Science Research

Engineers at Washington University have found a way to make biofuel from e-coli bacteria.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

People in much of the country are familiar with ethanol, a type of biofuel made from corn that is added to gasoline.

But many may not know that it is also possible to make biofuel from bacteria like e-coli. That could change, now that engineers at Washington University have found a more cost-effective way to make fuel from bacteria.

Gayle Bentley, a doctoral student in the Department of Energy, Environment and Chemical Engineering  at Wash U, has discovered how to change an enzyme in some types of bacteria so that it produces compounds that act like the ones in petroleum. Bentley recently published her findings in the journal Metabolic Engineering.

According to the new study, a woman's weight before her first pregnancy may have long-term effects.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases | National Institutes of Health

Women who are an unhealthy weight during their first pregnancy might have a false sense of security if their babies are born with no complications. But a new study out of Saint Louis University suggests complications can still arise when the women get pregnant for a second time — even if, by then, they have reached a healthy weight.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A new national report says more should be done to promote the safe use of chemicals at universities.

Washington University Provost Holden Thorp chaired the committee that wrote the National Research Council report.

He said the group sought to take lessons learned from safety incidents in fields such as health care, aviation and manufacturing, and apply them to academic chemistry research.

via Flckr/Caleb Cherry

In an era where high-stakes tests have increased concern over test anxiety and introduced debate over the merits of teaching to the test, it may seem odd to promote a teaching method called “test-enhanced learning.”

But according to research conducted by psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis, the best way to improve learning may be taking more tests, not fewer. The researchers studying memory have found that incorporating quizzes and self-tests into the learning process increase the amount of material students are able to remember long-term.

(Sarah Skiöld-Hanlin/St. Louis Public Radio)

It has been just over three months since the federal spending cuts known as sequestration first took effect.

A handful of programs were spared — but not scientific research, which amounts to about $140 billion in annual government spending.

As St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra found out, at universities here in St. Louis, some scientists are worried about what the budget cuts will mean for their research — and for their students.

"I had to let go of some science."

Elliot Elson
Gloria Ross | For the St. Louis Beacon |2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Part of Elliot Elson’s current research has led to the creation of artificial heart tissue that can beat on its own. Tiny pieces thump, thump, thump in petri dishes. The engineered muscles permit scientists to study the possible causes, effects and treatments of heart attacks and hypertension.