In The News Archive

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.

Corn-counting robot measures plant traits

Herald-Whig (Aug. 12) --￿A robot developed by the U. of I. to scan crop plants in the field received an award at a recent robotics conference. ￿There's a real need to accelerate breeding to meet global food demand,￿ says agricultural and biological engineering professor Girish Chowdhary, whose team developed the robot. ￿In Africa, the population will more than double by 2050, but today the yields are only a quarter of their potential.￿￿

First UI med school class builds bridges between health, tech, engineering

News-Gazette (Aug. 13) -- The class of 32 is about to start its sixth week of classes at the medical school, the first to combine engineering and medicine from day one. N-G writer Julie Wurth spotlights three of them.

Wired In: Mrinaal Mittal

News-Gazette (Aug. 12) -- Each week, staff writer Paul Wood talks with a high-tech difference-maker. This week, meet MRINAAL MITTAL, a University of Illinois senior pursuing degrees in computer science and innovation, leadership and engineering entrepreneurship, with minors in business and South Asian studies, and who has already created several startups.

With SpaceX Launch On The Horizon, Mike Hopkins Receives High Honor

Lake Expo (Aug. 9) -- Lake of the Ozarks' very own astronaut, Colonel Michael Hopkins, has received a high honor from the international fraternity he was part of in college. Hopkins is currently assigned as a crew member on the first operational mission of the new SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which will launch to the International Space Station following an extensive test program. The launch test is planned for November with an empty capsule, and the crewed launch is planned for April of 2019. Hopkins graduated from School of the Osage High School in 1987 and joined Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity while attending the University of Illinois.

Solving its insolubility, researchers discover method to deliver curcumin to cancer cells

Science Daily (Aug. 6) -- Scientists have discovered that curcumin to be an effective agent for killing cancer cells. Curcumin's effective has been extremely limited because it isn't natually soluble in water. Recently, however a team has created a sophisticated metallocyclic complex using platinum that has not only enabled curcumin's solubility, but whose synergy has proven 100 times more effective in treating various cancer types such as melanoma and breast cancer cells than using curcumin and platinum agents separately.

Mayo, University of Illinois tap genomic data with new informatics tool

Health Data Management (Aug. 8) -- A newly developed tool combines different types of genomic data to predict patients’ specific responses to therapeutic drugs. The application was developed by the U. of I. and the Mayo Clinic. “A cloud-based infrastructure was constructed as well as a portal to enable genomic researchers to analyze their data using state-of-the-art machine learning and data mining,” says Saurabh Sinha, a professor of computer science at Illinois. “In parallel, we developed new algorithms for such genomic data analysis.” 

Designing the Death of a Plastic

New York Times (Aug. 6) -- Decades ago, synthetic polymers became popular because they were cheap and durable. Now, scientists are creating material that self-destructs or breaks down for reuse on command. Dismantling these polymers is sometimes called unzipping them, because once the polymers encounter a trigger that removes those traps, their units fall off one after another until the polymers have completely switched back to small molecules. “As soon as you start the process, they just keep going,” says U. of I. materials science and engineering professor Jeffrey S. Moore.

Hopkins among the nine astronauts who will be the first to fly on commercial SpaceX and Boeing spacecraft

CBS News (Aug. 3) -- NASA named nine astronauts Friday who hope to blast off next year on flights to the International Space Station aboard commercial ferry ships built by Boeing and SpaceX. The flights will be the first piloted launches to orbit from the United States since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. SpaceX's second piloted launch will include station veteran and Illinois graduate Mike Hopkins and rookie astronaut Victor Glover, a former F/A-18 test pilot with more than 2,000 hours flying time, more than 400 carrier landings and 24 combat missions.Also: 13newsnow (Aug. 3), Lake Expo (Aug. 9)

Experts warn of a new 'snail mail' malware attack that￿s actually working

Marketwatch (Aug. 1) – Hackers can surreptitiously turn your phone into a crypto mine or hijack your home computer network, but a new malware attack is more simple: Just plug in a compact disk. Plugging a mysterious CD into your laptop may sound like a laughably ill-advised idea, but a surprising number of people fall for it. Nearly 50 percent of college students plugged USBs found on the ground into their computers, according to a 2016 study by the U. of I., with the altruistic intention of finding the owner. 
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A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate

Quanta (July 30) -- Scientists ponder how the intrinsic circuitry of the brain’s visual cortex generates the patterns of activity that underlie the distinct geometric shapes people typically see when under the influence of psychedelics. Physicist Nigel Goldenfeld of the U. of I. has proposed a twist on the original idea of a mathematical mechanism for generating many of the repeating patterns commonly seen in biology, factoring in the complications of the brain’s “noise.”

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