Natural Science

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604July 1, 2015

New Penn Center Will Investigate the Physics of Cancer Via $10M NIH Grant

Investigators at a new University of Pennsylvania research center will focus on key physical principles that underpin cancer’s development and growth.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604June 17, 2015

Penn Research Simplifies Recycling of Rare-earth Magnets

Despite their ubiquity in consumer electronics, rare-earth metals are, as their name suggests, hard to come by. Mining and purifying them is an expensive, labor-intensive and ecologically devastating process.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604June 15, 2015

Penn Researchers Develop a New Type of Gecko-like Gripper

Picking things up and putting them down is a mainstay of any kind of manufacturing, but fingers, human or robotic, are not always best for the task at hand.    

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194June 12, 2015

Penn: Mom’s Stress Alters Babies’ Gut and Brain through Vaginal Microbiome

Stress during the first trimester of pregnancy alters the population of microbes living in a mother’s vagina. Those changes are passed on to newborns during birth and are associated with differences in their gut microbiome as well as their brain development, according to a new study by University of Pennsylvania researchers.

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194June 12, 2015

Penn Vet Research Confirms a More Accurate Method for Blood Glucose Testing

blurb: 
While glucometers have the advantage of being fast and requiring only a small drop of blood, they are not as accurate as some other methods of measuring blood glucose. In a new study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine have found a way of obtaining more accurate measurements from glucometers: by using blood plasma or serum rather than whole blood.

For diabetics, a quick prick of the finger can give information about their blood glucose levels, guiding them in whether to have a snack or inject a dose of insulin. Point-of-care glucose meters, or glucometers, are also used in the veterinary world to monitor cats and dogs with diabetes or pets hospitalized for other reasons.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604June 10, 2015

Penn Researchers Show How Cells Solve Biochemical Challenges as They Get Bigger

blurb: 
Just as no two people are quite the same height and weight, a population of cells contains larger and smaller individuals. A team of University of Pennsylvania researchers has now shown how the two copies of nuclear DNA in most cells’ chromosomes can serve a cell of any size.

By Madeleine Stone  @themadstone

In any textbook diagram, a group of red blood cells, skin cells or nerve cells will typically be identical in size. But, just as no two people are quite the same height and weight, in a population of real cells there are larger and smaller individuals.

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194June 8, 2015

Evolution Is Unpredictable and Irreversible, Penn Biologists Show

blurb: 
A study by University of Pennsylvania biologists now provides evidence that, at the molecular level, evolution is both unpredictable and irreversible.

Evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould is famous for describing the evolution of humans and other conscious beings as a chance accident of history. If we could go back millions of years and “run the tape of life again,” he mused, evolution would follow a different path. 

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194June 3, 2015

Penn Historian Discusses the Threat Birds Posed to the Power Grid in 1920s California

blurb: 
In a new paper in the journal Environmental Humanities, the University of Pennsylvania’s Etienne Benson examines the suspected cause of the problems to the power grid in Southern California in the 1920s: voluminous streams of bird excrement.

In 1913 in Southern California, two 241-mile-long electric lines began carrying power from hydroelectric dams in the Sierra Nevada to customers in Los Angeles—a massive feat of infrastructure. In 1923, power company Southern California Edison upgraded the line to carry 220,000 volts, among the highest voltage lines in the world at the time.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604June 2, 2015

Penn Engineers Show How “Perfect” Materials Begin to Fail

Crystalline materials have atoms that are neatly lined up in a repeating pattern. When they break, that failure tends to start at a defect, or a place where the pattern is disrupted. But how do defect-free materials break?

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194June 1, 2015

Penn Vet Lends Expertise to Improve Colombian Cattle Producers’ Livelihoods

blurb: 
Emphasizing a holistic management approach based on sound nutrition and assisted reproduction strategies, the University of Pennsylvania’s Victor Absalón-Medina's aim is to promote cross-institutional collaborations to help Colombian farmers keep their animals healthy, productive and profitable.

Cattle in the United States are generally managed to either produce milk or to produce beef. However, in most of the world, cattle are counted on to do both in what are called dual-purpose production systems.