Natural Science

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604February 26, 2010

University of Pennsylvania Joins International Collaboration in Government/Academics to Research "Soft Matter"

PHILADELPHIA –- The University of Pennsylvania’s Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter has entered into a multi-year agreement with specialty chemical producer Rhodia and the French National Center for Scientific Research to launch an international, public-private research collaboration in soft condensed matter.

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604February 25, 2010

Nanotechnologists From the University of Pennsylvania Collaborate to Form Near-Frictionless Diamond Material

PHILADELPHIA –- Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and IBM Research-Zürich have fabricated an ultra sharp, diamond-like carbon tip possessing such high strength that it is 3,000 times more wear-resistant at the nanoscale than silicon.

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604February 15, 2010

Building Fit Minds Under Stress: Penn Neuroscientists Examine the Protective Effects of Mindfulness Training

PHILADELPHIA –- A University of Pennsylvania-led study in which training was provided to a high-stress U.S. military group preparing for deployment to Iraq has demonstrated a positive link between mindfulness training, or MT, and improvements in mood and working memory. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware and attentive of the present moment without emotional reactivity or volatility.

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604February 12, 2010

University of Pennsylvania Material Scientists Turn Light Into Electrical Current Using a Golden Nanoscale System

PHILADELPHIA –- Material scientists at the Nano/Bio Interface Center of the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated the transduction of optical radiation to electrical current in a molecular circuit. The system, an array of nano-sized molecules of gold, respond to electromagnetic waves by creating surface plasmons that induce and project electrical current across molecules, similar to that of photovoltaic solar cells.

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604February 3, 2010

Penn Biologists Determine MicroRNA Activity Is Suppressed in Mouse Ovum


PHILADELPHIA –- Biologists at the University of Pennsylvania studying oocytes in mice, the immature egg cells necessary for sexual reproduction, have demonstrated an unusual behavior in microRNA, or miRNA, activity that may be the first event in reprogramming the differentiated oocyte into pluripotent blastomeres of the embryo. MicroRNAs are a member of the family of small RNAs, the so-called dark matter of the biological world.

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604February 3, 2010

National Academy of Sciences Honors Penn Psychologist Michael Kahana With Troland Research Award


PHILADELPHIA –- The National Academy of Sciences has honored Michael J. Kahana of the University of Pennsylvania and 16 other researchers with awards in recognition of extraordinary scientific achievements in the areas of biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, and psychology.

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604January 21, 2010

Language Structure Is Partly Determined by Social Structure, Says Penn Psychology Study

PHILADELPHIA –- Psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Memphis have released a new study on linguistic evolution that challenges the prominent hypothesis for why languages differ throughout the world.

The study argues that human languages may adapt more like biological organisms than previously thought and that the more common and popular the language, the simpler its construction to facilitate its survival.

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604January 20, 2010

Penn Biologists Explain How Organisms Can Tolerate Mutations, Yet Adapt and Survive Environmental Change

PHILADELPHIA –- Biologists at the University of Pennsylvania studying the processes of evolution appear to have resolved a longstanding conundrum: How can organisms be robust against the effects of mutations yet simultaneously adaptable when the environment changes?

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604January 5, 2010

Penn Awarded Funding for Critical Zone Observatory Project


PHILADELPHIA –- Environmentalists from the University of Pennsylvania have been awarded a $4.35 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a Critical Zone Observatory in Puerto Rico.

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604January 5, 2010

Penn Study Shows Antidepressants Work Best for Severe Depression, Provide Little to No Benefit Otherwise

PHILADELPHIA –- A study of 30 years of antidepressant-drug treatment data published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the benefit of antidepressant medication compared with placebo may be minimal or nonexistent in patients with mild or moderate symptoms. University of Pennsylvania researchers say, however, the benefit of medications is substantial for patients with very severe depression.