Two big changes this Fall – our new home in NHB and the Alumni Mentoring Program

Welcome back, everyone!


Integrative Biology has been working hard this summer, and has a couple of big changes to share with you. Watch the short video below for more information, and then explore the Alumni Mentoring Program home page here:

Alumni Mentoring Program and NHB introduction, Integrative Biology

See you soon!

Boneyard Creek by IB463

Every day thousands of students walk along the engineering quad, crossing the bridge over Boneyard Creek. While many students don’t even notice the creek, it is home to a surprising diversity of fish species. Boneyard Creek is a headwater creek which feeds into many drainages, ultimately leading to the Mississippi River. This ecological connectivity provides continuous habitat for fish migration including several species of sunfish, largemouth bass, and catfish. On any given day, you may find as many as 20 (or more!) different species of fish. Despite being the main aquatic feature, it remains an overlooked part of campus.

The Boneyard Creek at Sunset

The Boneyard Creek at Sunset, © All Rights Reserved, by tobiastoennies

The website was created to educate unwitting residents and incoming students at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign about the surprising abundance of fish in Boneyard Creek. This website was made by the Ichthyology Classes of 2012, 2014, and 2016. It provides an array of information, including the history of the creek, a list of present fishes, a dichotomous key to identify them, education activities for children, and a volunteering tab that tells how you can contribute to the health of the Boneyard Creek. Many resources are included on this website, and it effectively serves as the information hub for all things Boneyard Creek. Click here to see an underwater video of fish in the creek recorded by Elise Snyder.


Male Rainbow Darter

Male Rainbow Darter collected and photographed by Alexander Pane at Phillips Tract

The Fishes of Boneyard Creek website is the result of a unique class project that stretched across three different cohorts of Ichthyology students (IB 463 from years 2012, 2014, and 2016). The 2012 course originally made the site. The 2014 course greatly improved it. The 2016 course created videos that explained how to use a dichotomous key. The 2012 class obtained a list of ‘potential’ fish species that could be found in the creek based on historical records from the Saline Branch, into which the Boneyard Creek feeds. The class has continued to sample the creek and to perform numerous class projects. One project has addressed the question of whether fish use the fish ladder at Scott Park. Another project sampled fish with minnow traps. Another project performed seine hauls to assess the fish community.

Creating this website and the accompanying videos not only taught us about the specific characteristics of the Boneyard Creek fish species – it also taught us how to communicate science to the public. We learned not only how to identify the different species of the Boneyard, but we also learned valuable skills like script writing, video editing, and how to present scientific information in a digestible way. These skills are vital in the modern scientific world where there is a heavy emphasis on communication and presentation of findings. Having scientists who are able to communicate with the public ensures that information can be utilized in a meaningful way. We hope that this project continues to go forward and ask/answer meaningful questions about the Boneyard Creek.

Ichthyology Class of 2016

Ichthyology Class of 2016 in the field

Did you know you can “hack” photosynthesis?

According to IB profs Stephen Long, Amy Marshall-Colon, and Donald Ort, using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050.

Read more at:

This is being sent on behalf of Debbie Black.


Our next Open House is this weekend!!  This is the weekend of our Orchid show and sale.  The Central Illinois Orchid Society will be here to answer your questions.  They will also provide the service of repotting your orchid for a fee.  Also, at 1:00 the Orchid Society will do a presentation on “How to Repot your Orchid”.

In the conservatory, if the blue poppies cooperate, there will be a small display of the Himalayan blue poppy, Meconopsis.  If you have never seen this plant, it is a small beauty of the poppy world.  Please come out and join us this weekend.

Hours:  Sat, March 9th, 10am – 3pm
Sun, March 10th 1pm -3pm
Location:  The conservatory and head house area of the Plant Science Lab on Dorner Dr.

Note:  Our next show and sale is Mom’s Weekend on April 13th and 14th here at the Conservatory.

Life in Champaign-Urbana

The students of PBAGS (Plant Biology Association of Graduate Students) have put together a great resource for those living in CU or considering moving here.  Life in Champaign-Urbana serves as an introduction to the community. It covers a general overview, organized activities, food options and how to locate a good place to live.  The section on housing is particularly helpful.

If you are new to the area, go take a look.  Hopefully it will be helpful.  If you are a CU-pro, take a look anyway.  Maybe you can leave some suggestions below on how the resource can be improved?!?

Biodiversity Extravaganza at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum: Sunday Dec. 9th, 1-5pm

Graduate students in the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois have created some awesome activities to teach children about the diversity of life on Earth. Bring your kiddos by for a day of fun and learning at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum!

Here are some teasers for the awesome activities we’ll have:

**How Much Life is There in a Fistful of Earth?**

In this activity, kids will use some of the same tools as scientists and their powers of observation to learn about the biodiversity of the tiny soil-dwelling critters right under our feet.

**Camouflage Your Self!**
Using green screen technology and animal costumes kids will see first-hand how different animals blend in or stand out against various environment backgrounds.

**Variety is the Spice of Life!**
Kids will learn that all different species are interconnected, and what happens to biodiversity when species are not only lost, but also gained.

**Be a Hero for the Bees!**
Kids will learn why native bee species depend on a wide variety of flower species, and how they can take action in their own yards to help rescue the bees.

**Chomp, Chomp! Diverse Feeding Strategies**
By using a variety of tools, kids will learn how different kinds of insect mouth parts and bird beaks work to eat different kinds of food.

**Different Teeth Chew Different Food**
The kids will learn about how the shape of a tooth can be used to tell the what that animal eats.

Check out and share our Facebook event:


IB496: Amplify the Signal: Communicating science to a non-scientific audience. Contact with any questions!

Women in Science: Panel Discussion on Monday, November 26th from 4-6pm in IGB 612 (next to Array Café)

Please join Women in Science as we hold our final panel discussion of the fall semester!

Topic: Using Social Media to Promote Science

This panel is for people in the STEM fields interested in using social media to promote their research and career. Everybody is welcome! 


Kate Clancy Assistant Professor, Anthropology 

(Context and Variation Blog at Scientific American)

Joanne Manaster Lecturer, School of Integrative Biology 


Melanie Tannenbaum Graduate Student, Psychology 

(Psysociety Blog)

Bill Hammack Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 


Date: Monday, November 26th
Time: 4-6pm
Place: IGB 612 (next to Array Café)

Thank you, and hope to see you there!

Women In Science Panel4_flyer_JO

Women in Science: Upcoming Elections!

Women In Science (WIS) needs new officers for 2013! We have positions open for both graduate students and undergraduates.

This is a great opportunity to get involved in a growing organization, network with women in other departments and improve your CV!

Nominate yourself or a friend for one of the following positions:
• President: Oversees officer meetings, long-term and event planning for the organization (Grad Student)
• Vice President: Assists the president in planning for the organization (Grad Student)
• Treasurer: Presents the budget at officer meetings and reviews the organization’s finances on a regular basis (Grad Student)
• Secretary: Keeps minutes at officer and general meetings, distributes minutes, and keeps records (Grad Student)
• Outreach Coordinator: Initiates and coordinates outreach opportunities in campus and the community for WIS members to participate in (Grad or Undergrad Student)
• Fundraising Coordinator: Plans and oversees fundraising efforts by the organization (Grad or Undergrad Student)
• Webmaster: Updates the organization’s collegiatelink and facebook pages, advertises events (Grad or Undergrad Student)
• Departmental Representatives: Promote visibility of WIS and participation in WIS in the representatives’ home department (Grad and Undergrad Students—we will be accepting nominations for any department/major in science, technology, engineering or math)

Nominations are open October 11-November 5, and voting will begin at our general meeting at 4 pm on Tuesday, Nov. 7 in the heritage room of the ACES library.

For more information or to nominate yourself or a friend, please email WIS President Courtney Leisner (