Science & Technology

Cells control their own fate by manipulating their environment

Muscle, blood, brain, and skin cells are different from one another, but they all share the same DNA. Stem cells’ transformation into specialized cells is controlled through various signals from their surroundings. A study suggests that cells may have more control over their fate than previously thought.

Penn Today Staff

Unlocking the female bias in lupus

The majority of lupus patients are female, and new findings from Montserrat Anguera of the School of Veterinary Medicine and colleagues shed light on why. The research suggests that female lupus patients don’t fully silence their second X chromosome in T cells, leading to an immune response gone awry.

Katherine Unger Baillie



In the News


Gizmodo

This freaky robotic fish is powered by ‘blood’

James Pikul of the School of Engineering and Applied Science co-authored a study in which researchers developed a soft, robotic lionfish powered by a blood-like compound. “This robot blood is our first demonstration of storing energy in a fluid that is normally only used for actuation,” he said.

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Scientific American

How the mind emerges from the brain’s complex networks

Danielle Bassett of the School of Engineering and Applied Science co-authored an article about network neuroscience, which allows us to see the origins of mental activity in the brain. One day, they write, “a neuroscientist who knew all the principles of brain function and everything about someone’s brain could predict that person’s mental conditions—the future, as well as the past, would be present inside the person’s mind.”

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The Guardian

Reversible superglue proves strong enough to hold average man

Shu Yang and colleagues from the School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a new glue from hydrogel, inspired by snail slime. “The mucus [snails] produce is a viscous liquid, but when it dries they become firmly stuck,” said Yang.

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Scientific American

Domestication made dogs’ facial anatomy more fetching to humans

James Serpell of the School of Veterinary Medicine said humans may have bred dogs to appear more infantile over time. “We are innately predisposed to respond with a kind of nurturing behavior towards certain physical characteristics,” he said. “Over time, [humans selected] for traits that satisfy that parental nurturing response.”

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WBUR Boston

What Puerto Rico’s monkeys post-Maria teach us about survival

PIK Professor Michael Platt joined a conversation about surviving trauma and Puerto Rico’s “monkey island.”

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Nature

A DIY approach to automating your lab

Brian Chow of the School of Engineering and Applied Science led a team of Penn undergrads in developing a low-cost plate reader for teaching labs using open-source automation software. “Philosophically, I believe in supporting the open-source-hardware community,” he said.

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Axios

A contest to beat geopolitical ‘superforecasters’

PIK Professor Philip Tetlock was cited for his “gold standard” performance in a 2015 forecasting contest. Contestants in this year’s contest will have access to all the data on Tetlock’s team’s winning methodology.

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Technical.ly Philly

Leggy bots, flying bots, building bots: Here’s what Penn’s robotics hub is up to

School of Engineering and Applied Science students past and present, including Gavin Kenneally, Daniel Mellinger, Divya Ramesh, Mickey Whitzer, and Chao Liu, were highlighted for their work at the Pennovation Center. Their efforts were showcased at Philly Tech Week.

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Vice

We are not prepared for the next generation of CGI food

The School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Chenfanfu Jiang; postdoc Ming Gao; Ph.D. students Joshuah Wolper, Yu Fang, and Minchen Li; and undergrad Jiecong Lu have developed two new approaches to animating dynamic fractures, like bread tearing or cars crashing.

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The New York Times

The microbots are on their way

Marc Miskin of the School of Engineering and Applied Science spoke about his cell-sized microbots, which may one day be used for a variety of purposes ranging from measuring brain networks to cleaning cellphone batteries.

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