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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January 2015 media appearances

Student app: Shaked

USA Today College (Jan. 30) -- Students at Illinois have discovered their own means for practical experience outside of the classroom in the form of an app they created based on their experiences in college. Krishna Mittal, a freshman in computer science at Illinois, is developing an app called Shaked, which enables users to exchange contact information in a simpler, more convenient way.

Brillouin Scattering Induced Transparency demonstrated

Science 360 (NSF, Jan. 29) -- Researchers at Illinois, led by MechSE assistant professor Gaurav Bahl, have experimentally demonstrated, for the first time, the phenomenon of Brillouin Scattering Induced Transparency (BSIT), which can be used to slow down, speed up, and block light in an optical waveguide. This non-reciprocal behavior is essential for building isolators and circulators that are indispensible tools in an optical designer’s toolkit. Also: Phys.Org (Jan. 28), Science Daily (Jan. 28), ECN Magazine (Jan. 28), Science Codex (San Jose, Calif., Jan. 28), AZO Optics (Jan. 29), ScienceBlog (Jan. 29), Overclockers Club (Jan. 29), Space Daily (Jan. 29), (Jan. 29), LaserFocusWorld (Jan. 29), (Jan. 30).

Quantum dot displays

TechCrunch (Jan. 27) -- Devices can’t get thinner for a few reasons. While a lighter, thinner battery would be amazing, screens still take up a lot of gadget real estate. Now, however, Illinois researchers, led by MatSE professor John Rogers and MechSE assistant professor Moonsub Shim, are turning to quantum dot displays, screens that use light-emitting nanocrystals to display multiple colors in a screen that is surprisingly thin and can be “printed” using standard inkjet techniques. Also: IEEE Spectrum (Jan. 26), Phys.Org (Isle of Man, Jan. 28), TechCrunch (Jan. 27).


Chicago Tribune (Jan. 26) -- Illinois is seeing a surge of startup and innovation spinning out of its universities, especially in biomedicine and information-technology software development. And licensing of university-developed patents is seeing especially strong growth. Lesley Millar-Nicholson, director of the office of technology management at Illinois, mentioned monthly “social fuse” events on the U. of I. campus, in which students pitch their business ideas and look for partners in areas where they need help.

Related story: Chicago Inno (Jan. 27) -- Universities are a unique breeding ground for rising entrepreneurs, able to accumulate all the scattered ingredients for building a thriving company through their own academic networks—nurturing a winning idea, recruiting talent, finding mentorship, workspace, and securing venture capital.

Graphene conductivity

Nanowerk (Jan. 26) -- A team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has made inroads in solving one such hurdle. By demonstrating a new way to change the amount of electrons that reside in a given region within a piece of graphene, they have a proof-of-principle in making the fundamental building blocks of semiconductor devices using the 2-D material. Also: Phys.Org (Jan. 26), Controlled Environments (Jan. 28), Semiconductor Engineering (Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 3).


San Jose Mercury News (Jan. 22) -- The New England Patriots have really let the air out of the buildup to Super Bowl XLIX. Instead of getting a jump on the matchups and strategies that will be examined next week in Glendale, Arizona, the nation has fixated on “DeflateGate." As Illinois physics professor Kiel Christianson pointed out on ESPN, the drop in temperature from a warm room where footballs are being inspected to a cold field could drop the pressure within a ball because of “contraction.” Also: ESPN (video, Jan. 22).

Related story: Boston Globe (Jan. 22) -- Corked bats have been a frequent path to suspensions in Major League Baseball. Graig Nettles once lost 10 games after SuperBalls came bounding out of his shattered bat. Sluggers Albert Belle and Sammy Sosa were caught using corked bats in an effort to increase their power (although Illinois professor emeritus of physics Alan Nathan, among others, has determined that corked bats do not permit players to hit the ball farther).

Related story: The New York Times (Jan. 29) -- As the Super Bowl approaches, physicists and engineers at some of the nation’s most prestigious research institutions have been put into an unaccustomed spotlight as they try to resolve the issue of deflated footballs. “It’s probably much ado about nothing,” says Alan Nathan, a professor emeritus of physics at Illinois who is known for his work in the physics of baseball. “I would be pretty surprised if the N.F.L. takes any serious action on this.”

Solar farm

Daily Journal (from the Associated Press; Franklin, Ind., Jan. 21) -- Officials at Illinois say they've finalized a contract to start construction on the school's solar panel project.

Translating words to math

Phys.Org (Isle of Man, Jan. 21) -- Thanks to new software developed at Illinois, machines now can learn to understand mathematical reasoning expressed in language, which could greatly improve search engines and access to data as well as boost mathematics education.

Vaccine distribution

CBC News (Canada, Jan. 20) -- CS/ISE professor Sheldon Jacobson has watched the market shrink from dozens of vaccine manufacturers to two in some cases. Jacobson called for more collaboration and co-operation to counter the pricing power of vaccine manufacturers.

Illinois Ventures

Chicago Tribune (Jan. 20) -- Technologies created at universities face a funding gap after government research grants run out and before investors step in, if they step in. IllinoisVentures CEO Nancy Sullivan is working to bridge that “valley of death” with several proof of concept funding programs that she hopes will improve faculty and student inventors’ chances of bringing their ideas to market.

Illini Hackers dominate in 2014

Major League Hacking (website, Jan. 19) -- This fall tens of thousands of hackers attended thirty-six Major League Hacking Events throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Recently, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was named the winner the Major League Hacking Fall 2014 North America Season. Illini Hackers are frequently sending dozens of hackers to events around the continent. This alone put them in the top five schools for participation. In addition, Illinois (as those in the know refer to it), also wins, a lot, collecting the most merit points of any school in the season. Also: WCIA-TV (Jan. 19).

Alumnus Marc Andreessen

Financial Times (Jan. 18) -- Marc Andreessen, the Netscape founder, tech investor and U. of I. alumnus, talks about the trouble with stock markets, what he looks for in entrepreneurs and why illegal immigration is good for America.

Related story: Wired (Jan. 27) -- Illinois alumnus Marc Andreessen seemed an unlikely character to be identified as “the über-super-wunder whiz kid of cyberspace,” as Newsweek called him at the end of 1995. After growing up in New Lisbon, a town in rural Wisconsin, he enrolled at Illinois and studied computer science. Andreessen found part-time work at the university’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications. There, he and a few fellow programmers developed Mosaic, the predecessor-browser to Netscape Navigator.

First Jump ARCHES projects funded

ChicagoInno (Jan. 16) - A University of Illinois research team working on personalized computer-generated avatars for patients, and another developing a robotic arm that can differentiate between abnormal muscle tone behaviors, both received nearly $50,000 from Jump ARCHES, a joint venture between Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center and the College of Engineering at Illinois.

Dissolvable circuits

Phys.Org (Isle of Man, Jan. 15) -- Researchers working in a materials science lab are literally watching their work disappear before their eyes – but intentionally so. A team led by Illinois' John Rogers is developing water-soluble integrated circuits that dissolve in water or biofluids in months, weeks, or even a few days.

Alumni develops Keeper app

Crain's Chicago Business (Jan. 15) -- Pop into the Greektown office of Keeper Security and you'll see a mural of goblins trying to break into a safe. It's a metaphor for the company's password management and cloud storage app, which has attracted more than 6.5 million registered users. Business partner and Illinois alumnus Darren Guccione never set out to be an app developer. After earning a bachelor's degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Illinois, he got a job at a bicycle manufacturer.

C-U noted for start-up support

Popular Mechanics (Jan. 14) -- Popular Mechanics wanted to identify the next wave of cities building an ecosystem to turn innovators into entrepreneurs. Sometimes it takes only one institution to fire an entire town's imagination. In the case of Urbana, that institution is Illinois (No. 11 on the list), which graduated the engineering and technological talent that started Netscape, PayPal, Tesla Motors, and YouTube.


Crain's Chicago Business (Jan. 13) -- Illinois' venture fund has funded the first five projects under a new proof-of-concept program. Though the matching grants from Illinois Ventures are small – $125,000 in all – they're important first steps toward turning promising research into products and companies. Also: Chicago Inno (Jan. 13).

Virtual reality

Wired (Jan. 12) -- "The Cube, in hindsight, feels less like a simulator than a miraculous time machine--vaulting me forward to a not-so-distant place, where we’re all inevitably headed," says Adam Sternbergh, who credits the Beckman Institute's Cube laboratory as an influence for his new dystopian novel.

CS Alumna

Inc. (Jan. 9) -- Illinois alumna Parisa Tabriz calls herself Google's "Security Princess." No, really - that's the title on her business card.


Phys.Org (Isle of Man. Jan. 8) -- The Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations – PLATO – system, begun in 1960 at Illinois, introduced a more interactive and conversational relationship between the “instructor” and the student. While never commercially successful, PLATO was developed for over five decades.

3D 'pop-up' silicon structures

Phys.Org (Jan. 8) -- In the cover feature article of the journal, Science, researchers, led by MatSE professor John Rogers, describe a unique process for geometrically transforming two dimensional (2D) micro/nanostructures into extended 3D layouts by exploiting mechanics principles similar to those found in children’s ‘pop-up’ books. These complex 3D micro/nanostructures in high performance materials are relevent to electronics, photovoltaics, batteries, biomedical devices, and other microsystems technologies. Also: AAAS (video, Jan. 8), U.S. Department of Energy (Office of Science, Jan. 9), Scicasts (Jan. 8), Live Science (Jan. 8), The Austrailian (Jan. 8), USA News (Jan. 8), ScienceBlog (Jan. 8), Discovery News (Jan. 8), Nanowerk News (Honolulu, Jan. 8), Yahoo News (Jan. 8), GlobalPost (China, Jan. 8), Business Standard (Jan. 9), Headlines & Global News (Jan. 9), (Jan. 9), Zee News (India, Jan. 9), PCB Design 007 (Jan. 9), Standard Digital News (Jan. 9), ZME Science (Jan. 9), New Electronics (Jan. 9), AZO Materials (Jan. 9), Fox News (Jan. 9), Full-Time Whistle (Jan. 9), The Register (UK, Jan. 10), ChinaTopix (Jan. 10), The Science Times (Jan. 9), West Texas News (Jan. 12), NDTV (, Jan. 10), Techie News (UK, Jan. 9), (Jan. 12), (Jan. 12), Science Times (New York City, Jan. 13).

International students

Inside Higher Ed (feature story on Chinese students at Illinois, Jan. 7) --  In the College of Engineering, which has long had a large international graduate population, it's a relatively new phenomenon to have large numbers of international undergraduates: “I think because of the large [international] graduate population, we were used to having a certain mix and also our faculty is very diverse,” says Umberto Ravaioli, the senior assistant dean and director of undergraduate student affairs in the engineering college.

Drug development

Nanowerk News (Honolulu, Jan. 7) -- In the development of new drugs, taking something from nature and modifying it has been a successful tactic employed by medicinal chemists for years. Now, with the help of nanotechnology, researchers are turning once-discarded drug candidates into usable drugs. One such attempt has been made by Dipanjan Pan, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Illinois.

Illinois LED pioneers receive Draper Prize

Chicago Inno (Jan. 6) -- An Illinois professor and two of his former students received the Draper Prize on Tuesday, one of the world's preeminent awards for engineering achievement. Professor Nick Holonyak, Jr. and his former students George Craford and Russell Dupuis were among five individuals recognized for their work in pioneering LED light technology.


Chicago Tribune (Jan. 6) -- Chicago-based Personify is on a mission to reinvent video conferencing using 3D technology, and it’s getting a boost from a major global technology company. Personify CEO and co-founder Sanjay Patel, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois, says he founded Personify in 2010 with four students and faculty from the university.

Tuition freeze

Chicago Tribune (Jan. 5) -- The University of Illinois has proposed a tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates next fall, part of an effort to woo high-achieving Illinois students who are increasingly leaving the state for less expensive options. Students in some of the more popular programs such as engineering and business will continue to pay higher tuition. Also: ASEE FirstBell (Jan. 6).

Faculty & alums on Forbes 30 under 30 list

Forbes (Jan. 5) -- ChemE assistant professor Charles Sing is named to Forbes' 30 under 30 list in the Science category. MatSE alums Brett Walker and Canan Dagdeverian, and ECE alumnus Anish Thakkar were also recognized on the magazine's annual 30 under 30 young game changers, movers and makers.

Inspirational alumni

The Huffington Post (Jan. 5) -- Supriya Hobbs and Janna Eaves of Illinois are featured as two of the "12 Ordinary People Who Can Inspire Us" list from The Huffington Post. Together Hobbs and Eaves designed a set of toy dolls modeled after famous women in the sciences, and included interactive game components to teach young girls about the women's stories and inspire them to follow their own paths as well.

Dissolvable electronics - a top science story for 2014

Science 360 (NSF, podcast, Jan. 2) - Best of 2014: NSF-funded John Rogers of the University of Illinois intrigued listeners with his description of electronic devices that dissolve in the body. (provided by ABC Radio in Austrailia).

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