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June 24 NIU Online STEM Café explores backyard wildlife 

June 17, 2020

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 more about how scientists study these animals and how humans and pets can safely coexist with them at the next Northern Illinois University Online STEM Café with John Vanek, Ph.D. Candidate in the NIU Department of Biological Sciences. The café will take place online via Adobe Connect on June 24, 2020 at 6 p.m. 

For log-in details and to register for this free two-hour event, visit 

John Vanek is a doctoral candidate in Biolgoical Sciences and will urban wildlife ecology and conservation during an upcoming STEM Café.

John 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 currently a doctoral candidate in Biological Sciences at Northern Illinois University. His doctoral research focuses on the ecology and conservation of urban wildlife in the suburbs of Chicago. 

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 that thrive in urban areas but that few know about (such as coyotes).  

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 will also share photos that he has taken during his research and will discuss how scientists use motion triggered cameras to study urban wildlife. 

Vanek says 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. 

Wildlife science is about balancing the needs of humans and wildlife,” Vanek concludes. 
To register for this free, 2-hour event, go to 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, go to your 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 Northern Illinois University Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development, in partnership with the DeKalb Citizens’ Environmental Commission. 

For more information, contact Judith Dymond, Ed.D., at 815-753-4751 or email [email protected]Learn more about NIU STEM Cafés at