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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Gene Robinson and May Berenbaum on Reddit's Ask Me Anything

Gene Robinson and May Berenbaum featured on Reddit's Ask Me Anything

IGB Director and Swanlund Chair in Entomology Gene Robinson, with Swanlund Chair and Head of Entomology May Berenbaum, were featured on Reddit's Ask Me Anything (AMA) on February 14. The popular series has included celebrities, scientists, authors, artists, U.S. presidents and more, and allows individuals to post questions online to be answered by the host. This was the first AMA with an IGB members as the hosts.

Can male prairie voles blame promiscuity on poor memory?

Once male prairie voles have found a mate, what makes some stay at home, while others stray? The latest insight in a canonical scientific saga of genes, brain, social behavior, and evolution comes from new research from the University of Texas at Austin and published this week in Science. A perspective piece by IGB Director Gene Robinson in the same issue puts this work in historical context, and describes how the new findings have completed a circle back to classic University of Illinois study that first inspired this area of research.

Brains work via their genes just as much as their neurons

It’s not headline news that our brains are the seat of our thoughts and feelings. The brain is a body’s decision-maker, the pilot of its actions and the engineer that keeps all systems going. The brain suits the body’s actions to its surroundings, taking in sensory details and sending out appropriate and timely responses. We’ve long attributed the marvelous workings of the brain to the intricate structures formed by its highly specialized cells, neurons. These structures constitute the hardware of the brain.

Genomics Among the Biggest of Big Data, Experts Say

Each cell in the body contains a whole genome, yet the data packed into a few DNA molecules could fill a hard drive. As more people have their DNA sequenced, that data will require massive computational and storage capabilities beyond anything previously anticipated, says a new assessment from computational biologists and computer scientists at the University of Illinois and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Director Receives Degree in Honor of Hebrew University 90th Celebration

Director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology Gene E. Robinson received an honorary doctoral degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for his scientific leadership and groundbreaking contribution to the molecular basis of social behavior.

Robinson received this honor on Sunday, May 31, at the annual convocation ceremony at the Rothberg Amphitheater on the Mount Scopus campus, Jerusalem.

Study: Gene Regulation Underlies the Evolution of Social Complexity in Bees

Explaining the evolution of insect society, with sterile society members displaying extreme levels of altruism, has long been a major scientific challenge, dating back to Charles Darwin’s day. A new genomic study of 10 species of bees representing a spectrum of social living – from solitary bees to those in complex, highly social colonies – offers new insights into the genetic changes that accompany the evolution of bee societies.

The new findings are reported in the journal Science.

Illinois and AAAS Co-sponsor Bioengineering Panel

In biomedical engineering, experts see big research opportunities and some funding challenges. The interdisciplinary work necessary to develop biomedical engineering devices holds great potential for collaborative research, but challenges remain in making the technology available for public use. A panel consisting of Gene Robinson, John Rogers, Todd Coleman, and Rashid Bashir spoke of this and more at an event entitled "Visionary Frontiers at the Convergence of Biology, Medicine and Engineering" held in Washington, D.C.

Researchers boost insect aggression by altering brain metabolism

Researchers boost insect aggression by altering brain metabolism

Scientists report they can crank up insect aggression simply by interfering with a basic metabolic pathway in the insect brain. Their study, of fruit flies and honey bees, shows a direct, causal link between brain metabolism (how the brain generates the energy it needs to function) and aggression.

The team reports its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Institute for Genomic Biology Director Gene Robinson honored with iCON Innovator Award

Institute for Genomic Biology Director Gene Robinson honored with iCON Innovator Award

Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) Director Dr. Gene Robinson of the University of Illinois has been chosen to receive the iBIO® Institute’s 2013 iCON Innovator Award. The award recognizes excellence in both teaching and scholarship of biotechnology in Illinois. Robinson will be honored at a ceremony in Chicago later this year.

IGB Director to Chair 2014 NAKFI Conference on Social Behavior

IGB Director to Chair 2014 NAKFI Conference on Social Behavior

IGB Director Gene Robinson will lead efforts to plan conference and award $1M in seed grants.

Gene Robinson, Director of the Institute for Genomic Biology, will chair the 2014 National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) Conference, to be held at the Beckman Center in Irvine, California in November, 2014.

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