Cat Scan

News… and then some.

Posts Tagged ‘science

WCAX Caterpillar Day PKG 7/12/13

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By Cat Viglienzoni — August 22, 2013

I’ve been really bad about posting this summer’s work! Another computer crash left me without my laptop again for most of August here, and July was crazy!

This piece was a preview of caterpillar day, so we went to talk to the nature center in Montpelier about what people could expect to see that weekend. And I got to hold a caterpillar!

It was a fun piece to do — I’m just glad you couldn’t see the big horsefly sting that had welled up on the side of my forehead! I got it within minutes of stepping out of the news van. I had to try to hide it with hair.

And I had a rather amusing clip where I was a dork and dropped the caterpillar during a standup attempt:

I won’t talk about the teeny tiny caterpillar that escaped and accidentally got squished.



Written by Cat Viglienzoni

August 22, 2013 at 6:54 AM

WCAX Peanut Allergy Treatment PKG, 4/26/13

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By Cat Viglienzoni — May 13, 2013

This was the reporter piece I shot on the same day I anchored (see previous post), and I loved the story.

It’s about a family whose young boy has a peanut allergy so severe that exposure to peanuts used to require hospitalization. Then, thanks to a program to desensitize him to peanuts by slowly increasing his exposure to peanut flour, he can now eat three peanut M&Ms and not see any reaction.

Check out his story, which aired first on April 25 at 6 p.m. and the next morning at 5 a.m. (shown below) and 6 a.m.:

The important thing to note is that he is not cured — what this does it it makes it possible for him to eat things that probably don’t contain any large amount of peanuts, or come into contact with traces of peanuts, and not have a reaction. So it’s peace of mind for him and his family, but not a permanent solution. And if he stops eating the peanut M&Ms, he will lose that desensitization. It also may not be as useful for someone who has multiple nut allergies, since it only targets peanuts.

For more information, visit the story on our website.

It was a fun story to shoot — especially since he was very excited to be on TV!


WCAX Monarch Butterfly Concerns PKG 3/21/13

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By Cat Viglienzoni — March 25, 2013

It has been a while since I’ve been able to go out and do a science piece, but when I saw a survey come out with some alarming statistics about the monarch butterfly population in Mexico, I thought that would be a good way to localize that to Vermont (where the monarch is the state butterfly).

So I went and talked to a conservation biologist who works with insects in the state — and he had both good news and bad news. The good news is that given the right conditions, the butterflies can reproduce rapidly. The bad news is that there has been a downward trend for a decade that may not get better soon.

It aired on WCAX at 6 p.m. on March 21, 2013 and again the next morning on my show.

The citizen science aspect of it was particularly interesting to me, since it was not the first time I’d encountered it doing a science piece. It seems to be a growing trend within the science community, to get people involved. And new technology has in many ways, I think, made that possible. It accomplishes two goals: educating the public and getting data (when, like he said, there just aren’t enough researchers or funding to do it).

I’m curious to see where this trend goes in the future — I think it will be interesting.


Written by Cat Viglienzoni

March 25, 2013 at 2:47 PM

WCAX Winter Bugs PKG 2/19/13

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By Cat Viglienzoni — March 10, 2013

At some point, I will get out of February with this backlog of pieces. This one was me dabbling back into the science-y realm that I love to talk to an entomologist about what the winter this year (which was VERY different than the winter last year) means for the state’s bug population. It’s a question we’d been getting from gardeners, since there are many in Vermont.

The real response is that it’s too early to know for sure, but they are “cautiously optimistic” that many of the pests that were rampant last year with the warm winter we had would not be as bad this year.

The piece was supposed to debut on my show, but the evening news needed to fill time during the week and they used it instead, so it aired on February 19 at 6 p.m., and again on my show the next morning.

It was an interesting piece for me to do, since it was a good follow-up to the bugs piece I did last summer. If you look, you can see bits of the footage from that in this piece…


Written by Cat Viglienzoni

March 10, 2013 at 8:25 AM

WCAX — Owl Survives Truck Hit PKG 12/19/12

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By Cat Viglienzoni — December 20, 2012

Yesterday was probably the most amazing story I’ve gotten to cover yet — and it combined two things I love: survival stories and puffy owls.

Vt. Fish & Wildlife had sent us the night before some amazing photos of a rescue that happened on December 11 — a barred owl had swooped down in front of his truck while he was driving — and been hit. The driver was sure the bird was killed but amazingly — it was still alive and kicking. BUT it was stuck head-first in the truck’s grill. So biologists freed it and monitored it for a few hours before they set it free, since the bird was alert and there was no blood or discernible damage to the owl.

It was such a compelling story, since from the photos it seems impossible that the bird could have made it. So I asked my news director when I got home if I could do a follow-up story the next day and talk to the biologist, as well as a bird rehabilitator who I’d worked with in the past about what typically happens in these cases.

The result was this piece, which aired on the 6 p.m. news on December 19:

This may be my favorite piece I’ve done, mostly because I am surprised the owl apparently made it. Obviously it’s possible the bird had some unseen trauma that didn’t appear right away and it died later, but the biologists watched it for hours before they set it free, and they said it was flying just fine between trees when it did, so I’m taking a positive approach to the situation.

As for the piece I thought it worked well, with using the first part of the piece to tell this amazing survival story, and then using the standup as a bridge to transition to the second part, with Newman talking about what usually happens in these cases and what they have to do to help those that survive but are injured.

And of course, great shooting from the photographer I worked with, Joe Carroll. He caught all the owl’s good sides.

But really — what a story!

I also ended up being “Today’s Talk” on the :30 that night — that’s our 5:30 p.m. newscast with an interview-style format. In that piece, they took direct sound from my interview and wove it together into a piece talking about how the biologist freed the bird.

I had logged the sound from my interview and given it to the anchor so they could craft a segment from it — and I’d worn a mic during my interview so we could catch the questions/statements from me.

Lastly — it took a lot of restraint, but I managed to refrain from writing after seeing the truck’s broken grill that it was the owl that was “Built Ford Tough”. 😉


Written by Cat Viglienzoni

December 20, 2012 at 5:01 PM

WCAX Spiny Softshell Turtle PKG 11/9/12

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By Cat Viglienzoni — November 10, 2012

I filled in as a reporter again yesterday — and I got to go back out on my science beat for the first time in a while, which was really fun.

The piece I ended up doing was actually a follow-up to my previous piece over the summer on the spiny softshell turtle hatchlings’ release. This time, I checked in at the beginning of the wintering process — and this year is VERY different for the staff at ECHO, thanks to warmer weather this year that affected when the turtles hatched. Basically, they hatched early and so more of them (hopefully!) made it to Lake Champlain to hibernate in the dirt and gravel underwater there over the winter — but that meant that instead of 40+ hatchlings, there are only 8 this year!

Watch the hatchlings… they are SO cute!

Anyway, the piece rounded out the A block on Friday, November 9, at 6 p.m. on WCAX. (Poor Darren… you could tell he had a cold!)

I would have liked to get a second voice in the piece (I’d done informational phone interviews a few times that day with Vt. Fish and Wildlife biologist Steve Parren, who rounded up the hatchlings for ECHO, but our schedules didn’t work out, which prevented me from interviewing him on camera). My photographer Shelly was great — she caught all the turtle winks and adorable poses the hatchlings were making.


WCAX UVM Student iTree Program 10/1/12

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By Cat Viglienzoni — October 1, 2012

I was back on the air again today… twice, as it turns out. The second post will come tomorrow or Wednesday after the other piece airs later tonight.

The first piece today was actually shot on Friday, but they let me hold it for Monday morning because we’re usually short on content then. I got to do a science feature on a program through UVM’s environmental school that is looking to determine the impact of Burlington’s urban forests. They’re using a USDA Forest Service program called iTree to do so.

I livesided the piece twice during my show and then added a standup close for the later show. I thought this piece turned out pretty straight-to-the-point — I’d be interested to see how the software actually works though.

Since I also did the webcast for the day… let it never be said that I didn’t get my mileage out of my makeup.