Research Opportunities

We encourage you to explore research opportunities with faculty during your studies at NIU. Undergraduate Research in Environmental Studies (ENVS 490) is a course you can take to satisfy the engaged learning requirement for the Environmental Studies degrees.

Access research papers online with Huskie Commons or find other opportunities through the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning

To assist in finding a research within your field, select from the following emphases categories:


Biodiversity and Environmental Restoration

Walker Ashley

  • Human-environment interactions
  • Land use change
  • Impacts of severe storms on human/built environments are encouraged

Scott Grayburn

  • Microbial degradation of plastic from bags
    • Preparation of different growth media to optimize microbial attachment
    • Measurement of adhesion and plastic degradation
  • Use of algae as a source of biofuels
    • Recovery of oil from algae for biodiesel
    • Recovery of cellulose from algae for ethanol
  • Isolation of viruses that infect freshwater algae
    • Purification of viruses by formation of plaques that follow algae infection
    • Characterization of virus DNA

Mitchell Irwin

  • Exploring how lemurs respond to habitat degradation in Madagascar
  • Entering and managing datasets from Madagascar
  • Parasitology or nutrition

Holly Jones

  • Intersection between climate change and restoration
  • Explore how ecosystems work and their underlying ecology
  • Enhancement of environmental stewardship
  • How best to prioritize restoration
  • Exploring links between ecosystem restoration/conservation
  • Human well-being in the face of global climate change
  • Maximizing restoration gains
  • Investigating restoration trajectories at the local, regional, and global scale

Rich King

  • Biodiversity monitoring
  • Inventory work at area forest preserves

Mike Konen

  • Investigate human impacts on soils, hydrologic properties and landscapes.
  • Agricultural, restored prairie and never cultivated prairie and savanna sites at Nachusa Grasslands and comparable locations in the region

Karen Samonds

  • Prepare, identify, and describe subfossils from Madagascar
    • As small mammal communities are correlated with major habitat types, this data is useful for making paleoenvironmental reconstructions.

Wes Swingley

  • Integrating microbial processes with environmental changes, especially in extreme systems
    • man-made waste sites
    • early Earth or extraterrestrial environments analogs
  • Culturing, microscopy and biochemical characterization
  • Modern sequencing and sequence analysis
    • including DNA isolation
    • amplification and high-throughput sequence parsing and analysis

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Energy Studies

Kevin Martin

  • Development of urban electric vehicles
  • Passive solar tracking systems
  • Renewable energy analysis and modeling of integrated wind, solar, biomass and fuel cell systems

William Mills

  • Energy auditing concepts
  • Spectrally enhanced lighting and LED luminaire design
  • Application specific energy reductions from VFDs
  • Passive solar tracking system

Nicholas Pohlman

  • Explore the heat transfer capabilities of biomass
  • Work with pneumatic conveyance systems to explore reasons for particle drop-out
  • Heat transfer rates and design of a cook stove using ceramic parts
  • Finding the right material mixtures that can withstand the high heat
    • Once fabricated, tests of heat transfer and biochar

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Environmental Policy

Aaron Deslatte

  • Chicago's sustainable transportation, economic development, energy, water, land-use and carbon emissions efforts
  • Local government sustainability

Anna Klis

  • Database of legal mechanisms in environmental treaties
  • Mouse erythroleukemia cell line (MEL)
  • Water and climate benefits of growing potatoes instead of rice

Colin Kuehl

  • Water conservation
  • Global environmental agreements

Brendon Swedlow

  • Politics of environmental
  • Health and safety regulations

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Nature in Society

Giovanni Bernardo

  • Exploring ways to increase the presence of social science research in the world wide discourse about sustainability.
  • Climate change stressors on farmers' decision making in the US Midwest (including Northern Illinois).

Andy Bruno

  • Conducting environmental history
  • Knowledge of the Russian language

Jason Hanna

  • Environmental ethics
  • Moral dimensions of climate change

Ryan James

  • Urban and regional planning
  • The connection between natural amenity, parks, and regional development
  • Resource extraction and rural underdevelopment

Emily McKee

  • Water conservation
  • International water disputes
  • Middle East studies
  • Alternative agriculture
  • Assist in coordinating and hosting research workshop with Northern IL farmers
  • Collection of data on farmers' market sales and CSA memberships
  • Literature review of desalination research
  • English-only speakers, as well as those with Hebrew or Arabic proficiency, are welcome.

Diana Swanson

  • Self-directed literature research
  • Feminist research projects

Water Sciences

Phil Carpenter

  • Environmental Geophysics
  • Engineering Geology
  • Seismology

Emily McKee

  • Water conservation
  • International water disputes
  • Middle East studies
  • Alternative agriculture
  • Assist in coordinating and hosting research workshop with Northern IL farmers
  • Collection of data on farmers' market sales and CSA memberships
  • Literature review of desalination research
  • English-only speakers, as well as those with Hebrew or Arabic proficiency, are welcome.

Tomoyuki Shibata

  • Conducting collaborative public health-related research
  • Scientific engagement
  • Capability building activities
  • Conducts Sustainable Development Goals

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Contact Us

Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy
325 Montgomery Hall
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
envs@niu.edu 815-753-6563