Squirrel Sketch

If you live on the East Coast, I bet you encountered at least one eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) during your regular comings and goings today. Perhaps you saw one doing elaborate acrobatics on your bird feeder. Maybe you swerved to avoid one darting across the road. Or perhaps you caught one red-handed taking tiny nibbles out of your newly ripened tomatoes…

Although native to the woodlands of eastern North America, the eastern gray squirrel has adapted quite well to urban and suburban living. It also seems to thrive in far-off habitats. In Europe, particularly the UK, where the […]

Before They Were Scientists: Andrea Lucky

Today we take a journey back to middle school with ant biologist and School of Ants co-founder, Andrea Lucky. As a middle school student, she was bored with her suburban Ohio life and yearned for adventures that would get her out into “real nature.” Read on to learn how Andrea hunted for fossils in her backyard, wore a white coat and made rounds in the hospital with her physician mother, and tried, unsuccessfully, to be a sullen teenager.

Lea: What was middle school like for you? Where were you?

Andrea: I was in Cincinnati, Ohio. I went to the […]

By |July 25th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|0 Comments

The Effects of Urbanization on Biodiversity: Interview with Myla Aronson

Our blog and social media feeds have been overcome by urban sprawl this week.

Yesterday, Rob wrote about the rise of a new mega-city: Charlanta. He described new research by Adam Terando and team that predicted the future spread of cities in the South.

Our colleague Steve Frank and his PhD student Adam Dale in Entomology just published two research papers describing what increased warming associated with this urbanization means for street trees and and a common insect pest, the gloomy scale. Turns out gloomy scales are way more abundant on red maple trees in warm, […]

By |July 24th, 2014|Global Change, Q & A, Urban Ecology|0 Comments


Very occasionally, the opportunity arises for a group of people to decide where and how to build a city. In 1792 the legislators of North Carolina confronted such a moment. It had been decided that a new state capital was going to be built and that that state capital should ideally be far from the sea. Without having to worry about the best beachfront property, the legislators found themselves free to prioritize other things. So it was that they decided upon the rule to be used in placing a capital. It should, they concluded after much contemplation, be […]

By |July 23rd, 2014|Explainer, Global Change, Urban Ecology|2 Comments

Insects Headline Art of Science Exhibit

Science is boring. Art is Stupid. Prove us wrong.

These are the words that launched the annual Art of Science exhibition at Princeton University. The exhibit highlights examples of accidental art – images and video collected in the process of doing science that somehow go beyond the numeric values of their pixels. This year I was excited to have four of my photographs included in the exhibit.

Taking photos while doing research gives students and scientists a chance to embrace their curiosity. There’s a lot more freedom behind a lens than we typically experience while designing and carrying out highly […]

By |July 22nd, 2014|ants, Science Art|0 Comments

Students Discover: The third week

Time flies when you’re having fun (and working hard)! Last week marked the third and final week of our time with the Students Discover Kenan Fellows at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The week was jam-packed with lab work, lesson planning, more small mammal trapping, visits behind-the-scenes to the Museum’s collections and Arthropod Zoo, and a special lunch with Dr. Emlyn Koster, the Museum’s director. Here are some highlights from his remarks to the group:

I think museums are increasingly vital resources. The experiences that you’ve all shared would not have been possible just a few […]

By |July 21st, 2014|Education|0 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Jiri Hulcr

In hearing about Jiri Hulcr‘s childhood growing up during the revolution in the Czech Republic, I gained some insight into how he approaches science. He can be seen in the above picture (the only photo of him during his middle school years) wearing the blue cap; this photo was taken at a traditional pig killing. The person steaming and shaving the pig was the butcher, and every single piece of the pig is utilized. For Jiri, these pig killings (and subsequent butcherings) were essential lessons in animal anatomy and how to be a part of a team. His […]

By |July 18th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|0 Comments

Meet the 2014 Students Discover Fellows

As readers of our blog and Twitter feed well know, we’ve spent the last three weeks working side-by-side with 12 North Carolina middle school teachers at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. These teacher-scientists and Museum researchers have been busy in the field and at the lab bench, co-creating citizen science projects and lesson plans that the teachers will take back to their classrooms in the fall. The goal: Create opportunities for kids to do REAL science, to make new and exciting scientific discoveries. Hence the name of this project and the ever-present hash tag: […]

By |July 17th, 2014|Education|0 Comments

Nature in NSF’s Backyard

2014 marks the 3rd consecutive year that a pair of black vultures (Coragyps atratus) have chosen the roof of the National Science Foundation to raise their family. NSF is an independent federal agency that promotes the progress of science by funding basic research across all fields of science and engineering research and education. [Editor's note: NSF has provided funding for a number of Your Wild Life projects through grants to our principal investigator, Rob Dunn, including School of Ants and Students Discover.] It’s housed in a twelve story building in Arlington, VA, just a […]

By |July 15th, 2014|Nature in Your Backyard|0 Comments

Students Discover: The second week

Last Friday marked the end of the second week of the Students Discover externship for the 12 incredible Kenan Fellows partnered with four postdocs in the labs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. This past week continued to provide authentic scientific experiences for the teacher-scientists as they delved further into their research. Each group started on creating citizen science-focused lesson plans and even began testing them with museum visitors!

As an added bonus I had a chance to join #TeamDirt (the group developing lesson plans based around dandelions and soil microbes) and #TeamPaleo (think fossilized shark tooth […]

By |July 14th, 2014|Behind the Scenes, Education|0 Comments
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