Arnold and Mabel Beckman were very involved in the creation of the Beckman Institute, not only because of their financial contribution, but also because of their personal ties to the University of Illinois, the state, and the people here. People who were around for the founding of the Institute and who are still a part of it today remember the Beckmans fondly.
Beckman researcher Art Kramer recently spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on June 24, 2009. Kramer took part in a discussion on “The Science of Staying Sharp: Healthy Functioning in the Aging Brain.” The findings discussed were from the report “Enrichment Effects on Adult Cognitive Development: Can the Functional Capacity of Older Adults be Preserved and Enhanced?” published in the APS journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.
Research by David Clayton of the Beckman Institute’s NeuroTech group has provided a new picture of memory in the songbird brain. Clayton, who led a successful effort to have the whole genome of the zebra finch songbird sequenced, found that gene expression in the songbird brain was changed in unexpected ways after hearing another songbird’s song.
The jury’s still out on computer games to boost brain power. “There needs to be much more research that asks whether these memory-training or reasoning-training products actually translate into living a higher quality life: being able to work longer, being able to drive longer, being able to live independently,” says Arthur Kramer, a Co-chair of the Human-Computer Intelligent Interaction research theme at the Beckman Institute.
Beckman Institute researcher Klaus Schulten was principal investigator on a study showing that a toxic molecule may play a critical role in bird navigation, including the mysterious process that allows them to “see” the Earth’s magnetic field.
A team from Beckman Institute researcher Elizabeth Stine-Morrow’s Senior Odyssey project took on college students and took home a big trophy at the World Finals of the Odyssey of the Mind competition.
A new invisibility cloak for sound could help doctors find tiny tumors or hide submarines from enemy sonar. “Our focus is not about dampening noise, but to guide sound waves around structures,” says Nicholas Fang, a Beckman researcher and professor of mechanical science and engineering at the U. of I. Fang is a co-author, with U. of I. graduate research assistant Shu Zhang and Leilei Yin, a microscopist at the Beckman Institute, of a paper that appears in the journal Physical Review Letters.
The Beckman Institute’s 20th Anniversary Year has a new web site while the 20th Anniversary Symposium that will highlight the groundbreaking research that has taken place here over the past two decades has a Nobel Laureate as its keynote speaker. Nobel Prize winner Susumu Tonegawa of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will give the keynote address of the 20th Anniversary Symposium, which will take place Oct. 5-7 at the Institute. Registration for the Symposium is now available.
Fast and affordable genome sequencing has moved a step closer with a new solid-state nanopore sensor being developed by a team at Illinois led by Rashid Bashir, a Beckman affiliate and U. of I. professor of electrical and computer engineering and bioengineering.
Beckman Institute researcher Martin Gruebele is co-author of a paper in Nature Methods that reports on a new technique for inducing protein folding that is up to 100 times faster than previous methods. Gruebele, a member of Beckman’s Nanoelectronics group, says the method provides for a “kinder, gentler way” of inducing proteins to fold, a discovery that could help guide more accurate computer simulations of the process.
Theorists have been working on materials that bend sound waves backward for several years. Such a metamaterial has now been built by a group led by Beckman researcher and U. of I. mechanical science and engineering professor Nicholas Fang, whose sound-focusing device is an aluminum array of narrow-necked resonant cavities whose dimensions are tuned to interact with ultrasound waves.