Silk, nature's miracle, new material for state-of-the-art medical devices

Jun 24, 2015

It's more that a tie, bedsheets or a comfy, sleek shirt or dress. Get ready for silk's role in state-of-the-art medical devices.

We're toast, genetically speaking. (Well, a little bit.)

Jun 17, 2015

If someone told you that you and a slice of bread have a common genetic heritage, you probably wouldn't believe it. Yet it's true.

As it turns out, yeast and human genes go way, way back: About a billion years ago, we had a common ancestor. Today, yeast and humans still share about 4,000 genes in common.

How a new fossil discovery changes the perceived evolutionary path for humans

Jun 12, 2015

Lucy, otherwise known as Australopithecus afarensis, long considered to be the lone ancestor of modern humans, may have had a sibling. Or perhaps we should say a cousin.

Astronaut twin brothers Scott and Mark Kelly have each been in space four times — but never for as long as a year and never as the subjects of their own human study.

Now, NASA has sent Scott Kelly up to the International Space Station and kept his brother Mark here on Earth to test what a full year of zero gravity will do to the human body. 

“Most of the comparative research involves samples of blood, urine and other things,” Scott Kelly explains. Scott regularly takes blood samples and sends them back to Earth on a SpaceX spacecraft. 

Why your beefsteak tomatoes are getting beefier

Jun 10, 2015

If you’ve noticed your beefsteak tomatoes have been a little beefier, it’s not a figment of your imagination.

Produce is getting plumper these days. Farmers have been cross-breeding plants for hundreds of years to make bigger, better crops. But one fruit in particular, the tomato, has genes to thank for its newfound girth.

Zach Lippman, an associate professor of plant genetics at The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and his team have been studying why some plants in the same species, under the same conditions, grow larger — or produce more fruit — than others.

Changes on the farm

Jun 10, 2015
Dave DeLuca/WBFO News

It's the season for dairy and agriculture festivals in Western New York. Springville staged its annual tribute to farming last weekend. Down in Allegany County, Cuba will kick off its five-day Dairy Week on Tuesday, June 16.

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Vitamin D is essential to healthy bones, because it helps you absorb calcium, which strengthens your skeleton. Without the vitamin, you could develop brittle bones, increasing the chance of getting osteoporosis when you’re older.

Children with insufficient vitamin D can develop soft bones, putting them at risk for rickets, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Inadequate amounts of vitamin D can also lead to a weakened immune system.

File photo

A judge has reserved decision in a dispute over surveillance technology being used by the Erie County Sheriff's Department.

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

The windows on the fifth floor of the building on Michigan Avenue used to look out on the parking lot of Sheehan Hospital. Now, the windows are in a clean room of a tablet PC manufacturing firm, perhaps the only one in the U.S.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

The winners of the AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge were announced Thursday. The competition allowed smartphone app developers and entrepreneurs to tackle social and civic issues across the region through a competitive “virtual hackathon.”

Just before putting on your winter coat, hat and gloves to go shovel yet another snowstorm a few years from now, you may first put on a special t-shirt which will monitor your heart and your health.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

Mobile app designers are tackling social and civic issues across the region through a competitive “virtual hackathon.” The AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge allows innovative thinkers and designers to create apps for cash prizes to make their ideas a reality. WBFO’s Ashley Hirtzel spoke to a few of the dueling app creators.


An unusual coffee war, that has been percolating, has now boiled over. A Canadian coffee roaster recently filed a lawsuit against American coffee giant Keurig over what it claims is an attempt to maintain a near monopoly and keep single-serve coffee prices artificially high. 

photo from the University at Buffalo

Across the world, there are problems with getting clean drinking water. At the University at Buffalo, a group of undergraduates is working with an engineering professor to provide clean water for a few pennies and no cost for fuel.


General Motors' Tonawanda plant will be getting some national attention tonight as the Science Channel features the Chevy Corvette engine it manufactures on the show "How It's Made - A Dream Car."

photo from NASA website

David Mitchell, a 1980 graduate of St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, serves as NASA's lead project manager for  the MAVEN mission, which recently made its way into an orbit around Mars. Mitchell took time last week to share some insights with WBFO News.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

Governor Andrew Cuomo welcomed one of the world’s largest solar panel companies to the region Tuesday. The California-based business called SolarCity will build be the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the Western hemisphere at the RiverBend site located in South Buffalo.

Hackers to compete in civic app contest

Sep 11, 2014
Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

A major app competition was launched on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Wednesday. The AT&T WNY Civic App Challenge aims to attract technology experts from the eight counties of western New York to create smartphone applications that will improve the quality of live in the region. 

New solar panels helping to power Amherst gas mart

Sep 4, 2014
Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

Crosby’s convenience store unveiled 110 new solar panels at its location in Amherst Thursday. Canopy panels were installed above the gas stations fueling pumps, as well as on top of the store's roof.

Xeni Jardin / Some Rights Reserved

A cheaper alternative may be on the way to the broadband internet services currently available in Erie County. The Legislature is going to explore the possibility of starting its own county-wide network.

Photo from UB Website by Sangate Kim

Around 200 million years ago, a flower changed its genes for unknown reasons and became the botanic ancestor of flowering plants today.  A research alliance from around the country, including a University at Buffalo professor, says the research solves a mystery familiar to Charles Darwin.

Buffalo Zoo participating in toad conservation effort

Dec 12, 2013

The Buffalo Zoo has sent hundreds of endangered Puerto Rican crested toad tadpoles to Puerto Rico as part of a major conservation effort.

Research & medical innovation under one roof

Dec 10, 2013
WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Amazing life-saving medical procedures and research are happening in Buffalo's Medical Corridor.  Medical innovation and radical changes to healthcare procedures are underway through the combined forces of the Jacobs Neurological Institute, Gates Vascular Institute and the Clinical and Translational Research Center.

Mind-controlled robots no longer science fiction

Nov 29, 2013
Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

Researchers at the University at Buffalo are studying how mind-controlled robots can be utilized in the manufacturing sector. The team is also working to make the technology more affordable for companies.

Hackathons fertile ground for world's big innovations

Nov 25, 2013
Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

A number of Buffalo college students have been coming away with some of the big prizes at recent computer code writing contest known as “hackathons.” As the popularity of hackathons continues to grow, observers are assigning a lot of value on the codefests, while others question whether the work coming out of them is relevant to the general public.

Grant to help develop advanced lasers used in drug R&D

Nov 6, 2013
Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the University at Buffalo a $25 million Science and Technology Center grant Wednesday.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Energy from the sun is now being used to help operate a Niagara County convenience store.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

University at Buffalo researchers are developing an underwater internet system. The wireless network aims to improve the detection of tsunamis and potentially save civilian lives.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

Researchers at the University at Buffalo have been awarded funds to continue a program that is working to improve roadways across the country. The $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will help researchers collect ‘big data’ that can help deal with a range of transportation issues.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

Buffalo State College officially opened its state-of-the-art Technology Building, Thursday. The facility cost $36.5 million to build and was paid for through the SUNY Construction Fund.