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CIC BigScience

Science news from CIC universities (Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago)


New method uses DNA, gold nanoparticles and top-down lithography to fabricate optically active structures

Fri, 18 Jan 2019 06:00:00 GMT

Northwestern University researchers have developed a first-of-its-kind technique for creating entirely new classes of optical materials and devices that could lead to light bending and cloaking devices -- news to make the ears of Star Trek’s Spock perk up. Using DNA as a key tool, the scientists took gold nanoparticles of different sizes and shapes and arranged them in two and three dimensions to form optically active superlattices. The structures could be programmed to exhibit almost any color across the visible spectrum.

New test could tell doctors whether patients will respond to chemotherapy

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

Less than half the patients diagnosed with cancer respond favorably to chemotherapy, but a new method for testing how patients will respond to various drugs could pave the way for more personalized treatment. Using Doppler light scattering, like a weather radar, researchers can determine how a patient will respond to chemotherapy even before they begin treatment.

Far-red fluorescent silk can kill harmful bacteria as biomedical and environmental remedy

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

A silk hybrid material attacks bacteria when illuminated by a green light, thanks to a far-red fluorescent protein researchers transferred to its genetic makeup. The all-natural material would be safer than conventional photocatalytic, or light-activated, means to kill harmful pathogens such as bacteria.

Zika presents hot spots in brains of chicken embryos

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

Zika prefers certain “hot spots” in the brains of chicken embryos, offering insight into how brain development is affected by the virus. If the virus also prefers specific sites in human brains, researchers could look to them for targeted therapies and drug testing.

Researchers establish link between hormone, generosity in birds

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

A new Nebraska study has offered the first experimental evidence that a hormone may be responsible for food sharing and other prosocial behaviors among birds.

Purdue contributes to experiments on light-matter interactions for potential quantum technology applications

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

Purdue researchers collaborated in a Rice University-led study detecting a quantum shift that results from the strong coupling of light and an ultra-high mobility two-dimensional electron gas rotating in opposite directions. The work describes a system predicted to go into a new ground state (or state of lowest energy) that physicists could use to study phase transitions and possibly harness for the development of quantum bits for advanced computing.

Food allergy is linked to skin exposure and genetics

Fri, 06 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

Infant and childhood food allergy, whose cause has long been a mystery, has now been linked to a mix of environmental and genetic factors that must coexist to trigger the allergy, reports a new study. Those factors include genetics that alter skin absorbency, use of infant cleansing wipes that leave soap on the skin, skin exposure to allergens in dust and skin exposure to food from those providing infant care. The good news is factors leading to food allergy can be modified in the home environment.

When kids’ autistic brains can’t calm down

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

One third of children who have autism spectrum disorder also have epilepsy. It’s related to an autism risk gene. But scientists didn’t now why the mutation, catnap2, caused seizures. Now scientists have discovered the mutation shrinks the neurons’ dendrite arbors and synapses that enable brain cells to relay vital messages. The ‘Calm down!’ message gets lost in the brain, causing neurons to spin out of control. Drugs could soon be tested to reverse seizures, language delay and intellectual disability.

Parents struggle to discuss sex with LGBTQ teens

Wed, 04 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

Parents of LGBTQ children feel especially uncomfortable and unequipped when they try to educate them about sex and dating, reports a new study. Parents don’t know what constitutes safe sexual behaviors for LGBTQ teens and need resources to help them. Parents play an important role in helping their children learn how to have healthy sexual relationships.

Red or blue in the face? Study says conservatives show less emotion

Tue, 03 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

New research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has demonstrated a correlation between political ideology and facial expressivity.

Researchers: Focus policy to better control red cedar invasion

Mon, 02 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT

The invasive spread of eastern red cedar across Nebraska will continue as long as policy is mismatched with known science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers have found. Without resolving the disconnect, grasslands will keep transitioning into cedar woodlands.

Lesson learned? Massive study finds lectures still dominate STEM ed

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 05:00:00 GMT

Led by Nebraska's Marilyne Stains, the study found that traditional lecturing has persisted in STEM classrooms despite calls to replace it with more student-centered approaches.

Design approach developed for important new catalysts for energy conversion and storage

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 05:00:00 GMT

Northwestern University researchers have discovered a new approach for creating important new catalysts to aid in clean energy conversion and storage. The method also has the potential to impact the discovery of new optical and data storage materials and catalysts for higher efficiency processing of petroleum products at lower cost. The researchers created a catalyst that is seven times more active than state-of-the-art commercial platinum by combining theory, a new tool for synthesizing nanoparticles and more than one metallic element.

Mutating Ebola’s key protein may stop replication

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 05:00:00 GMT

Researchers may be able to stop the replication of Ebola virus by mutating its most important protein, according to a paper published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Studies show urbanization impacts storms, rainfall despite surroundings

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 06:00:00 GMT

Two Purdue University studies show that urbanization changes storm patterns and rainfall amounts, highlighting the need for urban planning and infrastructure design that considers how the landscape will affect the weather.

Rheumatoid arthritis meets precision medicine

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 06:00:00 GMT

Scientists are bringing precision medicine to rheumatoid arthritis for the first time by using genetic profiling of joint tissue to see which drugs will work for which patients, reports a new multi-site study. In the near future, scientists said, patients won’t have to waste time and be disappointed with months of ineffective therapy. Currently $2.5 billion a year wasted on therapy that doesn’t work.

Physicists observe long-sought nanoscale phenomenon

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 06:00:00 GMT

Two Nebraska physicists have helped end a nearly 15-year quest to observe a phenomenon that could power and miniaturize a future generation of electronics.

Religious freedom laws an all-American dispute, researchers find

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 06:00:00 GMT

University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologists Emily Kazyak and Kelsy Burke analyzed responses to why Nebraskans support or oppose a business owner's right to refuse service to gays and lesbians to gain insight into why these laws continue to gain traction in state Legislatures even though most Americans do not actually agree with them.

'Obesity paradox' debunked

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 06:00:00 GMT

A new study debunks the "obesity paradox," a counterintuitive finding that showed people who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease live longer if they are overweight or obese compared with people who are normal weight at the time of diagnosis. Obese people live shorter lives and have a greater proportion of life with cardiovascular disease, reports the new study.

Researchers ID, map phosphorus pollution of global freshwater

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 06:00:00 GMT

Human activity introduced ecosystem-threatening levels of phosphorus pollution to freshwater bodies around the world between 2002 and 2010, says new research led by Nebraska's Mesfin Mekonnen.

Research shows large-scale irrigation reduces local precipitation

Tue, 27 Feb 2018 06:00:00 GMT

Nebraska research hydrologist Joe Szilagyi has shown widespread irrigation has resulted in a net moisture loss in Nebraska, a finding that could have worldwide water conservation implications if substantiated by further research.

Study: High-altitude birds evolve similar traits via different mutations

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 06:00:00 GMT

Research led by Nebraska's Jay Storz has found that extreme-altitude birds often evolved different blueprints for capturing the scarce oxygen of the Himalayas and Andes.

Higher temperatures likely to affect sharp-tailed grouse, study finds

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 06:00:00 GMT

A study by University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers has found that predicted increased temperatures across the Great Plains are likely to influence the survival of the sharp-tailed grouse, a native game bird species, by reducing nesting space.

Study finds positive turning points in stepfamilies

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 06:00:00 GMT

University of Nebraska-Lincoln communication scholar Dawn O. Braithwaite is an expert in stepfamily dynamics, and her newest research explores how positive stepfamily relationships were formed – from the perspective of the stepchild, as an adult.

Study: Material gradients could strengthen polymer components

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 06:00:00 GMT

Nebraska, French and Chinese researchers have developed a model that can map optimal ratios of soft vs. hard polymers throughout a structure.