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UC Riverside Researchers Make History Channel

Spiders, Ants and Bees Among Creatures Featured on “Nature’s Engineers,” Which Airs at 10 p.m. Wednesday, March 31

(March 30, 2004)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (March 30, 2004) — A biologist and two entomologists from UC Riverside will be featured on “Modern Marvels: Nature’s Engineers” on the History Channel, Wednesday, March 31 at 10 p.m. on Charter Cable. Check local listings, because the same show is listed at 7 p.m. on Dish Network.

Cheryl Hayashi, a biologist who studies spider silk, and entomologists John Klotz and Kirk Visscher were interviewed in October by a team from Actuality Productions.

Producer Bob Ziel and a camera crew filmed in the Hayashi lab in Spieth Hall and in the Entomology conference room during an all-day shoot.
The show is a global tour of the natural world’s greatest builders, including beavers, termites, bees, birds, spiders and ants.

Prof. Visscher talks about how bees build their hives using magnetic fields to understand the orientation of the hive. Bees measure the size of the individual honeycombs with their legs to get a uniform size.

Prof. Hayashi talks about the amazing strength of spider silk, and the different types of webs, including the classic wagon-wheel shape made by the orb weaver spider. Todd Blackledge, a post-doctoral researcher in the Hayashi lab, stretches spider silk with a machine, testing the strength of silk strands.

Prof. Klotz discusses the interesting architecture of ant hills. He describes how army ants build their nests out of the ants themselves. They interlock legs and make the frame with their bodies. In the morning, they break camp and go out and look for food.


The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

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