Who are we?

Bugscope was created and is run by the Imaging Technology Group at the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The Imaging Technology Group (ITG) is a collection of imaging specialists and microscopists who provide state-of-the-art imaging facilities to researchers on the University of Illinois campus. We also have entomology students from the University who frequently join our live sessions to provide extra information about the insects.

The Bugscope Team

Chas Conway's trajectory through the Bugscope program is unrivaled. He got his start with the program in 1999 as a sophomore from University High School. Then age 15, he quickly became the most capable member of the high school 'BugOps' team as he sputter coated insects, set up the ESEM, and chatted with the students. This experience led him to work for ITG during his summers in high school and college, where he trained graduate students many years his senior to use the instrument. Now back on campus as a bioengineering graduate student, Chas spent his last year developing and co-designing the Bugscope redevelopment project in 2007. At this point every piece of software code that powers the Bugscope project was written by Chas, and his sense of style is evident throughout. Chas was also instrumental in the development of Bugscope's sister project, the Virtual Microscope.

Alex Lazarevich joined the group in 2000 as the developer of the XML backend for the Bugscope-related ITOP project. This effort sought to generalize Bugscope's tools so they could be used for other similar projects worldwide. Since then he has worked as the group's systems administrator, and ensures that Bugscope has computers that work, disks with space, and a network that keeps the images and chat flying back and forth. In 2007 Alex took over Daniel's slot on the Bugscope team as the technical session expert and chatter extraordinaire. He coordinates with teachers and their aides on technical session issues, and keeps the students engaged over chat.

Annie Ray has been Bugscope's resident entomologist since 2004. Her infectious enthusiasm for insects rings through the chat as she provides great answers for the students. Annie handles the most difficult questions from teachers and students about insect identification, behavior, and diet. She has been responsible for bringing some of our more esoteric specimens to the program, and is Bugscope's primary advocate at the annual Insect Fear Film Festival.

Kendra Reasor joined ITG and the Bugscope project in 2006. She is that quintessential behind-the-scenes person that makes everything possible. She receives and evaluates the applications, schedules the sessions, and handles other teacher correspondence. Kendra also manages several aspects of session management. If you have worked with Bugscope, you've worked with Kendra whether you know it or not!

Scott Robinson has been setting up Bugscope sessions and answering student questions over chat since the program's inception. Hired to manage the ESEM when it arrived, Scott's personality and strong general knowledge base fit perfectly with the chatting scientist role. His electron microscopy expertise is essential to the project--not only when chatting with the students, but also in advising on interface issues. He is the one to open most of the packages of bugs from the teachers, and as a result has many stories to tell of bugs that weren't quite dead yet upon arrival. Scott has probably participated in more Bugscope sessions than anyone else on the team.

Umesh Thakkar has been an integral member of the Bugscope project since it started in 1999. He directs Bugscope education and evaluation activities. Prior to Bugscope, he developed the education infrastructure of the Chickscope project. Umesh has served as a program director at the U.S. National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia.

Cate Wallace got her start with Bugscope in 2005 as our student publicist. In this position, she contacted the media near each school that used Bugscope and tried to get the media to write/tape stories about how that school used the program. This work resulted in a resurgence of national attention about Bugscope, including newspaper and magazine articles. In 2006, Cate finished her Bachelor's and started learning electron microscopy in the Microscopy Suite, where she now works full-time. This year she joined the BugOps team, where she helps setup sessions and chats with the students.


Funding for Bugscope is provided by Submeta . Previous Bugscope funding was provided by the Illinois Consolidated Telephone Company. Support for purchasing the ESEM was provided by the National Science Foundation and The Beckman Institute. Additional support was provided by the IBM Shared University Research Program.


Illinois Consolidated Telephone Company


National Science Foundation

The Beckman Institute


Bugscope was conceived in 1998 by Clint Potter and Bridget Carragher as a means of providing sustainable web-based remote access to sophisticated scientific instrumentation for K-12 classrooms anywhere in the world. The Bugscope Project built on lessons learned from the Chickscope Project as well as methods developed during the successful implementation of web-based remote access to the transmission electron microscope in the Beckman Microscopy Suite. Some of the original team are still active, and listed above; others are gratefully acknowledged below. Funding for Bugscope was initially provided by the Illinois Consolidated Telephone Company. Support for purchasing the ESEM was provided by the National Science Foundation and The Beckman Institute. Additional support was provided by the IBM Shared University Research Program and the Informix Software Innovation Grant Program.

As noted above, many others have been involved with Bugscope over the years but have moved on to new things.

Software Credit

Bugscope benefits greatly from several free software projects and would like to acknowledge: