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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December 2014 media appearances

Mousr robotic cat toy (Ann Arbor, Mich., Dec. 22) -- Dave Cohen, a PhD student in Illinois’ department of electrical and computer engineering, stumbled on a new idea that can help cats indulge their penchant to stalk, hunt and chase things - even while playing independently.

John Rogers recognized

Yahoo! News (Dec. 18) -- Illinois professor John Rogers is named as one of eight scientists (including Stephen Hawking) who are changing the world.

Food waste prevention technology

The Guardian (Dec. 18) -- Corporate support to date for ending food waste has included Maersk’s sponsorship of the World Food Preservation Center, a collaboration of 10 universities committed to reducing world hunger, and U.S. food processing giant ADM’s funding of Illinois’ Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss – but far more could be done to help producers in the developing world to reduce waste.

Illinois #1 food hub, critical infrastructure

Science World News (Dec. 18) -- Illinois is the most critical hub in the network of U.S. domestic food transfers, according to a new study by CEE Assistant Professor Megan Konar, a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs, and colleagues. The study was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Researchers noted that much of Illinois's transportation infrastructure, including railway, the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, helps guide food security. However, Illinois has 2,311 structurally deficient bridges and 73 percent of major roads are in poor to mediocre quality. That's why the state's infrastructure plays a critical role in keeping food security stabilized, according to researchers. Also: Phys.Org (Dec. 18), ScienceBlog (Dec. 18), WNIJ (NPR; from Illinois Public Radio; Dekalb, Ill., Jan. 5), Peoria Public Radio (NPR, Jan.5).

Illinois is the most critical hub in the network of U.S. domestic food transfers, according to a new study by CEE Assistant Professor Megan Konar, a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs, and colleagues. The study was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. - See more at:
3-D printing start-up

TechCrunch (California, Dec. 17) -- Spun out of research conducted by professor Jennifer Lewis at Illinois and Harvard (which both hold an equity stake in the company), Voxel8 is aiming to expand the universe of 3D-printed products to include electronics.

Early Internet

The Washington Post (Dec. 15) -- We like to think of sites like Google, Facebook and Amazon as immutable - parts of the web as it exists now and has always existed. This is not the case, however. Several of the top 20 sites in 1996 were college sites, such as Illinois', thanks to colleges having invested early in the Internet.

Agricultural robotics

Feedstuffs (Bloomington, Minn., Dec. 15) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced $3 million in grants Dec. 15 to advance the use of robots that work alongside people in American production agriculture. Illinois will receive $532,607 for a project to build a robust agricultural framework for cooperative networks of human operators and robotic mobile platforms that provide guaranteed performance in highly variable terrain and soil conditions and support interchangeability of tools, platforms and crops.

Avian evolution

NBC News (Dec. 11) -- A new study in Science that analyzed the genomes of 48 species of birds tells the tale of their evolution. U. of I. professor Tandy Warnow led the computational effort that allowed the creation of a more accurate “family tree” of bird species. Also: The Verge (New York, Dec. 11), The Los Angeles Times (Dec. 11), Motherboard (New York, Dec. 11), Tech Times (New York, Dec. 11), eScience News (Dec. 11), Smithsonian (Dec. 11), National Geographic (Dec.11), NPR (blog, Dec. 11), International Business News (Dec. 12), The Guardian (Dec. 11), Audubon Magazine (Dec. 11), Tech Times (Dec. 11), Genome Web (Dec. 11), ScienceBlog (Dec. 11), Newsweek (Dec. 11), Daily Mail (UK, Dec. 11), LiveScience (Dec. 11), The Independent (UK, Dec. 11), Red Orbit (Dec. 12), Science World Report (Dec. 12), New Hampshire Voice (Dec. 12), Dehli Daily News (India, Dec. 12), Voice of America (District of Columbia, Dec. 12), The Economist (Dec. 13), Science 360 (NSF, story, Dec. 15; video, Dec. 17), Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Dec. 14).

Molecules for the masses

Phys.Org (Dec. 10) -- In collaboration with the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group (TCBG) at the Beckman Institute at Illinois, Theodore Gray's company, Touchpress, has created an app for the Apple operating system that brings molecules to life in a handheld device. Also: R&D Magazine (Dec. 10), Laboratory Equipment (Dec. 11).

Top 40 Alumnus

Crain's Chicago Business (Dec. 9) -- Engineering at Illinois alumnus Alexander Meyer, SAP vice president of global business development, is featured in Crain's Chicago Business' 2014 list of the Top 40 under 40.

Chicago mayor visit

Crain's Chicago Business (Dec. 9) -- Illinois is returning to a bowl game for the first time in three years, but it will have to keep waiting for a return visit from the mayor of Chicago. Rahm Emanuel went to Urbana-Champaign on a recruiting trip to the College of Engineering with 40 Chicago companies in the fall of 2012.

AE alumnus working on Orion project

News-Gazette (from The Associated Press, Dec. 5) -- Urbana native and aerospace engineering alumnus Josh Hopkins is a space exploration architect with Lockheed Martin. He was at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday for the test voyage of Orion, a new spacecraft designed to take astronauts into deep space and eventually to Mars. Hopkins' job is to think about space projects in their early phases and come up with the big picture — how something should work and what it should be — then turn it over to people who design it and make it work.

CS ranking

Chicago Inno (Dec. 3) -- Computer Science Degree Hub took a shot at quantifying America's most innovative computer science programs and recently ranked its top 50 departments, with four Illinois colleges cracking the list. The department of computer science at Illinois ranked the highest in the state at No. 12.

Rocket fuel from human waste

Gainesville Sun (Gainesville, Fla., Dec. 3) -- It sounds like fodder for late-night comedians or a humorous science fiction novel: Scientists have developed a way to convert human waste into rocket fuel. Pratap Pullammanappallil, a University of Florida associate professor, conducted the research with with graduate student Abhishek Dhoble, now a doctoral student at Illinois. Also: TakePart (Los Angeles, Aug. 19).

Frozen pipes

Builder Magazine (Washington, D.C., Dec. 3) -- As water in a pipe freezes and expands, it pushes outward on the pipe walls until they stretch and burst. But a study from Illinois indicates that while this can happen, it rarely does. It is more common for the ice to form within the pipe and try to expand along the length of the pipe, according to the study.

New hydrolyzable polymer

R&D magazine (Dec. 2) -- Through some inventive chemistry, MatSE associate professor Jianjun Cheng and his colleagues have developed a class of “hindered urea bond-containing polymeric materials” (PHUs)—cheap polymers that can be designed to degrade over a specified time period, making them potentially useful in biomedical and agricultural applications. Also: eScience News (Dec. 2), ScienceBlog (Dec. 2), Phys.Org (Isle of Man, Dec. 2), Scicasts (Dec. 3), Space Daily (Dec. 4), Med Device Online (Dec. 5), Azo Materials (Dec. 5).

RNA transcription

Phys.Org (Isle of Man, Dec. 2) -- Illinois alumnus Ibrahim Cissé, assistant professor of physics at MIT, wants to solve the mystery of RNA transcription, molecule by molecule, in living cells, in real time.

Degradable electronics

Chemical & Engineering News (Washington, D.C., Dec. 1) -- Imagine how angry customers would be if their brand-new electronic devices stopped working en masse after just one month—or one week. Such short service life would cause manufacturers’ reputations to tank. Illinois researcher John A. Rogers doesn’t think so. In fact, he’s working to design electronics that break down quickly and do so on cue and in a predetermined way, leaving behind only harmless products. Also: Extreme Tech (Dec. 16).

UIUC's most famous tech rock stars

Business Insider (Dec. 1) -- Surrounded by corn and soybean fields, Urbana-Champaign doesn’t strike you at first as a place where future tech leaders would emerge.It's why many people fail to realize that UIUC has bred some of the most remarkable tech visionaries in history. They built companies that essentially changed tech history as we know it. Article includes profiles of Netscape's Marc Andreessen, Oracle's Larry Ellison, Paypal founder Max Levchin, YouTube co-founders Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard, Yelp's Jeremy Stoppelman, Siebel Systems founder Thomas Siebel, Mozilla's Brendan Eich, Lotus Notes author and former Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie, and AMD's Jerry Sanders.  

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