Ideas and Discoveries

  • Photo of computer chip High-power laser spinoff proves versatility is strength April 13, 2015 Since lasers were invented in 1960, they have penetrated countless scientific, industrial and recreational fields: from eye surgery to DVD players, from cutting steel to triggering ignition in missile stages.
  • Leafcutter ants Science meets art: 2015 Cool Science Images unveiled April 9, 2015 Whether a close-up of a leafcutter ant, or a micrograph of the neurons derived from marmoset stem cells, or an MRI of the hidden pathways in the human brain, submissions to UW-Madison’s 2015 Cool Science Image Contest continue to put science and nature on eye-catching display.
  • Photo: Marsha Mailick Q&A with Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Marsha Mailick March 31, 2015 Marsha Mailick talks about the challenges and opportunities the research enterprise faces during this time of transition and budgetary uncertainty.
  • Photo: image showing tumor Ready, aim, fire! Cancer-targeting mechanism underlies promising UW-Madison spinoff March 30, 2015 For all their lethality, cancer cells don't look much different from healthy cells, a simple fact that causes endless pain and suffering. Finding cancer cells that have spread and threaten to grow into metastatic tumors is often a life-and-death matter.
  • cotton-top tamarin Hormone known for mother’s milk also fosters bond between parents March 30, 2015 Research has discovered a role for prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production in nursing mothers, in the bond between parents.
  • Image of a viral cell Ebola whole virus vaccine shown effective, safe in primates March 26, 2015 An Ebola whole virus vaccine, constructed using a novel experimental platform, has been shown to effectively protect monkeys exposed to the often fatal virus.
  • Artist’s impression of the full Square Kilometer Array at night Automation offers big solution to big data in astronomy March 24, 2015 It’s almost a rite of passage in physics and astronomy. Scientists spend years scrounging up money to build a fantastic new instrument. Then, when the long-awaited device finally approaches completion, the panic begins: How will they handle the torrent of data?
  • Photo: Ankur Desai For UW-Madison scientists, Northern Wisconsin serves as a lab and a classroom March 19, 2015 For the past decade, Ankur Desai has been working with collaborators from across the country to study the uptake and emission of carbon in northern Wisconsin’s forests, wetlands and lakes.
  • Study reveals possible biological trigger for canine bone cancer Feb. 25, 2015 Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) have identified the biological mechanism that may give some cancer cells the ability to form tumors in dogs. The recent study uncovered an association between the increased expression of a particular gene in tumor cells and more aggressive behavior in a form of canine bone cancer. It may also have implications for human cancers by detailing a new pathway for tumor formation.
  • Johnson Controls partners with UW-Madison to reduce commercial energy costs Feb. 19, 2015 Johnson Controls began when founder Warren Johnson invented the thermostat in 1885, and today the Milwaukee-based controls company is working toward another major innovation in heating and cooling in collaboration with UW-Madison chemical engineers. A research group led by Jim Rawlings, the Paul A. Elfers professor and W. Harmon Ray professor of chemical and biological engineering, has partnered with Johnson Controls to develop better HVAC control systems for its clients in large commercial buildings.
  • UW-Madison center sees hope for more diversity in children’s books Feb. 18, 2015 As the face of America becomes increasingly diverse, the number of children’s books by and about people of color has remained stubbornly stagnant over the past 25 years, according to annual data compiled by UW-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center. But the most recent figures, released Wednesday, may contain a sliver of good news for those hoping that kids’ books will one day better reflect the population at large.
  • UW-Madison ranks among leaders in recruiting Peace Corps volunteers Feb. 18, 2015 With 69 Badger alumni currently serving in 34 countries, the University of Wisconsin–Madison continues its tradition as one of the nation’s top producers of Peace Corps volunteers, according to the latest national rankings. Since 2001, when the Peace Corps began releasing its annual list of top universities and colleges, UW–Madison has consistently placed in the top 10, including six years in the top spot. This year, UW-Madison ranks second.
  • Accuracy in radiation firm with ties to UW marks 25 years in Middleton Feb. 13, 2015 In 1989, Ed Neumueller — who had been general manager of a company established by UW-Madison faculty member John Cameron — helped found Standard Imaging in Middleton to build quality assurance products for radiation delivery machines used in cancer treatment. The company is marking its 25th anniversary this year.
  • Slideshow: Pieces of UW-Madison astronomy history off to the nation’s attic Feb. 12, 2015 While cleaning out Sterling Hall cabinets that hadn’t been opened in decades, UW-Madison Space Place Director Jim Lattis and colleagues in the Astronomy Department struck historical gold: a collection of old photodiode and photomultiplier tubes dating to the earliest days of photoelectric astronomy. The university is donating 20 of the vintage photo detectors to the Smithsonian Institution for its permanent collection of astronomical instruments.
  • Learning lessons by following Madison’s foxes and coyotes Jan. 30, 2015 Last year, a family of foxes — complete with roly-poly kits — took up residence on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and made the city its playground. With winter in full swing, the foxes and their larger dog-like counterparts, coyotes, are out there again, roaming the wilder (and often not so wild) parts of the city and campus. This year, David Drake, a UW-Madison associate professor of forest and wildlife ecology, is welcoming the public to join him and his research team as they go out and radio collar the animals in an effort to track and better understand these urban canids.
  • UW computer scientists enhance robotic manufacturing Jan. 20, 2015 Some industrial robots are hulking, highly specialized pieces of machinery that are cordoned off by cages from human factory workers.
  • Carbon nanotube finding could lead to flexible electronics with longer battery life Jan. 14, 2015 University of Wisconsin-Madison materials engineers have made a significant leap toward creating higher-performance electronics with improved battery life — and the ability to flex and stretch. Led by materials science Associate Professor Michael Arnold and Professor Padma Gopalan, the team has reported the highest-performing carbon nanotube transistors ever demonstrated. In addition to paving the way for improved consumer electronics, this technology could also have specific uses in industrial and military applications.
  • Deer account for almost half of long-term forest change, study finds Jan. 2, 2015 A study released this week has linked at least 40 percent of species changes in the forests of northern Wisconsin and Michigan over the past 60 years to the eating habits of white-tailed deer.
  • Pecatonica without the ‘P’: Project cuts phosphorus levels in river Dec. 23, 2014 Conservation experts and farmers alike are rather pleased with the news out of southwestern Wisconsin. A seven-year pilot project in the 12,000-acre Pleasant Valley subwatershed of the Pecatonica River has helped to reduce the amount of phosphorus and sediment entering the river after major storms by more than a third.
  • Muddy forests, shorter winters present challenges for loggers Dec. 22, 2014 Stable, frozen ground has long been recognized a logger’s friend, capable of supporting equipment and trucks in marshy or soggy forests. Now, a comprehensive look at weather from 1948 onward shows that the logger’s friend is melting. The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Environmental Management, finds that the period of frozen ground has declined by an average of two or three weeks since 1948.