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  • Ph.D. student Brian Graves presented his virus-busting video game.  Photo by Fred Zwicky

    Teaching generations of students about outbreaks – with art

    'The art show is a midpoint in a journey to revamp the health district’s Germ Busters program, which conducts outreach to K-8 students on a variety of infectious diseases.'

  • Illinois graduate student Martha Larkin pulls a lever to operate a hand press as students get hands-on experience with historical printing technologies.

    Using a 19th-century hand press to teach history of printing

    'I want students to literally get their hands on historical technology. Rather than talking about how print worked, students do these things – set print, bind books and use computer technology,' says Professor Ryan Cordell.

  • tudent volunteers from the Wildlife Society’s U. of I. student chapter move in close to see a tiny yet spirited bird, the house wren, before it is released.  Photo by Fred Zwicky

    A marvelous morning of migratory bird banding

    Birds throughout the world are in trouble, and habitat loss is one reason for their decline. Understanding their life cycles and habitat requirements during migration is increasingly important – especially as climate change continues to affect the world.

  • steam clouds the view of the ancient works inside one of Illinois' steam tunnels

    Spooky Spaces at U of I: The steam tunnels

    You can't go inside them - they're dangerous and you'd be arrested - but the steam tunnels under the campus serve important functions. Plus, the old brick tunnelways produce weird noises that complete their creepy image.

  • curious chickens watch photographer Michelle Hassel as she takes their picture

    Learning from chickens

    A tour of the U. of I.’s Poultry Research Farm reveals that chickens are daring, pragmatic and curious about humans. The facility trains students in all aspects of chicken care, breeding and management, and supports research at Illinois and beyond.

  • Tamar Dallal, a senior in engineering physics, creates a flower arrangement for an exhibition at Japan House. Photo by Fred Zwicky

    Vivifying ikebana: Japanese flower arranging

    Tamar learned jiyuka, or freestyle arrangement, which encourages contemporary artistic expression using simple design principles to create miniature arrangements highlighting the theme of kokoro, or heart, mind and spirit.

  • U. of I. field school students at the Pottersville kiln site in 2011.  Credit: Photo by Bridget Lee-Calfas

    Bringing an enslaved potter's story to the Met

    George Calfas unearthed a jug in 2011 that is now part of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, 'Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina'

  • A view of the thornscrub habitat along the bluffs of the Rio Grande. Credit: Photo by Sara Johnson

    Searching the Texas brushland for a rare, temperamental plant

    'As it stands with most rare species, this work isn’t always easy, but it is fulfilling. The excitement of seeing one rare plant – let alone a thriving population – is enough to sustain me in this work.'

  • young bird nests among leaves on the forest floor. Photo by author

    Waiting for the sun to set to find a rare bird

    Each night, we perform checks of Whip-Poor-Will nests to record development of eggs and chicks, as well as instances of predation or failure. Nests are at risk on the ground, but a few broods hatch and reach fledging age, when they begin to fly.

  • Professor Lisa Lucero does field work in Belize. Anthropology professor Lisa Lucero and her colleagues are working to capture the history from Maya ruins before they are plowed under. Photo by C. Taylor. Photo copyright © 2022 VOPA and Belize Institute of Archaeology, NICH.

    Rescuing ancient Maya history from the plow

    Anthropology professor Lisa Lucero and her colleagues are working to capture the history from Maya ruins before they are plowed under.

  • Sourbette and Sophie, Baudet du Poitou donkeys at the U of I College of Veterinary  Medicine, are inseparable.  Photos by Michelle Hassel

    Vet Med: Saving an endangered breed of donkey

    Numbers of Baudet du Poitou donkeys have dwindled to only 300-400 worldwide. A breeding effort is underway at Illinois to expand their numbers and help save the breed from extinction. Photos by Michelle Hassel.

  • Photo of a swath of prairie with more than a dozen tall stalks of yellow flowers reaching up into a blue sky. Photo by Fred Delcomyn (from “A Backyard Prairie”)

    Building back a tiny piece of prairie

    Working to restore a prairie on century-old farmland – especially when starting from seed, as the Delcomyns did – requires plenty of patience and a lot of help. 

  • An airborne male red-winged blackbird swoops at the author while the female guards her nest.  Photo by Shelby Lawson

    Staging a threatening encounter at a blackbird nest

    'The male stares me down while flicking his tail and wings – a sign that I’m not welcome here. Red-winged blackbirds are among the most brash and vocal birds you’ll ever meet.'

  • This bur oak tree in Brownfield Woods dates to the 1600s. Photo by Brian Stauffer

    Exploring the remnants of an ancient forest

    Hundreds of researchers have made use of these two woodlands over the decades, and these and other natural areas owned by the U. of I. are vital to training students in ecological research.

  • The author sets a trap for ticks with dry ice.  Photo by Fred Zwicky

    Hunting a creature that hunts me

    When I reach the trap...I see that it’s covered in ticks. Hooray! Quickly though, I realize that I’ve introduced my own CO2 to the scene, along with the added attractant of my body heat. Suddenly, I become the local target of choice for the ticks.

  • The author helps his colleagues install mist nets around a pond. ALT TEXT: Photo of the author standing near a vertical pole used to secure the nets. He grasps a cord used to tighten the nets in place.  Photo by Elizabeth Beilke

    In pursuit of Indiana bats

    'My role at this site is to attach temperature-sensitive radio tags to reproductive female Indiana bats. We’ll use these tags to track the bats to roost trees during the day and to monitor their body temperatures.'

  • Two Brood X adults of the genus Magicicada rest on a fern leaf.  Photo by Marianne Alleyne

    Taking a cicada road trip

    'Every night, we quietly lurk in the dark at the edge of the lawn to listen for the rustling of dried leaves as the cicadas come out of their burrows. It’s a bit creepy, but also stunning...'

  • A released big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus, clings to a tree. Photo by Sarah Gaulke

    Catching bats for conservation

    'With all the intimidation and preparation leading up to this night, I had built the bats up to be something dramatic – even fearsome – in my mind, but sitting there in my hand, the bats are smaller and sweeter than I anticipated. They are fuzzy.'

  • Young woman sits on a fallen tree in the woods.  PHOTO BY MELISSA DANIELS

    Pondering U of I's ecological impact

    I am biased, but I think the university’s leadership in so many areas of environmental research is exceptional. Here’s why.

  • Thousands of sea lions gather on the breeding beaches of San Miguel Island, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. Photo: Alaska Fisheries Science Center/NOAA Fisheries.

    Connecting a virus to cancer – in sea lions

    'To say the images made us pathologists excited is an understatement. It was a eureka moment that was a long time in the making.'

  • Artist and professor Bea Nettles found this name in a cemetery in Rochester, N.Y., and used it in her 'Head Lines' book.

    Hunting Goodenough Days

    Artist Bea Nettles uses photographs of names from gravestones to create poetry for her book projects. Her most recent book 'Head Lines: Worlds Warning' is a chronology of the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • a boardwalk at Volo Bog State Natural Area. Photo by Anastasia Rahlin

    Finding one elusive bird

    Illinois Natural History Survey assistant ornithologist Anastasia Rahlin conducted field surveys in Volo Bog State Natural Area, and her efforts paid off with the discovery of a king rail, a water bird that blends in well with its surroundings.

  • researcher holds small Kirtland's snake

    Unearthing an uncommon, burrowing snake

    Kirtland’s snakes were once widespread in Illinois, but now are listed as a threatened species. With more than 99% of Illinois’ natural prairies lost to agriculture and urban development, these snakes struggle to maintain their current populations.

  • Taiwanese dish of wonton noodles with chili and crushed peanuts.  Photo by Hueih Kan Dung

    Celebrating our diversity through food

    'My background is not a gauge of my worthiness or an obstacle to communication but an amalgamation of experiences and culture that I can share with my colleagues,' writes undgrad student Yi-Ying Tung.

  • Following the sounds of prairie cicadas

    Scientists at the Illinois Natural History Survey study the elusive insect.

  • A Blanding’s turtle held in field researcher's hand.  Photo by Andrea Colton and Emily Sunnucks

    Gathering data to save a rare turtle

    'Our goal is to learn as much as we can about (Blanding's turtles). many Blanding’s turtles remain – in the context of the turtle community as a whole – will help in the development of viable conservation and recovery plans for them.'

  • Entomology professor Alexandra Harmon-Threatt and undergraduate student Sabine Miller prepare for an evening of work in a prairie the professor created to study ground-nesting bees.  Photo by Fred Zwicky

    Building a prairie and watching for bees

    Two years ago, Professor Alexandra Harmon-Threatt built this outdoor labby planting more than 80 prairie species here. Her mission is to attract ground-nesting bees. She is here to see which bees are showing up. But that’s not all she’s after.

  • Tommy McElrath collects bees in a net. Photo by Fred Zwicky

    Chasing bumble bees on a patch of prairie

    Scientists know so little about bumble bees that it’s hard to make recommendations about the kinds of habitat they need, says Tommy McElrath, insect collection manager of the Illinois Natural History Survey. 

  • Gary Stitt, 61, stretches his arms to the sky as people gather for a Dance for People with Parkinson’s class at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. All photos by Fred Zwicky

    Grace and healing: Parkinson's dance class exercises body, mind

    Dance for People with Parkinson’s uses dance to inspire patients to expand the limits of their condition. 'You just have to keep moving, one way or another. If I ever stop moving, that’s the end of it.' says participant Gary Stitt.

  • Milky Way. Photo by U.S. Forest Service

    Rediscovering a path to the Milky Way

    We’re here because it’s wet. Archaeologist Tim Pauketat, who has studied Cahokia 25 years, wants to see it flooded. Watching how the water flows here will help unlock some of the secrets of this place, he says.

  • Rohit Bhargava. Photo by Brian Stauffer

    Rohit Bhargava: My path to Illinois

    'Illinois technology has transformed lives, from the transistor to the LED, the MRI and the web browser. I knew we had the science and people to transform cancer too, if only we could bring them together.'

  • Professor Will Schneider

    Will Schneider: My path to Illinois

    'Illinois has historically played a large role in shaping our understanding of child maltreatment, and I believe that we can alter the trajectory of generations of children to come.'

  • professor of labor and employee relations Teresa Cardador. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

    Teresa Cardador: My path to Illinois

    'Meaningful work is not simply something you go out and find like an egg at an Easter egg hunt. It’s something co-created, over time, by individuals and the organizations they work in.'

  • Agricultural and biological engineering professor Girish Chowdhari. Photo by Matthew Lester Photography, LLC.

    Girish Chowdhary: My path to Illinois

    'At Illinois, this vision has bloomed into an invaluable research collaboration for some of the brightest minds crop sciences. The robots can do the research fieldwork required in a fraction of the time.'

  • farmers learn how to grow their crops sustainably. Photo courtesy Esther Ngumbi.

    Professor Esther Ngumbi: My path from the Kenyan coast to Illinois

    'I grew up on the Kenyan coast... My parents were teachers, but their income was not enough to sustain us and send us to school. So, we also farmed. I got up early every day to work on the farm before school.'

  • researcher Rebecca Barzilai maps and collects soil samples from the floor of a religious shrine in Greater Cahokia, an ancient Native American settlement on the Mississippi River in and around present-day St. Louis.  Photo by Leslie Drane, the Emerald Acropolis Project

    Reading history in the soil

    Archaeologists are often asked, 'What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever found?' My not as much about the objects I find as it is about the stories I learn from them.

  • graduate student Mary Lyons. Photo by Fred Zwicky

    Finding time for play

    Graduate student Mary Lyons studies teachers’ strategies for supporting young children’s play-based learning.

  • The team hoists Illini kicker James McCourt aloft after he kicks a 39-yard field goal to give the Illini a 24-23 victory.   Photo by Fred Zwicky

    Surviving a football frenzy

    Photographer Fred Zwicky puts you on the field as bedlam unfolds and Illinois fans celebrate a major upset victory over heavily favored Wisconsin.

  • Measuring the unseen life of a river

    Illinois researchers can learn about the life of a river without seeing the animals that live there.

  • 9)	Arisaema triphyllum, collected May 3, 1942, in White Pines Forest State Park, Illinois. Photo by Brian Stauffer

    Bringing yesterday's plants to digital life

    This imaging process is part of Endless Forms, an NSFdigitization project. Our part is to digitize specimens from across the country in three groups: succulent plants, carnivorous plants and epiphytes.

  • Ananya Sen. Photo by Fred Zwicky

    Tracking an invisible world

    Successful experiments are worth the sleepless nights I spend dissecting the processes in living things that are essentially invisible to us.

  • a rare, nearly intact clay pot. Photo by Fred Zwicky

    Extracting history from a cornfield

    The scientists and students have access only to the foundations of the 800-year-old village, as plows have erased everything else. Looters, too, have damaged the site.

  • sampling of the collection of documents, photos, reports and artifacts related to photosynthesis research in Govindjee's office. Photos by Fred Zwicky

    Govindjee's photosynthesis museum

    Plant biology professor emeritus Govindjee, who has made key contributions to the scientific understanding of photosynthesis, is also an archivist and historian of photosynthesis research.

  • petrosglyph of a hand in Monroe County, Illinois

    Petroglyphs: Preserving the Past in 3D

    Archaeology team uses a portable 3D scanner to recreate the details of a hand petroglyph from a site overlooking the Mississippi River in Monroe County, Illinois.

  • some members of the U of I Saxaphone Ensemble

    Building an orchestra of brass

    The University of Illinois Saxophone Ensemble tackles music never meant for the saxophone.

  • Illinois Natural History Survey avian ecologist Bryan Reiley looks for rare birds on conservation lands. Photo courtesy Bryan Reiley

    Destination: Conservation

    My task is to survey randomly chosen fields in the (Conservation Reserve Enhancement) program to figure out whether and how these conservation areas are affecting birds that have declined in numbers

  • A composite of images from holiday- and winter-themed books at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Photos by Fred Zwicky

    Finding the holiday spirit in rare books

    The Rare Book and Manuscript Library has holiday- and winter-themed books and images, from a depiction of a 1683 frost fair on a frozen river to illustrations of Norse folk tales

  • view inside the virtual reality cave. Photo by Cameron Merrill

    Excavating a cave without leaving campus

    Students learn to map a cave, lay out an excavation grid and use ground-penetrating radar to locate potential underground features - all in virtual reality

  • Members of the Geoscientists Without Borders team pose with Jimu villagers after the successful completion of a new village borehole.

    Finding water closer to home in Jimu Village

    Many of these happy faces wore skeptical frowns last April when we first approached the villagers with our crazy idea to find a new water source for them using high-tech instruments

  • KAM curator Maureen Warren takes a close look at the vase. image by Natalie Fiol

    Deciphering the history of a Chinese vase

    Scientists are helping determine the age of an antique Chinese porcelain vase in Krannert Art Museum’s collection through an X-ray fluorescence analysis of its paint