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‘Biodegradable plastics’ is coolest Ohio State science story of 2019

More than 12,000 votes cast in this year’s contest

The votes are in, the people have spoken, and it’s clear: You all care about the environment – and about coming up with an alternative to plastics – very much.

The award for coolest Ohio State science story of 2019 goes to a team of researchers who are working on a promising biodegradable alternative to the plastic that covers grocery-store food. More than 12,000 votes were cast in the second year of the contest at Ohio State News.

The winning researchers found that combining natural rubber with bioplastic in a novel way could create a strong but environmentally friendly replacement for some plastic food packaging. The team consisted of Xiaoying Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher; Yael Vodovotz, a professor of food science and technology; and Katrina Cornish, a professor of horticulture and crop science.

The study was published in the journal Polymers and Ohio State News featured it in an April 9 story by Misti Crane.

The biodegradable plastics received 4,584 votes, beating out a story about electroceutical bandages that showed improvements in wound healing by 647 votes. The other three finalists included stories about research on a new kind of black hole, vampire bats, and the million-word gap faced by children who are not read to at a young age. (Links to all the stories are below. Click here to see video interviews with each of the nominated researchers.)

Thanks to all our researchers, and to all who voted. We at Ohio State News are excited about the cool new research coming in 2020!


The finalists for Coolest Ohio State Science Story of 2019:

Biodegradable plastic: The quest to keep plastic out of landfills and simultaneously satisfy the needs of the food industry is filled with obstacles. Researchers found a way to combine natural rubber with bioplastic to potentially replace some traditional plastics with a biodegradable, more environmentally friendly alternative. Read more.

Electroceutical bandages: Researchers published the first study of its kind to look at the ways electroceutical bandages – bandages infused with electricity – can kill bacteria around a wound, allowing wounds to heal faster. Read more.

Million-word gap: Young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to. This “million-word gap” could be one key to explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development. Read more.

New black holes: Astronomers found an entirely new set of black holes that, before their discovery, scientists didn’t even know existed. Read more.

Vampire bats: These blood-suckers help their neighbors in need even if it’s of no obvious benefit to them, and social bonds vampire bats form in captivity survive the transition to the wild. Researchers developed tiny backpack-like sensors to log the bats’ interactions in the wild. Read more.

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