Events

NIU Online STEM Café explores backyard wildlife

As a Northern Illinois University Ph.D. candidate, John Vanek has developed an expertise in urban ecology. He is pictured here with a common snapping turtle in Lake County.
As a Northern Illinois University Ph.D. candidate, John Vanek has developed an expertise in urban ecology. He is pictured here with a common snapping turtle in Lake County.

DeKALB – There’s a lot more to urban wildlife than squirrels, geese and raccoons. American toads, blue-spotted salamanders, red foxes and coyotes all make their homes in urban or suburban areas, including DeKalb and the Chicago suburbs.

Find out about how scientists study these animals and how humans and pets can coexist safely at the next Northern Illinois University Online STEM Café with John Vanek, Ph.D. candidate in the NIU biological sciences department. The café will take place online via Adobe Connect at 6 p.m. June 24.

Vanek is a wildlife biologist and urban ecologist. He has a B.S. in wildlife science from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, an M.S. in biology and is a doctoral candidate in biological sciences at NIU. His doctoral research focuses on the ecology and conservation of urban wildlife in the Chicago suburbs. 

For the STEM Café, Vanek plans to discuss urban wildlife ecology and conservation, especially species that are common in urban areas and those secretive species, such as coyotes, that thrive in urban areas, but that few know about.  

He’ll share ways to coexist with backyard wildlife, how to attract backyard wildlife that is wanted and how to dissuade unwanted backyard wildlife. Vanek also will share photos that he has taken during his research and will discuss how scientists use motion-triggered cameras to study urban wildlife. 

Vanek said the audience might be surprised to learn that coyotes are not the big bad wolf, and that they are much smaller than most people think.

To register for this free, two-hour event, visit go.niu.edu/backyardwildlife. You’ll receive a link to the event in your confirmation email. Click the link to join the meeting by 5:50 p.m. The online room opens at 5:30 p.m., and the presentation begins promptly at 6 p.m. On a computer, the Chrome browser works best, and you will be asked to download the Adobe Connect app. For tablets and mobile phones, visit the app store and download the Adobe Connect mobile app before attending. You’ll be able to listen to the speakers and have a chance to type in your questions. 

This STEM Café is sponsored by NIU STEAM, in the NIU Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development, in partnership with the DeKalb Citizens’ Environmental Commission. 

For information, contact Judith Dymond, Ed.D., at 815-753-4751 or email jdymond@niu.edu. Learn about NIU STEM Cafés at go.niu.edu/stemcafes.

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