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Category: Research

How 3 ‘Determined’ Green Bay women are giving a voice to anguish, resilience of Alzheimer’s families with film 10 years in making

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: “Determined” tells the story of three women participating in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, or WRAP, the world’s largest family history study of Alzheimer’s disease. The University of Wisconsin-Madison research group that began in 2001 is made up of primarily middle-aged adults with a deceased or living parent with Alzheimer’s, a factor that makes them 2½ times more likely to get the disease than those without a family history.

When There’s No Heat: ‘You Need Wood, You Get Wood’

The New York Times

The connections between climate impacts, wood supply, and poverty have drawn researchers at the University Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Wisconsin to study wood banks on a national scale. Growing out of dozens of interviews of wood bank volunteers done by Clarisse Hart, director of outreach and education at the Harvard Forest, the team has identified 82 wood banks across the country.

Scientists Just Changed the Rules of What You Can Do While You Sleep

Popular Mechanics

Quoted: Benjamin Baird, a sleep researcher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who wasn’t involved in this study, told Scientific American the findings “challenge our ideas about what sleep is.” SciAm has more: Sleep has classically been defined as unresponsiveness to external environmental stimuli—and that feature is still typically part of the definition today, Baird explains. “This work pushes us to think carefully—rethink, maybe—about some of those fundamental definitions about the nature of sleep itself, and what’s possible in sleep.”

Pleasure Practices with Sami Schalk: A recipe for rest

Tone Madison

As we approach a full year of this pandemic and attempt to survive sub-zero Wisconsin winter, many of us are tired; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I teach at UW-Madison and the beginning of the semester is always an intense energetic marathon for me so I find myself having to be extra mindful about resting. So this month’s piece isn’t about food, but about rest as a political practice of resistance.

Ancient Trees Show When The Earth’s Magnetic Field Last Flipped Out


Quoted: “That high-resolution temporal record is, I think, pretty impressive,” says Brad Singer, a geologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies the history of the Earth’s magnetic field but was not part of the research team. “This is only a small number of specimens that they measured, but the results look fairly reproducible in the different trees, and I think that’s a pretty impressive set of data.”

When There’s No Heat: ‘You Need Wood, You Get Wood.’

New York Times

Noted: The connections between climate impacts, wood supply, and poverty have drawn researchers at the University Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Wisconsin to study wood banks on a national scale. Growing out of dozens of interviews of wood bank volunteers done by Clarisse Hart, director of outreach and education at the Harvard Forest, the team has identified 82 wood banks across the country.

People Answer Scientists’ Queries in Real Time While Dreaming

Scientific American

Quoted: These findings “challenge our ideas about what sleep is,” says Benjamin Baird, a postdoctoral researcher who studies dreams at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and was not involved in this study. Sleep has classically been defined as unresponsiveness to external environmental stimuli—and that feature is still typically part of the definition today, Baird explains. “This work pushes us to think carefully—rethink, maybe—about some of those fundamental definitions about the nature of sleep itself, and what’s possible in sleep.”

Scientists entered people’s dreams and got them ‘talking’

Science Magazine

Quoted: “This work challenges the foundational definitions of sleep,” says cognitive neuroscientist Benjamin Baird of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who studies sleep and dreams but was not part of the study. Traditionally, he says, sleep has been defined as a state in which the brain is disconnected and unaware of the outside world.

Nature Makes Wood. Could a Lab Make It Better?


In addition to the tantalizing possibilities of growing whole furniture, the plant-based materials could enhance fuels and chemicals production, says Xuejun Pan, a professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who wasn’t involved in the study. “You don’t have to necessarily grow a strong piece of wood. If you can produce a biomass, for example, as a future feedstock for bioindustry—competitively and productively—that could be attractive,” he says

Wisconsin Labs Use Genomic Sequencing To Track Spread, ‘Architecture’ Of New Coronavirus Strains

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Two researchers at UW-Madison began sequencing SARS-CoV-2 samples in February 2020. Virology professor Tom Friedrich and pathology professor Madison Dave O’Connor have a background in HIV research, and began sequencing SARS-CoV-2 samples from around Dane County as soon as local spread began.

“The sort of architecture of how the virus looks at the genetic level is a little different,” O’Connor said. “But the basic principles are the same as for HIV, and flu and other viruses.”

UW-Madison sued for allegedly hiding critical comments from its social media accounts

Wisconsin State Journal

AUW-Madison alumna alleges that the university scrubbed her critical comments about the university’s animal research practices from its social media accounts in a violation of her First Amendment rights. The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued UW-Madison last week on behalf of the former student, Madeline Krasno, who previously worked in a university research lab as an undergraduate animal caretaker.

Opportunity in America starts with fixing the internet, says social investing pioneer


Streur pointed to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison that shows how COVID-19 has made life in rural and low-income communities in Wisconsin, which ranks 38th for internet access out of all 50 states, even harder without broadband.

A team of university researchers led by Tessa Conroy found that even before the pandemic, those on the winning side of Wisconsin’s “digital divide” often had higher home values, improved health outcomes, better entrepreneurship opportunities and higher educational outcomes than those living without fast internet.

As world reels from coronavirus, UW researchers report on chimpanzee-killing disease, raising concerns about jump to humans

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A new and always fatal disease that has been killing chimpanzees at a sanctuary in Sierra Leone for years has been reported for the first time by an international team of scientists led by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A mysterious disease is killing chimps in West Africa. Scientists may now know the culprit


Disease ecologist Tony Goldberg was stunned in 2016 when he learned that a mysterious infection was swiftly killing chimpanzees at a lush sanctuary in Sierra Leone’s rainforest. “It was not subtle—the chimpanzees would stagger and stumble, vomit, and have diarrhea,” recalls Goldberg of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Sometimes they’d go to bed healthy and be dead in the morning.”

Lethal Chimp Disease Is Linked to Newly Identified Bacteria

The New York Times

In 2016, Dr. Goldberg, an epidemiologist and veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and head of the Kibale EcoHealth Project, was approached by the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance to try to solve the mystery. He and his colleagues at Wisconsin joined forces with other veterinarians and biologists in Africa and elsewhere to undertake a comprehensive analysis of blood and tissue from the dead chimps that had been frozen at a nearby hospital.

Pathogen Discovered That Kills Endangered Chimps; Is It a Threat to Humans?

Scientific American

But cases kept coming. In 2016, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, an umbrella organization for the continent’s primate sanctuaries, reached out to epidemiologist Tony Goldberg, Owens’ advisor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Goldberg was immediately intrigued. “This is an unknown infectious disease that poses a serious risk to the health and survival of an endangered species, which happens to be our nearest relative,” he says.

Scientists Worry 100% Fatal Bacteria Found In Chimps Will Jump To Humans

Kaiser Health News

The bacterium, Sarcina troglodytae, causes a disease called Epizootic Neurologic and Gastroenteric Syndrome, or ENGS. Although the illness has yet to be found in humans, “there are very few pathogens that infect chimpanzees without infecting humans,” said Tony Goldberg, one of the authors of the paper and a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of epidemiology.

New Method for Splitting Proteins Could Lead to Safer and More Effective Bioengineered Systems

Northeastern Engineering

Proteins are the workhorses that run all biological systems. Controlling when and how a protein performs its function provides bioengineers with exquisite control to manipulate or monitor a biological system. In this paper, researchers at Northwestern and the University of Wisconsin–Madison demonstrate a powerful design strategy for splitting bioactive proteins into fragments that only recombine under specific conditions.

Risk for atherosclerotic CVD in lupus nephritis ninefold higher with renal arteriosclerosis


“Previous studies demonstrated that patients with lupus nephritis who had atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) were significantly younger than those without lupus nephritis, and ASCVD risk was 42 times higher in patients with lupus nephritis who were aged 30 to 39 years,” Shivani Garg, MD, MS, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, told Healio Rheumatology. “The risk of ASCVD starts early, at the time of lupus nephritis diagnosis. Often traditional risk factors alone do not explain the accelerated ASCVD risk in such patients.

What is liquid nitrogen and when is it deadly?

NBC News

Liquid nitrogen is so cold that it freezes anything it touches, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It clocks in around 320 degrees below freezing. Because it’s so cold, liquid nitrogen immediately boils when it touches anything room temperature, which is what causes the cloudy smoke seen in fancy cocktails and frozen desserts.

Young People Spreading Covid a Concern in Rapidly Aging Japan


Noted: One way to appeal to youth on Covid-19 is by placing the wellbeing of their social group on their shoulders, said Dominique Brossard, a professor specializing in science communication at University of Wisconsin at Madison.

She pointed to the decades-old “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive” slogan in the U.S. as one successful campaign that helped lower incidence of youth drunk-driving. Simply relaying information about the virus may have limited effectiveness with the younger generation, who are accustomed to being bombarded with a constant stream of content.

How Laura Albert Helped Make Election Day in Wisconsin Safer Amid the Pandemic

American Association for the Advancement of Science

When public servants face a challenge, AAAS Member and newly elected 2020 AAAS Fellow Dr. Laura Albert finds solutions. Whether helping police tackle the opioid crisis, or assisting election officials in protecting voters during a deadly pandemic — which was one of her most recent feats — the University of Wisconsin-Madison professor uses mathematical models and analytics to recommend safe, economical and often innovative remedies.

Will the real retirement crisis please stand up?


These life-cycle models often find that there is a much smaller retirement crisis than suggested by a focus on replacing preretirement income. For example, one 2008 study—“Are All Americans Saving ‘Optimally’ for Retirement,” by John Karl Scholz and Ananth Seshadri of the University of Wisconsin-Madison—found that only 4% of households had a net worth that was below their optimal levels. The NRRI at the time was 44%.

Covid Face Masks Are Disrupting a Key Tool of Human Communications, New Research Shows

Wall Street Journal

In that test, the children correctly identified the emotional expression on uncovered faces about 66% of the time, well above the odds of just guessing, psychologist Ashley Ruba at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said. Looking at faces in surgical-type masks, however, the children were only able to correctly identify sadness about 28% of the time, anger 27% of the time, and fear 18% of the time.

“For very young children, I think it is still an open question as to how they’ll navigate these situations,” said Dr. Ruba, who studies how children learn to understand other people’s emotions. “Infants can use all these other cues, like tone of voice.”

Digital divide: Health, education, prosperity depend on high-speed internet

Wisconsin State Journal

But the problem may be worse than we thought, according to a new UW Extension study, with implications for health, education and prosperity — problems that are further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed nearly every aspect of daily life — from business to school and even health care — online. “People are choosing to live in places they can have access,” said Tessa Conroy, an assistant professor of applied economics and the lead author of the study. “More and more it’s connected to so many facets of life.”

How low-income people are spending their $600 pandemic stimulus payments

The Philadelphia Inquirer


It’s too soon for scholars to have studied how those in poverty have used their $600 stimulus checks. But in a study of the way Americans spent their first round of pandemic-related stimulus checks in April — many of those around $1,200 each — scholars from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Virginia showed that people spent a great deal of their allotment on food, helping to stave off hunger.

U OF I STUDY: Bears Like Baths, too


Noted: Their study was published in “Functional Ecology,” a journal of the British Ecological Society, and involved a collaborative team of researchers from the U of I, Washington State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and U.S. Geological Survey. It looked at how the risk of heat stress from a warming climate might affect milk production in grizzly bears. It also investigated how bears respond, including their use of soaking pools.

If You Have These Conditions, Your COVID Vaccine May Be Less Effective

Best Life

Noted: According to a Jan. 6 preprint of a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, if you develop a fever while you have COVID, you may be immune to COVID for a longer period of time.

“Such an inflammatory response may be key for developing a strong anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody response,” according to the study’s authors. And if you want to stay safe, These 3 Things Could Prevent Almost All COVID Cases, Study Finds.

Tracking the effects of glacial melting at the top of the world

Microsoft On the Issues

Microsoft’s AI for Good Research Lab is working with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the University of Wisconsin, and the Quebec AI Institute (Mila). Mila was founded in 1993 by professor Yoshua Bengio, a Canadian computer scientist renowned for his work on artificial intelligence (AI) and neural networks. Professor Bengio was the principal investigator on the project.