Scars of the Earth

Discover Forensic anthropologist Amy Mundorff wants to make the search for the missing safer and more successful. One morning in July 2005, Amy Mundorff rode into the Bosnian countryside, tagging along with a team from the International Commission on Missing Persons. The roads wound past forests, farmland and villages. The group stopped near a filed in a hilly area on the outskirts of a village to meet an informant. From the gestures and the translator’s comments, Mundorff understood that the ground … Read more…

Being Prepared


When a key member of a team is lost, the work does not have to come to an end.

When Michael Pisaric was two years into his PhD, he travelled to Watson Lake in Canada with his supervisor, Julian Szeicz, and graduate student Tammy Karst-Riddoch, to collect sediment from several lakes in Yukon and in northern British Columbia. Szeicz was a geographer at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, who worked on reconstructing ancient climates. The trio hoped that the samples would reveal how climate had influenced tree-line dynamics in the region over the past 10,000 years.

As they trudged through the snow and negotiated a series of switchbacks, a snow avalanche roared down the hill and covered them. When it cleared, Pisaric was buried up to his shoulders and there was no sign of Szeicz. Karst-Riddoch dug Pisaric out and they ran down the hillside to call the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who recovered Szeicz’s body later that day.

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Greenland: A Tale of Fire and Ice


Are wildfires melting Greenland’s glaciers?

During the summer of 2012, fires exploded across the drought-stricken Colorado Front Range—a heavily populated area where the Great Plains meets the Rockies. One evening in early June, lightning struck a tree in the foothills west of Fort Collins. It ignited a fire that burned quietly for a few days and then rocketed downslope, fueled

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Dept. of Household Sciences

The Last Word on Nothing Division of Rubbing and Scrubbing On a recent quiet Sunday morning, I resolved to clean the caked-on grime on my stove. A roiling pot of pasta had overflowed one night, and in the rush to get plate to table and food to four-year-old’s mouth, the cloudy starchy water had cured onto the enamel around the burner and now refused to budge. Two earlier attempts to remove the gunk with run-of-the-mill household cleansers had been a waste … Read more…

Caribou genetics reveal shadow of climate change

Nature Ancient ice ages that shaped modern caribou populations may foretell animals’ fate in a warmer world. When ice sheets marched across North America 20,000 years ago during the Last Glacial Maximum, they devoured liveable areas for caribou and isolated them from their Eurasian relatives for thousands of years. Now researchers have evidence that such climatic events have sculpted the genetics of North American caribou, which may make the animals unable to adapt to future climate change. “Although the past … Read more…