Ideas and Discoveries

  • Collaboration yields new organic sweet corn variety Dec. 4, 2014 When the time comes for Wisconsin’s organic farmers to decide which crops to plant next year, they’ll have a tasty new variety of sweet corn — with a particularly sweet name — among their choices. The new variety, called “Who Gets Kissed?,” is the first in a series of organic, open-pollinated sweet corns being developed through a plant-breeding project led by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA). Farmers and professional breeders are also involved.
  • Open-source tools will benefit military and Wisconsin vehicle makers Dec. 3, 2014 Dan Negrut, a University of Wisconsin-Madison associate professor of mechanical engineering, has received a $1.8 million grant from the Army to harness the power of supercomputers to set up a simulation software infrastructure and allow both military and civilian vehicle makers to better understand — and predict — how vehicles will respond to deformable terrain, such as sand, mud or riverbeds.
  • Telescopes hint at neutrino beacon at the heart of the Milky Way Nov. 26, 2014 Thanks to a confluence of data from a suite of vastly different telescopes, there are tantalizing clues that the massive black hole at the core of the Milky Way may be a cosmic accelerator. In a recent paper published in the journal Physical Review D, a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison physicist Yang Bai reports a correlation of IceCube data with a recorded burst of X-rays from Sagittarius A, an object at the center of our galaxy that is believed to be a supermassive black hole.
  • Grasshoppers signal slow recovery of post-agricultural woodlands, study finds Nov. 24, 2014 New research by Philip Hahn and John Orrock at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the recovery of South Carolina longleaf pine woodlands once used for cropland shows just how long lasting the legacy of agriculture can be in the recovery of natural places. By comparing grasshoppers found at woodland sites once used for agriculture to similar sites never disturbed by farming, Hahn and Orrock show that despite decades of recovery, the numbers and types of species found in each differ.
  • Full color 3-D printing takes top prize in Collegiate Inventors Competition Nov. 20, 2014 Innovative 3-D printing technology came out on top as Spectrom - developed by a University of Wisconsin-Madison team that includes Cedric Kovacs-Johnson, Charles Haider and Taylor Fahey - won first place in the undergraduate category of the Collegiate Inventors Competition.
  • ‘Active learning’ takes center stage at School of Nursing Nov. 20, 2014 The classroom is changing. Massive lecture halls used to mean you could sit quietly in the back, with rows of fellow students perched above a lecturing professor. But you won’t find any lecture halls in the School of Nursing’s Signe Skott Cooper Hall. For students at the new Active Learning Classroom (ALC), the learning is — well, active.
  • Crops play a major role in the annual CO2 cycle increase Nov. 19, 2014 In a study published Wednesday, Nov. 19, in Nature, scientists at Boston University, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and McGill University show that a steep rise in the productivity of crops grown for food accounts for as much as 25 percent of the increase in this carbon dioxide (CO2) seasonality.
  • Photo: Astronaut Reid Wiseman injects a fixative solution onto the seedlings. UW team’s plants return to Earth after growing in space Nov. 6, 2014 Researchers at Simon Gilroy's lab in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison expect to greet a truck this afternoon that is carrying small containers holding more than 1,000 frozen plants that germinated and grew aboard the International Space Station.
  • Greater use of social media gets science, scientists noticed, study says Nov. 6, 2014 In September, a group of UW-Madison professors and their colleagues published a study in the journal Journalism & Mass Communications Quarterly showing a connection between “h-index” — a measure of the quality of a researcher’s work and influence — and whether the scientists interact with reporters and get mentioned on Twitter.
  • They know the drill: UW leads the league in boring through ice sheets Oct. 30, 2014 Hollow coring drills designed and managed by UW-Madison’s Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) program are used to extract ice cores that can analyze the past atmosphere. Shaun Marcott, an assistant professor of geoscience at UW-Madison, was the first author of a paper published today in the journal Nature documenting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 23,000 and 9,000 years ago, based on data from an 11,000-foot hole in Antarctica.
  • Astronomy students Report, experts analyze surging STEM activity at UW-Madison Oct. 30, 2014 A recent report on instructional activity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines at the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows significant advances in enrollment and degrees since 2000, which campus experts attribute to a number of factors, including job placement, greater career opportunities and enhanced teaching methods.
  • See-through sensors open new window into the brain Oct. 20, 2014 Developing invisible implantable medical sensor arrays, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has overcome a major technological hurdle in researchers’ efforts to understand the brain. The team described its technology, which has applications in fields ranging from neuroscience to cardiac care and even contact lenses, in the Oct. 20 issue of the online journal Nature Communications.
  • Can this democracy be saved? Experts weigh in Oct. 16, 2014
  • WCER: Five decades of improving teaching and learning Oct. 16, 2014 One of the first centers of its kind, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) is preparing to celebrate 50 years of educational policy research and initiatives.
  • Balancing birds and biofuels: Grasslands support more species than cornfields Oct. 9, 2014 In Wisconsin, bioenergy is for the birds. Really. In a study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) scientists examined whether corn and perennial grassland fields in southern Wisconsin could provide both biomass for bioenergy production and bountiful bird habitat. The research team found that where there are grasslands, there are birds. Grass-and-wildflower-dominated fields supported more than three times as many bird species as cornfields, including 10 imperiled species found only in the grasslands.
  • Actions on climate change bring better health, study says Sept. 22, 2014 The number of extremely hot days in Eastern and Midwestern U.S. cities is projected to triple by mid-century, according to a new study led by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers and published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • Prototype electric motor New motor under development by UW-Madison spinoff Sept. 8, 2014 A tabletop motor using an entirely new driving principle is under development at the headquarters of C-Motive Technologies, a startup business that is commercializing technology from the College of Engineering at UW-Madison.
  • Physical Sciences Lab PSL: Still making amazing instruments after all these years Sept. 4, 2014 A century ago, physicists used a tabletop “cloud chamber” to explore the motion of otherwise invisible particles. Today, they need giant machines to explore the bizarre frontiers of modern physics. And significant components of the most important modern physics experiments in China, Switzerland, the United States and the South Pole can trace their roots to a lab across the road from a cornfield near Stoughton, Wisconsin — the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Physical Sciences Laboratory, or PSL.
  • Soybean plants A touching story: The ancient conversation between plants, fungi and bacteria Aug. 27, 2014 The mechanical force that a single fungal cell or bacterial colony exerts on a plant cell may seem vanishingly small, but it plays a heavy role in setting up some of the most fundamental symbiotic relationships in biology. In fact, it may not be too much of a stretch to say that plants may have never moved onto land without the ability to respond to the touch of beneficial fungi, according to a new study led by Jean-Michel Ané, a professor of agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Antarctic ice sheet Climate conundrum: Conflicting indicators on what preceded human-driven warming Aug. 11, 2014 When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently requested a figure for its annual report, to show global temperature trends over the last 10,000 years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Zhengyu Liu knew that was going to be a problem. Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science today, Liu and colleagues describe a consistent global warming trend over the course of the Holocene, our current geological epoch, counter to a study published last year that described a period of global cooling before human influence.