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  • COVID-19

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have developed a new mathematical model for predicting how epidemics such as COVID-19 spread. This model not only accounts for individuals’ varying biological susceptibility to infection but also their levels of social activity, which naturally change over time. Using their model, the team showed that a temporary state of collective immunity—which they termed “transient collective immunity”—emerged during the early, fast-paced stages of the epidemic. However, subsequent “waves,” or surges in the number of cases, are predicted to appear because of changing social behaviors due to pandemic fatigue or variations in imposed mitigations. Their results appeared online on April 8, 2021 in advance of publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  • Education

Connections with other physics teachers are a big part of Marianna’s story. A lover of physics from her high school days and a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Physics, she got little nudges and encouragements from former teachers early in her career. Relationships with those mentors and colleagues led her to engage first with local organizations for physics teachers then with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). Her work still incorporates some of the ideas she picked up during professional meetings, conferences, and workshops. These were and are a big influence on how each piece of her teaching strategy is intentionally constructed.

The long-awaited first results from the Muon g-2 experiment at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory show fundamental particles called muons behaving in a way that is not predicted by scientists’ best theory, the standard model of particle physics. This landmark result, made with unprecedented precision, confirms a discrepancy that has been gnawing at researchers for decades.

Physicists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign played a major role in producing the new result, which confirms the result from two decades ago: muons behave in a way that is not predicted by scientists’ best theory, the standard model of particle physics.

  • Research

Using a novel integrative computational technique, scientists from Northwestern and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) were able to classify disease conditions at the molecular level using epigenomic data sets, according to a recent study published in Cell Reports.

The new approach, collaboratively developed by the authors from Northwestern and UIUC, is called DeCET (Decomposition and Classification of Epigenomic Tensors); it analyzes complex, heterogeneous data to identify epigenomic differences between tissue types, disease subtypes, and changes in cell type, or cellular differentiation, explained Debabrata Chakravarti, PhD, vice chair for translational research and the Anna Lapham Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and lead author of the study.

Research Highlights

  • superconducting computer memory

We report a superconducting kinetic inductance memory (SKIM) element, which can be controlled exclusively by the bias supercurrent, without involving magnetic fields and heating elements. The kinetic inductance is provided by extremely narrow nanowires or nanobridges. The SKIM is a nonvolatile memory. The device is made of two Nb Dayem bridges, and it can operate reliably up to 2.8 K. The achieved error rate is as low as one in 105. The memory element could find applications in superconducting supercomputers.

Donor support for COVID-19 research has had far-reaching benefits

donor stories

Donor support for COVID-19 research has had far-reaching benefits

“We did not have the time to write external grants and could not rely on traditional and slow funding vehicles. Instead we are supported by philanthropic funds that enable us to use necessary supercomputer resources, which would otherwise not be accessible.” notes Swanlund Professor of Physics Nigel Goldenfeld.

Engineering Visionary Scholarships

Sara Shahid

Give to the Engineering Visionary Scholarship. EVS attracts the brightest students, ensures a diverse and talented class, and helps reduce student debt.

“The relief of financial burden this scholarship has lifted from my family‚Äôs shoulders is truly a priceless gift, and the generosity of donors that have made this possible inspires me to want to give others this same gift of relief, security, and most of all educational opportunity, as it has done for me.”

— Sara Shahid, Engineering Physics Class of '22, EVS Scholarship recipient

Learn more

2021 APS Medal & Society Prizes

2021 APS Medal & Society Prizes

Illinois Physics Professor Gordon Baym received the 2021 APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research. Here is a video with interviews of the exceptional scientists who were honored with Medals and Society Prizes this year. Watch Professor Baym's segment starting at 0:11:22.

Watch Professors Vishveshwara and Bright's virtual <em>Quantum Voyages</em> produced at UCSD

Watch Professors Vishveshwara and Bright's virtual Quantum Voyages produced at UCSD

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/P-dfVDfs5PE" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>This original creation explores physics through the performing arts. It is one part of a larger scope of physics-and-the-arts collaborations initiated by Illinois Physics Professor Smitha Vishveshwara.

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