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  • Photo of researchers.

    Nonverbal social interactions – even with unfriendly avatars – boost cooperation, study finds

    Researchers used animated humanoid avatars to study how nonverbal cues influence people’s behavior. The research offers insight into the brain mechanisms that drive social and economic decision-making.

    Participants were more willing to cooperate with animated avatars than with static figures representing their negotiation partners, the study revealed. It also found – somewhat surprisingly – that people were more consistently willing to accept unfair offers from unfriendly avatars than from friendly ones.

  • Professor Lori Raetzman and student Rachel Gonzalez stand outdoors.

    Water disinfection byproduct disrupts reproductive hormones, damages pituitary in female mice

    A byproduct formed during water disinfection disrupts hormones in the brain that regulate the female reproductive cycle in mice and also damages cells in the pituitary gland, a new study from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers found. The new study’s findings of the chemical’s effects on reproductive regulation in the brain complement previous work that found that it also disrupts function in and causes damage to ovary cells, indicating the chemical could impact the entire reproductive system. The researchers hope that the continued study of these effects can help establish a safe level of exposure to guide future regulations.

  • A group of common vampire bats clusters together on the roof of a cave.

    Fraternizing vampire bats share 'social microbiomes'

    An unusual study of vampire bats reveals that their gut microbiomes become more similar the more often they engage in social behaviors with one another.

  • Photo of Atul Jain

    Six Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential

    Six faculty members at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2021 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list.

  • The research team led by Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, with Michael J. Spinella and Joseph Irudayaraj

    PFAS exposure, high-fat diet drive prostate cells’ metabolism into pro-cancer state

    Consuming a high-fat diet along with exposure to PFAS changes benign and malignant prostate cells, promoting rapid tumor growth, scientists at the University of Illinois found in mouse study.

  • Photo of research team.

    Scientists discover how antibiotics penetrate Gram-negative bacterial cell walls

    Scientists have labored for decades to find antibiotics that work against Gram-negative bacteria, which cause some of the deadliest infections in hospital settings and are most likely to be resistant to treatment with existing antibiotics. In a study reported in the journal Chemical Science, researchers developed a new method to determine how antibiotics with specific chemical properties thread their way through tiny pores in the otherwise impenetrable cell envelopes of Gram-negative bacteria.

  • Professor Jefferson Chan stands on the left, graduate student Melissa Lucero stands on the right.

    New molecule targets, images and treats lung cancer tumors in mice

    Lung cancer can be elusive to spot and difficult to treat, but University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a finely tuned molecular agent that can precisely target lung and other cancer cells for imaging and treatment.

  • Photo of Aron Barbey.

    Scientists look beyond the individual brain to study the collective mind

    In a new paper, scientists suggest that efforts to understand human cognition should expand beyond the study of individual brains. They call on neuroscientists to incorporate evidence from social science disciplines to better understand how people think.

  • Photo of a prairie fire with yellow grass in the foreground.

    Study reconstructs 232-year history of prairie fire in Midwestern US

    Researchers combed through thousands of historical documents for first-person accounts of fires occurring between 1673 and 1905 in the Midwestern tallgrass prairie. Their study is the first systematic analysis of the timing, causes and consequences of prairie fires in this part of the world.

  • Researchers stand in a stream They are holding onto a large seine.

    Team discovers invasive-native crayfish hybrids in Missouri

    In a study of crayfish in the Current River in southeastern Missouri, researchers discovered – almost by chance – that the virile crayfish, Faxonius virilis, was interbreeding with a native crayfish, potentially altering the native’s genetics, life history and ecology. Reported in the journal Aquatic Invasions, the study highlights the difficulty of detecting some of the consequences of biological invasions, the researchers say.

  • Portrait of the researchers that participated in the study

    New analytical technique helps researchers spot subtle differences in subcellular chemistry

    Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign can now rapidly isolate and chemically characterize individual organelles within cells. The new technique tests the limits of analytical chemistry and rapidly reveals the chemical composition of organelles that control biological growth, development and disease. 

  • The head of a common cuckoo.

    Birds' eye size offers clues to coevolutionary arms race between brood parasites, hosts

    Eye size likely plays a role in the contest between avian brood parasites – birds that lay their eggs in the nests of other species – and their hosts, who sometimes detect the foreign eggs and eject or abandon them, scientists report.

  • An artist's rendering of viruses passing through a nanopore sensor

    DNA sensor quickly determines whether viruses are infectious

    A new sensor can detect not only whether a virus is present, but whether it’s infectious – an important distinction for containing viral spread. Researchers demonstrated the sensor, which integrates specially designed DNA fragments and nanopore sensing, with two key viruses that cause infections worldwide: the human adenovirus and the virus that causes COVID-19.  

  • Timothy Tana dn Nicholas Wu stand in a laboratory.

    Antibodies from original strain COVID-19 infection don't bind to variants, study finds

    People infected with the original strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 early in the pandemic produced a consistent antibody response, making two main groups of antibodies to bind to the spike protein on the virus’s outer surface. However, those antibodies don’t bind well to newer variants, a new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found.

  • Photo of Stephen Moose

    Is the future of agriculture digital?

    With colleagues at several institutions, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign crop sciences professor Stephen Moose will lead the development of a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Research on Programmable Plant Systems. With $25 million in newly announced funding, the center will create an Internet of Living Things to learn the intimate biological language of plants and their associated organisms. Moose spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about this new initiative.

  • Avocados change belly fat distribution in women, controlled study finds

    An avocado a day could help redistribute belly fat in women toward a healthier profile, according to a new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators. One hundred and five adults with overweight and obesity participated in a randomized controlled trial that provided one meal a day for 12 weeks. Women who consumed avocado as part of their daily meal had a reduction in deeper visceral abdominal fat.

  • Photo of Jacob S. Sherkow, a professor of law at Illinois who studies the ethical and policy implications of advanced biotechnologies

    Paper: Use patent law to curb unethical human-genome editing

    Patent law could create an “ethical thicket” that discourages access to the medically and ethically dubious practice of heritable human-genome editing, said Jacob S. Sherkow, a professor of law at Illinois and bioethics expert.

  • Two researchers in a stand of sorghum.

    New imaging, machine-learning methods speed effort to reduce crops' need for water

    Scientists have developed and deployed a series of new imaging and machine-learning tools to discover attributes that contribute to water-use efficiency in crop plants during photosynthesis and to reveal the genetic basis of variation in those traits.

  • An artist's rendering of Wnt proteins in a cell membrane

    Light can trigger key signaling pathway for embryonic development, cancer

    Blue light is illuminating new understanding of a key signaling pathway in embryo development, tissue maintenance and cancer genesis.

    Illinois researchers developed a method that makes membrane-bound receptors reactive to light, triggering the Wnt pathway.

  • Photo of professor Yong-Su Jin standing with his arms folded

    Team develops bioprocess for converting plant materials into valuable chemicals

    A team of scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign developed a bioprocess using engineered yeast that completely and efficiently converted plant matter consisting of acetate and xylose into high-value chemicals.

  • Photo of Yilan Xu, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois

    Study: Domestic control of COVID-19 takes priority over international travel bans

    A new paper co-written by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign economist Yilan Xu says taming domestic transmission of COVID-19 ought to be prioritized over international travel bans.

  • Photo of researchers standing in a laboratory with equipment and supplements used in the study on the bench in front of them.

    Study identifies molecule that stimulates muscle-building

    In a randomized control study of 10 healthy young men, researchers compared how consuming the single amino acid leucine or its two-molecule equivalent, dileucine, influenced muscle-building and breakdown. They found that dileucine boosts the metabolic processes that drive muscle growth 42% more than free leucine does.

  • Photo of researchers.

    Study offers insight into underlying causes of seizure disorder in babies

    Researchers report that infantile spasms, a rare but serious seizure disorder in babies, appear to be the result of a molecular pathway gone awry. In their study of a mouse model of the disorder, the researchers discovered that genetic mutations associated with the disease impair a pathway that is involved in building new synapses in the hippocampus, a brain region essential to learning and memory.

  • Mikihiro Sato, professor of recreation, sport and tourism

    What impact do the Olympics and mass-sporting events have on public health?

    Attending high-profile and mass-participation sporting events may increase individuals’ physical activity levels and enhance their emotional well-being, according to Mikihiro Sato, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism.

  • Screenshot from a video of a black-crested titmouse stealing fur from a sleeping fox, from the YouTube channel Texas Backyard Wildlife.

    Paper: Some birds steal hair from living mammals

    A new paper in the journal Ecology documents an unusual behavior among titmice, chickadees and tits: A bird will land on an unsuspecting mammal and, cautiously and stealthily, pluck out some of its hair.

  • Photo of Jacob S. Sherkow, a professor of law at Illinois who studies the ethical and policy implications of advanced biotechnologies

    Should the government implement a vaccine passport system?

    Vaccine passports strike the right balance between letting life go on for the vaccinated while still being realistic about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said Jacob S. Sherkow, a professor of law at Illinois and bioethics expert.

  • Photo of three researchers standing on campus.

    Study tests microplasma against middle-ear infections

    In a new study, researchers explore the use of microplasma – a highly focused stream of chemically excited ions and molecules – as a noninvasive method for attacking the bacterial biofilms that resist antibiotic treatment in the middle ear.

  • Molecular model of ErSO, an anticancer compound

    New approach eradicates breast cancer in mice

    A new approach to treating breast cancer kills 95-100% of cancer cells in mouse models of human estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancers and their metastases in bone, brain, liver and lungs. The newly developed drug, called ErSO, quickly shrinks even large tumors to undetectable levels.

  • Portrait of the researcher.

    How can the world prevent emerging infectious diseases, protect food security?

    According to a new report co-written by Illinois Natural History Survey postdoctoral researcher Valeria Trivellone, climate change, poverty, urbanization, land-use change and the exploitation of wildlife all contribute to the emergence of new infectious diseases, which, in turn, threaten global food security. Trivellone spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about how global authorities can tackle these intertwined challenges.

  • Sheldon Jacobson and Janet Jokela stand outdoors.

    2020 deadlier than previous five years, even with COVID-19 numbers removed, study finds

    An upswing in death rates from non-COVID-19 causes in 2020 hit hard for men ages 15-64, according to a new study by computer science professor Sheldon H. Jacobson and internal medicine professor Janet Jokela.

  • An Illinois student provides a saliva sample for a COVID-19 test.

    Frequent COVID-19 testing key to efficient, early detection, study finds

    The chance of detecting the virus that causes COVID-19 increases with more frequent testing, no matter the type of test, a new study found. Both polymerase chain reaction and antigen tests, paired with rapid results reporting, can achieve 98% sensitivity if deployed at least every three days.

  • Portrait of Dr. Sam Sander

    How do July 4 celebrations affect wildlife?

    Celebrating the nation’s Independence Day with fireworks is an enduring tradition, but fireworks can be a source of distress and danger to wildlife. Dr. Sam Sander, a clinical professor of zoo and wildlife medicine at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about how fireworks affect wildlife and the environment, and how to minimize the risks.

  • Barbara Fiese and Kelly Freeman Bost sitting at a table in the Family Resiliency Center on the U. of I. campus.

    Consistent bedtime routines in infancy improve children's sleep habits through age 2

    Consistent bedtime routines and activities such as reading books beginning when infants are 3 months old promote better sleep habits through age 2, according to a study by researchers at the Family Resiliency Center.

  • Professor Yi Lu

    DNAzymes could outperform protein enzymes for genetic engineering

    Move over, gene-editing proteins – there’s a smaller, cheaper, more specific genetic engineering tool on the block: DNAzymes – small DNA molecules that can function like protein enzymes.

    Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have developed a technique that, for the first time, allows DNAzymes to target and cut double-stranded DNA, overcoming a significant limitation of the technology.

  • Food science professor M. Yanina Pepino sitting in the kitchen of her home

    Cancer survivors' tongues less sensitive to tastes than those of healthy peers

    Head and neck cancer survivors' tongues are less sensitive to bitter, salty and sweet tastes, and this taste dysfunction lasts for years, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign scientists found in a new study.

  • Photo of a young woman inside an MRI suite wearing an imaging cap with many sensors attached.

    Combining three techniques boosts brain-imaging precision

    Researchers have developed a method to combine three brain-imaging techniques to more precisely capture the timing and location of brain responses to a stimulus.

  • Portrait of researcher.

    Cholesterol metabolite induces production of cancer-promoting vesicles

    Scientists report that a byproduct of cholesterol metabolism causes some cells to send out cancer-promoting signals to other cells. These signals are packaged in membrane-bound compartments called extracellular vesicles.

  • Researchers stand in a natural area with prairie plants in the background.

    Beneficial arthropods find winter sanctuary in uncultivated field edges, study finds

    Many species of ground-dwelling beetles, ladybugs, hoverflies, damsel bugs, spiders and parasitic wasps kill and eat pest species that routinely plague farmers, including aphids and corn rootworm larvae and adults. But the beneficial arthropods that live in or near cropped lands also are susceptible to insecticides and other farming practices that erase biodiversity on the landscape.

    A new study reveals that beneficial arthropods are nearly twice as abundant and diverse in uncultivated field edges in the spring as they are in areas that are cropped – if those field edges are rich in an array of flowers and other broad-leaved plants and not just mowed grass.

  • A microscope image of brilliantly colored crystals in a kidney stone.

    Geology helps map kidney stone formation from tiny to troublesome

    Advanced microscope technology and cutting-edge geological science are giving new perspectives to an old medical mystery: How do kidney stones form, why are some people more susceptible to them and can they be prevented?

  • Soybean field and sunshine

    Study: Fluorescent light clarifies relationship between heat stress and crop yield

    Scientists report that it is possible to detect and predict heat damage in crops by measuring the fluorescent light signature of plant leaves experiencing heat stress. If collected via satellite, this fluorescent signal could support widespread monitoring of growth and crop yield under the heat stress of climate change, the researchers say.

  • Photo of research team standing together outside in front of a brick wall and building.

    Portable, affordable, accurate, fast: Team invents new COVID-19 test

    A new coronavirus test can get accurate results from a saliva sample in less than 30 minutes, researchers report in the journal Nature Communications. Many of the components of the hand-held device used in this technology can be 3D-printed, and the test can detect as little as one viral particle per 1-microliter drop of fluid.

  • Portrait of three, smiling researchers standing outside with a white-flowering tree, bushes and a brick wall in the background.

    Intoxication brings strangers physically closer, study finds

    In a study with pandemic-related implications, researchers report that strangers who consume alcohol together may keep their distance initially – but draw physically closer as they become intoxicated. No previous studies have tested the effects of alcohol consumption on social distance, the researchers say. They report the new findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Researcher sits on a desk with readouts on computer monitors surrounding him and a magnetic resonance imaging device in the background.

    Team builds better tool for assessing infant brain health

    Researchers have created a new, open-access tool that allows doctors and scientists to evaluate infant brain health by assessing the concentration of various chemical markers, called metabolites, in the brain. The tool compiled data from 140 infants to determine normal ranges for these metabolites.

  • Photo of rusty patched bumble bee on a bee balm flower.

    Spring forest flowers likely a key to bumble bee survival, Illinois study finds

    Losses of springtime flowers in wooded landscapes likely undermine bumble bee health and survival, researchers report.

  • Portrait of the researcher.

    Geographies of death: Study maps COVID-19 health disparities in Greater Santiago

    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.

  • Mina Raj smiles at the camera, wearing a tan blazer over a blue top.

    Young adults may provide care for older relatives much more frequently than thought

    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. 

  • Portrait of the researchers outside. Daniel Clark is holding a nest and egg.

    Team cracks eggs for science

    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.

  • Photo of an infant in the IKIDS program seated on her mother’s lap. The infant has a sticker on her forehead that allows an eye-tracking instrument to orient to her eyes.

    Study links prenatal phthalate exposure to altered information processing in infants

    Researchers have found evidence linking pregnant women’s exposure to phthalates to altered cognitive outcomes in their infants.

  • Photo of researchers standing in an exercise laboratory.

    More protein doesn't mean more strength in resistance-trained middle-aged adults

    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.

  • Professor Brian Cunningham

    Microscope that detects individual viruses could power rapid diagnostics

    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.