News & Stories

You may also like … Algorithms that improve drug discovery

Anthony Gitter, a Morgridge investigator and assistant professor of biostatistics and medical informatics, says the goal will be to create machine learning tools that dramatically reduce the time and cost associated with screening compounds for therapeutic relevance. Learn more >

Blue Sky Science: How do the sun and rain make rainbows?

Rainbows are really cool because they’re a blend between art and science. It required a number of scientists to actually explain how they form, including Isaac Newton.

Blue Sky Science: How do plants grow if there’s no sunlight?

Plants need sunlight for a process that we call photosynthesis. Plants are what we call autotrophs, meaning they create their own food or energy to grow.

Blue Sky Science: How many galaxies are in the universe?

Counting the number of galaxies in the universe is tough, because we can’t see all of the galaxies in the universe. At a certain point, distant galaxies disappear from our field of view.

Blue Sky Science: What is water scarcity?

Water scarcity is essentially when there’s not enough water in the right place at the right time. Even in places that seem water-rich, it may not be clean enough for its intended purposes.

Blue Sky Science: What’s the difference between types of 3D printer filaments?

3D printing is the process by which we make a piece layer by layer, and the various forms of 3D printing differ in how they make each layer. Extrusion-based printing, or fused deposition modeling, uses filaments. It takes a raw material and extrudes it through a die to create a long strand That’s what a filament is.

Blue Sky Science: How does a curveball curve?

The rule to remember for curveballs: whichever way the front face of the ball is spinning will be the direction in which it curves. The effect is more dramatic with ping pong balls and tennis balls because of their lower mass compared to baseballs.

You may also like … Algorithms that improve drug discovery

Anthony Gitter, a Morgridge investigator and assistant professor of biostatistics and medical informatics, says the goal will be to create machine learning tools that dramatically reduce the time and cost associated with screening compounds for therapeutic relevance.

Pagliarini earns distinguished early career honor from Protein Society

Dave Pagliarini, lead investigator of metabolism for the Morgridge Institute for Research and associate professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is being recognized for major early-career achievement by The Protein Society.

Blue Sky Science: How are robots and humans similar?

Robots can be similar to people, but they aren’t necessarily so. People create the robots and can choose what aspects of functionality and design are important, but there are some benefits you get out of similarity.

Morgridge researcher scores in cancer research ‘lightning round’

Melissa Skala, a Morgridge Institute for Research investigator in medical engineering, won a highly competitive award from the nonprofit organization Stand Up to Cancer at its annual 2017 summit January in Santa Monica.

Blue Sky Science: Is the biofuel process a complete cycle?

The production of biofuels starts by growing plants out in a field or forest. All of the biomass represented in those plants essentially comes through photosynthesis.

Failure isn’t fatal: A favor to the future

Dr. Stuart Firestein, author of “Failure: Why Science Is So Successful” and professor at Columbia University, brings attention to the virtues of courage and patience when advising young investigators on how to handle failure at the beginning of their career.

Blue Sky Science: Why is there gravity on Earth but not in space?

There’s actually gravity pretty much everywhere. But why do we feel gravity more here on the surface of the Earth instead of in space when astronauts appear weightless?

‘KinderMining:’ Tackling big data sets by keeping things simple

With about 100 lines of code, a Morgridge Institute for Research team has unleashed a fast, simple and predictive text-mining tool that may turbo-charge big biomedical pursuits such as drug repurposing and stem cell treatments.

Blue Sky Science: How does saving a file or image to a hard drive work?

A hard disk drive contains a circular shiny silver disk, similar to a CD or DVD but much smaller. This disk is coated with a magnetic material, and information is stored by magnetizing very tiny pieces of this surface.

Blue Sky Science: Why do fresh cheese curds squeak?

When cheese is manufactured, the milk is clotted and some of the water removed. You end up with a curd, a tough structure where the proteins in the cheese form a mesh.

Blue Sky Science: How much does a human brain typically weigh?

The human brain includes 100 billion neurons, or brain cells, and is an ever-changing organ.

Jan Huisken: Building a better, smarter microscope

As the medical engineering lead at Morgridge, Huisken will continue his innovations in “smart microscopy” by building custom devices both for his own lab and for the campus research community.

Blue Sky Science: How are cells created?

New cells are created from existing cells through a process referred to as the cell cycle. One cell can make a copy of itself and form two new daughter cells.

Study shows stem cells fiercely abide by innate developmental timing

The mystery of what controls the range of developmental clocks in mammals — from 22 months for an elephant to 12 days for a opossum — may lie in the strict time-keeping of pluripotent stem cells for each unique species.

Blue Sky Science: How do rockets get past Earth’s atmosphere?

Rockets encounter most of the resistance when they’re near the Earth’s surface. The higher up they get, the thinner the air gets, and the resistance pushing against the rocket gets lower.

High-throughput computing plays pivotal role in knee biomechanics research

Darryl Thelen, professor in mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducts research with this notion in mind while using computational models of the musculoskeletal system and high-throughput computing resources to refine knee surgical procedures.

Jose Maria Ayuso Dominguez: A Man of Many Names and Talents

If there were two words that described Jose Dominguez they would be: radiating enthusiasm. It’s easy to see his incredible passion and positivity for his research and life.

What we can learn from hibernation – Q&A with Hannah Carey

Hannah Carey, a UW-Madison professor of comparative biosciences, uses hibernating mammals as models to study extreme changes in physiology and nutrition that occur on a seasonal basis. Carey discusses this remarkable process and its potential to impact human health by improving trauma care.

Blue Sky Science: How do bees make honey?

Most bee species do not make honey, but those that do—as you might guess—are specifically called honey bees.

Blue Sky Science: How does electricity move through wires?

It’s a complicated process, but there are charges inside wires and these charges can be acted on by an electric field. They can move through the wire in something that’s called an electric current.

Tapping the ‘wild collaboration’ within biomedical engineers

By partnering with the Morgridge Institute for Research, BME landed internationally recognized optical imaging pioneers Melissa Skala and Jan Huisken to their new faculty ranks.

Blue Sky Science: Can brain injuries sustained while playing sports be fully recovered from?

A concussion is defined as a traumatic blow to the head coupled with some kind of altered consciousness. Some people refer to it as seeing stars, getting your bell rung. People may feel disoriented for a period of time.

‘Crossroads of Ideas’ to lead spring 2017 with new WID director

The “Crossroads of Ideas” campus lecture series will kick off the spring 2017 season with a talk from the new Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) Director Jo Handelsman on the worldwide threat of declining soils.

Blue Sky Science: How does virtual reality work?

A broad definition says virtual reality is the idea of combining the physical world and the artificial world in such a way that the two are indistinguishable. How could technology provide all of the sensory sensations or different ways that people see, feel and hear the world such that the artificial and physical are blended together?

Chris Barry: Exploring the mystery of developmental clocks

Why does it take about nine months for humans to fully develop from conception to birth, compared to 22 months for an elephant, or just three weeks for the world’s most-studied mammal, the mouse?

Blue Sky Science: How does the moon affect the tides?

The tides are the result of the moon exerting its gravitational force on the ocean and bulging it both toward and away from the moon. The tide is higher, the ocean is higher, at the location closest to the moon and on the opposite side of the Earth.

Blue Sky Science: Why do some viruses cause cancer?

Infectious agents—both bacterial and viral—are responsible for about 25 percent of all human cancers. The virus infection does not by itself cause cancer, but can interfere with a cell’s normal maintenance of things.

Blue Sky Science: How do animals evolve and get new traits?

How animals evolve and develop traits is basically the foundation of evolutionary biology. Whether it be animal or plant, bacteria or fungi, there is one organism that gave rise to all those types of life.

Blue Sky Science: How long would it take a tree to grow in space?

It’s a complicated question because, while researchers have grown spruce seedlings on the International Space Station, they haven’t grown full-size trees. Using knowledge of how trees operate on Earth, scientists can guess what’s going to happen when they’re grown in space.

Blue Sky Science: Why are snowflakes individually unique?

Two important factors influence the shape of snowflakes. One is the ambient temperature, and the other is humidity. A snowflake needs to grow under the condition of a super saturated environment.

Blue Sky Science: How does the epiglottis distinguish between water, food and air?

Swallowing is one of the most obvious functions the epiglottis serves, because it hoods over the airway, or larynx, when you eat and drink. When you swallow, the muscles in your throat respond by pulling the voice box up and underneath the tongue, and the epiglottis is pulled to cover over the larynx.

Blue Sky Science: Can all mosquitos transmit viruses like Zika?

Not all mosquitos can transmit the Zika virus, and that’s the case with any mosquito-borne pathogen. There are about 3,000 species of mosquitos in the world and only a handful—about 150—are considered vectors of pathogens, capable of spreading viruses.

Brad Schwartz: Measure what matters in science

In a guest blog for the Nov. 22 online edition of Scientific American, Morgridge Institute CEO Brad Schwartz writes about a challenge research institutions face in conveying the true societal value of research.

Blue Sky Science: Why do we have freckles?

Freckles are composed of an ingredient called melanin, which protects against damage caused by UV light. Your body makes melanin to protect itself from sun damage.

OnLume receives SBIR support for image-guided surgery

OnLume received the $300,000 Phase I SBIR grant through the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the development of imaging and lighting systems for transient lighting in fluorescence image-guided surgery.

Blue Sky Science: How does thunder form?

Thunder is formed by the intense heating produced by lightning. The thunder you hear is made up of vibrations that travel as sound waves through the air until they reach your ear.

Blue Sky Science: Why do chickens lay different-colored eggs?

Genetics is the simple answer to why chickens lay different-colored eggs. Some chickens lay white shell eggs and some lay brown shell eggs, similar to the way hair color varies in people.

Blue Sky Science: How do temperature and wind affect traffic noise?

In terms of temperature, sound waves move faster in warm air and slower in cold air. So as sound moves through the atmosphere, some parts of the wave will be moving faster than the rest.

Morgridge ‘prototype pathway’ yields a novel organ transplant technology

Organ transplantation has come a long way from its early days in the mid-twentieth century. But even with major medical advances, there’s still an admittedly familiar factor at play: ice.

Can artery ‘banks’ transform vascular medicine?

The prospect of creating artery “banks” available for cardiovascular surgery, bypassing the need to harvest vessels from the patient, could transform treatment of many common heart and vascular ailments.

Blue Sky Science: How do we make robots?

Imagine building a robot in three stages.

Best of the Fest: 2016 Wisconsin Science Festival

The Wisconsin Science Festival engaged thousands over four days of science-driven programming and has become a celebration of creativity and scientific discovery for audiences of all ages. New activities blossomed across the state as a record-breaking number of statewide sites participated.

Blue Sky Science: How does a 3D printer make color?

3D printing involves making an object layer by layer. There are many 3D printing techniques, and they all differ in how each layer is constructed. Each type of printer has a different opportunity or mechanism for adding color.

Blue Sky Science: What is a solar flare?

A solar flare is a release of magnetic energy from the sun. The energy is stored as a magnetic field around the sun, and then it is released with energetic particles and waves coming from the solar surface.

Getting personal with pancreatic cancer

Oncologists are struggling to improve the grim survival rates of pancreatic cancer, which are especially frustrating in an era that is making good progress on other cancer fronts. “I think everyone now understands that there’s got to be a better way,” says Dr. Dustin Deming, assistant professor of medicine with the UW-Madison School of Medicine […]

Blue Sky Science: What is cedar-apple rust disease?

Cedar-apple rust is one of several plant diseases that are all caused by different species of a fungus called gymnosporangium. All of these diseases are referred to as gymnosporangium rust diseases.

From physics to fitness, athletes in science challenge minds and bodies

From Rosalind Franklin to Edwin Hubble, history has shown that athleticism and scientific prowess are not mutually exclusive traits.

Mateusz Manicki: Collaboration breeds scientific opportunity

In order to understand the biochemical underpinnings of disease, it is imperative to shrink down to the molecular level. It’s this mentality that steered Mateusz Manicki all the way from Poland’s Gdansk University to Madison, Wisconsin to study mitochondrial proteins. Manicki will be using mass spectrometry resources to better understand the functionality of cells contributing to a given disease.

Crossroads of Ideas series explores timely, thought-provoking topics

The Crossroads of Ideas lecture series, now in its second year, takes audiences on a journey of intellectual enlightenment.

Blue Sky Science: Why (and for how long) do butterflies stay in a cocoon?

Caterpillars start out as very small, tiny creatures. In the beginning they eat lots of food—just like the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”—and get bigger and bigger.

Blue Sky Science: What precautions are recommended in regards to Zika virus and pregnancy?

Many people travel to areas that have active, ongoing transmission of Zika virus disease.

Thomson honored for stem cell research legacy

Wisconsin biotechnology advocacy organization BioForward honored two giants in state biomedical innovation — stem cell research pioneer James Thomson and entrepreneur Ralph Kauten — for their scientific and business achievement during its annual summit September 27 in Madison.

Blue Sky Science: Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of permanent molars that typically come in between the ages of 17 and 25. Some people don’t form them anymore, and a lot of people that do need to have wisdom teeth taken out.

Curious research: Endowed chair honors developmental biologist Phil Newmark

Newmark, who joined the Regenerative Biology research focus at the Morgridge Institute and the Department of Zoology this summer, is also serving as the first recipient of the Burnell R. Roberts Chair in Regenerative Biology.

Blue Sky Science: Why do the northern and southern lights only appear near the poles?

The formation of the northern and southern lights—known as aurora borealis and aurora australis—begins with solar flares from the sun. The solar flares eject groups of electrons from the sun that act as a wind and flow toward the Earth.

Early development reveals axolotl mysteries

In the amphibian world, the axolotl is the replacement-parts king. This endangered Mexican salamander serves as its own NAPA store for lost body parts, able to fully regenerate limbs, tail, heart, spine and eyes — making it a model of curiosity for regenerative biologists.

Blue Sky Science: Why do some logs float and some sink?

Whether an object floats or sinks in water is determined by the ratio of its weight compared to its volume. If an object of a certain volume weighs more than an equal volume of water, it sinks because the water can’t hold it up. If an object weighs less than an equal volume of water, it floats because the water can support its weight.

Tech investment spurs Alzheimer’s research

The Laboratory of Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry (LBMS), launched in summer 2015, accelerates the university’s ability to apply this powerful technology to high-impact projects, says Joshua Coon, UW-Madison professor of chemistry and biomolecular chemistry and LBMS director.

Play us a song: the (Hyper)piano man

Christopher Taylor has the hands of a musician, his fingers most at home striking the keys of a piano, and an analytical mind honed by years of computer programming. Now after tackling his latest endeavor, Taylor can also call himself an engineer, a builder, a maker.

Science arcade night, storytelling headline 2016 Wisconsin Science Festival

From arcade games to storytelling to stargazing, the 2016 Wisconsin Science Festival, held Oct. 20-23, will feature something for everyone across 200-plus events.

Blue Sky Science: Could we harness energy in space for use on Earth?

When thinking about collecting energy from a source in space, the natural answer is the sun.

Blue Sky Science: How are moons created?

Anything that orbits a planet is a moon, and moons can form in several different ways.

Blue Sky Science: What are bacteria?

Bacteria are amazing single-celled, simple organisms. They’re found everywhere on the planet in all sorts of environments from your gut to the soil to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Sarah Erickson-Bhatt: Bridge to a breakthrough

When Sarah Erickson-Bhatt lost her mother to breast cancer before she began undergraduate study in 2001, the physics student determined that fighting cancer would become her life’s work.

Blue Sky Science: How do toys affect a baby’s development?

Virtually every theory of child development says that play is crucial to development in every way. It impacts cognitive development, social and emotional development, as well as language development.

Course aims to prepare scientific postdocs for leadership

Postdoctoral trainees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have an opportunity to refine their professional leadership skills through a six-session course starting in fall 2016.

Blue Sky Science: Could we use viruses to fight cancer?

Cancer is, essentially, cells that have started to grow uncontrollably and stop behaving like normal cells. Viruses are an attractive treatment tool because they, by their very nature, are manipulators of cells. It may be possible to reengineer viruses in a way that could either stop cancers from growing or kill cancer cells.

Mitochondrial maps reveal new connections to poorly understood diseases

Mitochondria are the engines that drive cellular life, but these complex machines are vulnerable to a wide range of breakdowns, and hundreds of their component parts remain a functional mystery.

Blue Sky Science: Why do beavers, rabbits have the same kind of teeth?

Squirrels, beavers, chipmunks and rabbits all have similarly-shaped teeth, because all of those animals have teeth that continually grow throughout their lives.

Blue Sky Science: Are there wormholes that lead to other galaxies?

Wormholes can exist within the framework of general relativity, Albert Einstein’s theory that governs how space-time interacts with matter in our universe.

Plumbing the possibilities of ‘seeing around corners’

The Morgridge Institute for Research and University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are working to optimize a camera capable of a slick optical trick: Snapping pictures around corners.

John Durant helping light science festival fireworks nationwide

Durant is director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Museum, where he began in 2005 after decades of leadership at major British science museums. This summer, Durant joined the scientific advisory board of the Morgridge Institute for Research, where he will give guidance to an outreach program that attracts more than 30,000 people annually to the Discovery Building.

Blue Sky Science: What determines the melting or boiling point of a substance?

Before we can answer that question, we need to know first: What is a solid? What’s a liquid? What’s a gas?

Jing Fan joins Morgridge Institute metabolism theme

Can we fight cancer by targeting its metabolism, essentially starving tumors of the nutrients they need to survive? It’s one of the intriguing big-picture questions in the research field of Jing Fan, a new investigator in the Morgridge Institute for Research metabolism theme.

Blue Sky Science: How long does it take a GMO product to grow?

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, refer to any plant or animal that has been genetically modified by humans. For centuries, breeders have been able to do this through selective breeding practices.

Blue Sky Science: Does an earthquake ever form a new tectonic plate?

Most earthquakes occur when a geological fault, fractures within the earth’s crust, slip and release energy. Individual faults, some of which form the tectonic plate boundaries, build up strain over decades and centuries to eventually break in large earthquakes.

Madison College students think outside the shell in stem cell project

Since chick embryos lack a developed immune system, scientists are able to engraft other types of cells — including mouse and human cells — into the friendly 3D confines of the embryo and study their behavior. Under the right conditions, the introduced cells can thrive.

Blue Sky Science: How do fireworks get their color and shape?

Fireworks, as you can tell from the name, involve fire. To get a fire you need fuel, oxygen and heat, and that’s true in fireworks also.

Blue Sky Science: Could we make a living creature using only stem cells?

Stem cells are special cells inside your body that can multiply indefinitely, or make copies of themselves. They can also differentiate, meaning they can become every cell type that’s present in your body.

NIH leader headlines summit on big data and health

Phillip Bourne, who since 2014 has served as the NIH’s first associate director for data science, will give the keynote address June 30 at the annual research retreat for Wisconsin’s own big-data center, called the Center for Predictive Computational Phenotyping (CPCP).

Blue Sky Science: What makes a mammal? Is an octopus a mammal?

It’s a great guess, but an octopus is not a mammal. An octopus is an invertebrate animal, which means it has no spine. More specifically, an octopus is a cephalopod, like squid and cuttlefish. They’re some of the smartest invertebrates.

Linectra and Xemex tie for second in manufacturing category of statewide competition

Two Morgridge-affiliated inventors tied for second place in the advanced manufacturing category of this year’s statewide Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

Three Morgridge-affiliated inventors are state business plan finalists

The Morgridge Institute for Research will be well represented in this year’s statewide Governor’s Business Plan Contest, with three of the 13 finalists having direct ties to the Morgridge Medical Engineering research group.

Blue Sky Science: How did dinosaurs go extinct?

When it comes to dinosaur extinction, the working idea is what’s called the bolide impact. This is the hypothesis that a meteorite came to the surface of the Earth, hit the Earth, and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Blue Sky Science: How are waterfalls made?

It basically it takes four things to make a waterfall.

Regeneration pioneer to join Morgridge Institute, UW-Madison faculty

Phil Newmark, a developmental biologist studying the mysteries of how the body regenerates damaged tissue, will join the Morgridge Institute for Research and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Zoology where he will hold the Burnell R. Roberts Chair in Regenerative Biology beginning in fall 2016. Newmark, currently a professor at the University of Illinois […]

Blue Sky Science: Why is it difficult to predict which flu vaccine will be most effective?

A vaccine is meant to train your immune system to recognize a virus so it can fight off that virus if you ever come in contact with it.

Pagliarini ‘energized’ by White House visit

It’s not every day someone gets the chance to stroll through the East Wing of the White House, snapping photos and checking out its famous Blue Room and Red Room. Dave Pagliarini experienced that and more during his trip to the nation’s capital May 5-6 to receive his Presidential Early Career (PECASE) award.

Can cybersecurity crack the undergraduate curriculum?

In a time when million-dollar security breaches of household name corporations regularly make headlines and complicate lives, computer science undergraduates at America’s universities remain surprisingly underexposed to basic cybersecurity tactics. The Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP), a national cybersecurity facility housed at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison, Wis., has been working to address this […]

Blue Sky Science: What’s going on in the brain when people sleepwalk?

When we sleep we go through different types of sleep stages. You have slow-wave sleep, which is like your deep sleep, and then there’s dream sleep, which is called REM sleep.

Community, business leader Mary Burke joins Morgridge Board of Trustees

Mary Burke will bring more than two decades of experience in Wisconsin business, civic and educational leadership to the Morgridge Institute for Research as a new member of its Board of Trustees.

Collagen imaging: Bridging the gap between microscopy and the clinic

When it comes to diagnosing breast cancer and predicting how the disease will progress in a patient, current practice is seeing a gap between the imaging information scientists can get from a high resolution microscope and the lower resolution images typically gathered in the clinical setting.

Blue Sky Science: How do hovercrafts work?

To understand how a hovercraft works, we have to understand a few things about matter. We, and all ordinary matter, are made of little tiny things called atoms and clumps of atoms called molecules.

Blue Sky Science: How did animals evolve from water to land?

Water to land evolution is a complex question, and one that is still actively researched today.

Blue Sky Science: Why do supercomputers have to be so big?

We need supercomputers because scientists are doing really awesome work that requires lots of computing time. For some of this work, if we weren’t using supercomputing to break up tasks and make processing faster, it would take years or decades to complete.

Blue Sky Science: Do plants produce nectar every day?

Not all plants produce nectar, only plants that are visited by animal-type pollinators. Plants that are wind pollinated, for example, will not produce nectar.

#100miles4research: Kopietz celebrates 19 years cancer-free

The Kopietz Family (L-R): Lucas, Courtni, Jeff, Teresa, and Tyler. Courtni and her dad Jeff are soon embarking on a 100-plus mile trek across Portugal to celebrate Courtni’s 19th year cancer-free. All proceeds donated to #100miles4research campaign will benefit the Morgridge Institute for Research.

Blue Sky Science: When will a human trip to Mars be possible?

We could send humans to Mars whenever we want to. We have the technology to do it today, though we would need to build new rockets that use that technology.

CAREER award to explore dynamics of biology

Anthony Gitter remembers the mental spark when listening to a recent talk about the discovery of so-called “precocious cells” — a tiny group of cells that lead an advance charge against infection.

Blue Sky Science: Can people have the abilities of animals?

This question brings up all kinds of interesting issues about who we are as humans and how we compare to other animals.

Blue Sky Science: How does someone get two different-colored eyes?

When the eye color, or iris color, is different between the two eyes, the condition is called iris heterochromia.

Blue Sky Science: How did scientists find out about electricity?

Electricity is a complex topic that drives the world as we know it today, from Thomas Edison’s iconic light bulb to the satellites that enable our cell phones. Fundamentally, electricity is just the presence and flow of electric charge.

Blue Sky Science: How do some plants grow without dirt?

The principal purpose of soil is to provide mineral nutrition for the plant.

Morgridge virology team leader wins distinguished Hilldale Award

Paul Ahlquist, leader of the Morgridge Institute virology team, is one of four recipients of the Hilldale Award for distinguished contributions to teaching, research and service.

New Morgridge research team leader foresees era of ‘smart microscopes’

Jan Huisken, a scientist who develops tools to image biology in its unaltered natural state, will lead the medical engineering focus area at the Morgridge Institute for Research and help catalyze a campus-wide multi-scale imaging initiative.

High Throughput Computing helps LIGO confirm Einstein’s last unproven theory

A few years ago, a global team of scientists parlayed decades of research into the discovery of the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle considered a building block of the universe. A humble software program called HTCondor churned away in the background, helping analyze data gathered from billions of particle collisions.

Blue Sky Science: How do scientists find fossils?

There are a number of steps that go into a researcher finding a fossil, something I spend a majority of my summer doing. First you have to figure out what kind of fossil you want to find.

Blue Sky Science: What’s the science of leap year?

2016 is a leap year, meaning we insert an extra day, February 29, into the calendar. We do this once every four years in order to keep our calendar aligned with the Earth’s seasons.

Pagliarini earns presidential recognition for research on mitochondria

Dave Pagliarini, Director of Metabolism at the Morgridge Institute for Research and Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has received the U.S. government’s highest honor for scientists in the early stages of their careers.

Blue Sky Science: Do you think there’s life on other planets?

The short answer to the question is that we don’t know. The closest planets to Earth are located millions of miles away, so it’s very difficult to go off and find evidence directly.

Blue Sky Science: How is spider silk made?

Spiders have silk-producing glands in their bodies, specifically in their abdomen. In these glands they have the chemical components already put together to produce silk, but it’s in a liquid form.

Q&A with Discovery Audio-Visual Coordinator Alan Ruby

If you’re one of the thousands of people annually who participate in meetings at the Discovery Building, chances are you’ve benefited from the skills and commitment of Alan Ruby and his team.

Melissa Skala: Follow the Light to Better Cancer Treatment

Skala’s research problems focus on cancer detection and treatment, and her expertise in light-based, optical imaging is giving clinicians revolutionary new tools for the fight. Skala will be bringing her talents this summer from Vanderbilt University to the Morgridge Institute for Research and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as a Morgridge investigator and professor of Biomedical Engineering (BME).

Blue Sky Science: Why can people eat the same diet or take the same medication and have different outcomes?

This is a question scientists are still trying to figure out. We know that it has to do with the specific genetic makeup, and everyone has slight differences in metabolism.

Blue Sky Science: What and where is the Yahara watershed?

The Yahara watershed is a geographic area in south central Wisconsin. It is comprised of about 370,000 people and 359 square miles home to the city of Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and this chain of lakes we refer to as the Yahara lakes.

Morgridge, campus partner to power up ‘mass spec’ potential

The Morgridge Institute for Research, as part of its Metabolism Initiative, is working with a University of Wisconsin-Madison team to greatly expand the scope of “mass spec” applications on campus. A new resource housed in the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center brings together a multi-million dollar investment in mass spectrometry tools from multiple sources to form a central repository to tackle large-scale investigations.

Blue Sky Science: How many species of snakes are there?

There are more than 3,400 species of snakes worldwide, and they exist on every continent except Antarctica. We have about 50 snake species in the United States and 21 different snake species in the state of Wisconsin.

Blue Sky Science: Can we use stem cells to treat brain injury or neurological disorders?

The simple answer to the question is yes. It is possible to regenerate parts of the brain with stem cells, just like we can in other organs.

Blue Sky Science: Does space go on forever?

We really don’t know if space goes on forever. The universe is big enough that we can’t see all of it for a number of reasons. And there are ways that we could live in a space that doesn’t go on forever, but still has no actual edge to it.

Blue Sky Science: How do we hear?

Sounds reach our ears from different locations and first travel through the ear into the ear canal. Then tiny bones inside the middle ear end up vibrating and pushing on a small window. This then gets a special membrane inside our ear to vibrate.

Blue Sky Science: Why do hissing cockroaches hiss?

Madagascar hissing cockroaches and some of their relatives can produce an audible hissing noise that almost sounds like a cat hissing.

Blue Sky Science: How does your brain form memories?

The first step in forming a memory is called encoding, and encoding starts with perception. If you remember back to the first time you met your best friend, you encoded or perceived a lot of information about them.

Blue Sky Science: Why can dogs hear a dog whistle but people can’t?

Humans can hear sounds in a range from about 20 hertz to 23 kilohertz at the upper range of their hearing ability. The hearing range of dogs is almost double that.

Blue Sky Science: Why do some colors make you feel emotions?

Over the years you’ve learned to associate certain colors, certain shapes, certain things that you see with specific emotions.

Blue Sky Science: What is a neutrino?

In high school you learn that matter is made of atoms, atoms are made of electrons and nuclei, and nuclei contain neutrons and protons. That’s a basic picture of matter, but it’s an incomplete one. Missing in that picture is a full particle called neutrinos.

Blue Sky Science: What is machine learning?

Machine learning is an area of computer science that focuses on building computer programs that help machines learn by example. This is similar to the way young children learn about the world around them.

Scheufele named to gene editing panel

Dietram Scheufele, professor of life sciences communication at UW-Madison and Morgridge Institute for Research affiliate, will serve on a national panel examining the implications of human genome editing.

New stem cell process increases therapeutic potential

Researchers from the Morgridge Institute for Research and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Australia have devised a way to dramatically cut the time involved in reprogramming and genetically correcting stem cells, an important step to making future therapies possible.

Blue Sky Science: How are crystals formed?

The word “crystal” comes from the Greek “krystallos,” meaning clear ice. A crystal is defined as a solid material consisting of a three-dimensional periodic ordering of atoms, molecules or ions. Crystals form by a process called crystallization that signifies a transition from chaos to perfection.

Wisconsin Science Festival: Best of the Fest 2015

The Wisconsin Science Festival is a statewide celebration of discovery and science. Now in its fifth year, the festival continues to grow and inspire exploration and engagement in a range of topics.

Blue Sky Science: How is a gummy bear made?

Gelatin is the basis of what makes a gummy bear a gummy bear, but we first start with sugar, corn syrup and water.

Blue Sky Science: How fast could a human theoretically run?

The current world record for running speed is held by Usain Bolt at roughly 28 miles per hour, and it’s difficult to imagine running faster.

Morgridge Institute, Morgridge Center expand hands-on science activities in South Madison

Afterschool Expeditions, a program in which elementary and middle school students engage in structured, hands-on science activities at the Discovery Building, has become an integral part of the outreach programming produced by WARF and the Morgridge Institute for Research in partnership with Science Alliance and numerous UW-Madison groups.

Blue Sky Science: How do we identify new species from fossils?

When we try to identify different species in nature today, we usually think of that question in terms of interbreeding. We look at different populations, whether they look different or the same, and ask, do they ever interbreed with each other or encounter each other in nature?

Blue Sky Science: What is gene editing?

Gene editing involves changing the sequence of letters in the DNA. Researchers like to edit genes so they can understand the function of them, particularly genes that relate to various types of disorders that physicians have seen in the clinic. We can use this information to generate new hypotheses of how genes influence diseases.

High-throughput computing, HIV and the mystery of ‘elite controllers’

In August 2015, just before going on vacation, virology researcher Dave O’Connor teed up the largest data analysis challenge of his lifetime. The computing run included 694 independent jobs, each one with about one billion points of genomic data to process. O’Connor returned to find that his “set it and forget it” gamble paid off handsomely: 693 of the 694 computing runs had fully completed, with zero human intervention.

‘Prototype Pathway’ open for business in Morgridge Fab Lab

The Morgridge Institute’s medical engineering team brought UW-Madison clinicians to the Advanced Fabrication Laboratory, or “Fab Lab,” Oct. 1 to celebrate the launch of the BerbeeWalsh Prototype Pathway.

Blue Sky Science: Why is the sky blue?

Light from the sun comes in many different colors including colors we can see and some colors we can’t see. And just like sound waves or waves on the water, light travels in waves as well.

Blue Sky Science: Why is light faster than sound?

Light and sound are very different. Sound is actually a mechanical disturbance through air or another medium. Sound always needs a medium to travel through and the type of medium determines its speed.

Stem cells help predict neural toxicity

A new system developed by scientists at the Morgridge Institute for Research and the University of Wisconsin-Madison may provide a faster, cheaper and more biologically relevant way to screen drugs and chemicals that could harm the developing brain.

Blue Sky Science: How are volcanoes formed?

Some volcanoes, like the Cascade Volcanoes up in Washington and Oregon, are of the type called stratovolcano. These steep volcanoes sometimes erupt explosively, and other times have calmer lava flows that just spill out on the surface. The material from eruptions, like lava and ash, build up and cause these volcanoes to have a character like a layer cake.

Wisconsin Science Festival embraces ‘Made in Wisconsin’ theme

A robot zoo, carbonated fruit, and virtual reality simulations are just a handful of experiences to be had at the 2015 Wisconsin Science Festival, held this year from Oct. 22-25.

Blue Sky Science: Why do clouds have water?

Not only do clouds have water, they consist almost entirely of water. And that water comes from the earth’s surface, including the ocean, lakes and streams and even the ground.

Ossorio to help steer National Academies Initiative on human gene editing

Pilar Ossorio, the Morgridge Institute for Research bioethicist in residence, will serve on an international committee convened by the National Academies of Science (NAS) to address the ethically challenging frontiers of human gene editing technology.

Great Outcomes Sparked by John and Tashia Morgridge

The announcement today of $250 million being raised for the University of Wisconsin-Madison through the John and Tashia Morgridge Match program is truly inspirational. At a pivotal time for the university, this effort supports a critical mass of new endowed professorships that will help attract and retain the very best talent to Wisconsin.

Blue Sky Science: How do seedless plants start?

Plants can propagate in two ways: sexually and asexually. Sexual propagation is through seeds. Seeds develop from the sexual organs of flowers. But some plants take a very long time to be able to propagate by seeds.

Q&A with New Morgridge Metabolism Director Dave Pagliarini

Dave Pagliarini, UW-Madison associate professor of biochemistry, has been selected to lead the Morgridge Institute Metabolism Initiative, which will provide leadership, infrastructure and community building to this growing UW-Madison research area. Pagliarini, an expert on mitochondria structure and function, reflects on some of the opportunities ahead.

Morgridge Institute selects Pagliarini to lead campus metabolism initiative

Dave Pagliarini, a University of Wisconsin-Madison associate professor whose departmental home put metabolism research on the map worldwide, will help define the future of Wisconsin metabolism science as a lead investigator at the Morgridge Institute for Research.

Blue Sky Science: How does a hot air balloon work?

Directionally you never know where a balloon is going to go because the wind controls it, I don’t. I can send a balloon higher or lower, but not steer it in specific directions. So before we send passengers up in a hot air balloon, we send up a small hydrogen balloon that tells us the wind speed and direction.

Algorithm helps identify elusive genes that express like clockwork

The genes that turn on and off in precisely timed patterns, known as oscillatory genes, play an essential role in development functions like cell division, circadian rhythms and limb formation. But without a time-lapse view of genetic expression, these genes have gone largely undiscovered.

Blue Sky Science: How do cows make milk?

First the cow has to get pregnant, so she has to be able to have a baby before she can make milk. Once the cow gets pregnant, hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone, begin to increase. As they increase in the blood, the cells inside the mammary gland, or the big udder that you’re used to seeing, start to grow and grow a lot. By the time the cow finishes her pregnancy, about nine months long, her cells are completely ready to go. They’ve been primed to make lots and lots of milk.

Remex Static Mixer team working to bring innovation to market

Eric Ronning, a recent UW-Madison graduate and member of Morgridge Institute’s medical engineering team, also appreciates the importance of fostering a cohesive, talented team for collaborative innovation.

Blue Sky Science: How do planes fly?

Imagine this: Stick your hand out of the window of a car that travels at around 60 mph, and you will notice how lift is being produced as you twist your hand up and down. As the car accelerates, you will notice that no matter how you shape your hand, lift is always being produced.

Novel Morgridge technology may illuminate mystery Moon caves

It’s widely believed that the Moon features networks of caves created when violent lava flows tore under the surface from ancient volcanoes. Some craters may actually be “skylights” where cave ceilings have crumbled.

Blue Sky Science: What is the purpose of the appendix?

For decades, scientists and physicians have believed that the appendix really doesn’t have a function in human beings. It may have had a purpose in some living thing tens of thousands of years ago, but that purpose never persisted in humans.

Blue Sky Science: What is the Kuiper belt?

The Kuiper belt, named after astronomer Gerard Kuiper, is a massive, icy region of our solar system that exists just beyond the planets. Actually shaped more like a donut than a flat belt, the Kuiper belt is best known as home of the dwarf planet Pluto.

Morgridge CT innovation wins WARF Accelerator support

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) Accelerator Program helps discoveries patented by WARF move further along the commercialization process by providing funding and connections to a network of industry experts.

SWAMP expands portfolio of open-access software assurance tools

The Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP) has added three new services to its suite of assurance offerings, including support for software written in Ruby, support for Android software written in Java, and access to Parasoft’s Jtest and C/C++test static analysis tools.

Blue Sky Science: How do we purify dirty water?

What we use to purify water depends a lot on where the water’s coming from and what we want to do with it. If we’re going to drink water it needs to be very clean and very safe. There are lots of regulations that we have to meet.

Blue Sky Science: Why is Pluto considered a dwarf planet?

Before Pluto was discovered, it was predicted. Astronomers had observed that massive objects can affect the orbits of its neighbors, and, after seeing deviations in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, assumed something substantial existed beyond their orbits.

Summer science campers engage in hands-on stem cell activities

Now in its ninth year, the Rural Summer Science Camp brings teachers and high school students from rural Wisconsin communities to Madison to learn about advances in stem cell science and careers in research. A large emphasis is placed on hands-on, experiential learning. Campers aren’t just hearing about science– they’re doing science.

Gift to Morgridge Institute ‘Fab Lab’ to boost medical device innovations

A gift to the Morgridge Institute for Research will help spur medical device innovations coming directly from clinicians — the people who know firsthand where the advances are needed.

Blue Sky Science: How does autopilot work?

An autopilot is a flight control system that allows a pilot to fly an airplane without continuous hands-on control of the airplane. It allows the pilot to focus on higher-order tasks such as navigating, communicating with air traffic control, planning for weather contingencies and rerouting associated with any kind of emergency circumstance.

Campus ‘Big Data’ project may point the way to Alzheimer’s early detection

Without a big advance in early diagnosis and treatment, experts forecast as many as 14 million new Alzheimer’s cases by 2050 occurring among the 78 million baby boomers, the first wave of whom just turned 65.

Blue Sky Science: How are video games used in research?

Video games are used in about five different ways.

Blue Sky Science: How can we use stem cells to build tissues and organs?

There are two major properties of a stem cell, and the first one is its potency. By that we mean its ability to give rise to specialized cells.

UW metabolism researchers blaze new paths

With metabolic pathways now seen as essential players in human development and aging, as well as common diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, metabolism has become a wellspring of new knowledge for biologists.

Study redefines role of estrogen in cervical cancer

Scientists know that the hormone estrogen is a major driver in the growth of cervical cancer, but a new study examining genetic profiles of 128 clinical cases reached a surprising conclusion: Estrogen receptors all but vanish in cervical cancer tumors.

OnLume a top competitor in statewide business competition

OnLume LLC, a Madison-based company, placed second in the life sciences division of the 2015 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

Blue Sky Science: Is it possible to bring back extinct animals?

De-extinction, as it’s been termed, hasn’t happened in over 3 billion years of life on earth, so it will be an epic event if and when it happens.

Blue Sky Science: What can your center of gravity help you with?

Gravity is this invisible force that pulls objects toward one another. And one of the things that gravity does is pull us toward the earth. So it’s important to know that’s what gravity is. And then center of gravity is sort of this middle point where all of a body’s weight or an object’s weight is.

Blue Sky Science: How does cancer form and is there a cure?

Cancer occurs when one of the tissues in our body decides to grow uncontrollably, and our immune system is not able to recognize and destroy it. So the tissue continues to grow and can eventually break off into pieces and attach to other parts of the body and affect our health.

Introducing Blue Sky Science

Beginning Monday, May 4, the Morgridge Institute has launched a partnership with the Wisconsin State Journal called “Blue Sky Science,” which will feature weekly video Q&As from Discovery Outreach participants on cool science topics.

Blue Sky Science: Do trees get viruses?

Definitely trees get viruses. There are a wide range of different plant viruses that go not only to trees but to other types of plants as well.

Blue Sky Science: What is 3-D printing?

3-D printing refers to a kind of manufacturing where a part is built up layer by layer. With a typical machine, you take a block of material and subtract away. With additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, you start with nothing and you add layer by layer until you have a final part.

A pathway for understanding cancer’s origin

The tools of modern biology have made it possible to obtain an incredibly detailed picture of how cancer cells differ from healthy cells at the molecular level. Somewhat paradoxically, despite these meticulous portraits of cancer, it remains remarkably difficult to answer the very fundamental question: What caused cancer in this patient?

Adam Uselmann works to advance imaging tech in new postdoctoral fellowship

Time and again the Madison community has shown itself to be an incubator for collaborative ideas and innovative work. Adam Uselmann, a research associate at the Morgridge Institute for Research, has seen some of his collaborations grow into a new postdoctoral opportunity.

Blue Sky Science: How does the brain get the heart to constantly beat?

Interestingly, in the course of the day, your heart will beat somewhere around 100,000 times and over a calendar year might beat up to 35 million times. Over the course of a lifetime then, your brain and your heart have to work together to engineer 3 billion heartbeats.

A quest to understand the neural crest

Katie Vermillion’s research into the mysterious work of the neural crest — a mobile, multitasking marvel of early embryonic development — begins simply enough every Monday morning with a delivery of five-dozen chicken eggs from a local farmer.

Microbial communities may inform understanding of rapid evolution

Martin Bontrager, a graduate research assistant in the lab of UW-Madison zoologist Carol Lee, is studying the microbiome of copepods to better understand the organism’s ability to rapidly evolve.

Ellen Arena: A career that traverses different fields, different countries

Ellen Arena’s young career has already taken her from an undergraduate degree at UW-Parkside in Racine to advanced degrees in British Columbia and Paris. Her research also has traversed from molecular biology to bacterial pathogens to microscopy and computation.

Morgridge Institute, UW partners select three postdoctoral fellows

Three scientists have been selected for the inaugural Morgridge Institute for Research Postdoctoral Fellows program, designed to prepare promising young scientists for a changing research landscape.

Andy Pohl: Bringing computing solutions to biological research

It can be difficult to define the threshold for when data becomes “big data,” but it is clear that as research technologies become more sophisticated, scientists are collecting and analyzing information that necessitates advanced computing tools.

Science engagement experts partner with Morgridge Institute

Intuition tells us that the more factual information one gathers on a controversial topic, the more likely one will reach the “correct” conclusion.

Gift helping uncover the mysteries of regeneration

From a philanthropic standpoint, extraordinary patience is required of individuals who believe strongly enough in the possible outcomes to provide ongoing support. Mildred “Babe” and Marv Conney are among those whose faith in the potential miracles of science has remained unshaken for nearly 30 years.

Year One: SWAMP a catalyst for improving cyber-security

As an exercise in the high-stakes world of software security, Patrick Beyer ran an open-source medical technology software package through the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP) to see what would happen.

Omid Forouzan: Microfluidics allows for close study of virus-host interactions

Omid Forouzan, as part of the new Morgridge Fellowship program, wants to harness engineering and biomedical fields to develop a microfluidic multi-cell culture model. This microscale research tool will allow for study of cell-cell interactions in the development of HPV-associated cervical cancer.

UW botanist harnesses the grid to illuminate crop growth

When Edgar Spalding crunches data on Wisconsin corn, the numbers boggle the mind: Four million acres are planted annually, with 30,000 seeds planted per acre, producing about 120 billion seedlings sprouting skyward each May.

Andreas Velten awarded Air Force OSR grant for advance in imaging technology

Andreas Velten, a Morgridge Institute Affiliate with the Medical Engineering Group and assistant scientist with UW-Madison Laboratory of Optical and Computational Instrumentation, won a grant for his work in imaging technology through the Air Force’s Young Investigator Research Program (YIP).

Morgridge rethinks CT scanning technology to sharpen clinical images

The outdated hardware underlying computed tomography (CT) scanners has created a bottleneck for improving its imaging potential. An innovative project out of the Medical Engineering group at the Morgridge Institute for Research seeks to bypass this obstacle with a design for a multi-source x-ray tube.

Building a better mouse (model) for studying human disease

In recent decades, a few genetic strains of mice have proven invaluable to medical researchers in serving as “surrogates” capable of supporting the growth of human cells. These “xenografted mouse models” can give scientists a relevant window into human biology that may point to new therapies and understanding of disease — or at the very least, validate or disprove results from a laboratory dish.

Student launches nonprofit to support college students with physical illness

For young adults, the transition from high school to college and a more independent lifestyle can be a challenging new experience. Tack on a physical illness and mounting medical bills and the traditional stressors of college life grow exponentially. Shannon Strader, a senior graduating this month from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, founded Bella Soul, a […]

‘The Big Next:’ Dr. James Berbee’s transition from technology to medicine

What do you do after launching a computer networking company in the gung-ho 1990s, growing it to 700-plus employees across the Midwest, serving some of the world’s largest technology companies, then selling the company 13 years later?

Madison-based Gel Combs honored at Bioscience Vision Summit

Gel Combs LLC, a company founded by Matt Copeland, Ben Cox and Brandon Walker, was one of five honored at the 2014 Bioscience Vision Summit’s Emerging Company Showcase. BioForward, promoting innovation in Wisconsin’s growing biotechnology industry, hosts the summit annually. The showcase features early stage companies that have transitioned successfully out of research and development, […]

James Dahlberg retiring from Morgridge Institute

During his leadership Dahlberg focused on three core goals. They included redefining the institute’s mission, improving financial accountability across the institute, and hiring a dynamic permanent director who could implement a long-term vision.

Mackie focuses future on entrepreneurship

Thomas “Rock” Mackie is no stranger to the practice of innovation and entrepreneurship. From the research and development stage to commercialization and investments, Mackie has seen ideas become tangible, marketable products on more than one occasion.

SWAMP wins ISE North America Project of the Year award

The Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP) was awarded the ISE® North America Project of the Year in the Academic/Public Sector Category. The SWAMP offers a high-performance computing platform that analyzes software for weaknesses with an array of open source and commercial software security testing tools.

Best of the Fest: 2014 Wisconsin Science Festival

The Wisconsin Science Festival engaged thousands over four days of science-driven programming. With partners participating in almost 30 communities across Wisconsin, the statewide event has become a celebration of creativity and scientific discovery for audiences of all ages.

Generosity as a Catalyst for Great Things

As CEO of the Morgridge Institute for Research, I am reminded every time I enter our building of the extraordinary vision, commitment and generosity of John and Tashia Morgridge. The entire University of Wisconsin community received another wonderful reminder last week, with the announcement $100 million lead gift that represents a brilliant investment in the heart of a great university.

Morgridge Institute partners on macular degeneration award

Drs. Brad Schwartz, CEO of the Morgridge Institute for Research; Terri Young, Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (DOVS); and David Gamm, Director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute (MERI); are pleased to announce the recipient of the $25,000 grant award for Metabolism Research in Age-Related Macular Degeneration. This pilot award is funded by the Morgridge Institute and the James Christenson Estate Macular Degeneration Research Fund.

UW spinoff SHINE Medical hits major funding milestone

SHINE Medical Technologies, a medical isotope company developing technology that originated from University of Wisconsin-Madison research, has signed a $125 million term sheet that represents a massive step in bringing an important medical advance to market.

Bill Swisher joins Morgridge as Chief Development Officer

Bill Swisher, the assistant vice president for corporate and institutional partnerships at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has been named the new chief development officer of the Morgridge Institute for Research.

Two UW student teams are finalists in national inventors competition

Two University of Wisconsin-Madison teams are among only seven undergraduate finalists for the 2014 National Collegiate Inventors Competition, which honors the latest in student creativity and innovation.

System for growing, distributing microgreens wins Wisconsin Innovation Award

In the growing movement for urban agriculture, microgreens are becoming a popular, profitable option for producers. Tasty and nutritious, microgreens can be grown inside any time of year, mature from seed to harvest in 10-14 days, and sell at $20-30 per pound.

‘Tissue chip’ offers better approach to screen neural toxins

A multidisciplinary team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research is creating a faster, more affordable way to screen for neural toxins, helping flag chemicals that may harm human development.

Wisconsin Science Festival celebrates scientific discovery, community

Thousands of visitors young and old will have the chance to indulge their “inner scientist” during the 2014 Wisconsin Science Festival, held this year from Oct. 16-19, with more than 20 communities statewide joining Madison in the party.

Andreas Velten: Taking imaging to new extremes

Unlike many of us, Andreas Velten loves working in windowless rooms. His research tools are shrouded in sealed black boxes to keep out unwanted light. He’s been known to cover red building exit signs to extinguish any trace of visual noise.

Targeting HIV with live cell imaging

Using an imaging technique that illuminates viral behavior within live cells, a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research are identifying new targets to derail the disease-spreading machinery of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Anthony Gitter: Taking the statistical road less traveled

Much of biostatistics involves finding and mapping the predictable pathways that can tell us something about what makes a disease tick. But Anthony Gitter finds equal importance in the statistical back roads that other scientists might ignore.

Desirée Benefield: Using microscopy to battle ‘microbial overlords’

From artist to microbiologist, Desirée Benefield has always been a very visual person. Before she was in graduate school studying the structure of bacterial toxins, Benefield was a glass blower.

Kevin Eliceiri to bring multi-scale imaging focus to Morgridge Institute

Scientific imaging has long been a research strength at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, home of major advances in cellular-scale optical imaging, human-scale medical imaging and many spaces in between.

Morgridge forges into microfluidics

The Moore’s Law that has computer processing power doubling every two years may have its equivalent in biology, where microfluidics technology is taking the smaller-faster-cheaper quest to new levels.

Students explore promise and challenge of stem cell therapies

The projects looked right at home in the Discovery Town Center: A row of four colorful scientific posters describing the status of stem cell therapies, complete with microscopic images, graphics, flow charts and detailed reference lists.

Camp offers insights on regenerative biology

Students from rural Wisconsin high schools modeled, sampled, and pipetted their way through lessons on regenerative biology at the Rural Summer Science Camp.

Morgridge Institute launches new focus area on metabolism

The Board of Trustees of the Morgridge Institute for Research has approved a new Morgridge focus area in metabolism, a growing research field with enormous potential to treat or reverse a broad spectrum of human diseases.

Wisconsin scientists find genetic recipe to turn stem cells to blood

Writing today (July 14, 2014) in the journal Nature Communications, a group led by University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell researcher Igor Slukvin reports the discovery of two genetic programs responsible for taking blank-slate stem cells and turning them into both red and the array of white cells that make up human blood.

Madison-based SWAMP, Secure Decisions partner to enhance software security

Secure Decisions, a leading provider of assessment tools to enhance software security, is partnering with the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP) to build a powerful and publicly accessible resource to improve the software that drives everyday life.

Rowe family gift supports exploration of ever-evolving viral threats

Infectious diseases have large-scale human impact, and virology research works to tackle current issues while building knowledge to prepare for future threats and to provide more broad spectrum controls. John and Jeanne Rowe have provided long-term support for Ahlquist’s research group, which studies viruses like HIV, human papillomavirus and Chikungunya.

James Thomson: Opening access to the cellular building blocks of life

Thomson’s discoveries in human stem cell research at UW-Madison have redefined biomedicine, first with the isolation and culturing of human embryonic stem cells in 1998; then in the development of human pluripotent stem cells from adult skin cells in 2007.

Paul Ahlquist: Working to beat the virology numbers game

This is an important and exciting time to be studying virology, Ahlquist says, thanks to the new perspective provided by genomics and advanced computation. Prior to this time, incremental advances in knowledge often lacked the larger context, how these puzzle pieces all fit together.

Pilar Ossorio: Exploring the ethics of genomic data

The human genome contains our most personal and sensitive information—the complete compendium of our inherited traits. Even the smallest samples of human tissue and accompanying health histories provide vast troves of data to the biomedical community, which in turn has a legal and ethical obligation to safeguard its usage.

James Dahlberg: Scientific successes enhanced by chance

Asked why he became a biochemist, Jim Dahlberg reflected briefly and answered, “I always found science exciting, interesting, and relatively easy. I just thought that it would be the most rewarding way to spend my life. And once I was introduced to the world of biochemistry I was hooked.”

Rock Mackie: Applying physics and engineering to medicine

While growing up in Canada, Thomas Rockwell (Rock) Mackie, director of Medical Engineering, had three heroes: Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and antarctic explorer Ernest Shackelton. They inspired a fascination with nuclear physics and scientific expedition that Mackie has pursued in both academia and industry.

Q&A with Pilar Ossorio: Is whole genome sequencing an effective diagnostic tool?

As the cost of whole genome sequencing (WGS) approaches $1,000, the possibility of using it to help diagnose patients becomes economically feasible. But is it the right tool for doctors?

Mackie to receive highest honor in medical physics

Thomas “Rock” Mackie, director of medical engineering at the Morgridge Institute for Research, will receive the highest honor in the field of medical physics for his game-changing contributions to medical imaging.

Med tech: New imaging invention a ‘Google Earth for microscopy’

A team in the Morgridge Institute for Research’s Advanced Fabrication Laboratory, in collaboration with the UW-Madison Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation (LOCI), is developing a technology that visualizes an important middle ground for biomedical and basic research applications.

Morgridge Institute launches new interdisciplinary fellows program

A new postdoctoral fellowship program approved this spring for the Morgridge Institute for Research aims to spark unique collaborative research opportunities with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while preparing biomedical PhDs for a changing career landscape.

UW expands effort to serve advanced computing needs in research

If you’re conducting quantitative research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, regardless of discipline, chances are there is a “next level” of discovery that could be unlocked through advanced computing.

Discovery program taps the real experts in hands-on science

Like any educational endeavor, hands-on science requires lots of trial and error, and good ideas may not always strike a chord with young imaginations. So how do you know when you’re on to something really good?

Mining the Mind: High-Throughput Computing and the Future of Brain Research

Looking back to his graduate student work a decade ago, UW-Madison neuroscientist Michael Koenigs says he couldn’t have foreseen how quickly — and completely — his field would be transformed by advanced computation.

National, shared software assurance facility, ‘SWAMP,’ launches

The Software Assurance Marketplace, or the “SWAMP,” has created a resource to address this growing need that will be publicly available and free to the community beginning today (Monday, Feb. 3).

UW-Madison student team takes on global health challenge in Hult Prize

A group of student entrepreneurs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will compete this spring in the international Hult Prize, in which college students attack global problems with sustainable business ideas.

A shift in stem cell research

A team of engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has created a process to improve the creation of synthetic neural stem cells for use in central nervous system research.

New advocacy group focuses on kick-starting UW business creation

A newly-launched advocacy group is aiming to increase the number and success rate of start-up ventures stemming from UW-Madison ideas, building on the renewed commitment in 2013 to campus innovation.

Ming Yuan: Novel hiring partnership lands a big data pioneer

To statistician Ming Yuan, the challenge of dealing with big data reminds him of the Indian fable “Blind Men and the Elephant,” in which six blind men touch one distinct part of an elephant — an ear, a tail, a trunk, a husk — and reach narrow conclusions about the nature of the animal.

New ethics consulting service to help UW scientists navigate gray areas

A new service will provide the University of Wisconsin-Madison research community with another checkpoint on ethical challenges that arise across the research spectrum, from study design to the implications of results.

National software security hub takes shape at Morgridge

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research are home to what may become a transformative cyber-security resource called the Software Assurance Marketplace, or SWAMP. The team is developing an integrated network of assurance tools that provide a simple, one-stop resource for developers. The big advantage is saving open-source developers time and money, while creating more accurate assessments.

Miron Livny: Collaborative spirit supports Nobel Prize-winning science

In 1964, François Englert and Peter Higgs theorized the existence of a subatomic particle that gives all other particles mass. Nearly 50 years later in 2012, a global team of researchers found evidence that supports the existence of the Higgs boson particle at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Morgridge Institute taps biomedical innovator as chairman

The trustees of the Morgridge Institute for Research have named Fred Robertson as chairman, replacing Ernie Micek, whose term as chair has ended and who will remain on the board.

With heart cells, middle schoolers learn the hard lessons of science

The students are among a group of 12 in a Madison Metropolitan School District program called the Middle School Science Cohort, a program geared for students with a propensity for science and math. The setting is a teaching lab at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, most likely the only place in the country — if not the world — where adolescent learners conduct real science using the kinds of stem cells on the front lines of modern biology.

Morgridge Institute for Research welcomes new CEO

The Morgridge Institute for Research, a private, nonprofit biomedical research institute affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, announced today the appointment of Dr. Brad Schwartz as chief executive officer.

Scholars call for new ethical guidelines to direct research on social networking

The unique data collection capabilities of social networking and online gaming websites require new ethical guidance from federal regulators concerning online research involving adolescent subjects, an ethics scholar from the Morgridge Institute for Research and a computer and learning sciences expert from Tufts University argue in the journal .

National cybersecurity effort launched to strengthen software infrastructure

Scientists at the Morgridge Institute for Research, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Indiana University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have received a $23.6 million grant as part of a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA 11-02) by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate to address threats arising from the development process of software used in technology ranging from the national power grid to medical devices.

Morgridge Institute’s Velten named a top young inventor

Andreas Velten, an associate scientist with the Morgridge Institute for Research, has been recognized by MIT’s Technology Review as a TR35 honoree for 2012.

Collaborative computing, pioneered at UW-Madison, helped drive LHC analysis

When scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe announced the appearance of a new particle among the pieces of smashed protons, Miron Livny saw a huge scientific success.

Thomson lab lands $2.2 million NIH grant

With a $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, stem cell pioneer Dr. James Thomson, University of Wisconsin–Madison associate professor of biomedical engineering William Murphy and School of Medicine and Public Health medical informatics professor David Page will lead a team to derive and assemble the distinct cell types found in the human cerebral cortex.

Northern Wisconsin high schoolers learn with stem cells, UW researchers

Eighteen top science students from northern Wisconsin high schools have earned the opportunity to hone their laboratory skills and work alongside leading researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison at a summer science camp focused on stem cells.

Dahlberg named interim executive director of Morgridge Institute for Research

James Dahlberg, emeritus professor of biomolecular chemistry at UW–Madison, has been named interim executive director of the Morgridge Institute for Research by the board of trustees of the nonprofit biomedical research organization.

New round of federal funding received for $85 million medical isotope project

The Morgridge Institute for Research has received a $20.6 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration to support development of a new process and manufacturing plant for a medical isotope needed by tens of thousands of U.S. patients daily.

Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery named 2012 Laboratory of the Year

The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the innovative 330,000-square-foot public-private facility that opened just more than a year ago on the UW–Madison campus, has been named the 2012 Laboratory of the Year.

Discovery building marks first anniversary with Gold LEED

The innovative building, which houses two research institutes and a main floor designed to engage the public in science, is the first laboratory building in Wisconsin to achieve LEED Gold certification as established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Study reveals critical similarity between two types of do-it-all stem cells

In a study published today (Sept. 11), researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report the first full measurement of the proteins made by both types of stem cells. In a study that looked at four embryonic stem cells and four IPS cells, the proteins turned out to be 99 percent similar, says Joshua Coon, an associate professor of chemistry and biomolecular chemistry who directed the project.

Chinese high schoolers to learn from stem cells

Eighteen students participating in the inaugural Global Wisconsin Idea Program — a unique pairing of American and Chinese teenagers — will join a Chinese university dean this week to learn more about the science of stem cells during a hands-on workshop hosted by the Morgridge Institute for Research.

Study shows patient’s own cells may hold therapeutic promise after reprogramming, gene correction

Scientists from the Morgridge Institute for Research, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of California and the WiCell Research Institute moved gene therapy one step closer to clinical reality by determining that the process of correcting a genetic defect does not substantially increase the number of potentially cancer-causing mutations in induced pluripotent stem cells.

Morgridge Institute for Research announces scientific leadership team, research areas

The Morgridge Institute for Research, the private side of the new interdisciplinary Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has finalized its inaugural team of top scientists selected to bring to life the institute’s mission of accelerating discovery to delivery to improve human health.

Wisconsin, Morgridge scientists excise vector, exotic genes from induced stem cells

A team of scientists from the Morgridge Institute for Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison reports that it has created induced human pluripotent stem (iPS) cells completely free of viral vectors and exotic genes.

Deep drilling begins for Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery geothermal system

Deep drilling begins this week to place 75 bore holes approximately 300 feet below the site of the future Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, marking another first for the interdisciplinary research building project.

Stem cell pioneer James Thomson to steer regenerative medicine at MIR

The Morgridge Institute for Research, the private, not-for-profit side of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, is announcing the appointment of world-renowned stem cell pioneer and researcher James Thomson as the first member of its multidisciplinary scientific leadership team.

Institutes will provide space for science, arts, community

Faculty, staff and graduate students are invited to give input on the design of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery during upcoming town hall meetings, planned for Oct. 1, 8 and 10.