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In the movie “Swarmed,” genetically altered yellowjackets bring mayhem to a small Kansas town.

Photo courtesy Syfy and Reel One Entertainment

In the movie “Swarmed,” genetically altered yellowjackets bring mayhem to a small Kansas town.

« Click photo to enlarge


IN THIS ISSUE: Scientists unleash killer wasps at Insect Fear Film Festival |  Supercomputing discussed March 2 | Symposium examines effect of war on small-town U.S.A. | Screening features film about teenage girl in prison | Spice Box presents themed meals | Research methodology seminars announced | Benefits of global experiences discussed

Insect Fear Film Festival

Scientists unleash killer wasps

Drawn by the aroma of grilling meat, an angry swarm of genetically modified killer yellowjackets descends on a hamburger cook-off in a small Kansas town. Elsewhere, giant mutant wasps waddle across the African savannah seeking revenge for a cosmic science experiment gone bad. These and other wasp-related horrors will be on view at the annual Insect Fear Film Festival at the UI on Feb. 26.

The festival will commemorate its 28th year with two main features: “Swarmed,” a 2005 movie about genetically altered, pesticide-resistant killer yellowjackets, and “Monster From Green Hell,” a 1958 horror flick about truck-sized mutant wasps. The night will begin with interactive demonstrations and displays, including an insect petting zoo and exhibits of live and preserved wasps.

The program of movies will include the two feature films and wasp-related animated shorts and will be accompanied by commentaries from entomology department head and festival founder May Berenbaum and from special guest Gordon Yang, the producer of “Swarmed,” which first appeared on Syfy and is licensed by Reel One Entertainment.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. at Foellinger Auditorium. Films and commentary begin at 7 p.m.


NCSA celebraties 25 years

Supercomputing discussed March 2

Since NCSA opened its doors in 1986 it has operated some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, developed software to facilitate the use of these systems, and helped scientists drive scientific discovery. There have been some great success stories — from Mosaic, the first Web browser, to the coming Blue Waters supercomputer, the world’s first sustained petascale computer. Those successes have grown from the intellectual landscape and ongoing, intense commitment of the entire Illinois community.

Faculty and staff members are invited to join NCSA staff members in celebrating NCSA’s 25th anniversary from 3-6:30 p.m. March 2 at the NCSA building.

A brief history of NCSA will be followed at 3:30 p.m. with a panel discussion on the importance of supercomputing in modern research. The panelists: UI faculty members Jian Ma, bioengineering; Shaowen Wang, geography;  Brian Jewett, atmospheric sciences; Guy Garnett, Illinois Informatics Institute and eDream; and Kevin Hofstetter, of Caterpillar Inc. A reception will follow at 4:30 p.m.

To assist the organizers, those planning to attend should indicate their attendance online at by Feb. 22.

Human and community development

What is effect of war on small-town U.S.A.?

Military families expert Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth will speak about the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on small-town communities at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Spurlock Museum auditorium.

“Families that have experienced separation, exposure to combat and other deployment-related events generally respond with great resilience, but there is much that friends, neighbors and communities can do to be supportive and helpful,” MacDermid Wadsworth said.

MacDermid Wadsworth is the director of the Center for Families at Purdue University. She is also director of the Military Family Research Institute. She is a co-author of “Risk and Resilience in U.S. Military Families,” and her research has been published in scientific journals including  the Journal of Marriage and Family, and the Academy of Management Journal.

She noted that the current conflicts have placed heavier demands on military forces than have been seen in recent history. Among current service members, 40 percent have been deployed more than once, and the time between deployments has averaged less than 600 days for both active-duty and reserve troops, she said.

The talk is free and open to the public.

“We think attending will be a good way for people to learn about the stresses military families face, and Dr. MacDermid Wadsworth’s talk should motivate residents of Central Illinois communities to increase their support for these families in their hometowns,” said Robert Hughes Jr., the head of the department of human and community development.


Illinois Public Media

Film features teenage girl in prison

Cyntoia Brown was an average teenager in an American town. But a series of bad decisions led the 16-year-old to life in a Tennessee prison. Her story is chronicled in the film “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.” A screening and discussion of the film takes place at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24, in the Robeson A and B Rooms at the Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St. The film also will be broadcast on WILL-TV at 9 p.m. March 1 as part of the “Independent Lens” series.

Henry Radcliffe, community engagement producer for Illinois Public Media, said that during the discussion, participants will look at the situation for teens in our own community. “Could our youth fall through the cracks if no one is keeping an eye out for them?” he asks.

The event is the second in a series of Community Cinema events hosted by Illinois Public Media. 

The event is free and open to the public.

From January through June, Illinois Public Media will join with the Independent Television Service to sponsor screenings of independent documentaries, followed by discussions facilitated by community groups with an interest in the topic.

Food science and human nutrition

Spice Box presents themed meals 

Another season of themed meals prepared for the public by hospitality majors at the UI is under way at the Spice Box, located on the second floor of Bevier Hall.

“These meals give our students the unique opportunity to have a realistic, hands-on learning experience in all the aspects of managing a restaurant and working closely with industry professionals,” said Jill Craft, instructor of FSHN 443, “Management of Fine Dining.”

The Spice Box is a working laboratory for students majoring in hospitality management in the department of food science and human nutrition.

“Students are offering a broad spectrum of themes and menus that will allow diners to experience food and dining through all their senses,” Craft said.  

Meals are featured on Wednesday and Friday evenings throughout the semester. Each dining event offers either a four-course meal, including salad, appetizer, featured entrée and dessert, or a two-course salad and entree combination. A specialty alcoholic beverage and a regular wine list also are offered. Prices vary according to the menu. Meals are available by reservation only. Reservations are available at 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, 7 and 7:30 p.m. 

Upcoming meals include “Thanksgiving Feast” (Feb. 18), a 1950s supper club (Feb. 23), and authentic German cuisine (Feb. 25).

A complete list of meal themes and guest chefs is available online at Full menus will be posted as they become available. To be placed on an e-mail list that will provide information about upcoming events, e-mail

To reserve seating call 217-333-6520. 


Survey Research Laboratory

Research methodology seminars

The Survey Research Laboratory is offering four introductory seminars on survey research methodology this semester. The series is free to UI faculty and staff members and students; attendance for each seminar is limited, and advance registration is required.

All seminars are scheduled to meet from noon to 1 p.m. in classroom 201, at 505 E. Green St., Champaign. Topics include “Introduction to Survey Sampling” (Feb. 23), “Introduction to Web Surveys” (March 2), “Introduction to Survey Data Analysis” (March 9) and “Introduction to Questionnaire Design” (March 16).

Register online at

Graduate College

Benefits of global experiences discussed

The Graduate College will host the ninth annual Symposium on Graduate Education on March 2 in Illini Union Rooms B and C. This year’s theme is “Global Experiences and International Engagement” and will include a keynote address by Maresi Nerad, the director of the Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education and co-editor of “Toward a Global PhD? Forces and Forms in Doctoral Education Worldwide” (2008).

Nerad and a panel of Illinois faculty members and graduate students will discuss the importance of preparing graduate students to address the challenges of an increasingly globalized world. Additional information is online at www.grad/ For questions, contact the college at





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