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  • Joy Scrogum

    Joy Scrogum recognized as P2 Ambassador by National Pollution Prevention Roundtable

    The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) has recognized ISTC assistant sustainability scientist Joy Scrogum as the recipient of the 2022 Fred Granek Memorial P2 Ambassador Award.

  • Illinois soil temperatures are cool in mid-September

    Soil temperatures fell during the first two weeks of September as cooler weather moved into the state. 

  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Ph.D. candidate Nicholas Antonson prepares a nest box to accommodate a prothonotary warbler nest.

    Cowbird chicks do best with two warbler nest mates – not four, not zero, study finds

    A new study seeks to understand the strategies cowbird chicks use to survive in prothonotary warbler nests when they hatch with different numbers of warbler nestlings. The study reveals that a cowbird chick does better with two than with four or zero warbler nest mates. 

  • Least bittern perched on a plant.

    Study tracks waterbird use of Chicago-area wetlands

    A three-year study in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana found that – even at small scales – emergent wetlands or ponds support many wetland bird species. The study also found that, at least in the years surveyed, the level of urbanization had little effect on most of the studied species’ use of such sites, provided the right kinds of habitat were available.

  • State Climatologist: A mild August wraps up summer in Illinois

    Mild temperatures in August this year in Illinois followed a heatwave in May, above average temperatures in June, and a cooler July.

  • Study finds minimal risk of exposure to legionella from irrigated wastewater at a safe distance

    Potential exposure to legionella bacteria in municipal wastewater used to irrigate crop fields will likely not pose a health threat to residents living downwind, according to a postdoctoral researcher at the Illinois Natural History Survey.

  • Asian tiger mosquito

    Researchers track the invasive Asian tiger mosquito in Illinois

    The exotic Asian tiger mosquito, known to transmit diseases to humans, is more widespread in southeastern Illinois than previously realized, according to Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) researchers who conducted a study on how invasive mosquito communities form and shift because of different land uses.

  • Drilling for the geothermal exchange system at the U of I campus

    A geothermal exchange system on the U of I campus proves its benefits

    Last year, a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers helped build a geothermal exchange system to heat and cool a new building at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I), saving electrical usage and marking another step in the quest for a carbon-neutral campus. This type of heating and cooling system is also used successfully in homes, businesses, and industry, according to Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) scientist Andrew Stumpf.

  • Illinois soils are cooler in mid-August

    Cooler weather has led to lower soil temperatures in the first half of August in Illinois, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey.

  • Eric R. Larson and Sally McConkey standing in the U. of I.’s Red Oak Rain Garden. Photo by Fred Zwicky

    How do we measure community disaster resilience?

    In a new study, retired Illinois State Water Survey engineer Sally McConkey and Eric R. Larson, a professor of natural resources and environmental sciences, examined the metrics used at a county scale for national assessments to determine whether communities are prepared to withstand and recover from natural disasters such as floods and fires. 

  • Digital Extended Specimens provide richer data, global access

    In an article published in BioScience, a team of collaborators including Deborah Paul, biodiversity informatics community liaison with the Species File Group at the Illinois Natural History Survey, describes the Digital Extended Specimen, a network of information with biodiversity data at its core.

  • Yanghui Cao, Valeria Trivellone, and Christopher Dietrich, photo by Fred Zwicky

    Study tracks plant pathogens in leafhoppers from natural areas

    Phytoplasmas are bacteria that can invade the vascular tissues of plants, causing many crop diseases. While most studies of phytoplasmas begin by examining plants showing disease symptoms, a new analysis by researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey focuses on the tiny insects that carry the infectious bacteria from plant to plant. By extracting and testing DNA from archival leafhopper specimens collected in natural areas, the study identified new phytoplasma strains and found new associations between leafhoppers and phytoplasmas known to harm crop plants.

  • State Climatologist: July brought its typical calamity in Illinois

    Rain inundated the south-central and northern parts of Illinois in July, causing flooding, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey.

  • Scientists to build toolkit addressing climate change and environmental justice in Chicago communities

    With new funding from NASA, a University of Illinois team of scientists will use NASA Earth science and localized social data to develop an innovative, multi-sector geospatial environmental justice toolkit for urban decision making in the Chicago region.

  • a deer

    Chronic wasting disease: hunters' perceptions and attitudes

    For Outdoor Illinois Journal, INHS scientists describe what their surveys have revealed about deer hunters'perceptions and attitudes toward the management of chronic wasting disease in Illinois' deer population.

  • a deer

    Occurrence of hemorrhagic disease in Illinois: Four decades of spatial and temporal changes

    For Outdoor Illinois Journal, scientists in the Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Laboratory review the evolving understanding of two vector-borne viral disease affecting both domestic and wild ruminants in Illinois—bluetongue  and epizootic hemorrhagic disease.

  • The Peoria Business Committee stands in front of Monks Mound, L to R: Treasurer Hank Downum, Chief Craig Harper, Second Councilman Kara North, Third Councilman Isabella Clifford, Second Chief Rosanna Dobbs, and Secretary Tonya Mathews

    ISAS hosts Peoria Tribe visit to Cahokia Mounds

    Earlier this summer, ISAS helped host the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma Business Committee when they visited Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site. The Peoria Business Committee is the Peoria Tribal Government and visiting members included: Chief Craig Harper, Second Chief Rosanna Dobbs, Secretary Tonya Mathews, Treasurer Hank Downum, Second Councilman Kara North, and Third Councilman Isabella Clifford.

  • Caitlin Rankin conducting wetland sampling

    North ‘plaza’ in Cahokia was likely inundated year-round, study finds

    The ancient North American city of Cahokia had as its focal point a feature now known as Monks Mound, a giant earthwork surrounded on its north, south, east and west by large rectangular open areas. These flat zones, called plazas by archaeologists since the early 1960s, were thought to serve as communal areas that served the many mounds and structures of the city.

    New paleoenvironmental analyses of the north plaza suggest it was almost always underwater, calling into question earlier interpretations of the north plaza’s role in Cahokian society. The study is reported in the journal World Archaeology.

  • ISTC engineer Stephanie Brownstein gestures toward carbon capture equipment at Abbott Power Plant while speaking to visitors from the Department of Energy and Doosan Corporation

    ISTC leads extensive portfolio of carbon capture projects

    Visitors from the U.S. Department of EnergyNational Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE-NETL) recently toured multiple carbon capture projects led by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC).

    Because the unique geology of Illinois provides extensive potential to store carbon dioxide deep underground, the state is also an ideal location to develop, demonstrate, and deploy technologies to capture CO2 from point sources, remove CO2 from the ambient air, and beneficially use CO2. ISTC scientists and engineers are leaders in this research, conducting a number of carbon capture, removal, and use projects backed by funding from the Department of Energy.

  • Leaves turn at Volo Bog Nature Preserve in the fall. Photo credit: Bill Batalden

    Groundwater experts help industries and nature preserves thrive

    The ISGS and ISWS began monitoring the intersections between industry and the state-protected nature preserves in 1998, letting science and groundwater testing lead the way. Then-graduate student Randy Locke embarked on what was intended to be a two-year groundwater monitoring project; that project is now in its 24th year and has expanded to 414 dedicated nature preserves across 62,270 acres in Illinois.

  • ISTC seeks partner for USDA composting and food waste reduction project

    ISTC seeks an eligible organization to be the lead applicant on a collaborative proposal through the USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production's Composting and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) pilot program. ISTC's TAP staff will provide support on the cooperative agreement through zero waste technical assistance, education, and outreach. Contact TAP to learn more about this partnership opportunity.

  • Illinois’ June weather was hotter and drier than average

    June temperatures in Illinois were above normal with a prolonged heat wave mid-month, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. The rainfall was below normal for June.

  • Jorge Doña and Kevin Johnson

    Study explores coevolution of mammals and their lice

    According to a new study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the first louse to take up residence on a mammalian host likely started out as a parasite of birds. That host-jumping event tens of millions of years ago began the long association between mammals and lice, setting the stage for their coevolution and offering more opportunities for the lice to spread to other mammals.

    The study was led by Illinois Natural History Survey ornithologist Kevin P. Johnson and Jorge Doña, a Marie Curie postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Granada, Spain.

  • Joseph Parkos

    INHS scientist comments on rebranding of invasive fish as 'copi'

    Illinois officials this month announced that "Asian carp" would now be called “copi” in an attempt to make the fish more desirable for eating. Joseph Parkos, the director of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Kaskaskia, Ridge Lake and Sam Parr biological stations, spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about scientific initiatives to study and control carp/copi fish populations and the potential for rebranding to aid those efforts.

  • direct air capture technology from Carbon Capture

    PRI to lead direct air capture FEED study at U. S. Steel’s Gary Works

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory has selected the Prairie Research Institute to lead a front-end engineering design study of a carbon dioxide direct air capture and utilization system. By using waste heat and energy from U. S. Steel’s Gary Works in Gary, Indiana, the project's energy and transportation costs can be minimized. 

  • June soils are hot and dry across Illinois

    Illinois’ soils are warm and dry in mid-June after record-breaking hot weather blanketed the state.

  • Complex Hydraulic Flow Patterns of Cache River

    Data from the sky inform flood planning

    CHAMP is at the helm of one of the largest 2D models in Illinois, spanning five southern Illinois counties – Johnson, Pope, Massac, Pulaski, and Alexander. The extremely flat topography of this region, known as the Cache River Valley, follows the Cache River system and the historic path of the Ohio River that’s been heavily manipulated by humans over time.

  • water pipe

    ISWS-Waterly partnership digitizes groundwater data

    Leveraging Waterly software will allow the ISWS groundwater science team to acquire almost real-time water pumping data that will amplify the team’s ability to forecast aquifer changes and gain a better understanding of current and future water risks across Illinois.

  • Eastern woodrat

    Study explores reasons why relocated woodrat populations have fared well in Illinois

    In a new study, researchers analyzed capture histories of 205 woodrats in the summers of 2013 and 2014 in areas of the Shawnee National Forest where woodrats had been reintroduced. The goal was to estimate local population size and determine how abundance and survival rates were associated with availability of nest-site crevices in rocks, the abundance of owls as predators, availability of nut-producing trees, and the risk of raccoon roundworm infection, which is fatal to woodrats.

  • May brought spring and a taste of summer to Illinois

    Illinois temperatures in May varied from periods of below average to periods of far above average, breaking records across the state, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. Rainfall was slightly below normal in May statewide.

  • Praveen Kumar

    Professor Praveen Kumar named executive director of the Prairie Research Institute

    Praveen Kumar, the Colonel Harry F. and Frankie M. Lovell Endowed Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been named the Executive Director of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. Kumar, an expert in hydrology and a seasoned research leader, will lead the institute starting June 16, pending the approval of the Board of Trustees. Kumar studies the complex interactions between the water cycle, climate change, vegetation, and surface and sub-surface transport of water and chemicals in human-dominated and natural systems. With affiliate appointments in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences; the National Center for Supercomputing Applications; the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology; and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment, he brings broad interdisciplinary perspectives to the position.

  • Researchers on a boat

    Research fieldwork comes with safety challenges

    Prairie Research Institute (PRI) researchers and technicians may not know exactly which hazards they’ll face when they conduct fieldwork to study the natural world. What they do know is that there are plenty of dangers to prepare for as they start another field season.

  • Soils are dry with warmer weather in May

    Hotter weather in the first half of May has caused warmer, drier soils across Illinois.

  • Bondville weather station

    Bondville weather station has a long history of research partnerships

    Like clockwork, monitoring towers and scientific gadgets run continuously at the Bondville Environmental and Atmospheric Research Site (BEARS) in central Illinois, gathering data on current weather, climate, and atmospheric conditions. The facility caters mainly to government agencies and university researchers, offering services that few other weather stations provide.

  • April conditions in Illinois featured colder weather and frequent rainfall

    April was colder than normal in Illinois, with freezing temperatures occurring into mid-month and as far south as St. Louis Metro East, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. Rainfall in April was frequent but averaged near normal statewide for the month.

  • Water Survey to analyze flood risks in Rock Island County, Illinois

    Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) hydrologic and hydraulic modeling in Rock Island County, Illinois is underway as part of a study to help local communities identify areas of high flood risk for flood mitigation planning.

  • part of the biphasic solvent system

    Technology to absorb CO₂ at power plants is promising

    Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) researchers have given the thumbs up to an innovative biphasic solvent system for its efficiency and effectiveness in absorbing CO₂ from flue gas in a coal-fired power plant at the University of Illinois (U of I).

  • Soils in Illinois are cool and wet in mid-April

    Illinois soils remain cooler and wetter than normal in mid-April, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey.

  • Aquatic biology team showing the mussels they've found

    Surveys and relocations protect vulnerable mussel populations

    In the summer’s heat, an Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) aquatic biology team can be found in shallow rivers or streams under bridges slated for reconstruction, wading in water and sliding their fingers through the rocks and sediment below, searching for the edge of mussel shells. They’ll move the mussels they find out of harm’s way of construction equipment that will soon roll into the area.

  • Temperature swings were typical for March in Illinois

    As is typical for March weather, Illinois temperatures varied from day to day, with an average statewide temperature 1.5 degrees above normal, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. March average precipitation was 1.32 inches above normal.

  • Study finds ethical and illicit sources of poison frogs in the U.S. pet trade

    With their vibrant colors and small size, poison frogs are popular among amphibian pet owners in the U.S. Most poison frogs come from legitimate frog breeding operations here and abroad, but some are still snatched from the wild illegally in their native countries, according to Devin Edmonds, doctoral student at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS).

  • PRI scientists provide winter soil conditions and an insect pest forecast for Illinois

    Near-average winter soil and air temperatures are an indication that crop insect pests may have survived the cold in Illinois, according to scientists Jennie Atkins and Kelly Estes at the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois.

  • Microplastics on the move: research projects detect microplastics in water and on land

    At the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), researcher John Scott is studying microplastics in landfills, rural streams, and city drinking water to further understand where they are coming from and how they move in the environment.

  • Piotr Szocinski crouches in the back of a truck to load soil samples

    Digging into soil data helps inform green infrastructure design

    PRI geologists were part of a multidisciplinary research project aimed at helping Illinois communities add green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to their strategies to prevent local flooding. Pilot projects focused on Calumet City and Midlothian. 

  • four people stand at the Illinois Basin Decatur Project injection well

    Data from landmark Illinois Basin carbon storage project are now available

    The first-of-its-kind Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP), which concluded in 2021 after successfully demonstrating the safe geologic storage of carbon dioxide, is releasing data sets in two easily accessible locations.

  • An active February finishes climatological winter

    The preliminary statewide average February temperature was 27.2 degrees, 3.0 degrees below the 1991–2020 average and tied for 42nd coldest on record going back to 1895. The preliminary statewide average total February precipitation was 3.41 inches, 1.48 inches above the 1991–2020 average and the 9th wettest on record statewide.  

  • National Science Foundation funds project to improve weather forecasts for cities

    Scientists at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) have begun a new project that will ultimately improve weather forecasting of severe storms and heatwaves in cities across the US.

  • Aerial view of fully installed submerged rubble ridges

    Underwater innovation at Illinois Beach State Park to help mitigate coastal erosion

    This past summer, with funding from the EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a US Army Corps of Engineers crane carefully placed over 10,000 tons of stone five hundred feet offshore of Illinois Beach State Park (ISBP) and Hosah Park, a Zion Park District property wedged between the north and south units of IBSP. These stones form three “rubble ridges” that are intended to work in concert to lessen storm waves and protect the eroding beach and unique terrestrial ecosystem in the dunes while preserving views and enhancing fish habitat.

  • Divert and convert: Campus project takes plastic from waste stream for fuel production

    A new Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) pilot project is gearing up to remove 200 pounds of non-recyclable plastics from campus trash daily and convert it to 140 pounds of crude oil to power university vehicles. The project will demonstrate its benefits to the environment and campus and present unique learning opportunities for students.


  • John Scott wears a white lab coat and stands in front of chemical analysis equipment

    PRI chemist John Scott answers PFAS questions

    Following action by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois is investigating the occurrence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in community water supplies across the state, with an eye toward developing policies to reduce their use. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to increased risk of certain cancers and potential developmental problems in children. John Scott, a senior chemist with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, offers perspective on this issue.