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  • Sarah Molinaro holding a fish

    Sarah Molinaro, stream ecologist

  • Cora Wessman

    Cora Wessman, Illinois Water Inventory Program coordinator

    Rockford native, Cora Wessman began working as a graduate student hourly researcher with the Illinois Water Inventory Program (IWIP) nearly three years ago. Today, she oversees the program as the IWIP coordinator. "IWIP has become something I am very passionate about, and I hope to see the program grow for years to come," said Wessman.

  • Shruti Deekshitula

    Shruti Deekshitula, graduate student researcher

    Shruti Deekshitula is a graduate student researcher at the Illinois State Water Survey and an information science student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

  • Dr. Lorin I. Nevling sitting at a desk

    Remembering Lorin Nevling, INHS chief (1987–1996)

    Dr. Nevling served as chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) from 1987–1996. He was known as a scientist, an administrator, a counselor, and a public servant. Dr. Nevling made contributions to the systematics of higher plants, especially the family Thymelaeaceae, and served in many capacities to the national botanical community. 

  • Natalie Kerr leans against a low wall wearing biking gear

    Natalie Kerr, visiting senior scientific specialist, environmental public health

    Natalie Kerr started a full-time position at the Water Survey in January 2022. In her role as a environmental public health specialist, she is part of an expanded focus on the intersection between water resources and public health. She is working on two projects related to private wells—one looking at lead levels and the other investigating Legionella (the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease).  

  • Friends of PRI honorees Dave Thomas and Bill Shilts stand with their plaque

    William W. Shilts and David L. Thomas, 2022 Friends of PRI Award

    Each year PRI honors individuals and organizations whose support contributes to the institute's success. This year we're commemorating the contributions of William W. Shilts and David L. Thomas, who played pivotal roles in the formation of the institute.   

  • Toby Holda

    Toby Holda, large river fisheries ecologist

    Toby Holda joined INHS on April 25th as a large river fisheries ecologist. Holda worked at INHS during his undergraduate career and looks forward to sampling fish in the field, especially the long toothy fishes (gars, bowfin, etc.). He's also looking forward to continuing working with the folks at the Illinois River Biological Station and to the opportunity to continue developing his research skills.

  • PRI mentors support undergraduate research

    Congratulations to all of the undergraduate students presenting at the Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 28 and the PRI scientists who mentored them! 

  • Shari Effert-Fanta

    Shari Effert-Fanta, assistant director for facilities and safety

    Shari Effert-Fanta, PRI’s assistant director for facilities & safety, is the recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Support Staff Award! Effert-Fanta oversees PRI’s many facilities, both on campus and across the state, as well as the safety of PRI staff and students as they work in the field and in the lab; her work impacts everyone at PRI.

  • Steve Wilson

    Steve Wilson, groundwater hydrologist

    The 2022 Research Scientist’s Career Achievement Award goes to Steve Wilson. Steve began his career at the Water Survey more than 30 years ago, as an undergraduate student hourly. Now as a groundwater hydrologist, Steve leads two programs that have significant nationwide impact on the safety of drinking water: The Private Well Class, which provides self-paced online training for private well owners and professionals who support them, and WaterOperator.org, a user-friendly online resource hub for water and wastewater operators that is geared towards supporting small systems.

  • highway bridge over water and through a forested area.

    Stephanie Wagner, environmental site assessor

    The 2022 Distinguished Research Specialist or Technician Award goes to Stephanie Wagner! Stephanie has worked as an environmental site assessor with the environmental assessment team at the Illinois State Geological Survey. Wagner and her environmental assessment colleagues help determine project costs, prioritize projects, and ensure the safety of workers, the public, and the environment.

  • Trent Ford

    Trent Ford, Illinois State Climatologist

    Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford is a recipient of the Prairie Research Institute’s 2022 Early Career Investigator Award. Ford joined the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) in 2019 as the State Climatologist following recently retired Jim Angel. In that short period of time, he has developed an active research program funded through external programs, while taking on the daunting task of re-visualizing and expanding the State Climatologist program.

  • Auriel Fournier standing in front of wetlands

    Auriel Fournier, director of Forbes Biological Station

    Auriel Fournier, a waterfowl ecologist and director of the Forbes Biological Station, has been awarded a 2022 PRI Early Career Researcher Award. Fournier also leads the major National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-funded Firebird project focused on waterbirds in the Gulf of Mexico, which involves collaborators from multiple agencies and organizations.

  • Kendall Taft

    Kendall Taft, reservoir geologist

    Geology was always a natural fit for Kendall Taft, a reservoir geologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS). Born and raised in Jacksonville, Illinois, Kendall grew up fascinated by fossils and never grew tired of looking for them in limestone driveways. Working at ISGS, he now sets sights on interpreting 2D seismic data about reservoirs for potential carbon dioxide (CO2) storage.

  • Patrick Green

    Patrick Green, Central Illinois Field Station (CIFS) coordinator

    If there's construction planned in your area, one of the first people you may see on the scene is Patrick Green, the Central Illinois Field Station coordinator at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS). As an Illinois native, Patrick knows the Illinois landscape quite well and is a wealth of knowledge about the history and archaeological sites all around Illinois and the United States! He recently answered some questions about his work, career advice, and why you don't have to travel to Egypt or the Yucatan (unless you want to!) to learn about fascinating ancient history – it's all around you!

  • Corrado Cara working doing fieldwork

    Corrado Cara, vector biologist

    Meet Corrado Cara, a vector biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey's (INHS) medical entomology lab focusing mainly on the surveillance of vectors and vector-borne diseases and related research projects. Corrado has been interested in learning everything about insects since he was about 10 years old.

  • Sebastiano smiling

    Sebastiano Giardinella, project engineer

    Meet Sebastiano Giardinella, a project engineer with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Survey (ISTC). Sebastiano joined ISTC in 2021 and is responsible for coordinating and assisting researchers with ongoing projects and proposals, primarily related to Department of Energy (DOE)-funded research. 

  • Lauren Fitts sitting down and holding an artifact

    Lauren Fitts, Research Archaeologist

    Meet Lauren Fitts, Research Archaeologist with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS). Initially drawn to archaeology because of Jurassic Park, she now leads archaeological surveys in advance of Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) related projects.

  • Brian Charles

    Brian Charles, botanist

    Meet Brian Charles, a botanist originally from the West Coast, but now rooted in the Midwest. Brian joined the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) this year and primarily works to update the Endangered and Threatened plant species records and rankings for Illinois.

  • Nicholas Iacaruso holding a fish

    Nicholas Iacaruso, graduate researcher

    Nicholas Iacaruso is a graduate student at the Illinois Natural History Survey in the Collaborative Ecological Genetics Laboratory (CEGL) working under Mark Davis, focusing on monitoring freshwater fish populations using environmental DNA (eDNA). Iacaruso grew up near Chesapeake Bay, which inspired his interests in aquatic ecosystems before he learned about ecological genetics, and later, about environmental DNA, or eDNA.

  • Jordyn Chace in the Mark Davis Lab in NRES and the Illinois Bat Conservation Program

    Jordyn Chace, graduate student

    Jordyn Chace says she has always wanted to be a conservation biologist, even before she knew that it was a real career. Now she's a bat genomicist with the Illinois Natural History Survey.

  • Elizabeth Watts Malouchos

    Elizabeth Watts Malouchos, research archaeologist

    Elizabeth Watts Malouchos recently answered some questions about her career in archaeology, commonly-held misconceptions about archaeology, and her advice for those just starting out in the field.

  • Jim Pisell

    Jim Pisell, staff archaeologist

    Jim Pisell has been with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey for nearly 20 years, and while technology has changed the face and pace of what archaeology looks like today, at its core Jim believes it's deeper than artifacts—it is a type of informed storytelling. 

  • Nahal Hoghooghi

    Nahal Hoghooghi, postdoctoral researcher

    Postdoctoral researcher Nahal Hoghooghi is one of the newest members of the Illinois State Water Survey team! She will conduct watershed hydrological modeling and water supply planning studies across Illinois.

  • Nico Galardy

    Nico Galardy, IT technical associate

    Meet the Illinois State Geological Survey's new IT technical associate, Nico Galardy! Nico brings eight years of desktop computer support experience, with five of those being in the educational field.

  • Megan Cowan-Cranmer

    Megan Cowan-Cranmer, field biologist

    Megan Cowan-Cranmer has been a field biologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey's Great Rivers Field Station for over 14 years, and is also this year's 2021 Confluence Conservation Leader awardee. Confluence Conservation Leader recipients work tirelessly to advocate, educate and inspire action in areas of environmental education, sustainability, and land conservation.

  • Robbie Emmet. standing by a tree.

    Robbie Emmet, postdoctoral research associate

    Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) postdoctoral research associate Robbie Emmet is looking forward to working with INHS researchers and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) staff to answer management-relevant research questions and combine the multiple amazing data sets that IDNR has collected for decades.

  • Jessica Homan

    Jessica Homan, social media intern

    Social media intern Jessica Homan’s passion for her work revolves around communications. She was drawn to intern at the Prairie Research Institute after learning about the impact its services and research has on citizens and scientists in Illinois and beyond—plenty of good stories to tell!

  • Natalia Maass smiling

    Natalia Maass, endangered species specialist

    Meet Natalia Maass, an endangered species specialist with the Illinois Natural History Survey. While Maass continues to tackle challenging programming languages, she stresses that having an advanced degree isn't a qualifier for being a “real” scientist. People can do meaningful work in science as citizen scientists, too.

  • Zach Samaras

    Zach Samaras, technical assistance engineer, sustainability

    Zach Samaras left a career in the print and promotional industry and now promotes waste reduction and resource conservation as a technical assistance and sustainability engineer with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.

  • Ron Sjoken in a lab

    Ron Sjoken, environmental monitoring specialist

  • Margaret Golden setting up equipment in a river.

    Margaret Golden, hourly research assistant

  • Sohan Singh

    Sohan Singh, postdoctoral researcher

  • Stephanie Brownstein

    Stephanie Brownstein, research engineer

  • Angie Wisehart

    Angie Coy, coordinator of stakeholder engagement

  • drilling team on site using a drilling rig.

    Shop and drilling team

  • Claire Johnson holding a bird

    Claire Johnson, avian ecologist

  • John Beardsley prepares to sample the Pecatonica River, Stephenson County, Illinois for the Benchmark Sediment Monitoring network.

    John Beardsley, research field specialist

  • Hillary Glandon on boat

    Hillary Glandon, postdoctoral researcher

  • Jason Karakehian

    Jason Karakehian, PhD student

  • Tara Jagadeesh

    Tara Jagadeesh, Coastal Studies Specialist

  • Cody Eskew

    Cody Eskew, Coastal Studies Specialist

  • Megan Weeks

    Megan Weeks, human resources business analyst

  • Allison Bryant smiling

    Allison Bryant, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) specialist

  • Chad Hankins

    Chad Hankins, IT technical associate

  • Diane and Ed Wilhite

    Diane and Ed Wilhite, insect collection volunteers

  • Dawn Cosentino

    Dawn Cosentino, project engineer

  • Headshot of Jake Lux

    Jake Lux, conservation resource specialist

  • Emmarie Alexander

    Emmarie Alexander, undergraduate researcher

  • Riley Balikian in a grassy area

    Riley Balikian, geophysicist and hydrogeologist