Comer Conference scientists show global impacts of climate change

By Chris McConaghey
Medill Reports

The glaciers are melting faster, accelerating sea level rise. Ocean currents are changing, altering weather and rainfall that millions of people rely on. And wind patterns are shifting as the climate heats up. These are among the global climate challenges deliberated at the annual Comer Climate Conference in southwestern Wisconsin this fall.

Veteran researchers with some of the most decorated backgrounds in climate science as well as the next generation of researchers gathered to present their findings from Nepal, the North Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the glacial mountains of Uganda, Mongolia and Europe. They came to present findings that can help tackle the troublesome state of our planet with the urgent need to address climate change.

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Northwestern University researchers offer innovative solutions for Chicago’s growing climate challenge

By Selah Holland
Medill Reports

The American Lung Association declared Chicago the 18th most polluted U.S. city, with an ‘F’ rating for ozone pollution on the organization’s annual “State of the Air” report this year. Ozone levels rise with the heat index in summer and Chicago, like many cities, is seeing more heat waves.

This is one indicator that Chicago is facing serious climate change implications, said Northwestern University environmental researchers who are determined to do something about it.

Northwestern’s Climate Change Research Group (CCRG) leader  Daniel Horton and researcher Irene Crisologo presented a climate action plan — Systems Approaches for Vulnerable Evaluation and Urban Resilience (SAVEUR) — to area residents in Evanston recently. An audience of more than 75 people learned about their plan and why it’s critically urgent. Continue reading

Must See Macy’s Holiday Windows on State Street!

By Annie Krall
Medill Reports

The holiday season is just around the corner and most of us are probably not ready here in Chicago. Yet, one man has been planning for this winter all year, and it is finally his “time to shine”. Take a look at a day in the life of Brian Peluso, the Macy’s Holiday Windows Visual Manager.

Step into this winter wonderland he has created on State Street for both locals and visitors.

Photo at top: The child in all of us can enjoy the magic of the Macy’s Holiday Windows now on display. (Annie Krall/MEDILL)

Khumbu Glacier in Nepal offers clues to rapid glacial retreat

By Anne Snabes
Medill Reports

University of Maine research suggests that the Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas retreated rapidly in the past, offering clues to how the glacier will behave in the future.

Laura Mattas, a master’s student at the University of Maine, conducted field research this summer on the Khumbu Glacier in Nepal. She presented her research this fall at the Comer Climate Conference, an annual meeting in Wisconsin of climate scientists from across the country.

According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, glaciers globally are retreating at “unprecedented rates.” A glacier can retreat by shortening in length or by thinning. In the Khumbu Valley, Mattas and her colleagues found moraines, which are rock and other sediment that were inside, on top of or below a glacier and that were altered by the glacier. The location of the moraines indicated that the glacier retreated quickly at some point since the last ice age. Mattas said that the glacier is able to undergo a “large and rapid change,” which means that it may also change rapidly in the future.

“If that’s the case, that’s a lot of meltwater that’s flowing down valley,,” she said. “Who knows if there’s the infrastructure to deal with” the surge. Continue reading

Scott Travis: On call for farm, foundation and science

By Chris McConaghey
Medill Reports

Scott Travis didn’t know what to expect when he put in an application to work for Lands’ End clothing company in 1987. He was 32 years old then and got the position.

During that time, he had several opportunities to meet and talk with the late Gary Comer – founder and owner of Lands’ Ends – and was promoted from the sales and packaging department to eventually becoming a safety manager of the plant in Dodgeville, Wisconsin.

Comer never forgot those conversations. Six years later, Travis got a call from the boss asking if he wanted to help build and manage a new corporate retreat to host meetings and conferences for business leaders across the globe in southwestern Wisconsin.

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CBD – Balancing therapeutic potential and caution

By Xinyi Zhang
Medill Reports

Cannabidiol (CBD) is exploding in the coffee house market as a magical elixir. It is popularly believed to help treat many conditions including anxiety and coffee houses are far from the only place you can find it. It is currently available in dog treats, bath bombs, and even pharmaceuticals. All in all, it is worth taking a closer look at it.

CBD products- with cannabis as the predominant ingredient- have grown exponentially in terms of popularity and availability over the past year. Sales of the products are expected to skyrocket to over $706 billion in 2019, which would mark a 706% increase over the previous year. Continue reading

Hat enthusiast brings California fashion to Chicago

By Areeba Shah
Medill Reports

A year ago, when real-estate agent Aaron Malki was sitting in his Bucktown living room, he realized he wanted to create something.

When he noticed his Polo “dad hat” hanging from the back of his door, he knew exactly how to combine his passions for fashion and philanthropy.

In February, the 28-year-old launched Heart Hats, which reinvests about 7% of profits into Chicago’s youth organizations. His company produces dozens of toppers, from bucket hats to flat-brim designs, all ranging from $25 to $38.

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Jeff Sessions prompts protests as he speaks at Northwestern

By Nicole Stock
Medill Reports

Huddled outside a performance hall on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus Nov. 5, a group of students banged on the glass panes of the wooden door at Lutkin Hall.

“F…k Jeff Sessions!” they chanted, pounding their fists. Many students and community members gathered to protest the invitee of the campus’ college Republicans group, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

Sessions, 72, spoke at 7 p.m. on “The Real Meaning of the Trump Agenda,” according to the Northwestern University College Republican’s advertisement for the event. 

Trump fired Sessions a year after the attorney general recused himself from the Russia investigation of the President that Trump hoped Sessions would oversee.   
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When science needs a little art

By Elena Bruess
Medill Reports

Imagine you broke a bone in your left toe while paragliding.

It was intense. And now you can’t walk, so you hobble to the doctor’s office and await an x-ray. When you finally learn what exactly is broken, the doctor pulls out a brightly illustrated and tightly labeled drawing of a left foot. She points. “It’s right here.”

The drawing is practically made for you. It’s not very complicated and it makes so much sense. You are really starting to understand your left toe.

And that’s because the drawing is made for you. Continue reading

Keys to success: Day in the life of an NU women’s basketball player

By Krystina Iordanou
Medill Reports

Entering her final season on the Northwestern University Women’s Basketball team, senior Abi Scheid is a seasoned veteran when it comes to balancing academics, practice and nutrition among the many responsibilities that come with being a division one athlete at a top university.

Coming off her best statistical season yet in 2018-2019, Abi earned a position on the Big Ten All-Academic Team. This past week I wase able to spend a typical day with Abi. She utilizes the following strategies to stay on top of her game.


Northwestern has long been considered an academically challenging school. For student-athletes who compete in the Big Ten conference all year, the importance of prioritizing schoolwork is critical to  success. Abi’s typical day consists of early morning strength and conditioning, academic classes and afternoon practice with meals, homework and social time mixed in throughout the day.

Abi Scheid spends multiple hours during the week catching up on work and studying in the Walters Athletic Center. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)

“Eventually you develop the skills that help you with time management, why not to procrastinate, and I think in turn it helps you with the rest of your life. It’s hard but you get used to it,” she said.

Student-athletes on average take a minimum of three classes during each academic quarter. At Northwestern University, they must balance the rigor of sports and academics that come with being a student at the ninth best college in the U.S., according to U.S. & World Report News. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)
Abi considers time management as the key to success for any athlete that must balance a time restricting schedule, such as hers. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)


What many fans, family, and friends observe are the games and competitive landscape the athlete undertakes. However, what goes unseen are the countless hours athletes spend preparing for those moments. On days that Abi does not have a game, she can spend more than six hours in the gym. The 2019 Northwestern women’s basketball season was their most successful since 2015, as the team won 21 games and reached the NIT Championship.

This postseason success, which high-level athletes hope to achieve, pushed the season through April requiring the student-athletes to balance their schoolwork, training, travel, and games for over six months. Perfecting their craft through hours of training has led Abi and her teammates to the recent athletic achievements.

“I don’t think people understand how much time goes into being a student athlete, especially the 6 a.m. morning every day. We also have to tackle a commitment to school as well as a 20-hour commitment to basketball,” said Abi, “Every college athlete understands that if you want to get better you need to go by yourself, get extra shots up with a partner, with a coach.”

By 6:30 a.m. the team was already getting in conditioning work in advance of their upcoming 2019-20 season opener Nov. 10 against Loyola Maryland. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)
The team emphasizes bringing in referees to not only create a game like environment but to also help players become more knowledgeable on the changing rules of the game. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)
Training started at 3:15 p.m. but Abi was already on the court by 2:45 p.m. perfecting her shot before practice began. (Krystina Iordanou)


After being diagnosed with Celiac disease in high school – an immune disease where people can’t eat gluten –  Abi has altered the way she approaches nutrition as a high-level athlete. She met with the team nutritionist and found ways to cater to her needs for optimal performance with a gluten-free diet. Training multiple hours throughout the day has players burning hundreds of calories, which makes nutrition a vital piece to their performance on the court and in the classroom.

“Coming into college I didn’t know much about getting in carbohydrates, especially before a game,” Abi said. “Coming to college definitely highlighted how important it is to eat well and fuel your body, especially with hydration.”

Each morning, breakfast offers an array of options, such as fruit, for student-athletes at the Nona Jo’s Dining Center inside the Walters Athletic Center. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)
Though celiac disease prevents Abi from eating traditional carbohydrate choices, she fuels up each morning with a freshly made omelet and hash browns for a healthy source of fats and carbs to start her day. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)
In each of the student athletes locker rooms, refrigerators stock healthy snacks athletes can grab on the go in order to stay hydrated and fueled throughout their busy days. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)

In addition to all of her work on and off the court, Abi believes her college experience has been especially rewarding because of her teammates. She considers them her closest friends.

“Our team is super close, and I think it makes waking up at 6 a.m. a little bit better. Traveling away is fun because we get to spend extra time together, “ she said. “It’s definitely a blessing to be a part of such a good team.”

Photo at top: Northwestern Basketball plans to build off their National Invitations Tournament Championship appearance last season, and make a run in the NCAA Tournament. (Krystina Iordanou/ Medill Reports)