School of
Integrative Biology

SIB News

Professors Alison Bell and Alex Harmon-Threatt recognized for leadership and research

Four professors in the College of LAS have been named Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholars for their leadership and research.

Richard Romano (BS, ’54, chemical engineering) and his wife, Margaret, established the program, which provides faculty members with $25,000 per year for their work. This year’s scholars include Alex Harmon-Threatt and Alison Bell.

Study finds sexual lineage plays key role in transgenerational plasticity

A new pair of papers published in the Journal of Animal Ecology has shown that sexual lineage matters for how offspring receive adaptations from parents in stickleback fish. Researchers in the Bell Lab studied how parents who were exposed to predators passed the behavioral information to their offspring in different ways based on sex.

Trade‐offs tip toward litter trapping: Insights from a little‐known Panamanian cloud‐forest treelet

Each plant's development unfolds along many trade‐off axes. One common trade‐off is engendered by the differential allocation of tissues to harvest essential resources from the surrounding environment. Generally, photosynthetic leaves capture light energy and carbon dioxide, whereas roots take up water and mineral nutrients.

Study reveals unique physical, chemical properties of cicada wings

Scientists, including entomology professor Marianne Alleyne, are exploring the structural and chemical characteristics of cicada wings. This work, in part, is supported by a grant from the U.S. Army, as mentioned in a recent interview on NPR's All Things Considered.

Biological structures sometimes have unique features that engineers would like to copy. For example, many types of insect wings shed water, kill microbes, reflect light in unusual ways and are self-cleaning.

Corn and other crops are not adapted to benefit from elevated carbon dioxide levels

The U.S. backs out of the Paris climate agreement even as carbon dioxide (CO2) levels continue to rise. Through photosynthesis, plants are able to turn CO2 into yield. Logic tells us that more CO2 should boost crop production, but a new review, involving co-author Stephen Long, the Stanley O. Ikenberry Chair Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences, from the University of Illinois shows that some crops, including corn, are adapted to a pre-industrial environment and cannot distribute their resources effectively to take advantage of extra CO2.

To predict how crops cope with changing climate, 30 years of experiments simulate future

Five years ago, the United Nations committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030. Since then, however, world hunger has continued to rise. Nearly 9 percent of our global population is now undernourished, according to a 2020 report from the FAO, and climate variability is a leading factor driving us off course.

Super-resolution microscopy and machine learning shed new light on identifying fossil pollen grains

Plant biology researchers at the University of Illinois and computer scientists at the University of California Irvine have developed a new method of fossil pollen identification through the combination of super-resolution microscopy and machine learning. The team, led by Dr. Surangi Punyasena and Ms. Ingrid Romero (associate professor and graduate student in Plant Biology, respectively), developed and trained three convolutional neural network models to identify fossil pollen specimens from an unknown group of legumes.

CABBI Researchers Collaborate on Oilcane Pilot Project

From southeastern Florida to northern Mississippi to the Midwestern Corn Belt, CABBI scientists, including our own Don Ort and Steve Long, have struck sustainable oil with sugarcane. But the crop’s potential value to the renewable energy sector earns this particular variety a more appropriate designation: oilcane.

A groundbreaking endeavor uniting CABBI’s Feedstock Production and Conversion themes is coming to fruition with the fall 2020 harvest.

Illinois Regenerative Agriculture Initiative launches at University of Illinois

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is pleased to announce the Illinois Regenerative Agriculture Initiative (IRAI), a new home for regenerative agriculture research, education, and outreach. The IRAI launches this fall with grant support from Fresh Taste, bringing together researchers on campus, including our own Evan H. DeLucia (G. William Arends Professor of Integrative Biology, Professor of Plant Biology, and Founding Director of iSEE), and stakeholders in Illinois and beyond.

iSEE researchers receive NSF grant for sustainable future manufacturing

A research team, including Lisa Ainsworth and D.K. Lee with the University of Illinois' Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop a sustainable manufacturing system for the production of advanced electronic devices.