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Category: Research

Academic integrity issues are not race-neutral (opinion)

Inside Higher Ed

Race also matters in proctoring software built to monitor students during remote exams. Proctoring software does not always accurately assess people who have darker skin. At the University of Wisconsin at Madison and in other cases, students have been barred from or have had to pause from taking tests because of software failing to recognize faces of people with darker skin. The technology itself certainly is not racist. Yet, as scholars such as Ruha Benjamin and Safiya Noble have shown, the algorithms and codes structuring such technologies can perpetuate racial biases and stereotypes.

Ancient microbial life on Earth could help us recognize life on other planets, scientists say

FOX6 News Milwaukee

Quoted: “Life as we know it is as much an expression of the conditions on our planet as it is of life itself. We resurrected ancient DNA sequences of one molecule, and it allowed us to link to the biology and environment of the past,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison astrobiologist and study lead Betul Kacar.

Out-of-state abortion providers prepare to help Wisconsin patients after Supreme Court overturns Roe

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Jenny Higgins, a professor and director of the Collaborative for Reproductive Equity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said their research has also shown an increase in birth rates in Wisconsin in recent years due to abortion clinic closures. Higgins said Wisconsin’s abortion ban will have devastating impacts on people’s health and wellbeing in Wisconsin.

“Either people will travel out of state to get abortion care in Illinois and Minnesota, for example, which will take significant time, money and logistical resources,” said Higgins. “Some people will self-manage their abortions here in Wisconsin … and then, of course, some people will not be able to access abortion care at all.”

What should the candidates be talking about as they compete for your vote in Wisconsin this summer? Tell us.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: When the La Follette School of Public Affairs surveyed Wisconsin residents last fall, researchers found people in the state have far more complicated — and frankly, far more important — issues on their minds, things like climate change, health care, race relations and water quality, precisely the issues that don’t often get covered extensively in political campaigns or can easily be reduced to bumper sticker slogans.

Over the next four months, our “Wisconsin Main Street Agenda” project will report on what we’re learning from residents and explain what we know about the mood of the electorate based on that massive survey of Wisconsin residents by the University of Wisconsin Survey Center.

The project is a partnership of the Ideas Lab, the LaFollette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Public Radio.

What Does a Smart Toilet Do and Is It Worth It?

Men's Health

Turning more attention to the bowl is a boom in microbiome research that “has made it apparent just how important the organisms living in our gut really are,” says Joshua J. Coon, Ph.D., a professor of biomolecular chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Video games that teach empathy

The Washington Post

Research provides some support for this idea. In one small study, researchers at the University of Wisconsin created a game based on Jamal Davis, an imaginary Black male science student who experiences discrimination in his PhD program. Players took the role of Jamal Davis and experienced what he experiences because of his skin color. When questioned afterward, the players said they understood how he felt and could take on his perspective, indications that they felt empathy.

How will Madison beaches fare this summer? UW researcher predicts that blue-green algae will force closings of at least 2-4 days


The Clean Lakes Alliance has been monitoring the Madison-area lakes for cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in an effort to provide season-ahead algal bloom forecasting. Blue-green algae was responsible for at least eight of the 22 beach closures last summer. Beaches have been closed by the public health department in recent weeks due to high bacteria readings, though all are open now.

Dr. Paul Block, an associate professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at UW-Madison, has been conducting research to gauge the predictability of Lake Mendota’s water quality and hopes to apply his research to other area lakes as well. His research is the basis for the algal bloom forecast in the lakes of Madison.

NASA sounding rocket mission seeks source of X-rays emanating from inner galaxy

To human eyes, the night sky between the stars appears dark, the void of space. But X-ray telescopes capture a profoundly different view. Like a distant fireworks show, our images of the X-ray sky reveal a universe blooming with activity. They hint at yet unknown cosmic eruptions coming from somewhere deeper into our galaxy.

To help find the source of these mysterious X-rays, University of Wisconsin, Madison astronomer Dan McCammon and his team are launching the X-ray Quantum Calorimeter or XQC instrument. XQC will make its seventh trip to space aboard a NASA suborbital rocket. This time, XQC will observe a patch of X-ray light with 50 times better energy resolution than ever before, key to revealing its source. The launch window opens at Equatorial Launch Australia’s Arnhem Space Centre in Northern Territory, Australia, on June 26, 2022.

What the U.S. can do to mitigate global air pollution

Washington Post

Noted: The June 16 news article “Study: Air pollution reduces global life expectancy by more than two years” made the startling point that breathing dirty air has more of an impact on global life span than alcohol, cigarettes, terrorism or conflict. Think this is just a problem for the more crowded and less-developed parts of the world? A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin at Madison showed that eliminating air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels would prevent 50,000 premature deaths and provide more than $600 billion in health benefits each year in the United States.

Federal dairy innovation program gets a boost from pandemic relief funds

Wisconsin Examiner

A federal program will give Wisconsin and 10 other states a $20 million boost to help farmers, cheese makers and other dairy processors develop new products and new markets to help stabilize the embattled dairy industry.

The funds, announced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) Monday at a Jefferson County cheese producer, will expand the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

USDA is giving the money to the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, a joint project of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The groups will provide grants and support programs so that farms, dairy processors and related businesses can “modernize, reach new markets and create economic growth,” said Baldwin.

Madison guaranteed income program will give 155 households $500 monthly for a year

Wisconsin State Journal

UW-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty is partnering with the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania to gather survey data throughout the program. The information collected will be used to help guide policies and future programs, advocate for a national guaranteed income program and aid in the expansion of the social safety net.

Eyes on Schizophrenia

Wisconsin Public Radio

We see the term schizophrenia often, but what does a schizophrenia sufferer experience, and how can non-sufferers recognize the symptoms? UW-Madison Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry Diane C. Gooding will lead us through the complexities of a disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.

Not Just for the Birds: Avian Influenza Is Also Felling Wild Mammals

New York Times

Something was wrong with the foxes. That was what callers to the Dane County Humane Society in Wisconsin kept saying in April, as they reported fox kits, or young foxes, behaving in strange ways: shaking, seizing or struggling to stand. The kits, which were often lethargic and wandering by themselves, also seemed unusually easy to approach, showing little fear of humans.

Build Belonging: 6 Best Ways To Connect Based On Science


Noted: A study at the University of Wisconsin found digital messaging—and especially text—were effective in building relationships. The reason they made a difference is because they tended to communicate people were thinking about each other and taking time to reach out. The study found quantity was actually not as important as quality—communicating a real caring or attention to the other person.

Fathers feed babies too — so why are they so scarce in media coverage of the formula shortage?


Co-authored by Tova Walsh, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network and Alvin Thomas, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.

‘Zombie deer’ disease is killing herds across the country

Population Science

Allan Houston is a Professor of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Tennessee. Disclosure: Research on chronic wasting disease at the Ames station is conducted in cooperation with the University of Tennessee, Mississippi State University, the University of Wisconsin and Colorado State University.

What’s the latest on avian influenza in Wisconsin?

The Capital Times

As temperatures rise and the seasonal migration of wild birds comes to a close, this year’s transmission of the avian influenza may be nearing its end, said Keith Poulsen, director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

At UW-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine, a vaccine for avian influenza is currently in the works to prepare for future outbreaks. Poulsen, however, said it may be difficult to vaccinate millions of birds and could potentially affect international trade.

The Kinetics of the Seismic Cycle


Finally, additional hydrothermal synthesis experiments examining the detailed kinetics of quartz cementation at conditions reflective of the earthquake-producing crust would likely be informative.— Randolph T. Williams (; 0000-0002-1160-8842), University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA; and Åke Fagereng (0000-0001-6335-8534), Cardiff University, UK

Wisconsin ranks third worst in country for air pollution exposure disparities

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: A study released last month by UW-Madison researchers found the elimination of air pollution emissions across the country from energy-related activities could prevent more than 50,000 premature deaths a year.

In a press release about the analysis, Claire Gervais, a clinical associate professor with University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, called the results “shocking.”

“Doctors can only do so much,” Gervais said. “We must have better public policy to reduce industrial and transportation sources of fossil fuel burning.”

How to Start Over: Parents Are Not All Good and All Bad

The Atlantic

In my survey 1,600 estranged parents that I did through the University of Wisconsin Survey Center, one of the things that we found was about 70 percent of the estranged parents my survey had a divorce in their past from the [other] biological parent.

White House interns will be paid for the first time this fall, opening the doors of the prestigious program to lower-income applicants

Business Insider

In years past, interns across industries may have found themselves paying thousands to hold their positions, worsening income inequality. A recent brief from the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions at University of Wisconsin-Madison found that it’s likely middle-class and low-income students “self-select out of unpaid work due to their socio-economic status,” and therefore “are kept from these opportunities and their later rewards or take out loans that may be adding to an already considerable debt load.”

Longer wait times and fewer options for girls plague Wisconsin juvenile justice system already in disarray

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: In fact, a 2008 analysis from University of Wisconsin system researchers noted, “effective gender‐responsive care remains elusive in Wisconsin and elsewhere.”

The researchers found that girls who come into the juvenile justice system are more likely than boys to have run away from home, survived sexual abuse, experienced pregnancy, have a psychiatric condition and/or become involved with partners — especially males — who are also committing crimes.

“Adolescent girls are entering the juvenile justice system at higher rates than in the past, requiring that professionals responsible for administering programs respond to their specific needs,” researchers wrote.

Most teens have a healthy relationship with digital technology, so long as their parents do too

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Dr. Megan Moreno, a professor of pediatrics at UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health and study lead, said their findings show just how important parents are when it comes to teens and technology.

“Parents serve as such role models, and I think that when kids are young, the role-modeling includes a lot of instruction and talking; and I think when teens are older, parents teach more through their own behavior than through their own words,” she said.

New tool shows Wisconsin farmers financial benefits of letting cows graze

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: John Hendrickson, farm viability specialist for UW-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, helped develop the tool for the Grassland 2.0 project. Started in 2020 using a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the collaboration between researchers from UW-Madison and other universities, farmers and agriculture industry leaders is working to encourage farmers to adopt the use of grasslands.

“We want farms to be financially viable and sustainable for the long term,” he said. “But of course the Grasslands 2.0 project also has this larger look at the entire landscape and climate change and soil erosion and what can we do to have a more sustainable agricultural system on the landscape.”

Women return to the workforce after COVID-19

Spectrum News

According to a UW-Madison professor, there’s a big return to work in Wisconsin right now. Laura Dresser is an assistant clinical professor with the university’s Institute for Research on Poverty.

“There are more workers in the labor force today than there were in February of 2020 before the shutdowns,” she said.

She added the labor force participation rate is about 66% in the state.

“That doesn’t mean women’s lives aren’t really stressed by the pandemic, but I think we haven’t seen a kind of permanent shift in work as a result at least here in Wisconsin,” Dresser said.

Ancient canoe from Lake Mendota undergoes high tech scan

Wisconsin State Journal

UW-Madison announced Tuesday that Lennon Rodgers, who directs the Grainger Engineering Design and Innovation Laboratory, conducted the scans at the invitation of Wisconsin State Archaeologist James Skibo and Scott Roller, a senior collections manager for the Wisconsin Historical Society. The canoe, being preserved and housed at the Wisconsin State Archive Preservation Facility on Madison’s Near East Side, was out of its tank for about a day in order for Rodgers, who oversees the College of Engineering’s makerspace, to do his work.

Cutting fossil fuel air pollution saves lives


“These [particles] get deep into the lungs and cause both respiratory and cardiac ailments,” says Jonathan Patz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of the authors of the study. “They are pretty much the worst pollutant when it comes to mortality and hospitalization.”

This Is the Cheapest City to Buy Groceries

24/7 Wall Street

Metros were ranked based on the EPI’s annual food cost estimates. The food insecurity rate (the share of the population that lacks adequate access to food) is from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program’s 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report.

UW Veterinary Care offers rabbit vaccine against fatal disease


Researchers say a fatal rabbit hemorrhagic disease, RHDV2, is spreading across the U.S. In response to the outbreak, the UW Veterinary Care Special Species Health Service at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine is offering an emergency-authorized vaccine against the disease for rabbits.

In Praise of Anxiety


A similar effect comes from being in the presence of others, which can cause anxiety in some contexts but can also provide a pathway out. Research shows that receiving direct social support is one of the best ways to manage all types of distress, including anxiety. A 2006 study from the University of Wisconsin, for example, brought participants into the lab to take part in a high-anxiety situation: They entered a loud, claustrophobic MRI machine to have their brain scanned and were told to expect electrical shocks in the course of the procedure. One third of the group were allowed to hold the hand of a loved one, one third held the hand of a stranger, and the last third were left alone.

The Oldest County in Every State

24/7 Tempo

Supplemental data on total population is also based on five-year estimates from the 2020 ACS. Data on life expectancy by county came from the 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The identity of county seats comes from the National Association of Counties County Explorer.

Bioethanol: We have way too much corn.


In February, Tyler Lark, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, published a study analyzing the impact of the RFS. Lark and his colleagues researched the impact the policy had on crop prices and farm expansion between 2008 and 2016, comparing the real-world situation with a counterfactual one where biofuel production was kept at levels mandated in an earlier version of the RFS.