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Stories by Kristen Thometz

As Lyme Disease Cases Rise, Tips for Protecting Against Tick Bites

The blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, is one of three types of ticks found in Illinois that transmit illnesses via their bite to humans. (James Gathany / CDC)

Experts are predicting an increase in tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease this season. Find out how to protect yourself—and what to do if you get bitten by a tick.

3.3 Million-Year-Old Fossil Reveals Evolution of Human Spine

University of Chicago professor Zeray Alemseged discovered the most complete spinal column of any early human relative. (Zeray Alemseged / DRP)

What the nearly complete skeleton of a 2 1/2-year-old child tells researchers about the history the human spine – and human evolution.

UIC Launches Stem Cell, Regenerative Medicine Center

Researchers at UIC will focus on understanding tissue regeneration and spearheading future developments in stem cell biology as a means to repair diseased organs and tissues.

Study: Thrill, Lack of Recreational Activities Attract Youth to Gangs

Former gang members cited a lack of recreational activities and the rush of adrenaline they got from participating in gang violence as reasons for joining gangs, according to a new study.

Louise Bernard Named Museum Director of Obama Library

Louise Bernard (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

As museum director, the Yale graduate will lead the design, development and operation of the Obama Presidential Center’s museum, according to the Obama Foundation. 

‘Comic Nurse’ Addresses Illness, Caregiving in Graphic Novel

(Courtesy MK Czerwiec)

MK Czerwiec began writing comics as a way to cope with the challenges of being an AIDS nurse during the height of the epidemic. Now, she’s hoping to use comics as a way to begin conversations around caregiving. 

Local Photographer Hopes to Uplift One Person at a Time

Chef Rick Bayless' photo for The Uplifted project. (Kentaro Yamada)

Two years ago, Park Ridge resident Kentaro Yamada began work on a series of human interest portraits – with a twist: each would include a prized possession levitating before the subject’s eyes.

UIC App Designed to Track Bipolar Disorder Wins $200K Grant

The BiAffect app, the winner in a contest using Apple’s Research Kit, was developed to predict manic episodes and depressive moods in people with bipolar disorder, based on how they interact with their cellphones.

City’s Expansion of HIV Services Sees Increase in Numbers Served

More than 3,600 Chicagoans living with HIV received primary care services during the first year of a partnership between the Chicago Department of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago and Howard Brown Health. 

Shedd Aquarium to Replace Tiered Pricing with Flat Fee

(© Shedd Aquarium / Brenna Hernandez)

Starting July 1, visitors to the Shedd can experience nearly all the aquarium has to offer for one price. And for Chicago residents, this means potential savings of nearly 50 percent.

Healthy Mice Born From 3-D Printed Ovaries

A scientist holds a bioprosthetic mouse ovary made of gelatin with tweezers. Inset: A mouse that was born from the bioprosthetic ovary lays next to its mother mouse. (Credit: Northwestern University)

Infertile mice with 3-D printed ovaries were able to give birth to healthy pups, according to a new study from Northwestern University. 

Study: Leaving Segregated Communities Reduces Blood Pressure

( / Wikimedia Commons)

Leaving segregated neighborhoods reduces blood pressure in African-Americans, according to the findings of a 25-year longitudinal study.

Lakefront Trail Separation Requires North Side Closure, Detour

(Courtesy of the City of Chicago)

Starting next week, the Lakefront Trail will be closed between Diversey and North avenues as the project to separate the bike and pedestrian paths continues.

Nonprofit Wants Stronger Warning Labels on Reflux Medications

(COM SALUD / Flickr)

Each year 60 million Americans experience heartburn. A nonprofit now hopes stronger labeling on over-the-counter medicines for heartburn will increase awareness of its association with esophageal cancer.

Flying Creatures Soar Below Loop ‘L’ Tracks

A gargoyle flies above the southeast corner of Wabash Avenue and Randolph Street. (Credit: Jeff Lassahn)

The recently installed “Flying Creatures Initiative” on the southeast corner of Wabash Avenue and Randolph Street is part of the city’s Year of Public Art.

Virtual Doctor in Development to Explain Test Results

(NEC Corporation of America / Flickr)

Annual physicals often come with a roster of tests, and the results of those tests can leave many of us scratching our heads. Scientists at the University of Illinois are trying to change that.

Cool, Wet Weather Ideal for Spring Planting

| Paul Caine

It may not seem like gardening weather, but The Organic Gardener Jeanne Nolan says now’s the ideal time to plant lettuces, radishes and peas which thrive in cooler temperatures.

Simple Mills CEO Focused on Cleaning Up Inner Grocery Aisles

Simple Mills CEO and Founder Katlin Smith (Credit: Simple Mills)

“I started Simple Mills with that mission of cleaning up the inner grocery aisles and taking processed foods and making them unprocessed and out of simple, whole food ingredients that you can pronounce,” said CEO Katlin Smith.

Study: Intermittent Fasting as Effective as Calorie Cutting for Weight Loss

(Courtesy of Canadian Obesity Network)

Feasting while dieting may sound counterintuitive, but a new study found that dieters who alternated between feasting and fasting lost as much weight as those who cut calories. 

Rabid Bat Found in Suburban Cook County Prompts Warning

(Ann Froschauer / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Cook County Department of Public Health officials are reminding residents that bats become active this time of year, which means the possibility of exposure to rabies is increasing.

Bill Proposes Food Allergen Safety Training for Restaurants

Food allergies affect 15 million Americans and cause approximately 30,000 emergency department visits each year. Can the restaurant industry help bring these figures down?

Safely Dispose of Prescription Drugs on Saturday

(The Javorac / Flickr)

Do you have old prescription medicines in your cabinet? Safely dispose of them at drop-off sites set up by the DEA for Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

UIC Researchers to Study Link Between Binge Drinking, Heart Disease

While it’s well-known that binge drinking can pose serious health and safety risks, UIC researchers will study whether binge drinking is related to cardiovascular disease in young adults who are not predisposed to the condition.

‘13 Reasons Why’ Raises Suicide Awareness, But Critics Are Cautious

The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” follows the fictional story of Hannah Baker. (13 Reasons Why / Facebook)

It’s a TV show everyone is talking about, but with suicide a leading cause of death among youth, mental health experts are concerned about the message “13 Reasons Why” is sending.

Study: Kids in Individual Sports More Likely to Have Overuse Injuries

Youth athletes that participate in an individual sport, like tennis, are at higher risk of developing an overuse injury, according to a new study.

A new study finds that youth who specialize in individual sports like tennis and gymnastics are more likely to suffer overuse injuries than those who participate in football and other team sports.