -- Ashley Moy, a sophomore at the U. of I., along with a research team, created a unique gelatin capsule to reduce levels of the harmful substance L-carnitine, which promotes plaque buildup in the arteries and can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease. Recently, Moy and her teammates won the Best Health and Medicine Project award from the 2013 International Genetically Engineered Machine “world jamboree” contest, an international synthetic biology competition.
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CompGen
The Chronicle of Higher Education (Washington, D.C., Nov. 25) -- After 25 years of breakthroughs and $14-billion in federal support, the revolution in genomics is now firmly in the hands of the computer geeks. An elite group of some of the world’s top research universities and corporations, pulled together by the National Science Foundation, is now working to figure out how to grapple with the huge amount of DNA and genomic data that’s being produced. The coalition, called CompGen, includes the U. of I., IBM, Intel, and Microsoft, as well as several other academic leaders in computing and genomics, such as the Baylor College of Medicine and Washington University in St. Louis.
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Biofuels
Pacific Standard (Santa Barbara, Calif., Nov. 20) -- Should invasive plants be made into fuel? “I’m not saying that we shouldn’t continue to look at ethanol conversion processes eventually,” says U. of I. postdoctoral research associate Lauren D. Quinn, who is affiliated with the Institute for Genomic Biology. “I’m just saying that right now, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of economic sense.”
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Also:
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., Nov. 20)
Nature World News (New York City, Nov. 21)

Anthropology
Popular Archaeology (Nov. 18) -- U. of I. anthropology professor Ripan Malhi is analyzing DNA to tell the story of how and when humans first arrived in the Americas, and then what happened to them afterward. Through study sites in British Columbia, California, Guatemala, Mexico and Illinois, he hopes to help find long-sought answers to the big, debated questions addressing the who, when, and where of the first Americans and the dynamics of their spread and activity across the Americas.
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Also:
Guardian Express (Las Vegas, Nov. 18)
United Press International (Nov. 18)
Past Horizons (Haddington, Scotland, Nov. 18)
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., Nov. 18)
International Science Times (New York City, Nov. 19)

New Faculty
news-gazette . com (Champaign, IL, Nov. 13) -- After a series of visits to the campus, the University of Illinois and Institute for Genomic Biology has landed a package deal: two recruits out of Detroit who have committed to join the campus by fall 2014.
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Sustainability
illinois . edu (Urbana, IL, Nov. 12) -- University of Illinois plant biology professor Evan DeLucia, the director of the Center for a Sustainable Environment and an expert on how land use changes influence greenhouse gas emissions, speaks about the pros and cons of producing biofuels in A Minute With .....
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Healthcare
med . illinois . edu (Chicago, IL, Nov. 5) -- Dr. Bruce Schatz has been working on a potential solution to excessive health care costs: post-procedure monitoring technology with the potential to save more than  $17 billion per year by continuously assessing patient risk to prevent rehospitalization.
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iGEM
bioengineering . illinois . edu (Urbana, IL, Nov. 5) -- The 2013 Illinois International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team recently competed in the international jamboree at MIT and was awarded the Best Health and Medicine Project in the undergraduate division.
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Animal Sciences
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Nov. 5) -- Through state-of-the-art ancient DNA and protein research and an extensive investigation of historical literature, researchers, including U. of I. animal sciences professor Alfred Roca and others have determined a 300-year-old type specimen for Asian elephants is actually an African elephant.
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Microbiology
Great Falls Tribune (Montana, Oct. 30) -- The National Science Foundation recently awarded a five-year, $2 million grant for a collaborative study led by a Montana State University microbiologist to explore the role of viruses in shaping ecosystems in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. The multi-institutional study will include U. of I. microbiology professor Rachel Whitaker.
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Art and Science
Industry Today (Coventry, England, Oct. 30) -- An art exhibition at Chicago’s Midway Airport features images created by using microscopy equipment by ZEISS. Researchers from the Institute for Genomic Biology Core Facilities, affiliated with the U. of I., used state-of-the-art microscopes for pioneering research to capture images that address significant problems facing humanity related to health, agriculture, energy and the environment.
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Advisory
Washington, D.C., Oct. 24 -- As a result of the work done with his group in the Energy Biosciences Institute, Professor of Law Jay Kesan has been invited to be a part of the Advisory Group at the Bipartisan Policy Center. The group will focus on developing strategies and recommendations for Congress on how to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Kesan will participate directly in the reform debate and engage with concerned stakeholders about the future shape of the RFS.

Microscopy
Azom . com (Warriewood, Australia, Oct. 24) -- Researchers from the Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois are using state-of-the-art microscopes for pioneering research to capture images that address significant problems facing humanity related to health, agriculture, energy and the environment.
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Renewable Fuel Standard
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Oct. 15) -- Congress should minimally modify – and not, as petroleum-related interests have increasingly lobbied for, repeal – the Renewable Fuel Standard, the most comprehensive renewable energy policy in the U.S., according to a new paper from U. of I. law professor Jay P. Kesan and Timothy A. Slating, a regulatory associate with the Energy Biosciences Institute.
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Investiture
Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (Oct. 8) -- Professor and Department Head Paul J.A. Kenis of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the University of Illinois was invested as the William G. and Janet H. Lycan Professor in the School of Chemical Sciences during an investiture ceremony on September 25, 2013 at the Spurlock Museum.
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Plant Biology
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Oct. 7) -- Researchers have developed a new quantitative – rather than qualitative – method of identifying pollen grains that is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Luke Mander, a former postdoctoral researcher in the lab of U. of I. professor of plant biology Surangi Punyasena, led a team of researchers in the development of a method of identifying pollen grains through scanning electron microscopy and surface analysis.
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Nanotechnology
Today's Medical Developments (Richfield, Ohio, Sept. 30) -- A new optical device developed by a team of electrical and computer engineering students at the U. of I., led by Brian T. Cunningham, the interim director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, can identify the contents of the fluid in an intravenous line in real-time, offering a promising way to improve the safety of IV drug delivery.
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Genomics
Ethanol Producer Magazine (Grand Forks, N.D., Sept. 27) -- Although sorghum lines underwent adaptation to be grown in temperate climates decades ago, Patrick Brown, a professor of plant breeding and genetics, said he and his team have completed the first comprehensive genomic analysis of the molecular changes behind that adaptation.
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Honey Bees
Tribune-Review (Pittsburgh, Sept. 22) -- Without honey bees for pollination, the nation would lose crops valued at $20 billion to $30 billion, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Yet May Berenbaum, the head of the department of entomology at the U. of I., says much of the buzz about colony collapse disorder is exaggeration. “The rhetoric has gotten ridiculous,” she says. “It is hyperbolic to talk about the apocalypse.”
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Engineering
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Sept. 19) -- A new optical device developed by a team of electrical and computer engineering students at Illinois can identify the contents of the fluid in an intravenous line in real-time, offering a promising way to improve the safety of IV drug delivery. The team, led by Brian T. Cunningham, the interim director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the U. of I., will present its work at the annual meeting of the Optical Society of America in Orlando, Fla., in early October.
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Social Behavior
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., Sept. 12) -- How and why fish swim in schools has long fascinated biologists looking for clues to understand the complexities of social behavior. A new study by a team of researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center may help provide some insight. Alison Bell, a professor of animal biology at the U. of I., said the linking of behaviors to different genomic regions in the same species -- and in particular, social behavior that depends on the behavior of others -- makes the study especially compelling.
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Entomology
PCT Magazine (Richfield, Ohio, Sept. 10) -- U. of I. entomology department head May Berenbaum is to become president of the Entomological Society of America in 2016.
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Chemistry
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Sept. 5) -- A research team at the U. of I. that included chemistry professor Ken Suslick has helped develop a faster, simpler test for detecting the presence of disease-causing bacteria.
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Bee Socialty
Pacific Standard (Santa Barbara, Calif., Sept. 3) -- Gene Robinson, a U. of I. professor of entomology, discusses the new social science of genetics in bees.
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Entomology
The Buffalo News (from The Associated Press; New York, Sept. 1) -- Colony collapse disorder is affecting bee colonies in the U.S. and in Europe, where regulators are considering a ban on a type of pesticides known as neonicotinoids that some environmental groups blame for the bee collapse. May Berenbaum, the head of the department of entomology at Illinois, says she was “extremely dubious” that banning the pesticide would have any effect on bee health.
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Genetic Code
Science 360 (Washington, D.C., Aug. 27) -- An analysis of enzymes that load amino acids onto transfer RNAs – an operation at the heart of protein translation – offers new insights into the evolutionary origins of the modern genetic code, U. of I. researchers report.
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Also:
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., Aug. 26)
Scientific Computing (Rockaway, N.J., Aug. 26)

Bioengineering
The New York Times (Aug. 18) -- Not all bioengineers who are using printers in the lab are trying to create tissues or organs. Some are intent on making biological machines. In the laboratory of Rashid Bashir, the head of the bioengineering department at the U. of I., researchers have made small hybrid “biobots” – part gel, part muscle cell – that can move on their own. The research may someday lead to the development of tiny devices that could travel within the body, sensing toxins and delivering medication.
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Insects
CNBC (Aug. 15) -- A type of pesticide that’s a focal point in the controversy over endangered honey bees has turned up in garden-store plants sampled by Friends of the Earth. May Berenbaum, an entomologist at the U. of I., said the pilot study was “an eye-opener” in the debate over honey bee health and a mysterious syndrome known as colony collapse disorder.
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Business
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Aug. 14) -- When evaluating the performance of a brand in a certain territory, it might be more appropriate to evaluate it against its local competitors as opposed to its performance in other territories, according to research from Raj Echambadi, a U. of I. professor of business administration.
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Engineering
Engineering . illinois . edu (Champaign, Aug. 12) -- After six years “on tour,” the University of Illinois’ totally solar-powered Element House returns home on Wednesday, August14. Its new home will be located at the Energy Biosciences Institute Research Farm just south of the U of I campus.
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Workshop
News Gazette (Champaign, Aug. 10) -- More than a dozen Native American scholars from across North America were at the Institute for Genomic Biology on the University of Illinois campus this week to learn about the science behind extracting and analyzing DNA of indigenous people, as well as the ethical and legal issues involved.
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Leadership
Illinois . edu (Champaign, Aug. 9) -- Chancellor Phyllis Wise discusses "Looking to Illinois for Leadership" in her most recent blog post, referencing IGB Director Gene Robinson's testimony before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Research and Technology Hearing in Washington, D.C. on the subject "The Frontiers of Human Brain Research."
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Honor
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Aug. 1) -- Gene Robinson, Swanlund Chair of entomology and neuroscience and director of the Institute for Genomic Biology at the U. of I., is the recipient of the Animal Behavior Society’s 2013 Distinguished Animal Behaviorist award.
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Chemistry
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., July 29) -- As a result of the variable nature of gene expression, genetically identical cells inhabiting the same environment can vary significantly in their numbers of key enzymes, which in turn results in strikingly different cellular behaviors. Incorporating data from studies of gene regulation and protein distributions in single cells, the research group of U. of I. chemistry professor Zaida Luthey-Schulten was able to identify several behavioral subtypes within a modeled population.
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Biology
Science (July 24) -- Why some planarians can so easily regenerate a head but others can't is a question that has long puzzled scientists. "This is really just a classic problem in the field," says Phillip Newmark, a U. of I. professor of cell and developmental biology. Now, three teams of researchers have not only zeroed in on the biological reason for this limitation, they've also managed to restore the worms' full regenerative abilities by manipulating a single genetic pathway.
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Also:
Nature (London, July 24)
Yahoo! News (July 24)
Scientific American (July 25)

Brain Cancer
Nanowerk News (Honolulu, July 23) -- U. of I. researcher Brendan Harley and team have developed a hydrogel for studying deadly brain cancer.
read entire article

Also:
Health Canal (Melbourne, Australia, July 22)
Neuroscience News (July 23)
Scicasts (Leicester, England, July 22)

Bees
LiveScience (New York City, June 27) -- Gene Robinson, a bee researcher at the U. of I., comments on a new study about bee behavior. "The result is interesting, as it provides provocative information to suggest that there might be lateralization in the bee brain, as there is in vertebrate brains," said Robinson, the director of the Institute for Genomic Biology.
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Honey Bees
The Boston Globe (June 23) -- A self-described “tree-hugger,” May Berenbaum, the head of the department of entomology at the U. of I., is highly critical of systemic pesticides, thought to be a culprit in the decline of the honey bee population. She just hasn’t seen enough evidence to support banning them. If and when it reaches that point, she says, “I’d be the first one in line” pushing to restrict their use.
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Bioengineering
Rashid Bashir, director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be the next head of the University’s Department of Bioengineering beginning in August of 2013.
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Yogurt
Food Processing (Wahroonga, Australia, June 20) -- “Current research on the potential impact of yogurt on health is encouraging, and we look forward to learning more about the unique contribution that yogurt offers to individuals and overall public health,” says Sharon Donovan, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the U. of I.
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Biofuel
Biomass Magazine (Grand Forks, N.D., June 19) -- The black locust tree is being evaluated by researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the U. of I. to determine its potential for biofuel production.
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Biomass
Bioenergy Insight (Surrey, England, June 19) -- Researchers from the Energy Biosciences Institute at the U. of I. are evaluating the biomass potential of woody crops, and their work is making them take a close look at the Robinia pseudoacacia tree – otherwise known as the black locust.
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Pollination
AgWeb (Mexico, Mo., June 17) -- “Close to 100 crop species ... rely to some degree on pollination services provided by this one (bee) species – collectively, these crops make up approximately 1/3 of the U.S. diet ...,” says May Berenbaum, an entomology professor at the U. of I.
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Ethanol
Ethanol Producer Magazine (Grand Forks, N.D., June 13) -- The Energy Biosciences Institute has been granted its first patent since the public-private research partnership was established in 2007. According to the EBI, the newly patented discovery resulted from work completed by teams at Illinois and the University of California at Berkeley to optimize sugar conversion yields by yeast in the production of ethanol.
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Forest Management
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, June 13) -- In order to keep pace with the burgeoning demand for renewable energy, forest management policy in the U.S. must change to address environmental sustainability issues, according to Jody Endres, a U. of I. professor of natural resources and environmental sciences.
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Entomology
The Washington Post (June 11) -- The spread of a toxic invasive plant has alarmed forest authorities. The plant’s sap is harmful, but caterpillars have discovered defenses. Caterpillars that chew on plants containing those compounds have developed several defenses against the toxins, says May Berenbaum, an entomologist at the U. of I.
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Honey Bees
Western Farm Press (Clarksdale, Miss., June 12) -- A regulatory gene known to be involved in learning and the detection of novelty in vertebrates also kicks into high gear in the brains of honey bees when they are learning how to find food and bring it home. “This discovery gives us an important lead in figuring out how honey bees are able to navigate so well, with such a tiny brain,” says Gene Robinson, a professor of entomology and of neuroscience and the director of the Institute for Genomic Biology at the U. of I.
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Law
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, June 11) -- When Web surfers sign up for a new online service or download a Web application for their smartphone or tablet, the service typically requires them to click a seemingly innocuous box and accept the company’s terms of service and privacy policy. But agreeing to terms without reading them beforehand can adversely affect a user’s legal rights, says U. of I. law professor Jay Kesan, a co-author of an article on the topic.
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Honey Bees
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (June 9) -- As honey bee numbers continue to decline, some studies suggest a link between dead bees and high levels of neonicotinoid compounds. “It’s a controversial subject,” says Gene E. Robinson, the director of the Bee Research Facility at the U. of I. “Not all studies agree with each other. It’s a subject that bears more scrutiny.”
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Sea Slugs
e! Science News (Quebec City, June 6) -- Research by U. of I. professor of molecular and integrative physiology Rhanor Gillette shows that a deep-water species of sea slug found off the west coast of the United States may be smarter than was thought.
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Biofuels
Domestic Fuel (Holts Summit, Mo., June 5) -- A study from two U. of I. researchers says the Environmental Protection Agency lacks “transparency and clarity” when it comes to approving new feedstocks for biofuels.
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Infection
Health Canal (Melbourne, Australia, June 5) -- U. of I. anthropology professor Rebecca M. Stumpf has co-written an article that says social networks could help prevent disease outbreaks.
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Newsletter
The newest issue of the Enzyme Function Initiative (EFI) newsletter, EFIinside, is now available. The EFI is a large-scale collaborative project (glue grant) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of approximately 80 researchers at 9 academic institutions in the US and Canada. They are developing a robust sequence/structure based strategy for facilitating discovery of in vitro enzymatic and in vivo metabolic/physiological functions of unknown enzymes discovered in genome projects, a crucial limitation in genomic biology.
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Crop Pest
Food Safety News (Seattle, May 28) -- The western corn rootworm defeated crop rotation during the 1990s when a new strain of the worm began began laying eggs in soybean fields so it would be ready for corn planting in the following year. “Up until then, rotation of corn and soybeans was a pretty good control strategy,” says U. of I. entomologist Michael Gray.
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Tension Gauge Tether
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, May 23) -- A new tension gauge tether laboratory method developed by Taekjip Ha with postdoctoral researcher Xuefeng Wang has broad applications for research into stem cells, cancer, infectious disease and immunology.
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Bees
Agri News (LaSalle, Ill., May 21) -- Diets used in beekeeping may play a role in preventing the insects from staving off the effects of some pesticides, a new study suggests. The findings of the research, led by U. of I. entomologist May Berenbaum, were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
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Tumor Growth
Scicasts (Leicester, England) (May 20) -- Researchers at the U. of I. have made progress in the fight against cancer. A new study, published in the journal Oncogene, shows how an important component of the inflammatory response and immune cell growth can become an important factor in tumor growth.
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Also:
Doctor Tipster (May 20)
Drug Discovery & Development (Rockaway, N.J.) (May 20)
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md.) (May 20)

Genomic Regulation
Nanotechnology Now (Honolulu, May 20) -- Researchers form the U. of I. and Mayo Clinic have developed a novel single molecule test for detecting DNA methylation that should greatly simplify and advance the study of this important genomic process.
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Colorectal Cancer
News-Medical . net (Sydney, May 20) -- “African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the U.S.,” says Franck Carbonero, a postdoctoral research associate at the U. of I. Institute for Genomic Biology. “The reasons for this are not yet understood. Our findings offer insight into this disparity and pave the way for new research.”
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Also:
Health24 (Johannesburg) (May 20)

Cicadas
The Irish Times (Dublin, May 20) -- Any day now, billions of cicadas with bulging red eyes will crawl out of the earth after 17 years underground and overrun the east coast of the U.S., scientists say. “It’s not like these hordes of cicadas suck blood or zombify people,” said May Berenbaum, a U. of I. entomology professor. They are looking for just one thing: sex.
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Biofuels
Phys Org. com (Douglas, Isle of Man, May 15) -- U. of I. scientists have developed an environmentally friendly and more economical way of pretreating Miscanthus in the biofuel production process.
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Also:
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif.) (May 15)

Sacred Lotus
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, May 10) -- U. of I. researchers report in the journal Genome Biology that they have sequenced the lotus genome, and the results offer insight into the heart of some of its mysteries.
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Also:
News-Medical . net (May 14)

Corn
Corn and Soybean Digest (Minneapolis, May 9) -- U. of I. agricultural entomologist Mike Gray has conducted western corn rootworm research for many years and has analyzed the economic impact of corn rootworm Bt hybrids.
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Biofuels
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., May 8) -- Jody Endres, a U. of I. professor of natural resources and environmental sciences, says standards are needed so farmers, ethanol producers, and others in the biofuels industry will all be on the same page.
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Royal Society
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, May 6) -- U. of I. plant biologist Stephen P. Long has been elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of London, the world's oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Members are elected for life on the basis of excellence in science, via a thorough peer review process.
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Entomology
The New York Times (May 2) -- The devastation of American honeybee colonies is the result of a complex stew of factors, including pesticides, parasites, poor nutrition and a lack of genetic diversity, according to a comprehensive federal study published on Thursday. May Berenbaum, the head of the department of entomology at Illinois and a participant in the study, says that examination of dead bees had found residues of more than 100 chemicals, insecticides and pesticides, including some used to control parasites in bee hives.
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Biomarkers For Ovarian Cancer
Medical Xpress (Douglas, Isle of Man, April 30) -- Illinois animal sciences professor Sandra Rodriguez-Zas and graduate student Kristin Delfino identified biomarkers that are used to determine ovarian cancer survival and recurrence and showed how the interactions between these biomarkers affect these outcomes.
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Honey Bees
Science News (Williamsport, Pa., April 29) -- Honey is more than a sweet treat to bees. New tests find compounds in honey that trigger surges of activity in genes needed for detoxifying chemicals or for making antimicrobial agents. The research was led by U. of I. entomologist May Berenbaum. The findings might provide clues in how to slow the rapid decline of bee populations attributed to "colony collapse disorder."
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Also:
Los Angeles Times (April 29)
NBC News (April 29)

Biological Engineering
Chemical & Engineering News (Washington, D.C., April 25) -- People with chronic diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis have inflamed, leaky blood vessels, heightening their risk of heart attack and stroke. Some scientists envision using a patient’s own stem cells to regrow healthy tissue to plug the leaks and calm inflammation. A polymer coating developed by U. of I. chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Hyunjoon Kong could help those cells find their biological targets.
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Climate Change
Nature (London, April 23) -- Evan DeLucia, a U. of I. plant biology professor, says results from a new experiment intended to assess the impact of increased carbon dioxide on the Amazon rainforest need to be considered in relation to the scale of the forest. “At the end of the day, no experiment is representative of the totality of the biome,” says DeLucia, who has conducted similar research in South Carolina.
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A Minute With .... Gene Robinson
illinois . edu (Champaign, Illinois, April 19) -- Entomologist and IGB Director Gene Robinson speaks about the mysterious syndrome killing off honey bees, called Colony Collapse Disorder, with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates in this week's A Minute With ...
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Art of Science
Smilepolitely . com (Champaign, Illinois, April 15) -- One of the images featured at the third annual IGB Art of Science exhibit, held this year at indi go artist co-op between April 18 and April 21, is a section of a piglet hippocampus. It was taken for the research being done in Dr. Johnson’s Lab with the Laboratory of Integrative Biology at the U of I. UI graduate student Matthew Conrad from Professor Rod Johnson's lab is interviewed about this image. 
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Insects
Agriculture . com (Des Moines, Iowa, April 8) -- “The mild winter improved the survival of some insect species, such as corn flea beetles, bean leaf beetles, soybean aphids and white grubs that overwinter in Illinois,” says Mike Gray, a U. of I. crop sciences professor.
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Honey Bees
McDonough County Voice (Macomb, Ill., April 6) -- U. of I. entomology professor May Berenbaum says Americans are just beginning to understand how important honey bees are to their daily lives. And just how disastrous their disappearance could be.
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Evolution
Discovery (April 1) -- “Our perspective is that life emerged from a collective state, and so it is not at all obvious that there is one single organism which was ancestral,” says Nigel Goldenfeld, a U. of I. physics professor.
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Crop Diseases
CropLife (Willoughby, Ohio, April 1) -- Dry and hot conditions played a major role in the incidence and spectrum of diseases growers saw in Illinois crops, says Carl Bradley, an Extension specialist at Illinois.
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Neural Networks
Scientific American (March 27) -- U. of I. biophysicist Nigel Goldenfeld’s research into how neural networks in the brain interact with one another suggests how the relatively structured architecture of the human brain might have developed as an evolutionary advantage.
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Invasive Plants
Journal Gazette & Times-Courier (Mattoon, Ill., March 26) -- Researchers at the U. of I. Energy Biosciences Institute have developed suggestions on how to improve the regulation of all invasive plant species, including new biofuels plants.
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Entomology
Pest Control Technology (pctonline.com, March 26) -- Research tells us that individual insects within a species can have different likes and dislikes, attitudes and tendencies. And when a trait, such as acting explorative, is observed in various circumstances, that behavior then can be called personality. Head of entomology May Berenbaum and IGB director Gene Robinson, both from the University of Illinois, add to the discussion on personality traits among insects.
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Endoscopy
Electronics Weekly (Croydon, England, March 22) -- Thin as a human hair and with a resolution four times that of similar devices, the world’s slimmest endoscope could soon visualize the parts other scopes cannot reach. “Just as the telecoms industry has devised ways to squeeze more information content through optical fibers, this team have done the same for medical endoscopy,” says Stephen Boppart, a bioengineering professor at the U. of I.
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Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) Announces the Fifth Annual Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference
The Fifth Annual Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference, “Emerging Issues for Advanced Biofuel Commercialization,” will be held at the I Hotel and Conference Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on April 19, 2013. The EBI’s Biofuels Law and Regulation Project is organizing the Conference.

The Conference will focus on the multitude of emerging issues impacting the ongoing commercialization of advanced biofuels. It will involve leading academic, scientific, government, and industry experts, with opportunities for in-depth discussion between and among speakers and audience members. The organizers have structured the program to appeal to a variety of stakeholders, including those from business, law, government, and academia, biomass producers, students, and the public generally.

Detailed information can be found on the Conference website, www.biofuellawconference.org.  Cost of attendance is free, but registration is required. Registration questions should be directed to Elizabeth Stull, Conference Administrator, at estull@illinois.edu.

Origins of Life
Lab Manager Magazine (Midland, Ontario, March 13) -- Researchers in the Evolutionary Bioinformatics Laboratory at the U. of I. in collaboration with German scientists have been using bioinformatics techniques to probe the world of proteins for answers to questions about the origins of life.
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Bees and Caffeine
Aiken Standard (South Carolina, March 9) -- A new study says honey bees get a shot of caffeine from certain flowers, and it perks up their memory. Gene Robinson, IGB Director and entomology professor who was not involved in the study, says it provides strong evidence that coffee and citrus plants use the caffeine strategy.
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Climate Change and Food Supply
Yale Environment 360 (February 7) -- One of the few potential advantages attributed to soaring carbon dioxide levels has been enhanced crop growth. But in an interview with Yale Environment 360, professor of crop sciences and IGB faculty member Stephen Long talks about his research showing why rising temperatures and an increase in agricultural pests may offset any future productivity gains.
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Biofuel Plants
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, March 6) -- Researchers propose new solution to ensure biofuel plants don’t become noxious weeds. “According to our analysis, current noxious weed laws do not provide adequate protection to prevent invasions in natural areas, and we have a shared responsibility for proper stewardship of these landscapes,” says Lauren Quinn a research associate at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the U. of I., and the lead author of the study.
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Chemistry
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., Feb. 27) -- U. of I. researchers including chemistry professor Paul Hergenrother are part of a team to design and test a set of synthetic cancer-killing compounds based on a potent fungal chemical.
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Ivory Poaching
Nature (London, Feb. 27) -- Conservationists are hoping new applications of forensic science will let authorities track poachers and crack down on the illegal ivory trade that threatens the world elephant population. Alfred Roca, an animal sciences professor at the U. of I. – whose work demonstrated that African elephants are actually likely to be two separate species – has used mitochondrial DNA to trace ivory hauls.
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Cybersecurity
SecurityInfoWatch (Alpharetta, Ga., Feb. 25) -- Security experts warn that the recent cyberattacks on Apple and The New York Times are only the highest-profile examples of an escalating problem that threatens American businesses and undermines national security. “A new frontier for people who are not our friends is attacking our infrastructure and disrupting our day-to-day lives and our economy,” says Jay Kesan, a U. of I. professor of law. “It’s not traditional warfare, but it should be a matter of very high priority.”
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Biology
Science Blog (Los Angeles, Feb. 26) -- A study led by U. of I. cell and developmental biology professor Phillip Newmark and postdoctoral researcher James J. Collins III sheds some light on the amazing survival power of a parasitic flatworm that can live in a human body for decades. It turns out, stem cells are behind the regenerative power of Schistosoma mansoni, a parasite that infects more than 230 million people annually.
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Inaugural Lewin Lecture Takes Place
The inaugural Harris A. Lewin Pioneer in Genomic Biology Distinguished Lecture took place on February 19, 2013 at the Institute for Genomic Biology. The Lewin Lecture is the first named endowment at the IGB, and featured a lecture by Professor Evan Eichler from the Department of Genomic Sciences at the University of Washington. The talk was titled “Structural Variation, Disease and the Evolution of the Human Genome" and is available for viewing at this link.

Carl Woese
Science Magazine (Washington, D.C., Feb. 8) -- A look back at the work of renowned U. of I. microbiologist Carl R. Woese, who died, Dec. 30, by Illinois physics professor Nigel Goldenfeld and Norman Pace, of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
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Global Warming and Crops
Environment 360 (New Haven, Conn., Feb. 7) -- One of the few potential advantages attributed to soaring carbon dioxide levels has been the prospect of enhanced crop growth. U. of I. crop sciences professor Stephen Long says rising temperatures and an increase in agricultural pests may offset any future productivity gains.
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Chemistry
Chemical & Engineering News (Washington, D.C., Jan. 28) -- Most new drugs are discovered by screening compound collections, or libraries, for worthy candidates. But many such collections consist primarily of molecules that do not possess the structural, stereochemical and functional complexity equivalent to that of natural products. A new method of constructing natural-product-like compound collections developed by U. of I. chemistry professor Paul J. Hergenrother and his team aims to address that deficiency.
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Bacteria
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Jan. 28) -- U. of I. physics professor Karin A. Dahmen is part of a mulit-university team that has discovered that microscopic bacteria have a lot in common with earthquakes – when it comes to their jolting movements.
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Genetics
The New York Times (Jan. 28) -- A recent breakthrough by Harvard geneticist Hopi E. Hoekstra might help map animal behavior to DNA. Gene E. Robinson, of the U. of I. who has used honey bees to study social behavior, praises her “exciting, pathbreaking work” and says, “It will be hard to get to the genes, but not impossible. She has established a powerful experimental system.”
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Biochemistry
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Jan. 22) -- While working out the structure of a cell-killing protein produced by some strains of the bacterium Enterococcus faecalis, U. of I. researchers stumbled on a bit of unusual biochemistry. They found that a single enzyme helps form distinctly different, three-dimensional ring structures in the protein, one of which had never been observed before, says U. of I. chemistry and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Wilfred van der Donk, who conducted the study with graduate student Weixin Tang.
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Bioscience
News Medical . net (Sydney, Jan. 16) -- Researchers have shown that transplanting stem cells derived from normal mouse blood vessels into the hearts of mice that model the pathology associated with Duchenne muscular dystrophy prevents the decrease in heart function associated with DMD. Although medical advances have extended the lifespans of DMD patients from their teens or 20s into their early 30s, disease-related damage to the heart and diaphragm still limits their lifespan. “Almost 100 percent of patients develop dilated cardiomyopathy,” in which a weakened heart with enlarged chambers prevents blood from being properly pumped throughout the body, says U. of I. comparative biosciences professor Suzanne Berry-Miller, who led the study.
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Biofuels
Environmental Research Web (Bristol, England, Jan. 14) -- Perennial biofuel crops such as miscanthus, whose high yields have led them to be considered an eventual alternative to corn in producing ethanol, are now shown to have another beneficial characteristic – the ability to reduce the escape of nitrogen into the environment. In a four-year U. of I. study that compared miscanthus, switchgrass and mixed prairie species to typical corn-corn-soybean rotations, each of the perennial crops was highly efficient at reducing nitrogen losses, with miscanthus being the most effective.
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Genomics
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., Jan. 10) -- One of the most difficult problems in the field of genomics is assembling relatively short “reads” of DNA into complete chromosomes. In a new paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an interdisciplinary group of genome and computer scientists has solved this problem, creating an algorithm that can rapidly create “virtual chromosomes” with no prior information about how the genome is organized. The research was co-led by U. of I. bioengineering professor Jian Ma.
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In Memoriam
The New York Times (Dec. 31) -- Renowned U. of I. microbiologist Carl R. Woese, who discovered a new domain of life, died Sunday at his home in Urbana. He was 84.
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HIV Evolution
News-Medical . net (Sydney, Dec. 20) -- Alfred Roca, professor and affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology, thinks that the genomes of an isolated West African human population could provide important clues about how HIV has evolved.
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DNA Research
e! Science News (Quebec City, Dec. 14) -- U. of I. physics professor Taekjip Ha and his colleagues have discovered how a DNA-repair protein matches up a broken DNA strand with an intact region of double-stranded DNA.
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Also:
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (Dec. 14)
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Dec. 13)
R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., Dec. 13)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Dec. 13)
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., Dec. 13)

Entomology
NPR (Dec. 14) -- In a tropical rainforest in Panama, a multinational team of scientists has just completed the first ever insect census – a process that took two years to collect and another eight to process. May Berenbaum, an entomologist at Illinois, says nothing like this project has ever been done before. And it’s important because of the critical role arthropods play in nature.
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Crop Sciences
News Gazette (Dec. 14) -- U. of I. researchers will use a $5.7 million grant to screen different lines of corn for ozone resistance. Ozone damage to corn crops worldwide is estimated at $700 million a year.
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Genetics
Science (Washington, D.C., Dec. 14) -- Huimin Zhao, a U. of I. bioengineer, is turning plant pest proteins into tools for studying and reshaping genomes of many species. He and colleagues have demonstrated in yeast that a modified plant protein can correct the genetic defect underlying sickle cell disease.
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Photosynthesis Research
The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill., Dec. 12) -- The U. of I. has received a five-year, $25-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the photosynthetic properties of key food crops, including rice and cassava. “This grant will be game changing,” says Stephen Long, a professor of crop sciences and plant biology at Illinois.
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Also:
Ag Professional (St. Louis, Dec. 12)

Patent Suit
CNN (Dec. 7) -- The $1 billion patent dispute between Apple and Samsung picked back up in federal court in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, with both sides arguing over issues of damages amounts, bans on product sales and allegations of dishonesty on the part of the jury foreman. A protracted legal battle after a jury verdict is not unusual in a case this large and complicated, and was expected by legal experts. “It shows that there is a careful process; the judge does get to review what the jury has done,” says U. of I. law professor Jay P. Kesan.
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Biofuels
R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., Nov. 30) -- One reason for the production expense of biofuels is that the organisms used to ferment the biomass can’t digest hemicellulose, a cell-wall component that makes up about half of the available plant material. Illinois microbiologists Isaac Cann and Rod Mackie have been doing research at the Energy Biosciences Institute on an organism that they think could be used to solve this problem.
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Entomology
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Nov. 28) -- Researchers have created an interactive website, called Antkey, which includes more than 1,150 images and 70 video clips to help users determine an ant’s identity from more than 100 invasive and commonly introduced global species. The site was developed by Andy Suarez, a U. of I. professor of entomology and animal sciences, with postdoctoral researcher Eli Sarnat.
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Food Safety
Business Standard (New Delhi, Nov. 28) -- U. of I. food science and human nutrition professor Hao Feng and colleagues have found a way to increase current industry capabilities when it comes to reducing the number of E. coli cells that may live undetected on spinach leaves.
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Also:
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Nov. 27)

Bio-Bots
National Geographic (Nov. 19) -- With the aid of a 3-D printer, U. of I. researchers have fashioned soft, quarter-inch-long biological robots out of gel-like material and rat heart cells. When the cells beat, the bio-bots take a step. “After a few days, the cells synchronize and beat spontaneously,” says Rashid Bashir, a professor of electrical, computer, and biological engineering.
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Also:
e! Science News (Quebec City, Nov. 21)
Nanowerk News (Honolulu, Nov. 21)
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Nov. 21)
R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., Nov. 21)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Nov. 21)
The Scientist (Philadelphia, Nov. 20)
Science News (Washington, D.C., Nov. 19)
Gizmag (Melbourne, Australia, Nov. 17)

Genomics
Nature (London, Nov. 14) -- The stuffed head of a domestic pig looks down from the office wall of U. of I. animal sciences professor Lawrence Schook, who also is the university’s vice president for research. This week’s draft sequence of the pig’s genome, with its detailed annotation, might benefit agriculture and eventually make it possible for pigs to be engineered to provide organs for transplant into human patients.
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Soybean Fungus
Ag Professional (St. Louis, Nov. 9) -- Frogeye leaf spot, caused by a fungus, is an important pathogen of soybean plants. EBI faculty member and plant pathologist Carl Bradley said that since 2010, strains of the fungus that are resistant to strobilurin fungicide have been found in Illinois and other states.
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Ozone
Farm Industry News (Minneapolis, Oct. 31) -- People tend to think of ozone as something in the upper atmosphere that protects Earth’s surface from ultraviolet radiation. At the ground level, however, ozone is a pollutant that damages crops, particularly soybeans. Lisa Ainsworth, a U. of I. professor of crop sciences, says that establishing the exposure threshold for damage is critical to understanding the current and future impact of this pollutant.
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Also:
Corn & Soybean Digest (Minneapolis, Nov. 1)

Bee Research Facility
Daily Illini (Urbana, Il., Nov. 1) -- Students at the University of Illinois Bee Research Facility, led by IGB Director Gene Robinson, are studying how genes influence social behavior, and how the social environment affects brain gene expression and the general evolution of bee society.
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Biomass Crops
Hoosier Ag Today (Clement, Ind., Oct. 30) -- Agricultural economists at Illinois including Madhu Khanna have been calculating the costs for farmers to produce biomass energy crops as renewable alternatives to fossil fuels.
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Also:
Western Farm Press (Clarksdale, Miss., Nov. 1)
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Oct. 31)

Bioinformatics
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Oct. 26) -- Victor Jongeneel, director of the High-Performance Biological Computing (HPCBio) program and affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, is a key participant in a grant awarded by the Human Heredity and Health in Africa Initiative, or H3Africa, to establish a pan-continental bioinformatics network to aid research.
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Biofuels
Domestic Fuel (Holts Summit, Mo., Oct. 18) -- According to Jody Endres, a U. of I. professor of natural resources and environmental sciences, and Daniel Szewczyk, a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute for Genomic Biology, academia has failed to create green metrics for measuring the pros and cons of biofuels.
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Soybeans
Pork Magazine (Lenexa, Kan., Oct. 16) -- Matt Hudson and Brian Diers, crop sciences researchers at the U. of I., and Andrew Bent at the University of Wisconsin, think they may have found a way to strengthen the resistance of soybeans to cyst nematodes.
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Also:
Ag Professional (St. Louis, Oct. 12)
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Oct. 11)

Patent Law
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia, Oct. 9) -- Do current patent laws stifle innovation? Not according to Jay P. Kesan, a U. of I. law professor. “Intellectual property is property, just like a house, and its owners deserve protection,” says Kesan. “We have rules in place, and they’re getting better.”
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Medical Scanning
Gizmag (Melbourne, Australia, Oct. 2) -- It may not be Star Trek’s famous “tricorder,” but a new device developed by a team of U. of I. engineers led by Stephan Boppart takes reality a step closer to science fiction. They have built a hand-held scanning device that provides real-time three-dimensional images of the insides of patients’ bodies.
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Also:
Health Imaging (Providence, R.I., Oct. 3)

Honey Bees
Discover Magazine (Sept. 15) -- Scientists have long known that epigenetic changes can separate a liver cell from a neuron, or even a queen bee from a worker. Other studies have found epigenetic changes that are related to changes in behavior. But as U. of I. entomologist Gene Robinson explains, researchers Adam Feinberg and Gro Amdam “demonstrate for the first time that if the behavior is reversible, so is the methylation.”
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Origins of Life
GenomeWeb Daily News (New York City, Sept. 11) -- NASA has provided $40 million to fuel efforts to develop biological tools and technologies to study the origins and evolution of life. About $8 million is coming to the U. of I. to use genomics to understand early states of life.
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Illinois physicist to lead $8 million NASA-funded study
Department of Physics (Urbana, Sept. 7) -- An interdisciplinary team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is among five new research groups selected to join the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) to study the origin and evolution of life. The NAI invitation comes with a five-year research grant totaling about $8 million.
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Astrobiology
NASA (Washington, D.C., Sept. 5) -- NASA has awarded five-year grants totaling almost $40 million to five research teams to study the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. The newly selected teams are from the U. of I., the University of Washington, MIT, the University of Wisconsin and USC.
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Farming
National Hog Farmer (Minneapolis, Aug. 31) -- Young people are not entering farming these days, and that’s a problem many communities have an interest in solving, according to a report from A. Bryan Endres and Rachel Armstrong, of the department of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois.
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Chemistry
Nanowerk News (Honolulu, Sept. 3) -- A U. of I. research group led by chemistry professor Ken Suslick has expanded the aerosol synthesis of porous carbon materials by the use of energetic carbon precursors.
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Methane
Chemical & Engineering News (Aug. 31) -- Researchers have long-wondered how Earth’s oceans could produce some 4 percent of the world’s methane, given that the potent greenhouse gas is normally produced in anaerobic environments such as swamps, not in oxygenated places like the sea. A team of U. of I. researchers led by William W. Metcalf and Wilfred A. van der Donk report that a marine microbe has the ability to make a molecule that other ocean organisms then metabolize to methane.
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Also:
The Varsity (Toronto, Sept. 9)
Green Blog (NY Times, Sept. 4)
Chemistry World (Royal Society of Chemistry; Cambridge, England, Aug. 31)
Newstrack India (New Delhi, Aug. 31)
R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., Aug. 30)
Zee News (Noida, India, Aug. 31)
TG Daily (Batavia, Ill., Aug. 31)

Biology
Huffington Post (Aug. 22) -- Symbiotic mergers of two distinct organisms to generate a third new one (symbiogenesis) are critical to the evolutionary process. Scientists holding this position were bolstered in the 1970s with new methods of molecular taxonomy and phylogeny, pioneered by U. of I. microbiologist Carl Woese.
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Brain Cells
Bioscience Technology (Rockaway, N.J., Aug. 21) -- Working with units of material so small that it would take 50,000 to make up one drop, U. of I. chemist Jonathan Sweedler is developing the profiles of the contents of individual brain cells in a search for the root causes of chronic pain, memory loss and other maladies that affect millions of people.
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Also:
Medical Xpress (Douglas, Isle of Man, Aug. 21)
Bioscience Technology (Rockaway, N.J., Aug. 21)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Aug. 21)

Biofuels
EarthSky (Austin, Texas, Aug. 21) -- Andrew Leakey, a U. of I. professor of plant biology with the Institute for Genomic Biology, is trying to develop biofuel grasses that are drought-tolerant and will grow in marginal soils.
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Corn Pest
FOX Business (from Dow Jones Newswire, Aug. 17) -- New tests confirm that damage last year to some corn fields in western Illinois was caused by rootworms that have developed resistance to a Monsanto Co. genetically modified trait, U. of I. entomologist Mike Gray says.
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Researchers peek at the early evolution of sex chromosomes
Two new studies offer insight into sex chromosome evolution by focusing on papaya, a multimillion dollar crop plant with a sexual problem (as far as growers are concerned) and a complicated past. The findings are described in two papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Entomology
“The Academic Minute” (from WAMC-FM (90.3), Albany, N.Y.; National Science Foundation; Washington, D.C., July 30) -- An interview about bees and personality that highlights the research of U. of I. entomology professor Gene Robinson, the director of the Institute for Genomic Biology.
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Crop Disease
Public News Service (Boulder, Colo., July 27) -- Even with drought conditions across the Farm Belt taking a toll on crops, many farmers are still using planes to spray their fields for disease – quite possibly for no good reason. U. of I. plant pathologist Carl Bradley says spraying is probably not going to do any good. “We didn’t see any kind of a benefit to using fungicides in very, very dry weather.” His findings indicate that the drier the crop, the less chance there is of any disease taking hold.
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Biofuels
Biofuels Digest (Miami, July 25) -- The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a five-year, $12.1 million grant to researchers at Illinois, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and collaborators at the Carnegie Institution for Science, the University of Minnesota and Washington State University to develop a new model plant system to advance bioenergy grasses as a sustainable source of renewable fuels.
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Biofuels
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (July 16) -- The U. of I. is among five recipients of a $12.1 million federal grant to develop drought-tolerant grass as a sustainable source of biofuel.
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Also:
R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., July 23)

Anthropology
The Korea Herald (Seoul, July 12) -- Ripan Malhi, a professor of anthropology at the U. of I., says a new genetic analysis adds nuance to a consensus view that there was a single source population that gave rise to Native Americans. The Harvard-led study team’s explanation that there were multiple waves of migration that interbred with the earlier groups in parts of North America helps explain the overall similarity of DNA among all Native Americans as well as some unaccounted for differences in groups from North America, Malhi wrote in an email.
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Also:
McClatchy News Service (Washington, D.C., July 11)
The Boston Globe (July 11)

Senses
Nature (June 21) -- There are well-established technologies for measuring and reproducing three of the five human senses – sight, sound and touch – but mimicking our two chemical senses, taste and smell, has proved more challenging. Kenneth Suslick, a chemist at Illinois, says that artificial versions of these senses would have practical applications and also provide an aid to understanding another aspect of human biology. Suslick works on both artificial tongues and artificial noses: The noses deal with gases, whereas the tongues handle liquids (and solids that have been liquefied, which is what happens when we eat).
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Cancer
NIH (Bethesda, Md., July 6) - A new method to isolate and grow the most dangerous cancer cells could enable new research into how cancer spreads and, ultimately, how to fight it. U. of I. researchers, led by mechanical science and engineering professor Ning Wang, and collaborators in China found that while a traditional culture of cancer cells has only a few capable of starting new tumors, a soft gel is capable of isolating tumor-repopulating cells and promoting the growth and multiplication of these cells in culture.
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Breast Milk
United Press International (July 6) -- Babies can’t digest part of what’s in breast milk, but it gives them a big health boost just the same, a U.S. researcher says. Sharon Donovan, a professor of food science and human nutrition at Illinois, examined molecules called HMOs, which are not food for babies, but do feed beneficial bacteria in the gut. Donovan says these bacteria can protect against infection and strengthen the immune system.
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New way to grow, isolate cancer cells may add weapon against disease
The news a cancer patient most fears is that the disease has spread and become much more difficult to treat. A new method to isolate and grow the most dangerous cancer cells could enable new research into how cancer spreads and, ultimately, how to fight it. “This may open the door for understanding and blocking metastatic colonization, the most devastating step in cancer progression,” said Ning Wang, a professor of mechanical science and engineering who co-led the study.
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Soybean Pest
Crop Life (Willoughby, Ohio, June 28) -- Some soybean fields in northern Illinois are currently infested with whiteflies, says Mike Gray, a U. of I. professor of entomology. “If hot and dry conditions persist, I anticipate infestations of whiteflies will intensify along with twospotted spider mite challenges in the same fields,” Gray said.
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Bees
The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, June 19) -- The apparent comeback of a rare bumblebee species in Utah is generating some excitement among scientists in the state. Efforts to raise awareness of and to spur research into the decline of U.S. bee populations has been led by U. of I. entomologist May Berenbaum. Research led by Berenbaum helped drive new initiatives by national officials to better document and protect honey bee populations, and also shed light on the oft-neglected bumblebee, a native pollinator even less understood.
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Corn Pest
Crop Life (Willoughby, Ohio, June 13) -- The Western corn rootworm season is progressing at an unprecedented pace, U. of I. crop sciences professor Mike Gray says.
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Microscopy
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., June 12) -- A study by Surangi Punyasena and Mayandi Sivaguru, researchers in the U. of I. Institute for Genomic Biology, identifies the best microscopy techniques to identify the shape and texture of pollen grains.
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Also:
AZoNano (Warriewood, New South Wales, June 14)

Gene Sequencing
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, June 11) -- The sequencing of the human genome has provided a wealth of genetic information, yet the goal of understanding the function of every gene remains. New research led by U. of I. bioengineering professor Sheng Zhong suggests determining the purpose of genes through a new method called “comparative epigenomics.” “Comparative epigenomics is to use interspecies comparison of DNA and histone modifications – as an approach for annotation of the regulatory genome,” Zhong said.
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Also:
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., June 11)

Immune System
News Track India (New Delhi, June 12) -- A research team including Bryan White, a U. of I. professor of animal sciences, found that the billions of bacteria in the human gastrointestinal system regulate the immune system and related autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. “Because it’s presented with multiple insults daily through the introduction of new bacteria, food sources and foreign antigens, the gut is continually teasing out what’s good and bad,” White said.
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Also:
International News Network (Islamabad, Pakistan, June 14)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., June 11)
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., June 11)

Zoo Insect Exhibit
Chicago Tribune (June 6) -- The “Xtreme Bugs” exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago includes live bugs and models as large as Volkswagen Beetles. Seeing larger-than-life bugs demystifies them, says May Berenbaum, the head of the entomology department at Illinois. “That magnification eliminates one of the greatest factors that distances insects from people. One of the reasons people are uncomfortable about insects is that they’re hard to keep track of. They manage to get into your basement, into your pantry, into your pants without you being aware. These extreme bugs will not get into your pants without you being aware of what’s going on.”
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Entomology
Medill Reports (Evanston, Ill., June 6) -- Household and farm pesticides called neonicotinoids may be linked to the deaths of millions of bees, European scientists report. U.S. scientists also suggest that a particular pest, the Varroa mite, is taking a toll on bee populations. “The studies are very disconnected,” says May Berenbaum, an entomologist at Illinois. The studies don’t address factors relating to bee health, she said.
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New Core Facilities Capabilities
Institute for Genomic Biology (Urbana, June 1) -- The Core Facilities group will be receiving new capabilities with the addition of an objective inverter to augment an existing nonlinear optical microscope. This will allow for non-invasive imaging of live intact organs and tissues, specifically enabling such possibilities as neural imaging, measuring intestinal stem cell proliferation in living tissue, or real time observation of developmental changes in germ cells in testis. As part of the IGB’s microscopy core facility, this equipment is available to the entire UIUC campus community (with the required training).
Core Facilities instruments

Medical Diagnostics
Biomed Middle East (Dubai, United Arab Emirates, May 31) -- Doctors can now get a peek behind the eardrum to better diagnose and treat chronic ear infections, thanks to a new medical imaging device invented by a U. of I. research team led by electrical and computer engineering professor Stephen Boppart.
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Also:
Health24 . com (Cape Town, South Africa, May 30)
Infection Control Today (Phoenix, May 30)
LaserFocusWorld (Tulsa, Okla., May 29)
Live Science (New York City, May 30)
R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., May 30)

Chemical Incident at IGB
Institute for Genomic Biology (Urbana, May 29) -- We'd like to thank our community over the concern of a minor chemical spill in one of our labs in the IGB research building on May 28th. We are taking this opportunity to relate the details of the event to give a clear understanding of what actually took place.
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'RNA World'
Science 2.0 (Reno, Nev., May 27) -- The “RNA world” hypothesis first appeared in 1986 and posits that the first stages of molecular evolution involved RNA and not proteins, and that proteins (and DNA) emerged later, says U. of I. crop sciences professor Gustavo Caetano-Anollés. “I’m convinced that the RNA world (hypothesis) is not correct. That world of nucleic acids could not have existed if not tethered to proteins.”
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Crop Pests
Corn and Soybean Digest (Minneapolis, May 25) -- U. of I. professor of entomology Mike Gray says it’s important for farmers to watch out for the two-spotted spider mite and the bean leaf beetle, especially with very hot and dry weather in the near term.
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Miscanthus Genome
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, May 15) – U. of I. crop sciences professor and Energy Biosciences Institute program leader Stephen Moose and his colleagues have mapped the Miscanthus sinensis genome, a first step toward a full genome sequence of a plant with a promising future in the production of biofuels.
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Infant Nutrition
News-Medical . net (Sydney, May 15) -- A new study led by U. of I. nutrition and health professor Sharon Donovan might explain the role of a little-understood component of breast milk in helping babies develop. The research shows that human milk oligosaccharides produce short-chain fatty acids that feed a beneficial microbial population in the infant gut.
read entire article

Also:
Live Science (New York City, May 21)
Medical Xpress (Douglas, Isle of Man, May 21)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., May 21)
Zee News (Noida, India, May 22)
Daily Ledger (Canton, Ill., May 17)
The Times of India (Mumbai, May 15)
Daily Ledger (Canton, Ill., May 17)

Author File - Taekjip Ha
Nature Methods -- During DNA repair and replication, various enzymes form a team of highly coordinated players. For Taekjip Ha, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the best way to learn the rules of the game is to watch individual molecules. “You can learn so much about the protein that you couldn't have otherwise,” he says.
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Genetic Engineering
Mother Nature Network (Atlanta, May 4) -- Sorghum and sugarcane are both widely used crop plants that produce a small amount of oil, but they are mostly farmed for food purposes rather than used for fuel. The U. of I. is looking to change that. Stephen Long, a genomics biology professor at the university, heads the project, and the goal is to enhance the oil-producing qualities of sorghum and sugarcane so that they produce more oil than sugar or starch. This would make these varieties of sorghum and sugarcane into major oil crops, which could provide a significant source of fuel for the U.S.
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Anthropology
Nature (London, May 2) -- Ripan Malhi, a professor of anthropology at the U. of I., questions whether recent genetic testing results accurately prove the geographic origins of the first prehistoric settlers to the Americas. He is one of an emerging group of researchers combining modern genetic technology with archaeological investigation to answer questions about the origins of human inhabitation.
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Award
Phys Org . com (Urbana, Ill., May 1) -- Harris Lewin has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), it was announced today. Lewin, an emeritus faculty member in the Department of Animal Sciences and founding director of the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB), was recognized for research he conducted during his 27 years at the University of Illinois. He is now vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Davis, where he earned his doctorate in 1984.
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Entomology
The Register-Mail (from GateHouse News Service; Galesburg, Ill., May 1) -- A profile and interview with U. of I. entomology professor Gene Robinson.
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Soybeans
Crop Life (Willoughby, Ohio, April 27) -- Sudden death syndrome caused by a fungus has plagued soybean growers in Illinois since the 1980s, according to U. of I. plant pathologist Carl Bradley.
read entire article

Crops
WICD 15 (Urbana) -- About 10 people are working on a grant funded project at the University of Illinois that would genetically engineer certain crops in order to produce more oil per acre. Stephen Long says, "We're looking at crops that can be grown on poorer land than soy and yet yield more oil per acre."
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Sprouts
The Packer (Lenexa, Kan., April 26) -- Research has again proven that the 1999 government recommended process for sanitizing sprout seeds is ineffective. However, there is agreement among many academics and growers about basic food safety measures they say would virtually eliminate the chance of pathogen-laden sprouts entering the supply chain. “It is too late if the seeds are not clean,” says Hao Feng, a U. of I. researcher in food and bioprocess engineering.
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The Plight of Bees
Minnesota . Publicradio . org (April 25) -- Professor Gene Robinson, director of the Institute for Genomic Biology and the University of Illinois Bee Research Facility, joins Marla Spivak, director of the Bee Lab at the University of Minnesota, to discuss the plight of bees on The Daily Circuit. An audio file of the show is available via the link.
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Genomics
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, April 25) -- A new technique U. of I. researchers developed to sequence the genomes of two champion bulls may provide for faster and less costly methods to breed genetically elite cattle.
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3-D Imaging
R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., April 24) -- Real-time, 3D microscopic tissue imaging could be a revolution for medical fields such as cancer diagnosis, minimally invasive surgery and ophthalmology. A new computational technique developed by researchers at the Beckman Institute, led by Stephen Boppart and Scott Carney, both professors of electrical and computer engineering, could provide faster, less-expensive and higher-resolution tissue imaging to a broader population of users.
read entire article

Also:
News Medical . Net (Sydney, April 24)
e! Science News (Quebec City, April 23)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., April 23)

May Berenbaum
Scientific American (April 16) -- A brief profile of renowned U. of I. entomology professor May Berenbaum, how she chose her field of study, and her views on the common attributes among good scientists and good journalists.
read entire article

Guggenheim
Green Bay Press-Gazette (from USA Today; Wisconsin, April 13) -- Huimin Zhao, the Centennial Chair Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Illinois, has received a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to continue his work studying human diseases. Zhao works to engineer proteins used in drug discovery and gene therapy as well as industrial biotechnology and bioenergy.
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Ethanol Costs
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., April 12) -- A new U. of I. study concludes that learning-by-doing, stimulated by increased ethanol production, played an important role in inducing technological progress in the corn ethanol industry. The study, co-written by Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics, and Xiaoguang Chen, of the U. of I. Energy Biosciences Institute, quantifies the role that factors such as economies of scale, learning-by-doing, induced technological innovation as a result of rising input prices and trade-induced competition played in reducing the processing costs of corn ethanol in the U.S. by 45 percent while also increasing production volumes seventeen-fold from 1983 to 2005.
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Illinois engineering professor awarded Guggenheim Fellowship
University of Illinois professor Huimin Zhao has received a 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded annually on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise. Zhao, the Centennial Chair Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is one of 181 distinguished scholars chosen from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants.
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New antibiotic could make food safer and cows healthier
Food-borne diseases might soon have another warrior to contend with, thanks to a new molecule discovered by chemists at the University of Illinois. The new antibiotic, an analog of the widely used food preservative nisin, also has potential to be a boon to the dairy industry as a treatment for bovine mastitis.
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Team discovers how bacteria resist 'Trojan horse' antibiotic
A new study describes how bacteria use a previously unknown means to defeat an antibiotic. The researchers found that the bacteria have modified a common “housekeeping” enzyme in a way that enables the enzyme to recognize and disarm the antibiotic.
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Entomology
The China Post (Taipei, Taiwan, April 2) -- U. of I. entomology professor May Berenbaum comments on two new studies indicating a common pesticide may be implicated in the die-off of honey bees.
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Bees
The New York Times (March 29) -- In Thursday’s issue of the journal Science, two teams of researchers published studies suggesting that low levels of a common pesticide can have significant effects on bee colonies. One experiment, conducted by French researchers, indicates that the chemicals fog honey bee brains, making it harder for them to find their way home. “I thought it (the French study) was very well designed,” said May Berenbaum, an entomologist at Illinois.
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Also:
CBS News (from The Associated Press, March 29)

Research Tools
The Scientist (Philadelphia, March 29) -- The Broad Institute and Sanger Institute announced two new cancer cell line databases, the largest such repositories of genomic and drug profiling data to date that will provide researchers with a powerful new set of tools. “I think having two independent resources is a good thing,” says Jian Ma, IGB faculty member and U of I bioengineering professor who did not participate in the research. “If two different groups have the same result for one cell line, it would be more reliable.”
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Antibiotic
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, March 19) -- Food-borne diseases might soon have another warrior to contend with, thanks to a new molecule discovered by chemists at Illinois. The new antibiotic, an analog of the widely used food preservative nisin, also has potential to be a boon to the dairy industry as a treatment for bovine mastitis.
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Also:
Dairy Reporter (Montpellier, France, March 20)
Feedstuffs (Bloomington, Minn., March 21)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., March 19)
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., March 19)

Bacteria
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, March 19) -- A new U. of I. study describes how bacteria use a previously unknown means to defeat an antibiotic. The researchers found that the bacteria have modified a common “housekeeping” enzyme in a way that enables the enzyme to recognize and disarm the antibiotic.
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Also:
Health Canal (Melbourne, Australia, March 21)

Lifelong Learning
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) is a campus program that offers classes, study groups, lectures and other educational opportunities to area residents older than 50. Membership in OLLI enables the students to engage in learning for the joy of it – which can include anything from courses in the arts and humanities to explorations of science and technology.
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DNA
Science 360 (Washington, D.C., March 13) -- The “RNA world” hypothesis, first promoted in 1986 in a paper in the journal Nature and defended and elaborated on for more than 25 years, posits that the first stages of molecular evolution involved RNA and not proteins, and that proteins (and DNA) emerged later, said U. of I. crop sciences and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, who led the new study. “I’m convinced that the RNA world (hypothesis) is not correct,” Caetano-Anollés said. “That world of nucleic acids could not have existed if not tethered to proteins.”
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Also:
BioTechniques (New York City, March 12)

iGEM
NSTA Reports (March 12) -- “I got involved in iGEM five years ago. It was our first team at the [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)]. I was introduced to Aleem Zafar, a brilliant and very motivated undergrad [who] was interested in synthetic biology and had heard about iGEM,” recalls Courtney Fuentes Evans, laboratory supervisor for the Mining Microbial Genomes for Novel Antibiotics Theme at the Institute for Genomic Biology. “I knew nothing about iGEM, but I was really motivated by the students...They developed a project and won a gold at the competition.”
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Sensors
Chemical & Engineering News (Washington, D.C., March 12) -- Researchers led by Samie R. Jaffrey at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City have developed a new sensor, based on RNA instead of protein, that can use fluorescence to image small molecules and proteins in living cells. This “alternative approach to image and study small-molecule metabolites is an important piece of work and will potentially have broad applications,” says U. of I. physics professor Taekjip Ha.
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Honeybees and Genetics
The New York Times (March 9) -- Some honey bees are known to be thrill-seeking adventurers. Known as scouts, they fearlessly leave their hives and search for new sources of food and new hive locations for the rest of the colony. Now, a new study suggests that these scouts have genetic brain patterns that set them apart from other bees. “We found massive differences in brain gene expressions between scouts and nonscouts,” said Gene E. Robinson, an entomologist and geneticist at Illinois, as well as an author of the study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Science.
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Also:
ArsTechnica (Boston, March 11)
Daily Mail (London, March 12)
Deccan Herald (from Indo-Asian News Service, New Delhi; Bangalore, India, March 11)
Discovery News (March 8)
Entomological Society of America (Lanham, Md., March 8)
Live Science (New York City, March 8)
Medical News Today (Bexhill-on-Sea, England, March 10)
Montreal Gazette (from Agence France-Presse, Paris; March 9)
Punjab Newsline (Chandigarh, India, March 11)
Red Orbit . com (Dallas, March 11)
Science Daily (Chevy Chase, Md., March 8)
Scientific American (March 8)
The Epoch Times (New York City, March 12)
The Huffington Post (March 9)
The New Zealand Herald (Auckland, March 13)
The State (Columbia, S.C., March 11)
Time (March 9)
Wired (San Francisco, March 9)

Honeybees
Science News (Washington, D.C., March 8) -- That honey bee lazily probing a flower may actually be a stealth explorer, genetically destined to seek adventure from birth. To test the notion of whether bees have personality, scientists led by entomologist and geneticist Gene Robinson at Illinois focused on scout bees that embark on reconnaissance missions for food.
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Also:
Mother Nature Network (Atlanta, March 9)
MSNBC (March 8)
Science Now (Washington, D.C., March 8)
The Atlantic (March 8)

Cancer-Sniffer
BusinessWeek (March 1) -- Metabolomx, a 12-person company in Mountain View, Calif., appears on the fast track to bringing a cancer-sniffing device to market. Much of the technology behind the Metabolomx machine came from research done by co-founder Kenneth Suslick, a professor of chemistry at Illinois.
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Biofuel
Chicago Tribune (from The Associated Press, March 2) -- With the support of a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, researchers led by scientists at Illinois will take the first steps toward engineering two new oil-rich crops. They aim to boost the natural, oil-producing capabilities of sugarcane and sorghum, increase the crops’ photosynthetic power and – in the case of sugarcane – enhance the plant’s cold tolerance so that it can grow in more northerly climes.
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Also:
Muscatine Journal (Iowa, March 2)
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, March 1)
The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill., March 2)

Technology
Scientific Computing (Rockaway, N.J., Feb. 29) -- U. of I. crop sciences professor Michael Gray and colleagues conducted a survey of corn and soybean pests in 47 counties in Illinois from late July to early August in 2011, and found densities of some key insect pests to be at zero or near zero in many counties. “I’ve never seen anything like it in 22 years of doing this kind of research,” Gray said. “From an insect diversity perspective, it’s a biological desert in many of those fields.”
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Also:
Innovations Report (Bad Homburg, Germany, March 1)
Laboratory Equipment (Smithtown, N.Y., March 1)
ScienceNewsline . com (Feb. 29)

Illinois supercomputers, expertise to help determine winner of genomics prize
Beginning in January 2013, teams will compete to accurately sequence the genomes of 100 healthy centenarians within 30 days for less than $1,000 per genome. A $10 million prize will be either awarded to a single winner or divided among successful teams. The Archon Genomics X PRIZE presented by Medco is intended to inspire breakthroughs in genome sequencing that will lead to the creation of a "medical grade" genome that can be used to improve patient diagnosis and treatment.
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Lemelson-MIT $30,000 Illinois Student Prize Finalists Chosen
Announced today are the five finalists for the Lemelson-MIT $30,000 Illinois Student Prize for innovation. Finalists were chosen by a distinguished panel of entrepreneurs as well as faculty members and professionals from across Illinois campus. The Lemelson-MIT $30,000 Illinois Student Prize is funded through a partnership with the Lemelson-MIT Program, which has awarded the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize to outstanding student inventors at MIT since 1995. Administered by the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering, the prize is awarded to a student who has demonstrated remarkable inventiveness and innovation.
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Photosynthesis
BBC (London, Feb. 22) -- A group led by U. of I. professor of crop sciences Stephen Long, the deputy director of the Energy Biosciences Institute at Illinois, is trying to improve the ability of plants to harness energy from the sun. And they’re using the processing power of the university’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications to do it.
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Speciation
e! Science News (Quebec City, Feb. 21) -- Researchers led by U. of I. microbiology professor Rachel Whitaker have evidence of sympatric speciation – whereby one organism divides into two divergent species while living in the same environment.
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Also:
Discover Magazine (Feb. 22)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Feb. 21)

Biofuel
Ecoseed (New York City, Feb. 21) -- A hybrid of temperate and tropical maize developed by U of I. crop sciences professor Frederick Below can be a potential contender in biofuel production.
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Also:
Phys Org . com (Isle of Man, Feb. 20)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Feb. 21)

Land Use
Environmental Research Web (Bristol, England, Feb. 20) -- Land-use change such as deforestation could cut crop yields by up to 17 percent by affecting the amount of moisture reaching key agricultural areas, according to U.S. scientists. That’s on top of the yield drop of the same magnitude it’s predicted that climate change may cause. “Nearly all of the moisture that falls as precipitation over these ‘breadbasket’ regions ultimately originates from and returns to the ocean,” says Justin Bagley, of the Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois.
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Drug Development
MedCity News (Cleveland, Feb. 6) -- A newly formed U. of I. spinoff company could be on to something good with a new drug treatment for cancer that targets an enzyme commonly found in various tumor types. U. of I. chemistry professor Paul Hergenrother and a handful of other co-founders of Vanquish Oncology are developing compounds that selectively kill cancer cells by targeting procaspase-3, an enzyme that spurs reactions that kill the cancer cell when it’s activated. Procaspase-3 is present in many brain, breast, lung and colon tumors, Hergenrother said.
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Biofuel
Business Insider (New York City, Feb. 4) -- What makes seaweed special is that compared with land-based biofuels such as corn and sugar cane, it can produce up to four times as much ethanol per unit. Yong-Su Jin, of the U. of I. Institute for Genomic Biology, cautions, however, that “we still face a huge technical gap for large-scale cultivation.” Costs would have to come down five-fold before the process for converting seaweed could become commercially competitive with ordinary fossil fuels.
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Neurological Reserach
e! Science News (Quebec City, Jan. 25) -- A study led by U. of I. physiologist Rhanor Gillette has found a neurological circuit linking hunger with fear to be at the heart of quick decision-making by a simple form of sea life.
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Also:
Labspaces . net (Iowa City, Iowa, Jan. 25)
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Jan. 25)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Jan. 25)

Nutrition and Cognition
Food Processing.com (Itasca, Ill., Jan. 24) -- The U. of I. and Abbott Laboratories have established the first multi-disciplinary nutrition and cognition research center, which will be located in Urbana.
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Miscanthus
ACES News (Jan. 19) -- Concerns about the worldwide energy supply and national, environmental and economic security have resulted in a search for alternative energy sources. A new University of Illinois study shows Miscanthus x giganteus (M. x giganteus) is a strong contender in the race to find the next source of ethanol if appropriate growing conditions are identified.
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Phylogeny and beyond: Scientific, historical, and conceptual significance of the first tree of life
PNAS (Jan. 18) -- In 1977, Carl Woese and George Fox published a brief paper in PNAS that established, for the first time, that the overall phylogenetic structure of the living world is tripartite. We describe the way in which this monumental discovery was made, its context within the historical development of evolutionary thought, and how it has impacted our understanding of the emergence of life and the characterization of the evolutionary process in its most general form.
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Biofuels
Red Orbit . com (Dallas, Jan. 18) -- A team of U. of I. researchers has developed a computer model that could get biofuel crops to refineries more quickly and more efficiently. Agricultural and biological engineering professors K.C. Ting, Alan Hansen and Luis Rodriguez are cited, as is research professor Yogendra Shastri.
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Also:
Bioscience Technology (Rockaway, N.J., Jan. 17)

R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., Jan. 17)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Jan. 17)

Archaeology 
Science Magazine (Washington, D.C., Jan. 13) -- Ripan Malhi, a professor of anthropology at the U. of I., questions whether recent genetic testing results accurately prove the geographic origins of the first prehistoric settlers to the Americas.
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Solar Energy
Phys Org . com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Jan. 16) -- U. of I. plant biology professor Donald Ort and a team of scientists have devised a new way to more accurately compare how efficiently plants and photovoltaic, or solar, cells convert sunlight into energy, which could ultimately help researchers improve plant photosynthesis, a critical first link to enhancing the global supply of food, feed, fiber and bioenergy.
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Biofuels
Columbia Daily Tribune (Missouri, Jan. 14) -- Miscanthus is a perennial grass that has seen its use as a biofuel rise in Europe, where fields have been known to return annually for decades. But the hybrid is sterile and does not produce seeds, so establishing it is expensive because the rhizomes were scarce. Tom Voigt, a professor of crop sciences at Illinois, has been studying the plant for years and pointed to Europe’s experience growing it and other studies that indicate a low risk for invasiveness. He said it could be possible for Miscanthus to spread, but because it is sterile it would do so slowly and could be controlled. “Boy, I’ve been growing it for more than 20 years, and I have never seen it in a place in my plantings where I did not plant it or want it to grow,” he said.
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Molecular Oxygen
News Bureau (Champaign, Jan. 11) -- University of Illinois crop sciences and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Gustavo Caetano-Anollés and his colleagues identified an oxygen-generating enzyme that likely was a key contributor to the rise of molecular oxygen on earth.
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Land Use
News Bureau (Champaign, Jan. 9) -- University of Illinois plant biology and Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) professor Evan DeLucia and postdoctoral researcher Kristina Anderson-Teixeira developed a new way to calculate the potential climate impacts of land use changes, one that takes into account the greenhouse gas value and the biophysical attributes of different ecosystems.
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Novel Bandage
News-Medical.net (Sydney, Dec.16) -- U. of I. researchers have developed a bandage that stimulates and directs blood vessel growth on the surface of a wound. “Any kind of tissue you want to rebuild, including bone, muscle or skin, is highly vascularized,” says chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Hyunjoon Kong, a co-principal investigator on the study with electrical and computer engineering professor Rashid Bashir.
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Also:
R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., Dec. 15)
Also:
Cover feature Advanced Materials, Volume 24, January 3, 2012

Team Designs a Bandage that Spurs, Guides Blood Vessel Growth
News Bureau (Champaign, Dec. 15) -- Researchers at Illinois have developed a “microvascular stamp” that lays out a blueprint for new blood vessels and spurs their growth in predetermined pattern. The research team included Rashid Bashir, a professor of electrical and computer engineering; graduate student Vincent Chan; K. Jimmy Hsia, a professor of mechanical science and engineering; graduate student Casey Dyck; and Hyunjoon Kong, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; and postdoctoral researcher Jae Hyun Jeong and graduate student Chaenyung Cha.
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Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory (CNLM) Request for Proposals
The Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory (CNLM), established in a partnership between Abbott and the University of Illinois, requests proposals in a Grand Challenge research competition for interdisciplinary, team-based scientific research on the impact of nutrition on learning and memory in the human brain.
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Eight Illinois faculty members elected fellows of AAAS
News Bureau (Champaign, Dec. 6) -- Eight University of Illinois faculty members have been elected fellows in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, including one affiliate and one faculty member from the Institute for Genomic Biology: Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, Rashid Bashir, Debasish Dutta, K. Jimmy Hsia, Keith W. Kelley, Wilfred van der Donk, M. Christina White and James Whitfield.
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Sixth Annual Young Investigators
Genome Technology (Dec. 2) -- Jian Ma, CDMC faculty, was one of 25 individuals chosen by Genome Technology magazine as a 2011 Young Investigator, as nominated by senior principal investigators in their field. All of the researchers profiled are no more than five years into their first faculty appointment, working in areas as diverse as single-cell genomics, the role of microRNA in disease, and the uncovering of new biomarkers. Ma’s profile, Investigating Genomic Alterations, can be found on genomeweb.com.
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Cellular Research
Nature (London, Dec. 1) -- Many researchers venturing into single-cell analysis will be on their own, so techniques will have to become more auto­mated, integrated and kit-like, says Jonathan Sweedler, a chemist at Illinois.
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Last Universal Common Ancestor
The Daily Mail (London, Nov. 24) -- The ocean was turned into a global mega-organism 3 billion years ago before giving birth to the ancestors of all living things today, new research has revealed. Scientists are currently attempting to confirm the last universal common ancestor – the life form that gave rise to all others. This single organism has been called LUCA and is now traceable in all domains of life including plants, animals and fungi. Scientists believe that it was about 2.9 billion years ago when LUCA split into the three domains of life – bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. But little is known about what happened before the split. Research into this area is being carried out by U. of I. bioinformatics professor Gustavo Caetano-Anolles.
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Also:
Phys Org.com (Douglas, Isle of Man, Nov. 28)
The Hindustan Times (New Delhi, Nov. 26)

Insect Genome
PCT Magazine (Richfield, Ohio, Nov. 21) -- Scientists are gearing up to sequence the genomes of 5,000 insects and other arthropods, and what they uncover could change how the industry controls structural pests. The five-year, $15 million international effort, known as the i5k Initiative, has been called the Manhattan Project of entomology. “The genome is the source of a tremendous amount of information about an organism,” says Gene Robinson, a professor of entomology at Illinois. Data will help researchers better understand how to sustain organisms like honey bees and target vulnerabilities in pests.
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Converting Carbon Dioxide
Science (Washington, D.C., Nov. 18) -- Researchers led by U. of I. chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Paul Kenis and Richard Masel, of Dioxide Materials in Champaign, reported online in Science Sept. 29 that they’ve come up with a less energy-intensive way to convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide.
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Editor’s note: Kenis and Masel’s work is cited in the blue box.

Genetics
Genome Technology (New York City, October) -- U. of I. researchers have taken an unusual approach to studying the role of microRNAs in a deadly brain cancer. Animal sciences professor Sandra Rodriguez-Zas and her group developed a bioinformatics pipeline that allows them to look at all miRNAs, remove those that are not associated with the disease, and still look at multiple miRNAs to establish which ones are related to cancer survival. She and Kristin Delfino, a doctoral candidate at Urbana, are now extending this approach to ovarian cancer survival.
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Editor’s note: This site requires free registration after the first visit.

Cellular Research
United Press International (Nov. 1) -- U. of I. researchers say they’ve discovered how a cancer-causing bacterium attacks a cell’s energy infrastructure, ultimately causing the cell to self-destruct.
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Also:
e! Science News (Quebec City, Nov. 1)
News Medical.Net (Sydney, Nov. 2)
R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J., Nov. 1)
Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Nov. 1)
Zee News (Noida, India, Nov. 2)

Chemistry
Chemical & Engineering News (Washington, D.C., Nov. 1) -- Researchers have started to realize that cancer drugs often have multiple ways of doing their jobs, says U. of I. chemistry professor Paul Hergenrother.
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