blog posts Will Schneider: My path to Illinois Apr 6, 2020 9:00 am858 views Social work professor Will Schneider examines trends in child maltreatment and suggests that interventions for child neglect overlook the most likely cause. Where the wild turkeys aren’t May 12, 2017 8:30 am1275 views It is cold and windy, and we have been out for hours. We are driving to our trap site after lunch when we suddenly stop, and at least a dozen wild turkeys walk in front of our truck. I shout to my techs, “Get out of the truck, herd them to the net, but be careful not to chase them!” Weightless in San Luis Potosi Dec 21, 2017 8:45 am1541 views OUTSIDE VALLES, MEXICO — When we first arrived at this stream, I knew we were in a special location. The clear, turquoise blue water rivals that of any picture from a Caribbean tour magazine. When I put my snorkeled face in the water, I can actually see mussels in the streambed below, something that doesn’t happen very often in Illinois streams. Collecting the mussels, however, is proving difficult. Weighing bears, corralling otters and healing wild beasts Sep 30, 2019 8:15 am2308 views How do you weigh a fully grown American black bear? These veterinary medicine students know the answer, and it's a bit more complicated than just saying, "very carefully." Waiting for the sun to set to find a rare bird Jun 30, 2022 9:00 am2004 views When most people are just getting home from their workdays, I’m about to start mine. I am a researcher studying the breeding behavior of the Eastern whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferus), a cryptic bird that is primarily active after sunset as it forages on the wing for moths. So – for the summer, at least – I also am nocturnal. Vivifying ikebana: Japanese flower arranging Oct 21, 2022 8:15 am624 views Sitting at the long covered tables in the heart of Japan House, I close my eyes. All 18 of us do. We are students in the Japan House class Ikebana: The Art of Japanese Flower Arrangement. Professor Kimiko Gunji is introducing our sixth ikebana arrangement, and this is our first step. My socked feet glide on the smooth hardwood floor as I sit in silence and think. What kokoro – emotion, essence, idea – do I want to convey? Using a 19th-century hand press to teach history of printing technologies Dec 8, 2022 9:00 am1073 views Three students gather around an old iron letterpress at the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab, preparing to make a print using 19th-century technology. The press requires all three students to operate it. Unlocking the secrets of the Amazon River Nov 22, 2016 9:15 am1052 views Next week, we’ll be in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, near the frontier town of Tefé, to conduct research on the river. Unearthing a fossorial snake Oct 12, 2020 9:00 am2193 views To the naked eye, it might appear as though I’m standing in a prairie oasis. Pockets of bright yellow goldenrod bring vibrancy to the sea of towering grasses. There’s not a soul in sight to spoil the serenity. A lone red-tailed hawk scouring the landscape from the top of a dead oak tree is my only companion. It’s not hard to imagine the entire region looking like this prior to European settlement, expanding miles and miles without interruption. I made the two-hour drive from Champaign to this tiny, fragmented prairie to search for an uncommon snake. Turkey tango Sep 12, 2017 8:30 am748 views During one late October visit to the Mermet Lake Conservation Area in southern Illinois, I noticed a shape approaching from the distance. The day was windy and wet, and my first thought was that a stray garbage can was rolling down the road. As we drove closer, the black-and-white blob resolved into a pair of yearling turkeys (called “jakes”) involved in a tussle. Tracking an invisible world Jul 22, 2019 8:30 am1018 views It’s 2 a.m. on a cold winter night. My timer beeps loudly, waking me up for yet another measurement. It’s been a long day; I’ve been tracking bacterial growth every two hours for the past 18 hours. I stumble off the couch that has served as a bed for countless graduate students before me. I go to my lab bench, pick up the test tubes that I need for my samples, and groggily set off to the incubation room. Tracking a forest’s recovery one year after storm Aug 1, 2018 8:30 am820 views We walk out of the typical southern Illinois shady forest into a crazy jumble of fallen trees, thorny vines and tangled shrubs. It’s almost 100 degrees, the humidity is over 85 percent and all of the shade has disappeared. My lab mate and her undergraduate technician volunteered to work with me today, and I wonder what I’ve gotten them into. Tourists behaving badly Jul 25, 2016 11:45 am645 views So far this year, Yellowstone has seen a record number of visitors – and what seems to be a record number of visitors disobeying the rules. Titan the survivor Nov 21, 2017 8:30 am904 views The first time I see Titan, a pit bull with mesothelioma in his chest, I give his owners “the talk.” The dog is breathing hard and fast because of the buildup of cancerous fluid around his lungs. Dogs develop some cancers that are very similar to human cancers. This is one that we don’t see very often and for which we don’t have really good treatment options, just like in humans. We eventually learn, however, that Titan is unique. The weavers of Tambo Perccaro Jul 16, 2018 7:00 am879 views About 70 people are waiting for us in the courtyard of the community center when we arrive. They are llama herders, farmers and weavers. Many have walked for miles to be here, some with small children on their backs. We’re not sure what the community center staff told this crowd to get them to show up, but we’re here, and we’ve got something useful to share. The journey to becoming a physician-innovator Jul 17, 2018 9:00 am1942 views A member of the inaugural class recounts her application and surprise acceptance to the Carle Illinois College of Medicine The fossils of Madison County (Montana) Jun 20, 2016 2:15 pm1449 views Standing at the foot of the mountains, I look to the east. It’s still early and I have hiked up here alone to gather my thoughts. I can see why they call this “Big Sky Country.” The tree-covered foothills of the mountains behind me give way to rolling scrubland. Stunted trees mark the edges of dry creek beds cut into the soft rocks below. The sun sparkles on the surface of a reservoir in the valley several miles away, and beyond that, another mountain range rises to meet the sky. This is southwest Montana and I’m here to hunt. The Cornfield Death March Nov 3, 2016 10:15 am2058 views My students and I are standing at the edge of a 73-acre cornfield. Covered in mud and sweat, we are dreading the task ahead. We are hunting the western corn rootworm, a menace to corn growers everywhere. The art and science of Mammoth Hot Springs Nov 1, 2016 2:00 pm1872 views A new book by geology professor Bruce Fouke and photographer Tom Murphy brings together art and science in the study of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Teresa Cardador: My path to Illinois Mar 30, 2020 9:00 am1000 views The concept of “meaningful work” isn’t something that’s found or discovered. It’s created over time through people and organizations with similar values to create meaning over time, said U. of I. labor expert Teresa Cardador in a presentation to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Telling stories and touching history Feb 6, 2018 8:30 am5064 views I slowly turn each page of Florence Lee’s large paper scrapbook, making sure not to wrinkle any of the items she placed inside. Its contents offer a snapshot of student life in the early 20th century at the University of Illinois: a laminated orange and blue button from a homecoming football game, a brochure from the Anti-Cigarette League of America, ribbons and tickets from Dad’s Day events and dozens of photographs of scenes around campus, including personal photographs of Florence Lee with her family and friends. All of these items were either glued or, in the case of some of the flat paper items, had their corners tucked into angled slots cut into the pages. The items that Florence Lee placed in this scrapbook come from her undergraduate years at the University of Illinois – 1917-20. This memento offers a window into that time. Teaching generations of students about outbreaks – with art Jan 26, 2023 8:30 am438 views Most people don’t visit the health department to view student art, but here we are, in the busy main hall of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. We are wearing face masks, reading artist statements and reviewing more than a dozen visual and digital explorations of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, COVID-19 and – the trickiest of all health topics – human behavior. Nurses and dental assistants whiz by with young patients. People walk by to pick up birth certificates. Two kids sit in a corner and play with one of the art pieces. It’s obvious this isn’t just an art show. It’s an end-of-term presentation designed by students in my evolutionary immunology class for students in kindergarten through the eighth grade. These creative works are meant to show the youngsters how to prevent the spread of respiratory infections in the community. These kids are using the art exactly the way it was intended. Tarantulas in a pickle jar Mar 5, 2018 4:15 pm1860 views Storing your dead tarantulas in a gallon-sized pickle jar is not the best solution to long-term preservation. Especially when those tarantulas are toe-tagged – like corpses in a morgue. But that’s what I find this morning when I open one of the dozens of metal storage cabinets in the chilly insect collection: a pickle jar full of tarantulas. Taking a cicada road trip May 27, 2021 8:00 am1209 views CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – A tough semester and an even tougher year have just ended. I need a break. I’m fully vaccinated and want to escape the yearlong lockdown. And I’m an entomologist. What do I do? I grab my best friend, also an entomologist, and we hit the road, of course. This is the year of my people’s “Woodstock.” Symbols of Service Nov 17, 2016 11:00 am446 views The Symbols of Service exhibit at the University of Illinois Library tells the stories behind the tattoos of student veterans. Surviving a football frenzy Nov 15, 2019 8:00 am6228 views Thirty-one. That’s the number the Illinois football coaching staff writes on the white board for the players to see. Many of the fans filing into Memorial Stadium today know this number, as well. Thirty-one is the number of points by which pundits predict Illinois will lose to Wisconsin. That’s a tough number. Doesn’t matter. My job as a university photographer is to tell the Illini story. There is always plenty to capture and celebrate. The weather is spectacular. It is Homecoming. Illinois has been competitive against some tough foes. I can work with that. Stink bug babies Sep 5, 2017 8:45 am1092 views While hiking in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, looking for unusual things to photograph, I found a hidden world of newly hatched stink bugs clustered around their empty eggshells. Staging a threatening encounter at a blackbird nest Oct 7, 2021 8:15 am913 views It’s early morning, about 6 a.m. A light fog has settled over the marsh. I park my car, step out and double-check my backpack for all the necessary equipment before heading out. After a short walk on a narrow paved path, I veer into the unmarked marsh. I’m here to study how red-winged blackbirds respond to the vocalizations that signal nearby nest parasites called brown-headed cowbirds. Snake Road Sojourn Apr 18, 2017 8:30 am1351 views SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST, Ill. — There is nothing between us but my camera lens and a half meter of thick southern Illinois air. I peer over my camera, mesmerized by his vertical pupils fixed on me, his heat-sensing pits tracking my every move. He inflates his lungs to exaggerate his already impressive girth. This meter length of muscle is coiled like a spring and poised to strike. Despite being surrounded by 15 thrilled herpetology students and a cacophony of calling tree frogs, the only sound that fills my ears is the ceaseless rattling. Serpents of the Badlands Oct 24, 2017 9:45 am1313 views Tchk-tchk-tchktchk I stop dead in my tracks. Despite the howling prairie winds, that unmistakable sound cuts through the bluster and into my ears. My eyes search the ground, scanning through the prairie grasses, yucca, scoria and prickly pear. Nothing. Searching the Texas brushland for a rare, temperamental plant Aug 18, 2022 9:30 am936 views The author and her colleagues search a South Texas scrubland for the federally endangered Zapata bladderpod, Physaria thamnophila. This rare endemic plant, a member of the mustard family, is named for the region and is found in only two counties in the United States. Searching for turtles in a sea of grass Jun 5, 2018 9:45 am1455 views Searching for reptiles and amphibians is often quite tedious. You have to carefully scan ahead of each step for movement before a snake gets away, or spend hours flipping over logs to find the particular salamander you are looking for. Today, we’re searching for turtles. Luckily, we have help. Searching for an ancient Maya pilgrimage path: The elusive pools Jul 26, 2017 8:30 am829 views CARA BLANCA, Belize — Armed with a compass, a map, a GPS device and a drone, we begin our exploratory trek through the jungle. The thick vegetation is no match for our team of eight, six of whom are quick with a machete. Four hours after circumventing towering hardwoods and hacking our way through spidery vines, massive palm fronds and dense fern bushes, we stand at the edge of Pool 21, less than a kilometer from the road. Searching for an ancient Maya pilgrimage path: Fire and water Aug 2, 2017 9:30 am730 views It is our final day in the field and we are searching for the last of the ancient Maya ceremonial pools, Pool 25. Mud sucks at our boots as we wade through a jungle swamp. The sap from black poisonwood trees (Metopium brownie) burns our skin. Spike-covered trees snag us, while others swarm with ants. The grassland around this last pool should be a welcome relief. At the edge of the jungle, however, we are met with cutting grass, aptly named for its razor-sharp edges, rising well above our heads. The knee-deep water hides holes that catch us unaware. Saying goodbye to an old measure Nov 16, 2018 12:30 pm992 views I'm video recording on three DSLR cameras today, which is the most I can handle by myself. But I don't want to miss a second of this event, because I flew to Paris the day before yesterday just to film this auditorium of international delegates. These serious-looking men and women are actually very excited. I know that because several of them have told me so. In a few minutes, they will cast their nation's vote on whether to accept the proposed redefinition of the kilogram. Saving our natural heritage, one stopper at a time Dec 12, 2018 9:00 am1034 views The rubber stopper is sticky in my hands. I can see it drooping into the vial, threatening the two tiny insect specimens inside, a pair of small green stoneflies, Alloperla furcula. Vial stoppers should not be sticky, and definitely should not be melting into the glass vial holding these important reference specimens. I have to save them from total annihilation. Saving an endangered breed of donkey Jun 3, 2022 8:00 am2077 views Nothing I’ve read about the Baudet du Poitou donkeys prepares me for my first sight of them. They are girthy, with massive round bellies and oversized ears that swoop forward and back, sometimes independently of one another. They are covered in thick hair that hangs in shaggy tufts, “like mammoth fur,” says my companion on this adventure in equine medicine, Public Affairs senior photographer Michelle Hassel. We’re here today with veterinarian and Ph.D. student Dr. Giorgia Podico to observe these exotic animals and check on their reproductive status. Podico is part of a team that is trying to impregnate these donkeys, which are endangered and in need of conservation. Salvaging the past in an ancient Maya settlement Jun 1, 2016 9:45 am1073 views We are working in the the cleared agricultural fields near Cara Blanca Pool 7, a pre-Columbian residential area in west central Belize. Hundreds of ancient Maya structures once housed a thriving community here. Now the area is being converted into farmland, and our job is to salvage what we can before the plows sheer off this history, layer by layer. Rohit Bhargava: My path to Illinois Apr 9, 2020 8:15 am2293 views I grew up in Jaipur, India, a city that is well-known for its architecture. My father is an architect, and I grew up helping him, looking at plans and making blueprints. I was always interested in building things. Rocks, moss and muddy tree roots Apr 13, 2018 7:45 am588 views It’s a summer day in June, and as my husband and I approach the Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor center, I have one goal in mind: I want to see something extraordinary. At my request, the ranger at the visitor center pulls out a map, smiles and immediately points to the tallest waterfall in the area: Ramsey Cascades. Getting there will require hiking a rugged 8-mile trail that gains 2,200 feet in elevation. Our reward: a 100-foot waterfall – something you won’t find in Illinois. Restoring a lost heritage Aug 8, 2017 8:00 am1730 views Rescuing ancient Maya history from the plow Jun 22, 2022 8:45 am886 views Things have changed since I was last in Belize in 2018, when I excavated the ancestral Maya pilgrimage site Cara Blanca. Thousands of acres of jungle are gone, replaced by fields of corn and sugarcane. Hundreds of ancestral Maya mounds are now exposed in the treeless landscape, covered by soil that is currently plowed several times a year. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was awarded a three-year National Science Foundation grant to conduct a salvage archaeology project here in Belize. The goal is to collect as much information as possible before the mounds are plowed away. Rediscovering a path to the Milky Way May 6, 2020 8:15 am2422 views We’re standing on a roadside at the edge of a muddy expanse. I’m wearing rubber boots, but Tim Pauketat is going to get his feet wet. He left his waterproof boots in Indiana, but this won’t stop him from tromping out into the soggy, overgrown remains of the ancient city of Cahokia. Reading history in the soil Jan 28, 2020 8:30 am668 views “Huh.” Looking down at the material in the glass beaker, I’m perplexed. I’m trying to determine the ratio of silt to clay in my sample and something isn’t right. The sediments in my beaker came from the floor of a religious shrine in Cahokia, an ancient Native American metropolis that grew up in and around present-day St. Louis, 900-1,000 years ago. Preserving the Past in 3D Mar 7, 2019 8:15 am1722 views We lug heavy equipment up a steep ravine in the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. A local landowner leads our team of archaeologists past a small waterfall up to the top of the bluff, where two rock shelters contain a number of ancient petroglyphs. Preserving a fragile history Jul 7, 2016 12:15 pm451 views I drive slowly over the hilly terrain in Fossil Basin and park near the remnants of an old campsite. In the 1950s and early 1960s, botanist Herman Becker camped here and collected fossil insects and plants from the Renova Formation’s paper shales. We are the first, since Becker, to explore this fossil bed. Our work begins where his left off. Pondering a university's ecological impact Apr 22, 2021 8:00 am786 views Earth Day has one science writer pondering how much research conducted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has direct ecological implications. Poetry inspired by painting Oct 12, 2016 8:45 am291 views Poet Janice Harrington wrote her poem "Domino Players, 1943" based on a painting by African-American artist Horace Pippin. Playing a parasite for science Aug 21, 2018 9:00 am1256 views It’s 5:30 a.m. in the tree farms outside Urbana, but the birds have been up for an hour already. I sip my coffee, putting on rubber boots that will be little help against the dewy, waist-high grass. A couple of brown birds sit on telephone wires above me, and I have a feeling I am being watched. These are brown-headed cowbirds, which lay their eggs in other species’ nests and then let the nest’s owners raise the offspring. Pet burials blur the line between human and animal rites Oct 13, 2016 9:30 am703 views A new book by anthropology professor Jane Desmond explores humans’ complex relationships with other animals.