Stories by Jessen O'Brien

Junior Paleontologists

© Project Exploration

Meet the Chicago high school students who have been digging for Mammoths in South Dakota, and working with paleontology superstar Paul Sereno at Project Exploration.


Weekend Events Around Town: 9/09 – 9/11

Ground Zero 360. Image Credit: Nicola McClean

Need some ideas for what to do this weekend? Chicago Tonight knows what is going on!

Scientific Chicago

Micro-Robots, Mice, Electronic Tattoos, Ticks & Toilets

Image Credit: John Rogers

From a tiny shark tooth found in the Arctic to electronic tattoos that can monitor brain, heart and muscle activity, Neil Shubin joins us with a roundup of local scientific breakthroughs.


En Route

Image Credit: Eric Y. Exit, courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Our resident tour guide Geoffrey Baer discovers a whole new way to explore Chicago.


Jobs Speech Faces Timing Setback

President Barack Obama

Was President Obama disrespected when he was forced to change the day of his speech to a joint session of Congress? Chicago Sun-Times' Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet tells us what she’s heard from both sides of the story. Then, Eddie Arruza talks with a political analyst for his take on the latest partisan bickering.


Kankakee Alleged Tax Scheme

The Mayor of Kankakee Responds

Nina Epstein. Image Credit: Kankakee Public Library

Kankakee’s Mayor strongly denies that her city is taking sales tax revenues that belong in Cook County. Elizabeth Brackett has the story.


Oak Forest Hospital

Oak Forest Hospital. Image Credit:

Oak Forest Hospital is undergoing a big transformation--and not everyone's happy with it. The head of the Cook County Health System is here to explain the major changes for the south suburban facility.


Hedy Weiss: Theater Reviews

Hedy Weiss

Hedy Weiss devours the latest version of Sweeney Todd to hit Chicago.  She reviews that and three more shows.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel © 2011 City of Chicago, photo by Brooke Collins

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joins Phil Ponce on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm to talk about what he's done in office so far, and what's ahead.


TIF Reform

Carole Brown. Image Credit:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls for reform of the Tax Increment Financing, or TIF program. A task force report calls for more transparency and oversight. Carole Brown, the head of that task force, joins us to lay out the plan.

Weekend Events Around Town: 8/26 – 8/28

HSDC, Petite Mort ft. Penny Sanders & Pablo Piantino; photo by Todd Rosenberg

Need some ideas for what to do this weekend? Chicago Tonight knows what is going on!

Illinois Toll Hike Approved

Open Road Tolling: South Beloit Toll Plaza, Image Credit: Illinois Tollway

Driving Illinois tollways may soon take a bigger toll on your wallet. The Tollway Board just approved a massive toll increase. We hear from the Tollway's executive director.


Cultural Connections: American Craft Exposition

Josh Simpson, Image Credit: ACE

From curious machines to handmade objects of beauty, the American Craft Expo takes place in Evanston this weekend. An expert from the fair joins us with a collection of artfully made items.


Sales Tax Lawsuits

Chicago & RTA File Complaints

Are some airlines skirting the city sales tax? We look into that issue, plus the City of Chicago's tax lawsuit against some nearby counties.


Comedian Colin Quinn

Colin Quinn, Image Credit: Carol Rosegg

Joking about history -- from the ancient Greeks to the Jersey Shore. Comedian Colin Quinn joins us to talk about his one-man show, directed by Jerry Seinfeld.


Mayor Emanuel's First 100 Days

Debrief with Eddie Arruza

Mayor Rahm Emanuel © 2011 City of Chicago, photo by Brooke Collins

On the eve of his 100th day as Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel issues a list of accomplishments so far. But how much of his checklist is still incomplete? Eddie Arruza reports.


Weekend Events Around Town: 8/19 – 8/21

Chicago Air & Water Show. Image Credit:

Need some ideas for what to do this weekend? Chicago Tonight knows what is going on!

Native Plant Gardens

Front island landscape at Town Square Condominium Association

His neighbors call him the flower man. But he's not planting tulips and daffodils at his suburban condo development. He has created what may be the most extensive native prairie garden at a residential complex. And experts say gardens like these can help slow climate change. Jay Shefsky has the story. 


Preview of 9/11 Memorial

Exterior of Museum's pavilion's atrium; Visualization by Squared Design Lab

A memorial on Ground Zero commemorating 9/11 opens in a few weeks. We talk with Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, who got a sneak peek.


Hidden Chicago: Streets & Alleys

Geoffrey Baer

From a Chicago alley that’s still paved with wood blocks, to a cowpath among the skyscrapers in the downtown Loop, and other secret byways. Geoffrey Baer explores Chicago’s oddest and most interesting streets and alleys for Hidden Chicago.


Fuel Efficiency Standards

Fuel Economy Standards Image Credit:

Nearly 55 miles per gallon for every car? That's the deal between the Obama Administration and the nation's automakers. Is it doable and what technology is on the horizon? The head of transportation research at Argonne National Laboratory is here with some answers.


"Healthy Chicago"

Image Credit:

On Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D., released a new Public Health Agenda—Healthy Chicago—the City’s first comprehensive public health plan.

Neighborhood Health Study

The study looks at the health and health resources of 77 Chicago neighborhoods.

A new study out today by Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine diagnoses Chicago’s health, neighborhood by neighborhood. We speak with two of the report’s authors.


Weekend Events Around Town: 8/12 – 8/14

Built Festival is this weekend. Image Credit:

Need some ideas for what to do this weekend? Chicago Tonight knows what is going on!

Debt Super Committee

As President Obama hit the road today to slam the partisanship in Congress, the final three members of the debt reduction "super committee" were named. Eddie Arruza and his panel take a look at who the 12 committee members are, and whether they'll be able to reach a consensus on spending cuts.