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 2015 media appearances

Laser power

Popular Science (July 28) -- Researchers at Osaka University are claiming to have fired the most powerful laser in the world. The 2-petawatt (two quadrillion watt) pulse lasted just one picosecond (a trillionth of a second). “Two petawatts, that’s a lot,” says Julio Soares, senior research scientist at Illinois. When asked what a laser of that power could be used for, Soares responded, “Well, to blow things up.”

Building blocks of life

Phys.Org (Isle of Man, July 28) -- A new model published this week in The Journal of Chemical Physics, proposes a potential mechanism by which self-replication of polymers could have emerged, forming the initial building blocks of primordial life. Sergei Maslov, a bioengineering professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with joint appointment at Brookhaven National Laboratories.

Entrepreneurial ecosystem

Forbes (July 28) -- 2015 is shaping up to be a strong year for the startup and early stage investor ecosystem. Activity in Illinois, centered on both Chicago and the U. of I. tech ecosystem, may be a leading indicator of significant growth in funding applications in that region.

Computational biology

Scientific Computing (July 28) -- Prominent computational biologist Klaus Schulten and his team at Illinois, working in collaboration with professor Hermann Gaub and his Single Molecule Physics group at the University of Munich, discovered one of nature’s strongest mechanical bonds on a protein network called cellulosomes. Also: Phys.Org (Isle of Man, July 29).

Voxel8 raises $12M for 3D printing technology

TechCrunch (July 24) -- Voxel8, the startup behind the first multi-material 3D electronics printer, has raised $12 million to bring its printers to the desks of engineers and designers everywhere. The result of a decade of patented research by co-founder and Harvard Professor Jennifer Lewis, Voxel8 printers are able to print fully functional electronics by incorporating materials such as conductive inks, flexible silicones and high-strength epoxies. Lewis is the former professor of materials science and engineering and former head of the Materials Science Laboratory at Illinois.

Private vs. public engineering education

Inside Higher Ed (July 23) -- In an essay, Andreas Cangellaris, dean of the College of Engineering at Illinois responded to Harvard University's plan to use a recent $400 million gift to " develop an engineering and applied science program to match Harvard’s reputation." Cangellaris argued that public institutions like the Universities of Illinois, California at Berkeley, and Michigan have done the same for world-class engineering education for the masses. That combination is extremely powerful, and it has made America the most innovative and prosperous country in the world.

College of Medicine named

The Belleville News-Democrat (from The Associated Press; Belleville, Ill., July 23) -- University of Illinois trustees have agreed to a deal to finalize the structure of, and financial arrangements for, a new medical school in Urbana. Trustees unanimously voted Thursday in Chicago to name the new medical school the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Also: WREX-TV (Rockford, July 23), Crain's Chicago Business (July 23), WAND-TV (Decatur, July 23), The News-Gazette (July 23), WGEM-TV (july 23), Dekalb Daily Chronicle (July 23), Bloomington Pantagraph (July 23).

Medical tracking via smartphone

Medical Xpress (Isle of Man, July 22) -- Patients suffering from chronic cardiopulmonary diseases could soon have a solution to help them accurately monitor their health and warn doctors at the first sign of trouble. By simply carrying their cellphone, equipped with the health-tracking app, MoveSense, developed by researchers at Illinois, a patient's oxygen saturation level can be passively monitored with medical accuracy. Also: Pharmaceutical Processing (July 22), Times of India (July 24), Siasat Daily (India, July 27).

Online security

Fast Company (New York, July 22) -- A security breech at a minor website can be dangerous, because it provides access to usernames and passwords that people re-use for more important sites, like their bank. A 2014 study by the University of Illinois, Princeton University, and Indiana University called "The Tangled Web Of Password Reuse," estimates that about half of people recycle passwords.

Illinois noted on list of "Best equipped grads"

Tech.Co (July 21) -- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ranks #7 on a list of "best public universities that produce the best-equipped graduates to make an impact in the world of technology." The methodology took a composite of the rankings from US News and World Report for Computer Science, LinkedIn university rankings for Software Developers and Software Developers at Startups, and finally the number of companies being run by their respective alumni according to AngelList.

Celebrating engineering alumna and Nobel Laureate

WUOM-FM 91.7 (NPR; Ann Arbor, Mich., July 20) -- This week marks the 94th anniversary of the birth of one of the most determined and important women in medical science: Illinois alumna Rosalyn Yalow.

Smartphone security

The Register (United Kingdom, July 20) -- The fragmented development of the Android operating system for smart phones is creating greater security risks, according to researchers from Illinois and Indiana University.

Optics engineering (July 20) -- A group of physicists in the U.K. has made a programmable photonic circuit that can be used to carry out any kind of linear optics operation. Paul Kwiat of Illinois describes the latest work as "a tour de force of integrated optics engineering.”

Wireless drug delivery

Gizmag (Australia, July 17) – Illinois materials science and engineering professor John Rogers and his colleagues have developed a wireless device that delivers drugs to the brain and triggers neurons via remote control. Also: Cell (original article, July 2015), National Institutes of Health (press release, July 16),Science Daily (July 16), Nanowerk (Honolulu, July 16), CU Boulder News (Colorado, July 16), St. Louis Public Radio (July 16), Laboratory Talk (July 16), Inventor Spot (July 17), Business Standard (July 17), Business Insider (July 17), Tasnim News (Iran, July 18), BGR India (July 17), Kurzweil (North Andover, Massachusetts, July 16), Softpedia (July 17), HealthCanal (July 17), ReliaWire (July 18), Times of India (July 18), NH Voice (New Hampshire, July 18), ReliaWire (July 19), Bangalore Mirror (India, July 19), Updated News (Canada, July 19), Engaget (July 19), Imperial Valley News (July 19), Popular Science (July 20), Med Device Online (July 20), Bioscience Technology (July 20), KRCU-FM (Missouri, July 20), Peoria Public Radio (Ill., July 20), Pioneer News (July 20), 7th Space Interactive (July 20), The Monitor Daily (July 20), Tech Times (July 20), Science Times (July 20), Medgadget (El Granada, Calif., July 21).

Related issue: Reuters (video, July 27) -- A remote-controlled brain implant that can determine the path a mouse walks is being developed by Illinois scientists who hope it could one day be used to treat a range of neurological disorders in humans by wirelessly targeting therapies to specific neural networks. Also: Popular Science (July 20), (London, July 29), Vice (Aug. 16).

Rithmio startup

The Economic Times (from the NYT News Service; India, July 16) -- There really isn’t that much of a difference between estimating the path (and speed) of a missile and figuring out what kind of exercise you’re doing at the gym. U. of I. graduate student Adam Tilton and his advisor, mechanical science and engineering professor Prashant Mehta, developed Rithmio, a software startup that seeks to make it easier to add accurate gesture and activity recognition to all kinds of wearable gadgets. Also: Built In Chicago (July 20).

iVenture program

ChicagoInno (July 15) -- About two hours outside of Chicago, some of the Midwest’s most promising startups are accelerating their ventures in a college town. Thirteen student startups are working out of the nine-week iVenture program, the newest accelerator at the Illinois. "We just decided it was a good time to have something during the summer so our teams have somewhere to go," said Jed Taylor, assistant director of the Technology Entrepreneurship Center. "A place where they could work together and take advantage of the workshops and entrepreneurship resources."

Biodegradable devices

MIT Technology Review (July 14) – Techniques for manufacturing biodegradable devices are becoming more established in the electronics industry, says John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the U. of I. Rogers originally developed the method used in the new resarch to transfer small amounts of semiconducting material from a large wafer to a nanocellulose surface.

High school inventors

Chicago Tribune (July 13) --  An Arlington Heights teen’s popular YouTube channel that offers tips on using smartphones and other mobile devices has netted him the 2015 Celebrating High School Innovators Award from the University of Illinois.

Big Data in plant breeding

Phys.Org (Isle of Man, July 13) – Illinois has received $1.8 million to create a data platform for big data in plant breeding.

Girls Who Code

The New York Times (July 10) – This is how U. of I. alumna Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, spends her Sundays.

Jump Simulation Center at Illinois

Chicago Tribune (July 9) -- In an exclusive interview, Rashid Bashir, professor of engineering and head of the Bioengineering Department, explains how the Jump Simulation Center, part of the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine, plans to create physician inventors and innovators. Also: ASEE FirstBell (July 10).

Student-built Hyperloop

Fast Company (July 9) -- Mechanical engineering students from Illinois mocked up a Hyperloop that's 24 times smaller than the real thing would be. "We needed something that we could fit in one of our rooms," says Carlos Pantano, a professor of mechanical engineering who helped advise the team.

Lab for smart technologies

Fast Company (July 9) -- Google is outfitting Carnegie Mellon University with smart tech to create a "living lab." CMU will lead the charge, with help from researchers at Illinois, Cornell, and Stanford.

DNA sequencing & Big Data

NBC News (July 7) -- The growing field of genomics may produce more data in 10 years than huge services like YouTube and Twitter, according to a team of Illinois scientists. Also: Nature (July 7), Washington Post (July 7), Science Codex (July 7), Phys.Org (Isle of Man, July 7), Yahoo News UK (July 7), Med City News (July 7), International Business Times UK (London, July 8), (July 8), E&T Magazine (July 8), Science 2.0 (July 9), Tech Times (July 9), The Scientist (Midland, Ontario, July 8), Nature (original journal article, London; July 7), Bioscience Technology (Rockaway, New Jersey, July 17).

Related stories: Phys.Org (Isle of Man, July 6) -- Next-generation DNA sequencing technologies have turned the vision of precision medicine into a plausible reality, but also threaten to overwhelm computing infrastructures with unprecedented volumes of data. A recent $1.3 million award from the National Institutes of Health will allow researchers at Illinois and Stanford to help address this challenge by developing novel data compression strategies.

Forbes (opinion, July 20) -- According to a recent paper, Illinois researchers say there is a very reasonable possibility that a significant fraction of the world’s human population will have their genomes sequenced.


Engineer Guy on film projectors

The A.V. Club (July 7) -- In his latest YouTube video, Bill Hammack, Illinois professor and self-proclaimed EngineerGuy, brings his video know-how to film projectors. But Hammack isn’t focusing on the CGI digital flicks we see today; rather he tackles the projectors of old Hollywood in all their glossy filmstrip glory.

CAT Innovation Lab

Crain's Chicago Business (July 4) -- Caterpillar has started a venture fund in Silicon Valley and recently opened a data innovation lab at Illinois.

Galaxy simulations

io9 (July 2) -- It looks like we might have overestimated how many neighbors we have. New predictions show that the universe might be an emptier place than we imagined. Astronomers have been excitedly guessing at the amount of faint, distant galaxies that they can’t see. Lurkers surely outnumbered visible galaxies. New simulations done on Blue Waters, a supercomputer at Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications indicate that that isn’t the case.


Phys.Org (Isle of Man, July 2) -- Tiny objects “are almost all surface area and no weight,” says Placid Ferreira, head of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois. “Adhesion is related to surface area; sticking is easy at small scales, letting go is difficult.”

Self-healing airplane skins

Scientific American (July 2015) -- In its special issue, "The Future of Transportation," MatSE professor Nancy Sotos discusses her vision for an airplane skin that can heal itself, like wounded human skin. Sottos proposes lacing the composite with microcapsules containing a healing compound that would mend breaks as they occur ("Powering Ahead, p. 12).

NCSA visualizations on sun dynamics

Phys.Org (Isle of Man, July 1) -- A 24-minute, high-resolution science documentary about the dynamics of the sun that features data-driven visualizations produced by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at Illinois -- and narrated by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch -- debuts tonight at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge before rolling out to more than a dozen planetariums and science centers around the world. Also: Scientific Computing (Rockaway, N.J., July 1).

Groundwater study

Time (July 1) -- CEE professors Ximing Cai and Megan Konar, along with graduate student Landon Marston and Lehigh University professor Tara Troy, studied groundwater consumption from three main aquifer systems. Reliance on these aquifers intensified so much from 2000 to 2008 that it accounted for 93 percent of groundwater depletion in the U.S. Also: Los Angeles Times (July 3), Public News Service (July 20).

Related stories: AgWeek (Grand Forks, N.D., July 23) -- Illinois might be hundreds of miles from the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s a key contributor to the “dead zone,” a section of water the size of Connecticut devoid of oxygen that forms every summer. The culprit is millions of pounds of nutrients from farm fields, city streets, and wastewater treatment plants entering the Gulf each year through the Mississippi River system. Led by researchers at Illinois, a study uncovered numerous cost-effective practices for reducing nutrient losses.

WCBU-89.9 FM (Peoria, Ill., July 30) -- Don Fullerton, Megan Konar and Julian Reif, faculty at Illinois, experts in the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at Illinois, and participants in the IGPA’s Climate Policy Initiative, write that Illinois' future summers could be as hot as Texas.

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