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  • basketball hoop. Photo courtesy Daniel Santos

    Aiming for hoops and practicing English

    I can see that their trust is growing. They are looking to their female trainer as a role model, an outlier in a society that doesn’t always encourage young girls to pursue athletics

  • 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.

  • Walking as a group with their eyes closed, Illinois staff and students wind down the stairs of the Architecture Building as they experience campus spaces without sight. Photo by Fred Zwicky

    'Blind Field Shuttle' brings a new perspective to campus walk

    Vancouver-based social practice artist Carmen Papalia's 'Blind Field Shuttle' focuses is on unlearning visual primacy and reconsidering our preconceptions and biases. 

  • 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'

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.'

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.'

  • 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

  • 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 flock of hens enjoys a cracked-corn dinner. Photo by Christine Parker

    Double the traps, double the turkeys

    Since 2015, I've spent each winter capturing and tagging wild turkeys with GPS transmitters to study their habitat use and nesting behavior in forests managed with prescribed fire

  • 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

  • a trail runs through a rainforest reserve in Sri Lanka. Photo by the author

    Exploring multispecies relationships by walking 'with' the forest in Sri Lanka

    Emma Lundin, a graduate student in tourism at the U of I, discusses her research in a rainforest in Sri Lanka, exploring how to create sustainable nature-based tourist experiences by walking 'with' the forest.

  • 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.

  • A lush pool lies below a difficult-to-reach sinkhole. PHOTO BY J. LARMON

    Exploring the unknown: The Motmot sinkhole

    'The ancient Maya viewed openings in the earth, such as this sinkhole and a nearby pool, as portals to the underworld – a realm within which deities and ancestors reside'

  • 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.

  • 1.	U. of I. graduate student Jeannie Larmon surveys the landscape before the trek. Photo by Thomas Franklin

    Finding an ancient Maya city in the jungles of Belize

    'The site is impressive, with monumental buildings and a temple that rises 30 meters above our heads. ...the west side of the temple platform is a sheer 10-meter drop'

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • The author, Juliana Soto, with a sooty ant tanager, Habia gutturalis. Soto is a graduate student in the U. of I. Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology.  Photo by Natalia Ocampo Peñuela

    Following in the footsteps of early 20th century naturalist Elizabeth Kerr

    Today marks the beginning of our expedition to the Central Andes of Colombia. All eight of us are women. We are all Colombian ornithologists working together to survey the birds here. Interestingly, we are not the first women to do this.  

  • 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.'

  • 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.'

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The weavers gather in a community center in Tambo Perccaro. Photo by Francisco Seuffenheld

    Illinois outreach: The weavers of Tambo Perccaro

    '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...'

  • 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.'

  • 3.	Wildflowers bloom in the recently burned understory of the pine flatwoods of Floridas Apalachicola National Forest.

    In search of ‘white birds in a nest’

    Our willingness to tromp through swamps and brambles is fueled by the hope of catching a glimpse of “white birds in a nest” (Macbridea alba) in bloom

  • In a July ceremony, Elizabeth Woodburn receives her white coat, signifying that she is a physician-in-training, from dean King Li and executive associate dean Rashid Bashir. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

    Journey to becoming a physician-innovator

    A a member of the inaugural class of the world’s first engineering-based medical school talks about how she got to Illinois

  • The observers watch as a farmer tosses a net into one of several ponds on the cooperative grounds.  Photo by Quang Trieu, Vietnam Academy of Social Science.

    Learning by listening to the people who live it

    Experts from Illinois visit a cooperative prawn and rice farm in Southeast Vietnam to hear the farmers' stories about their challenges and adaptations to a changing climate.  

  • 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.

  • Measuring the unseen life of a river

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

  • Greenhouse assistant student worker Alexandra (Lexi) Gomez cuts back dead foliage from a Ischnosiphon pruinosus plant. Photos by Fred Zwicky

    Nurturing a tropical paradise in the heart of the Midwest

    The U of I Plant Biology Greenhouse and Conservatory houses more than 200 species and 60 families of tropical and subtropical plants selected for their botanical interest or economic importance.

  • 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.

  • 1.	Postdoctoral researcher Mikus Abolins-Abols peers into the nest of an American robin. Photo by L. B. Stauffer

    Playing a parasite for science

    I act the part of the cowbird: I spy on robins to find their nests and slip a foreign egg into each one. 

  • 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.

  • Evans teaching landowners about the safe use of chainsaws. Photo by Taryn Bieri, University of Illinois

    Preserving Illinois forests, one landowner at a time

    Illinois Extension forestry and research specialist Christopher Evans describes leading the first field day of a Beginning Forest Landowner Program to give landowners the experience, skills and connections needed to better manage their forests.

  • 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.'

  • A stream of extracellular vesicles travels through blood vessels near a tumor. Photo by Stephen Boppart

    Professors Marni and Stephen Boppart: Tracking the traffic between our cells

    The 2023 Allen Distinguished Investigators are visualizing and tracking extracellular vesicles: tiny packages of molecular cargo in nanosized lipid carriers, released by all cells in the body. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • workers remove the terra cotta roof tiles from the roof below the bell tower, stacking them to be reinstalled after reinforcements to the roof and the addition of an ice and water shield. All photos by Fred Zwicky

    Renovating historic Altgeld Hall

    'The renovation of Altgeld Hall will mark the rebirth of one of the campus’s most storied and iconic buildings. The facility, which opened in 1897, was instrumental in the university’s early growth, and this project ensures that its legacy will continue,' says project manager Kevin Price.