In The News

This monthly summary includes excerpts from Illinois in the News, a daily service provided by the University of Illinois News Bureau and other media search tools. This collection of recent stories focuses on engineering topics and faculty contacted for their expertise by print and broadcast reporters around the world.

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July 2014 media appearances

Physics

HPC Wire (July 31) -- The molecular dynamics and visualization programs NAMD and VMD, which serve over 300,000 registered users in many fields of biology and medicine, are pushing the limits of extreme scale computational biology, according to Klaus Schulten, a U. of I. professor of physics. Schulten is known for his expertise in how these fields and programs are enabled by petascale computing.

Epidermal electronics

Smithsonian (July 30) -- The idea of adhering electronic stickers onto the body isn’t necessarily new. Illinois researchers, led by MatSE professor John Rogers, last spring developed a prototype that could monitor body temperature, moisture and strain for health purposes.

Data security

Dark Reading (Manhasset, N.Y., July 28) -- A U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded online portal that provides government agencies, enterprises, higher education and independent developers a free platform for testing their code for security holes and vulnerabilities has quietly begun attracting commercial application security providers. The so-called SWAMP portal is being operated in part by security and software assurance experts from Illinois.

Alumni weigh in on NASA's birthday

News-Gazette (July 27) -- With NASA set to turn 56 Tuesday, we asked four astronauts and many other astronomy aficionados with local ties: If anything were possible, where would be your first stop in the galaxy? Also: ASEE FirstBell (July 29).

Facebook newsfeed examined

Upstart (Palo Alto, Calif., July 23) -- When Karrie Karahalios, a professor in computer science at Illinois, and her colleagues went to test how Facebook chooses what to display on its newsfeed, the majority of their 40 study participants had no idea that Facebook was even making choices about what they saw or didn't see in their newsfeed.

Related story: The Washington Post (July 28) -- It turns out that online dating site OkCupid has been performing some of the same psychological experiments on its users that landed Facebook in hot water recently. As many as 62.5 percent of Facebook users don’t know the news feed is generated by a company algorithm, according to a recent study conducted by Karrie Karahalios, an Illinois professor of computer science, along with a professor from the University of Michigan.

Optical Coherence Tomography

Science 360 (NSF, July 22) -- Inside Science TV features BioE/ECE faculty researcher Stephen Boppart who explains his work with advanced optical technology to develop high-resolution, noninvasive tissue imaging techniques for real-time clinical diagnostics, surgery and cancer care, as well as for basic biological discoveries. His research group works with clinical and industry partners to develop novel multifunctional imaging devices for hospitals and clinics.

Nanocamera

Phys.Org (July 17) -- Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led by MechSE Associate Professor Kimani Toussaint, have demonstrated that an array of novel gold, pillar-bowtie nanoantennas (pBNAs) can be used like traditional photographic film to record light for distances that are much smaller than the wavelength of light (for example, distances less than ~600 nm for red light). A standard optical microscope acts as a “nanocamera” whereas the pBNAs are the analogous film. Also: ScienceBlog (July 17), R&D Magazine (July 18), AZoNano (July 18), Science 2.0 (July 18), Product Design & Development (July 18), Nanotechnology Now (July 18), Controlled Environments Magazine (July 18), Photonics.com (July 81), VR-Zone (Singapore, July 19), Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (July 19), Space Daily (July 22), Architect Magazine (August 5).

Landfill study

The Express-Times (Easton, Penn., July 16) -- Failure of a Williams Township landfill in  March 2013, which exposed acres of decades-old trash and closed a road for more than nine months, was the result of an improperly designed geo-synthetic liner system, according to a report from Timothy D. Stark, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Illinois. The failure was triggered by the Aug. 23, 2011, earthquake in central Virginia that could be felt across the Mid-Atlantic region.

Alum offers cancer support site

The News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana, IL, July 15) -- By the time she'd reached her mid-20s, Mallory Casperson had taken care of her mom with cancer and become a cancer patient herself. Now three summers past her cancer treatments, Casperson, 28, of Champaign, has launched an online magazine called Lacuna Loft at lacunaloft.com that is intended to provide lifestyle support and ideas to help young adults going through cancer and other serious illness.

Hot start-ups

EE Times (July 15) -- "Silicon 60: Hot Startups to Watch": MC10 Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.) was co-founded in 2008 by Professor John Rogers of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, to take a stretchable electronics platform out of the lab and into commercial product development. The company has raised about $60 million since its formation and includes Medtronics among its investors.

Computer science

Wired (July 14) -- Chris Lattner spent a year and a half creating a new programming language -- a new way of designing, building and running computer software -- and he didn’t mention it to anyone, not even his closest friends and colleagues. Now, Apple is releasing a test version to coders. Vikram Adve was Lattner’s graduate adviser at Illinois, helping him to fashion the software that would serve as the foundation for Swift, but Adve is just as surprised as anyone that his former student had spent so much time building a new programming language.

Tunable nanoantennas

Science Codex (July 14) -- A research team, led by MechSE associate professor Kimani Toussaint, has developed a novel, tunable nanoantenna that paves the way for new kinds of plasmonic-based optomechanical systems, whereby plasmonic field enhancement can actuate mechanical motion. Also: Phys.Org (July 14), Science Codex (July 14), R&D Magazine (July 14), Nanowerk (July 14), ScienceBlog (July 14), Photonics Online (July 14), Engineering.com (July 15), Laboratory Equipment (July 15), RedOrbit (July 16), AZoNano (July 15), IEEE Spectrum (July 17).

Alumnus Shahid Khan

Parade (July 11) -- Author and U. of I. graduate Michael Osacky returns to Champaign-Urbana to interview entrepreneur, philanthropist and owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid “Shad” Khan.

Malware entrepreneur

Wall Street Journal (July 10) -- Illinois alumnus Marcin Kleczynski started his security company, Malwarebytes Corp., out of his dorm room at the U. of I. Profitable from day one, according to Kleczynski, and now with more than 60 million people per quarter using Malwarebytes to protect their computers, the company has raised $30 million in funding to battle malware.

Ultrafast nano-devices

Nanowerk News (July 10) -- A recent study led by MatSE professor David Cahill, provides new insights on the physical mechanisms governing the interplay of spin and heat at the nanoscale, and addresses the fundamental limits of ultrafast spintronic devices for data storage and information processing. Also: R & D Magazine (July 10), Phys.Org (July 10), ScienceBlog (July 10).

A recent study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides new insights on the physical mechanisms governing the interplay of spin and heat at the nanoscale, and addresses the fundamental limits of ultrafast spintronic devices for data storage and information processing. - See more at: http://engineering.illinois.edu/news/article/8671#sthash.ohbRLZRy.dpuf
Roadway funding

WCBU-FM (Peoria, Ill., July 8) -- The unpredictable weather in Illinois isn’t the only reason roads break down. CEE professor Jeff Roesler says the federal tax allocation for roadways hasn’t changed since 1993.

PLATO

New Yorker (July 8) -- Despite the success of Illinois’ Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations in the 1970s, PLATO was far from a new concept -- from the earliest days of mainframe computing, technologists have explored how to use computers to complement or supplement human teachers.

Google's top hacker

Elle (July 8) -- As Google’s top hacker, Illinois alumna Parisa Tabriz thinks like a criminal and manages the brilliant, wonky guys on her team with the courage and calm of a hostage negotiator.

Growing tech business in Chicago

Chicago Tribune (July 7) -- Chicago’s private venture capital investors say the city needs to hang onto its software engineers and find ways to make the region’s “show me” investors more comfortable with risk or bring in new investors who don't mind it. And as the ecosystem matures, investors hope Chicago supports a new class of industry-specific incubators — such as the advanced-manufacturing hub spearheaded by UI Labs at Goose Island. The article also mentions the Research Park at Illinois and the notes the state's interest in keeping more computer science graduates in Illinois.

Research Park

Chicago Tribune (July 7) -- One of the most palpable sources of latent talent in the area is just a two-hour drive south of Chicago on Interstate 57. In 2001, Illinois opened its 14-building Research Park to allow students and faculty to spin technologies into new companies. Ninety companies and 1,400 employees have moved in since. In 2003, the university opened the 43,000-square-foot EnterpriseWorks incubator, which has incubated 160 startups that have raised more than $722 million in early stage funding, says Laura Frerichs, director of Research Park. More than 450 students work there year-round, she says.

Avian radar

KERA News-FM (Dallas, Texas, July 7) -- On a recent morning, airfield operations employee Larry Creel spots a potential problem, and alerts Cathy Boyles, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s wildlife biologist. Boyles’ job is to keep birds and other wildlife -- the occasional coyote or deer -- away from aircraft. Boyles uses a mobile avian radar lab designed at the U. of I. that transmits images that assist in locating and dispersing birds near the airport’s flight paths.

Food app redirects waste

Crain's Chicago Business (July 5) -- Illinois computer science alumnus Rajesh Karmani always was a spare-time do-gooder. Now it’s his job. Karmani has launched a for-profit business called Zero Percent, an app that permits restaurants to list their leftover food and sends text alerts to food pantries about what’s available.

Manufacturing jobs

St. Louis Public Radio (July 2) -- Illinois’ higher education, business and political leaders are pledging cooperation for an effort to bring manufacturing jobs to the region. Illinois President Robert Easter said the manufacturing push was an opportunity for his institution to further the state’s economic development.

Malware entrepreneur

Columbus CEO Magazine (from the Associated Press; Columbus, Ohio, July 22) -- At 14, future Illinois alumnus Marcin Kleczynski accidentally downloaded a virus into his parents’ computer, which was supposed to have been protected with anti-virus software. So he set about to understand how something like that could happen and launched his career in one of the tech industry’s hottest areas.

Related article:  (July 18) -- Malwarebytes, the company founded to protect people and businesses from advanced online threats, announced it has received $30 million in Series A funding from Highland Capital Partners. The new financing will be used to accelerate the global expansion of Malwarebytes’ cutting-edge security technologies, which stop sophisticated threats that defeat traditional endpoint security products.
 

Shrinky Dinks

Phys Org.com (Isle of Man, July 1) -- Engineers at Illinois are using Shrinky Dinks, plastic that shrinks under high heat, to close the gap between nanowires in an array to make them useful for high-performance electronics applications. Also: Semiconductor Engineering (July 8).

Keeping health data private

Technology Review (July 2) -- A new tool developed by computer scientists at the University of Illinois can figure out which parts of an individual's medical record may inadvertently reveal aspects of a patient’s medical history. The idea is that as data-sharing proposals advance, the patient would decide what parts of his or her record to keep private. A clinician would get advice from the technology on how to amend the record to ensure that this occurs.

Michael Hopkins

Business Insider (July 2) -- It was the night of December 20 and NASA Astronaut and Illinois alumnus Mike Hopkins couldn’t sleep. The next day he’d make his first spacewalk, stepping out of the airlock to replace a refrigerator-sized piece of equipment on the outside of the International Space Station.

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