News: 2019


Asst. Prof. Moellering earns NSF CAREER Award

December 20, 2019

Ray Moellering

Asst. Prof. Raymond Moellering earned a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award for his project "Reactivity-Driven Metabolic Signaling: A Feature not a Flaw in Metabolic Regulation." Moellering's research aims to develop cellular probes, proteomic methods, and cellular models to illuminate the role of methylglyoxal, a reactive metabolite that is hypothesized to link cellular metabolism with cell stress response, inflammation and many diseases like diabetes, cancer and aging. With this award, Moellering hopes to identify proteins that serve as metabolic sensors, which transmit signals resulting in physical changes in cells and organisms.

Web of Science recognizes highly cited researchers

December 20, 2019

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Ten current and former University of Chicago Physical Science Division scientists were named in Web of Science's 2019 report of highly cited researchers. Researchers on the list have demonstrated significant and broad influence in the past decade, with highly cited papers ranking in the top 1% by citation for a chosen field or fields.

UChicago scientist appointed FCC Chief Technology Officer

December 20, 2019

The Federal Communications Commission Chairman announced the appointment of UChicago's Monisha Ghosh to serve as the agency's Chief Technology Officer. Ghosh is a research professor in PME and an associate member of computer science. She has also been serving as a rotating program director at the National Science Foundation since September 2017, in the Computer and Network System Division within the Directorate of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. Ghosh will be the FCC's first female CTO.

Why some planets eat their own skies 

December 17, 2019

Artists' impression of an exoplanet smaller than Neptune

In a paper published Dec. 17 in Astrophysical Journal Letters, Asst. Prof. Edwin Kite and colleagues at Washington University, Stanford University, and Penn State University offer an innovative explanation for why there are proportionally fewer Neptune-sized exoplanets: The oceans of magma on the surface of these planets readily absorb their atmospheres once planets reach about three times the size of Earth. 

Physicist taps quantum mechanics to crack molecular secrets 

December 17, 2019

Picture of Prof. Galli sitting at her office desk, resting chin on one hand and smiling at camera.

Giulia Galli, Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering and professor of chemistry, uses computational models to figure out the behavior of molecules and materials. The focus of Galli’s studies is to understand and predict how to harness molecular behavior to improve technology, particularly in the areas of purifying water, speeding up computation and sensing with quantum technology, and perfecting renewable energy technology. 

CQE workshop raises awareness for ethical development of AI and quantum computing

December 16, 2019

Participants eat lunch at a cafeteria table.

A two-day workshop took place from Oct. 31-Nov.1 at UChicago to raise awareness and generate strategies for the ethical development and implementation of AI and quantum computing. The workshop was organized by the Chicago Quantum Exchange and funded by the Kavli Foundation and the Center for Data and Computing.

UChicago startup Tharzen demystifies website content management

December 11, 2019

Picture of Aseem and Mikael posing against brick wall.

Tharzen, a startup founded by UChicago postdoctoral researcher Mikael Mayer and Booth School student Aseem Bhardwaj, aims to make it much easier for businesses to edit and update their websites, using advances in AI and programming.  

Parker Solar Probe’s first discoveries: odd phenomena in space weather, solar wind 

December 4, 2019

In four papers published Dec. 4 in Nature, researchers describe a flood of new data from the Parker Solar Probe's landmark mission that will help us understand everything from the nature of stars to improving our forecasting of solar storms that can affect electronics on Earth.  In its first year, the Parker Solar Probe learned new information about two types of major space weather events. It also saw the first signs of the zone around the sun where cosmic dust disappears—predicted decades ago, but never seen—as well as an entirely new phenomenon: bizarre “switchbacks” in the solar wind that flows off the surface of the sun.  

UChicago ranked fifth among top physics programs 

December 4, 2019

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U.S. News & World Report ranked UChicago fifth among top physics programs. Japan, the U.S. and the U.K. are home to the highest-ranked physics institutions.

Alum and pioneering inventor of the lithium-ion battery to receive Nobel Prize on Dec. 10 

December 4, 2019

John B Goodenough

At a Dec. 10 ceremony in Sweden, John B. Goodenough will be honored for pioneering breakthroughs that led to the widespread use of the lithium-ion battery—and helping spark the wireless revolution. The descendants of his batteries now power modern smartphones and hold the potential to one day sustainably harvest solar and wind power.

Astronomers propose a novel method of finding atmospheres on rocky worlds 

December 4, 2019

Illustration of a rocky exoplanet on a black background with a wispy, cloudy atmosphere orbiting a red dwarf star.

In a series of four papers in the Astrophysical Journal, a team of astronomers, including Assoc. Prof. Jacob Bean, proposes a new method of using NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to determine whether a rocky exoplanet has an atmosphere. The technique, which involves measuring the planet’s temperature as it passes behind its star and then comes back into view, is significantly faster than more traditional methods of atmospheric detection like transmission spectroscopy.  

Chemists invent innovative way to create commonly used molecules called olefins 

December 4, 2019

Picture of Prof. Guangbin Dong (center) working with members of his lab, postdoctoral researcher Jun Zhu (left) and graduate student Jianchun Wang in at an office table with molecular structures and paper files on the table.

UChicago chemists have discovered an efficient method to make tetra-substituted olefins, a kind of olefin with four different attachments—used in everything from medicines to new ways to store data. With the new method, they can easily and precisely select the four different attachments. Additionally, their catalyst cuts the number of steps to make the compounds from around seven to two or three.

Study finds ‘dark patterns’ that influence shoppers’ decision-making

December 4, 2019

Picture of Shopping cart hanging off of a large metal fish hook with binary code written across the entire image

In a first-of-its-kind survey, a group of University of Chicago and Princeton researchers found that “dark patterns” on shopping websites were startlingly common—appearing on more than 1 out of 10 sites and used frequently by many of the most popular online merchants. Dark patterns include sites that sign you up for recurring payments under the guise of a free trial, use countdown clocks that warn you a product is running out of stock, or that tell you other people in your area have already purchased the item. 


WTTW: Prof. Dan Hooper explains the four fundamental puzzles stumping cosmologists

November 26, 2019

Dan Hooper screencap from WTTW appearance

Prof. Dan Hooper appears on WTTW to discuss the very first moments of the universe. In his new book, “At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of our Universe’s First Seconds,” Hooper explains that there are four big fundamental puzzles stumping cosmologists right now: why does matter exist; what are dark matter and dark energy; and what caused cosmic inflation?

PSD in the News - November 2019

November 25, 2019

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This month, PSD researchers have been featured for inventing tiny organic films that could enable new electronics, discovering a new mathematical formula while studying neutrinos, and demonstrating how hackers could use Wi-Fi signals to track you inside your home.