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  • Expedition to the highest lake in the world: Expect the unexpected

    Plans may be perfect, but obstacles arise. The weather is unexpectedly cold; the ice on the lake is too thick; the snow on the mountain is melting much later in the season than normal.

  • Expedition to the highest lake in the world: Timing is everything

    "With offerings of water, beer, mountain herbs and coca leaves, we had petitioned Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) for permission to safely climb the volcano..."

  • Expedition to the highest lake in the world: The child decides

    Team Illinois did not and make it to the lake near the top of the volcano this year. The climatic disturbance known as El Nino (the child) made the decision for us – and for several others. 

  • BLOG: Finding a home for the bones of Tam Pa Ling

    Since 2009, we have excavated at Tam Pa Ling (“Cave of the Monkeys”), where we discovered fossils of the earliest modern humans living in this part of the world. Since then, we have found the bones of at least three people who lived in this cave around 50,000 years ago. Today, these bones will find a permanent home in a new museum in Vientiane.

  • On the campaign trail: Breaking away from the pack

    My approach to covering the 2016 presidential primaries in Iowa and Illinois for Getty Images was not unlike the Star Wars rebels’ strategy for successfully attacking the Death Star...

  • Blog: Salvaging the past in an ancient Maya settlement

    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.

  • Blog: A guide to the Japan House gardens

    Your guide, Jim Bier, designed and built the gardens at Japan House and has maintained the gardens for 19 years.

  • Hunting for fossils in Madison County, Montana

    University of Illinois entomologist and paleontologist Sam Heads and his team are in the Ruby Valley of southwest Montana to hunt for fossils from the Oligocene epoch, some 23 million to 33 million years ago.

  • Drought and pilgrimage at the Cara Blanca Pools, Belize

    Cara Blanca, Belize, hosts more than two dozen pools used by the Maya. The Illinois team focuses their efforts on a temple at Pool 1. 

  • Drawing insights from ancient plants

    A team of researchers from the Illinois Natural History Survey is digging for fossils in southwest Montana. Plant fossils offer a lot of information about past climate.

  • Tourists behaving badly at Yellowstone

    Students learned about the politics and other issues surrounding the national parks through an on-site course this June in the Greater Yellowstone area.

  • Backstage at an American musical

    University of Illinois theatre students got a backstage look at "Hamilton" before it opened in Chicago on Sept. 27.

  • The art and science of Mammoth Hot Springs

    Bruce Fouke and photographer Tom Murphy will give a lecture and host a book signing Nov. 16 at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the U. of I., 1206 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana.

  • The cornfield death march

    So here we are, drenched in sweat, and only two-thirds of the way to finishing the task at hand...the dew point is in the upper 70s and my phone app tells me that the heat index is well north of 100 degrees.

  • Unlocking the secrets of the Amazon River

    'This river is huge – the main channel can be up to 4 kilometers wide and 60 meters deep, and the water level can change by up to 15 meters between low- and high-flow seasons.'

  • Journey to the riverbank and back in time

    An afternoon storm passes over the river banks we were examining, halting field work for a while. Photo by James Best

  • Restoring a lost heritage

    The Illinois State Archaeological Survey is partnering with Robert Allerton Park to identify, restore, interpret and preserve ten ancient mounds

  • Mitzi and the giant hairball

    We anaesthetize Mitzi and thread the endoscope down her throat to her stomach. Then we see it: a huge hairball. It is bigger than the size of a fist, and it is stuck.

  • Surveying the serpents of the Badlands

    Today, we are visiting a traditional snake hibernaculum – a rock outcrop on a butte in which generations of snakes have come to spend their winters

  • From pythons and ferrets to coughing parrots: Adventures in exotic animal medicine

    'A ferret from another household got his tongue bit by a piranha and I had to stitch it back together. The ferret had been trying to drink out of the fish tank...'