blog posts Geographies of death: Study maps COVID-19 health disparities in Greater Santiago Apr 27, 2021 9:00 am405 views People up to age 40 living in economically depressed municipalities in the Greater Santiago, Chile, metropolitan area were three times more likely to die as a result of the infection than their counterparts in wealthier areas, researchers report in the journal Science. Young adults may provide care for older relatives much more frequently than thought Apr 12, 2021 9:30 am707 views Young adults and teens may provide care for adult relatives much more often than previously thought, according to a new study, though they worry about detriments to educational or career goals and would like more training and support. Team cracks eggs for science Apr 8, 2021 8:00 am369 views Avian brood parasites lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species, forcing the hosts to do the hard work of raising the unrelated young. A team of scientists wanted to simulate the task of piercing an egg – a tactic that only a minority of host birds use to help grasp and eject the foreign eggs. Published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, the study offers insight into some of the physical challenges the discriminating host birds face. Study links prenatal phthalate exposure to altered information processing in infants Apr 6, 2021 7:30 am19032 views Researchers have found evidence linking pregnant women’s exposure to phthalates to altered cognitive outcomes in their infants. More protein doesn't mean more strength in resistance-trained middle-aged adults Mar 25, 2021 7:30 am3245 views A 10-week muscle-building and dietary program involving 50 middle-aged adults found no evidence that eating a high-protein diet increased strength or muscle mass more than consuming a moderate amount of protein while training. The intervention involved a standard strength-training protocol with sessions three times per week. None of the participants had previous weightlifting experience. Microscope that detects individual viruses could power rapid diagnostics Mar 19, 2021 11:30 am1314 views A fast, low-cost technique to see and count viruses or proteins from a sample in real time, without any chemicals or dyes, could underpin a new class of devices for rapid diagnostics and viral load monitoring, including HIV and the virus that causes COVID-19. Study: Black bears are eating pumas' lunch Mar 19, 2021 8:00 am1849 views A camera-trap study in the Mendocino National Forest in Northern California reveals that black bears are adept at finding and stealing the remains of adult deer killed by pumas. This “kleptoparasitism” by bears, as scientists call it, reduces the calories pumas consume in seasons when the bears are most active. Perhaps in response to this shortage, the pumas hunt more often and eat more small game when the bears are not in hibernation. Not just CO2: Rising temperatures also alter photosynthesis in a changing climate Mar 16, 2021 8:00 am2649 views A new review explores how increasing temperatures influence plant growth and viability despite the higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2. 'Hunker down' stress genes boosted in women who live in violent neighborhoods Mar 11, 2021 9:00 am1133 views The chronic stress of living in neighborhoods with high rates of violence and poverty alters gene activity in immune cells, according to a new study of low-income single Black mothers on the South Side of Chicago. The changes in stress-related gene expression reflect the body’s “hunker down” response to long-term threat. This has implications for health outcomes in communities of color and other marginalized populations, said researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators. Study compares discrimination claims of younger and older Americans with cancer Mar 10, 2021 8:00 am553 views Researchers assessed the employment discrimination claims made by younger and older American adults with cancer and found substantial differences in the nature – and outcomes – of their claims. Veterans see positive changes in emotional resilience after intervention Mar 8, 2021 11:00 pm481 views A six-week training program designed to strengthen resilience against emotional distress in military veterans was associated with positive changes in brain function and increased confidence in their ability to regulate emotions, researchers report. Division of labor within regenerating liver maintains metabolism, mouse study finds Mar 1, 2021 2:00 pm665 views The liver has a rare superpower among body organs – the ability to regenerate, even if 70% of its mass is removed. It also keeps up its metabolic and toxin-removing work during the process of regeneration, thanks to a subset of cells that expand their workload while the rest focus on multiplication, a new study in mice found. Online edition of Insect Fear Film Festival to feature pandemic vectors: fleas Feb 19, 2021 11:45 am829 views The Insect Fear Film Festival Featuring Fleas will look at the insects as entertainment in the form of flea circuses, as pests and as vectors of disease. Study: Preschoolers with higher cardiorespiratory fitness do better on cognitive tests Feb 18, 2021 8:15 am1905 views Researchers report that 4-6-year-old children who walk further than their peers during a timed test – a method used to estimate cardiorespiratory health – also do better on cognitive tests and other measures of brain function. Published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, the study suggests that the link between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive health is evident even earlier in life than previously appreciated. 3D microscopy clarifies understanding of body's immune response to obesity Feb 17, 2021 1:00 pm1137 views Researchers who focus on fat know that some adipose tissue is more prone to inflammation-related comorbidities than others, but the reasons why are not well understood. Thanks to a new analytical technique, scientists are getting a clearer view of the microenvironments found within adipose tissue associated with obesity. This advance may illuminate why some adipose tissues are more prone to inflammation – leading to diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disorders – and help direct future drug therapies to treat obesity. Study links prolonged sedentary time to distractibility in adults with obesity or overweight Feb 17, 2021 8:15 am590 views Scientists used accelerometers to track daily activity levels for a week in 89 adults with obesity or overweight and, in a series of tests, measured their ability to multitask and maintain their attention despite distractions. The study revealed that individuals who spent more sedentary time in bouts lasting 20 minutes or more were less able to overcome distractions. Are science laboratories truly inclusive if not accessible to service-dog handlers? Feb 16, 2021 8:15 am3041 views According to a new commentary in Disability and Health Journal, people with disabilities who rely on service dogs often are prohibited from bringing their working dogs into teaching and research laboratories. This one barrier can stop them from pursuing careers in science, says Joey Ramp, a researcher in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and lead author of the commentary. Ramp spoke about the issue with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates. Lipid epoxides target pain, inflammatory pathways in neurons Feb 10, 2021 4:00 am1786 views A process known as epoxidation converts two naturally occurring lipids into potent agents that target multiple cannabinoid receptors in neurons, interrupting pathways that promote pain and inflammation, researchers report in a new study. The findings open a new avenue of research in the effort to find alternatives to potentially addictive opioid pain killers. Ngumbi receives AAAS award for public engagement with science Feb 4, 2021 9:00 am1833 views University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign entomology professor Esther Ngumbi is the 2021 recipient of the Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science, an annual award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science presented to scientists and engineers in recognition of their contributions to public engagement with science. Childhood trauma could affect development, treatment of multiple sclerosis, mouse study finds Jan 29, 2021 8:30 am2980 views Childhood trauma could affect the trajectory of multiple sclerosis development and response to treatment in adulthood, a new study in mice found. Mice that had experienced stress when young were more likely to develop the autoimmune disorder and less likely to respond to a common treatment, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found. However, treatment that activated an immune-cell receptor mitigated the effects of childhood stress in the mice. Culture shapes willingness to share personal data to reduce COVID-19 spread Jan 27, 2021 8:00 am1080 views Culture, civic-mindedness and privacy concerns influence how willing people are to share personal location information to help stem the transmission of COVID-19 in their communities, a new study finds. Such sharing includes giving public health authorities access to their geographic information via data gathered from phone calls, mobile apps, credit card purchases, wristband trackers or other technologies. Genome-editing tool TALEN outperforms CRISPR-Cas9 in tightly packed DNA Jan 27, 2021 4:00 am2112 views Researchers used single-molecule imaging to compare the genome-editing tools CRISPR-Cas9 and TALEN. Their experiments revealed that TALEN is up to five times more efficient than CRISPR-Cas9 in parts of the genome, called heterochromatin, that are densely packed. Fragile X syndrome, sickle cell anemia, beta-thalassemia and other diseases are the result of genetic defects in the heterochromatin. Medicaid expansion helps uncover undiagnosed HIV infections Jan 26, 2021 8:00 am721 views The Medicaid expansion facilitated by the Affordable Care Act led to a 13.9% increase in the identification of undiagnosed HIV infections, says research co-written by a team of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign experts who study health care and public policy. Online smell, taste challenge offered as early detection tool for COVID-19 Jan 25, 2021 3:00 pm3018 views The smell and taste challenge, developed by the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research, is a web-based tool people can use to easily monitor changes in these senses using their favorite morning beverage. COVID-19 cases, deaths in U.S. increase with higher income inequality Jan 25, 2021 9:45 am1301 views U.S. counties with higher income inequality faced higher rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the earlier months of the pandemic, according to a new study led by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign sociology professor Tim Liao. Counties with higher proportions of Black or Hispanic residents also had higher rates, the study found, reinforcing earlier research showing the disparate effects of the virus on those communities. Study: Negative mental health effects of pandemic lockdowns spike, then fade Jan 25, 2021 8:00 am1738 views Social distancing policies correlated with immediate increases in interest in information about “isolation” and “worry” – but those effects tapered off two to four weeks after their respective peaks, says new research co-written by Dolores Albarracín, a professor of psychology and of business administration at Illinois, and Bita Fayaz Farkhad, an economist and a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at Illinois. Gut bacteria help digest dietary fiber, release important antioxidant Jan 19, 2021 11:00 am1323 views Dietary fiber found in grains is a large component of many diets, but little is understood about how we digest the fiber, as humans lack enzymes to break down the complex molecules. Some species of gut bacteria break down the fiber in such a way that it not only becomes digestible, but releases ferulic acid, an important antioxidant with multiple health benefits, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 50 million-year-old fossil assassin bug has unusually well-preserved genitalia Jan 19, 2021 8:30 am1314 views The fossilized insect is tiny and its genital capsule, called a pygophore, is roughly the length of a grain of rice. It is remarkable, scientists say, because the bug’s physical characteristics – from the bold banding pattern on its legs to the internal features of its genitalia – are clearly visible and well-preserved. Recovered from the Green River Formation in present-day Colorado, the fossil represents a new genus and species of predatory insects known as assassin bugs. Latch, load and release: Elastic motion makes click beetles click, study finds Jan 18, 2021 2:00 pm1583 views Click beetles can propel themselves more than 20 body lengths into the air, and they do so without using their legs. While the jump’s motion has been studied in depth, the physical mechanisms that enable the beetles’ signature clicking maneuver have not. A new study examines the forces behind this super-fast energy release and provides guidelines for studying extreme motion, energy storage and energy release in other small animals like trap-jaw ants and mantis shrimps. Pollinators not getting the 'buzz' they need in news coverage Jan 13, 2021 8:45 am868 views A dramatic decline in bees and other pollinating insects presents a threat to the global food supply, yet it’s getting little attention in mainstream news, says a new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study. The research is based on a search of millions of news items in the university’s Global News Index, a unique database that draws from thousands of global news sources and decades of their publications. Study: Religion, psychology share methods for reducing distress Jan 8, 2021 9:00 am1890 views Religious people facing life crises rely on emotion-regulation strategies that psychologists also use, a new study finds. They look for positive ways of thinking about hardship, a practice known to psychologists as “cognitive reappraisal.” They also tend to have confidence in their ability to cope with difficulty, a trait called “coping self-efficacy.” Both have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Retracted scientific paper persists in new citations, study finds Jan 5, 2021 9:00 am1400 views Information sciences professor Jodi Schneider is leading an effort to prevent the spread of retracted research. What happens when the coronavirus mutates? Jan 5, 2021 8:15 am4058 views New mutations to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 are emerging, including a more-infectious variant first found in the United Kingdom, even as vaccines containing bits of viral genetic material are beginning distribution. In an interview, crop sciences professor Gustavo Caetano-Anollés discusses viral mutation and what it could mean for vaccinations. Model predicts where ticks, Lyme disease will appear next in Midwest states Dec 22, 2020 6:00 pm1144 views By drawing from decades of studies, scientists created a timeline marking the arrival of black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, in hundreds of counties across 10 Midwestern states. They used these data – along with an analysis of county-level landscape features associated with the spread of ticks – to build a model that can predict where ticks are likely to appear in future years. Brain gene expression patterns predict behavior of individual honey bees Dec 22, 2020 7:00 am1582 views An unusual study that involved bar coding and tracking the behavior of thousands of individual honey bees in six queenless bee hives and analyzing gene expression in their brains offers new insights into how gene regulation contributes to social behavior. Study tracks elephant tusks from 16th century shipwreck Dec 17, 2020 10:00 am1996 views In 1533, the Bom Jesus – a Portuguese trading vessel carrying 40 tons of cargo including gold, silver, copper and more than 100 elephant tusks – sank off the coast of Africa near present-day Namibia. The wreck was found in 2008, and scientists say they now have determined the source of much of the ivory recovered from the ship. Antifungal drug improves key cystic fibrosis biomarkers in clinical study Dec 17, 2020 9:15 am1348 views A drug widely used to treat fungal infections improved key biomarkers in lung tissue cultures as well as in the noses of patients with cystic fibrosis, a clinical study by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Iowa found. 2020 a bad year in many respects, but what about global carbon emissions? Dec 15, 2020 9:45 am975 views The Global Carbon Project recently published the Global Carbon Budget 2020, giving world leaders access to data on atmospheric carbon concentrations, emissions and trends. Illinois atmospheric scientist Atul Jain was part of an international team of scientists that contributed data to the report. Jain talked about the carbon budget and this year’s findings with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian. Efforts to combat COVID-19 perceived as morally right Dec 14, 2020 8:30 am857 views According to new research, people tend to moralize COVID-19-control efforts and are more willing to endorse human costs emerging from COVID-19-related restrictions than to accept costs resulting from other restraints meant to prevent injury or death. The level of support – and resulting outrage in response to perceived violations of this moral ideal – differs between liberals and conservatives. Warmer springs mean more offspring for prothonotary warblers Dec 9, 2020 8:15 pm497 views Climate change contributes to gradually warming Aprils in southern Illinois, and at least one migratory bird species, the prothonotary warbler, is taking advantage of the heat. A new study analyzing 20 years of data found that the warblers start their egg-laying in southern Illinois significantly earlier in warmer springs. This increases the chances that the birds can raise two broods of offspring during the nesting season, researchers found. Projects offer COVID-19 testing, explore virus transmission's social factors Dec 2, 2020 9:45 am1390 views U. of I. researchers, local clinicians and volunteers are providing pop-up COVID-19 testing clinics in Rantoul, Illinois, to essential workers and other high-risk residents, and are exploring the behavioral factors behind infection clusters. Six Illinois faculty members elected AAAS Fellows Nov 25, 2020 4:30 pm5068 views CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Six professors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been elected 2020 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Evolution, ecology and behavior professor Alison Bell; plant biology professor Carl Bernacchi; bioengineering professor Rohit Bhargava; materials science and engineering professor Paul Braun; chemistry professor Prashant Jain; and materials science and engineering professor Nancy Sottos are among the 489 scientists to be awarded the distinction of AAAS Fellow this year. Team uses copper to image Alzheimer's aggregates in the brain Nov 24, 2020 11:00 am3107 views A proof-of-concept study conducted in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease offers new evidence that copper isotopes can be used to detect the amyloid-beta protein deposits that form in the brains of people living with – or at risk of developing – Alzheimer’s. Study: Gut hormones' regulation of fat production abnormal in obesity, fatty liver disease Nov 24, 2020 8:00 am1287 views Gut hormones play an important role in regulating fat production in the body. One key hormone, released a few hours after eating, turns off fat production by regulating gene expression in the liver, but this regulation is abnormal in obesity, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found in a new study. Cocoa flavanols boost brain oxygenation, cognition in healthy adults Nov 24, 2020 4:00 am5599 views The brains of healthy adults recovered faster from a mild vascular challenge and performed better on complex tests if the participants consumed cocoa flavanols beforehand, researchers report. Today's catastrophic concerns shaped by past interactions between science, culture Nov 19, 2020 12:15 pm590 views A global pandemic, wildfires and hurricanes have made 2020 a year of catastrophes. David Sepkoski’s new book “Catastrophic Thinking” looks at how current-day concerns about threats to both the planet and the human race came to be. Sepkoski is a history professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, specializing in the history of science. Three Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential Nov 18, 2020 8:45 am3238 views Three faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2020 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list. The list recognizes leading researchers in the sciences and social sciences from around the world. It is based on an analysis of journal article publication and citation data, an objective measure of a researcher’s influence, from 2009-2019. The highly cited Illinois researchers this year are: materials science and engineering professor Axel Hoffmann, crop sciences and plant biology professor Stephen Long, and plant biology professor Donald Ort. Study of non-COVID-19 deaths shows 2020 increase in several demographics Nov 17, 2020 8:00 am2618 views March through May saw a significant increase in deaths over previous years – and not just from COVID-19, says a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When deaths attributed to COVID-19 were removed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention totals, the death rate in several demographics outpaced the same period in 2019, the study found. The timeframe represents the first three months of response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Does hunting with lead ammunition endanger human, environmental health? Nov 12, 2020 8:45 am2102 views A recent study from Wesleyan University found that 48% of ground meat samples made from white-tailed deer killed with lead shotgun slugs in Illinois were contaminated with lead, while meat from deer killed by archers contained no lead. Illinois Natural History Survey human dimensions scientist Craig Miller spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the risks associated with lead ammunition in hunting. Decadeslong effort revives ancient oak woodland Oct 29, 2020 9:00 am4418 views Vestal Grove in the Somme Prairie Grove forest preserve in Cook County, Illinois, looks nothing like the scrubby, buckthorn-choked tangle that confronted restoration ecologists 37 years ago. Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated team that focused on rooting up invasive plants and periodically burning, seeding native plants and culling deer, the forest again resembles its ancient self, researchers report in the journal PLOS ONE.