Ideas and Discoveries

  • 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.
  • Mature plant phytochromes Tricking plants to see the light may control the most important twitch on Earth July 29, 2014 Copious corn growing in tiny backyard plots? Roses blooming in December? Thanks to technology that the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Richard Vierstra has been developing for years, these things may soon be possible. And now, new findings out of the genetics professor’s lab promise to advance that technology even further.
  • Mouse intestine New imaging agent provides better picture of the gut July 24, 2014 A multi-institutional team of researchers has developed a new nanoscale agent for imaging the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This safe, noninvasive method for assessing the function and properties of the GI tract in real time could lead to better diagnosis and treatment of gut diseases.
  • Waste containment site UW researchers create safe, resistant material to store waste July 18, 2014 Storing industrial waste has never been a pretty job, and it's getting harder.
  • Photo: Asian 'crazy worm' Hungry, invasive ‘crazy worm’ makes first appearance in Wisconsin July 15, 2014 Wisconsin's newest invasive species has done its best to stay underground, but the voracious, numerous and mysterious Asian crazy worm has emerged for the first time in the state on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Photo: Famers market Project to evaluate how farmers markets benefit communities July 9, 2014 A new project in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Farmer's Market Coalition will analyze the impact of farmers markets in communities.
  • Mind the gap: Socioeconomic status may influence understanding of science July 7, 2014 When it comes to science, socioeconomic status may widen confidence gaps among the least and most educated groups in society, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Science, Media and the Public research group.
  • Photo: Yoshihiro Kawaoka UW’s important influenza research conducted safely July 3, 2014 The UW-Madison Influenza Research Institute (IRI) has been safely conducting important influenza research since its opening at Research Park in 2008. However, press accounts of the results of recent studies as well as a biosafety incident at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have brought IRI into the news.
  • New MOOCs to focus on environmental and community themes July 1, 2014 Beginning in 2015, UW-Madison will take Leopold’s words to heart by offering six Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on topics ranging from Shakespeare’s dramas and the digital humanities, to understanding Leopold’s land ethic, to the relationship between climate change and public health.
  • Brian image Early life stress can leave lasting impacts on the brain June 27, 2014 For children, stress can go a long way. A little bit provides a platform for learning, adapting and coping. But a lot of it - chronic, toxic stress like poverty, neglect and physical abuse - can have lasting negative impacts.
  • Scientists find the shocking truth about electric fish June 26, 2014 Scientists have found how the electric fish evolved its jolt.
  • Tumor-targeting agent New tumor-targeting agent images and treats variety of cancers June 11, 2014 Scientists at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center (UWCCC) report that a new class of tumor-targeting agents can seek out and find dozens of solid tumors, even illuminating brain cancer stem cells that resist current treatments.
  • Mobile sustainability game spurs students to take environmental action June 3, 2014 Traversing the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus while consulting iPads and smartphones, the students in Cathy Middlecamp’s introductory environmental studies course could have been mistaken for anyone checking social media en route to class. But for these students, class was already in session. Middlecamp, a professor in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, partnered with the UW Mobile Learning Incubator to have students in Environmental Studies 126 playtest a new mobile game under development that explores sustainability features on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Still capture from animation Scientists capture most detailed images yet of tiny cellular machines June 2, 2014 A grandfather clock is, on its surface, a simple yet elegant machine. Tall and stately, its job is to steadily tick away the time. But a look inside reveals a much more intricate dance of parts, from precisely-fitted gears to cable-embraced pulleys and bobbing levers.
  • Fossil soils Buried fossil soils found to be awash in carbon May 25, 2014 Soils that formed on the Earth’s surface thousands of years ago and that are now deeply buried features of vanished landscapes have been found to be rich in carbon, adding a new dimension to our planet’s carbon cycle.
  • Babbling brooks adding to climate change? May 23, 2014 Studying stream bubbles isn't exactly a walk in the park - what with the mud and ticks, the long days hiking and swimming through mucky streams, the sun exposure and scratching brush.
  • Tinkering fosters business success for Internet of Things Lab May 21, 2014 At first, the students considered creating an app or a smart device. But when they got down to it, they decided simplicity really is bliss.
  • Next wave of research: Ecology, super-sized May 20, 2014 The University of Wisconsin-Madison, home of pioneering ecologists who studied lakes, forests, wetlands and prairies, is playing a key role in the next wave of ecological research: large teams of scientists confronting the dilemma of a changing climate on a shrinking planet.
  • The color of blood: Pigment helps stage symbiosis in squid May 15, 2014 The small but charismatic Hawaiian bobtail squid is known for its predator-fooling light organ.