Day trip

I need to write two posts for the New Media Faculty-Staff seminar, but another off-topic one first.

Monday I won’t be on my home campus. I’m fortunate to be close enough to my alma mater to be able to make a day trip there every now and again. And there will be an event on Monday that will be worth canceling a class and driving 5 or so hours round-trip: Art Appreciation Day. Now, this isn’t the FNAR-100 kind of Art… this is Art Zangerl, who has been a research associate in the lab of May Berenbaum at UIUC for something like 28 years. Back in my undergrad years at UIUC (which are within that 28-year range), I worked in the Berenbaum lab for a few years, even working one summer under an NSF-REU supplement and studying what would happen if we fed antidepressants to caterpillars. (It’s even published!: Heinz, C.A., A.R. Zangerl, and M.R. Berenbaum. 1996. Effects of natural and synthetic neuroactive substances on the growth and feeding of cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. 80:443-451.) As you can see, Art was a coauthor on that, my first published paper.

I have a number of wonderful memories of working with Art, even though it’s been some time now. I remember going out into the field — there was a field trip to Indiana (near where he was originally from) to look for black swallowtails. And there were countless trips to the site in NE Urbana for parsnip and parsnip webworms, and quick excursions to Meadowbrook Park with his kids (equipped with butterfly nets, and now surely fully grown, in tow). Mainly, I can remember Art at the computer in the lab, though. He was the master of statistical analysis in the lab, and it was with his help that I learned how to use SAS (accessed with a VMS account, thank you very much) and wander through the details of ANOVA and ANCOVA… He was always incredibly patient and knowledgeable, and incredibly willing to help a lowly undergrad in the lab.

I’ve seen Art occasionally at various meetings in the years between my undergrad days at UIUC the present, but I was unaware of his diagnosis last year with a late-stage brain tumor until an emailed invitation arrived in my inbox. It’s with great pleasure, then, that I’m able to attend Art Appreciation Day on Monday, to say hello, again, to an amazing colleague in the field, and to help him celebrate a well-deserved retirement and a happy birthday as well!


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