Reach out and touch someone in Living Anatomy

In case you were wondering whether Living Anatomy might have any relevance beyond medicine and academics, Robert Binhammer, Ph.D., offers up a real-life lesson in CSI.

Anatomy can easily tell investigators the difference between homicide and suicide, Dr. Binhammer said. You see, strangling results in fracture of the hyoid bone, while hanging does not. The broken hyoid will be noticed in the autopsy.

So, you know – if you were thinking of turning to a life of crime, don’t.

“Word to the wise,” Dr. Binhammer said.

A Sorrell Center auditorium full of M1′s was a bit taken aback by this, first thing on a Thursday morning. But by now we have realized that Living Anatomy with Dr. Binhammer is not your average college class. It is, as someone said when we came in, “Where we palpate and touch each other.”

Dr. Sarah Keim Janssen, assistant professor of genetics, cell biology and anatomy, points the way.

Dr. Binhammer demonstrates first, on a couple of student volunteers. The image is huge, up on the big screen.

“Why did he take his shirt off?” someone said of the young man at the front of the room. “I don’t want to be up there with my shirt off.”

But Dr. Binhammer is trying to show us something. “You can find it if you sing a high note,” he said. “I’m going to ask you to do that.” And the young man did. And there it was.

“Singing a high note narrows the interval between the cricoid and thyroid cartilages and that interval is the site for emergency airway,” Dr. Binhammer would later explain. “So it’s a way to ensure that one has found the correct interval in your partner.”

Of course, you would not ask someone to sing a high note in an emergency, Dr. Binhammer noted.


Then the students all pair off, and try it on each other.

Apparently, if you’re going to be a doctor, shyness is out, immediately. Living Anatomy sees to that. Reach out and touch someone.

“It does help,” said Gordon Todd, Ph.D.

Happily ever after, a UNMC romantic comedy

Tao Li, M.D., couldn’t believe his luck. He’d gone to the Student Life Center, to get his picture taken, for his UNMC ID badge. And there, also getting her ID, was a beautiful girl. And she smiled at him.

That smile! Had another woman in the history of the world ever smiled like that?

“It’s really a sunshine smile,” he said the other day, dreamily, looking over at her and seeing that smile again.

He couldn’t believe his luck.

He’d gone and married that girl.

Tao Li, M.D., and Minghui Chen on their wedding day.

Tao (Dr. Li, but since this is a blog about falling in love, we will call him Tao) and Minghui Chen had each come from China. Their hometowns are about three hours apart by train. They never would have met, if they hadn’t been at UNMC, getting their ID badges, on their first days as Ph.D. students in 2009.

(Tao studies public health. Minghui, neuroscience.)

It wasn’t long after that first encounter that they ran into each other in the Sorrell Center.

She walked past him, walked on for a while, then turned. She said hello, and flashed that grin again.

“That’s the magic moment, I think,” Tao said.

Paul Paulman, M.D., says, Everybody stand back!

Why did she smile at him?

“I don’t know,” she said. “He impressed me. I feel that he’s kind of special.”

But it took him a while to get the hint. It wasn’t till about a year later (they had different circles of friends) that they had their first “official” date: “One-zero, one-zero, one-zero,” he said. “That’s August 10, 2010.”

Minghui rolled her eyes: “Oct. 10,” she said.


They laughed, the way only newlyweds do.

A toast by Li-Wu Chen, Ph.D.

And while it took Tao a while to get that he was supposed to make his move, when he did he wasn’t shy about doing so. Showing up to that first date, he announced he was there to meet his “girlfriend.” That’s extremely bold, in Chinese culture. But somehow, his boldness put an extra charge in the air.

And it turned out, “Very quickly,” Tao said, “we know we are the right ones for each other.”

More best wishes, from Wally Thoreson, Ph.D.

So they were headed that way anyway. But when Tao went on an exchange program to Taiwan this past summer, they were apart for two months. And when he came back?

No more waiting. That was it.

They’d been Skyping with each other’s parents, and so on a 10-day trip to China, they had a wedding in Tao’s hometown and two receptions in Minghui’s. But when they came back, they wanted to make it official in America. They wanted a wedding in Omaha, the hometown they now shared, where they met, and lived, and loved.

So they started planning their Omaha wedding: “People told us that usually American people will spend a whole year getting ready,” Tao said.

So, how long did they spend?

“Two weeks,” Minghui said.

He’s a wild and crazy guy. And she loves him.

“So we Googled a lot about how American weddings should be like,” Tao said. “And Dr. Audrey Paulman gave us a lot, a lot, a lot of ideas and suggestions.”

They chose colors, and vows. They wanted a sand unity ceremony.

“My advisor’s son played violin for us,” Tao said.

They got a minister from their Bible study group, and they sent out invitations with a week to go. They hoped, with everyone’s busy UNMC schedules, a few people might show up. Instead, everyone did.

It was beautiful. And when it was over, they went outside to surprises: “They decorated my car in a very American way,” Tao said.

It was a fairy tale day. And at its ending, they had only just begun.

And there was a horse-drawn carriage, to ride off into their new lives together. There they were, so great together; man and wife. The lucky guy and the sweet girl, who met getting their ID badges in their first days as Ph.D. students at UNMC.

UNMC Security: Joel and the snake

UNMC has had a menagerie.

“We’ve had a variety of animals on campus,” said UNMC security officer John Ingraham. “We’ve had turkeys. Deer. We’ve of course had raccoons.”

Of course.

“Skunks. Possum. We’ve had ducks.”

But none of that compares to the time Joel Schuldt stared down the snake.

UNMC campus security corporal Joel Schuldt coolly took charge in a tense standoff — with a snake.

It was kind of an autumn day. A little cool, but not cold. It was nice, actually.

Security got a call. There was a snake crawling out from under a car.

“OK, a snake,” Ingraham said. “I’m thinking of a garter snake. Ooh.

“People get freaked out about snakes.”


So they went down there, looked at the car. Nothing there.

“So, I don’t know,” Ingraham said.

Twenty minutes later, another call.

Again, no snake.


“All of a sudden we see this head come down from the wheel well,” Ingraham said.

The head looked around. “And it starts … this thing, it keeps coming and coming.”

And coming. It had to have been six feet long.

Maybe they just like college campuses. Meet Black Rat snake, or Scotophis obsoletus. (UNL Herpetology photo by Dennis Ferraro)

Why in the world was there a 6-foot snake in the parking lot at UNMC?

They theory was, it hitched a ride on a car from Plattsmouth, from down in the country.

“They think it climbed up on the A-frame of the car. And as the engine cooled it was looking for a place to warm up, and came out then,” Ingraham said.


It was a black rat snake. A constrictor. Its name tells you what it eats. They are found all over, but locally, mostly in Nebraska’s southeastern corner.

In Iowa, it’s a protected species.

“Joel (Schuldt), the other supervisor, he stepped on it to keep it,” Ingraham said.

Then: “We call the Humane Society.”


Schuldt held the snake there. The snake countered by wrapping itself around Joel’s leg.

“And we wait and wait and wait,” Ingraham said.


At last, the Humane Society arrived. The guy came over: What have you got there?

A big snake, they said.

“Ooh!” the Humane Society guy shrieked. “I hate snakes!”

Are you kidding me?


The security guys told Humane Society guy he wasn’t leaving without it.

He got a special snake tool. They unwrapped the snake from Joel’s leg. They put it in a bag, and the guy took it away. Which was good.

“Joel is not necessarily a big fan of snakes either,” Ingraham said.

Well, you know. Definitely not anymore.