Faculty by Research Area

Global Change

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Ainsworth head shot Ainsworth,  Elizabeth

147 ERML

Plant Biology, PEEC

Global changes in climate and atmospheric composition pose significant challenges to maintaining and improving future agricultural production and global food supply. Two global changes that directly affect crop productivity are rising carbon dioxide concentration and rising tropospheric ozone concentration. While elevated carbon dioxide stimulates photosynthesis and productivity of crops, rising tropospheric ozone negatively impacts photosynthesis and subsequent growth and production. The focus of my research is to understand and integrate the genetic, molecular, biochemical and physiological responses of plants to global change. This fundamental understanding is critical for identifying targets for breeding and biotechnology that may be exploited to maximize crop yields and plant productivity in the coming decades. As the population grows and the climate becomes more variable over this century, addressing these research challenges will be ever more important. We aim to better understand and address crop responses to global climate change by using meta-analyses to quantify the responses of plants to climate change factors, developing high-throughput tools for investigating molecular, biochemical and physiological responses of plants to climate change, and identifying the genes and loci underpinning intraspecific variation in the response of species to climate change. The ultimate aim of my research is to provide fundamental knowledge that will enable crop production to be maximized in a future world of elevated carbon dioxide concentration, elevated ozone concentration, higher temperatures and greater probability of drought stress.
Photo Allan,  Brian

339A Morrill Hall

Associate Professor
Entomology, PEEC

Ambrose Ambrose,  Stanley



Maybe Berenbaum,  May

216A Morrill Hall / 318B Morrill Hall
217-333-2910 / 217-333-7784

Professor & Head, Swanlund Chair
Entomology, PEEC

Jbrawn Brawn,  Jeffrey

W-503 Turner Hall

Professor and Head, NRES
Animal Biology, PEEC

Chick Chick,  John


Principal Aquatic Ecologist

Photo Dalling,  James

286 Morrill Hall

Professor and Head
Plant Biology, PEEC

My research concerns the population and community ecology of tropical trees, with a particular interest in understanding how soil nutrient availability and soil microbial communities shape the composition and diversity of tree communities. Much of my work is carried out with collaborators at the <a href="http://www.stri.si.edu">Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute</a>, in Panama, either on <a href="http://www.stri.si.edu/english/visit_us/barro_colorado/index.php">Barro Colorado Island</a> or at the <a href="http://www.stri.si.edu/english/research/facilities/terrestrial/fortuna/index.php">Fortuna Forest Reserve</a>, where I maintain a network of forest dynamics plots described <a href="http://www.life.illinois.edu/dalling/publications/105.pdf">here</a>
Delucia DeLucia,  Evan


G. William Arends Professor of Integrative Biology; Professor; Director, Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment
Plant Biology, PEEC

My laboratory is studying the physiological ecology of vascular plants with an emphasis on the environmental limitations to photosynthesis and resource allocation. I am particularly interested in developing integrated models of light utilization by plants in different habitats, with an emphasis on woody plants. Other research projects include investigations of the effects of UV-B irradiation on growth and photosynthesis, and the impact of elevated CO2 on nutrient acquisition of trees. Currently we are using growth analysis, leaf and plant gas exchange, water relations, tissue chemistry, carbon isotope discrimination, and foliar optical properties, among other methods, in these studies. Research sites include grasslands, old fields, and deciduous forests in Illinois; subalpine and alpine habitats in Wyoming; and shrub steppe in Nevada.
Fraterrigo Fraterrigo,  Jennifer

W-423 Turner Hall

Associate Professor

Fhu Hu,  Feng Sheng

265 Morrill Hall

Professor and Dean of LAS, and a Ralph E. Grim Professor of Geology
Plant Biology, School of Integrative Biology, PEEC

I work at the interfaces of biological, geological and climatological sciences. The overall objective of my research is to understand patterns and mechanisms of long-term ecosystem dynamics under changing climatic conditions. To achieve this objective, I use "the natural experiments of the past" that are archived in geological deposits. These deposits offer a long-term holistic perspective into past environmental conditions, some of which do not exist today but may be analogs of different climatic conditions in the future. In pursuing my research interests, I integrate traditional paleoecological analyses and state-of-the-art analytical tools (e.g., genomic, isotopic, and numerical-modeling techniques). My students and I have conducted field research from the tropics to the Arctic to address a wide array of global change questions. We have authored more than 100 scholarly articles in top-tier disciplinary and interdisciplinary journals. I served as Head of the Department of Plant Biology from 2008-2014, and am currently Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences where I work with the science departments to promote research, teaching, innovation, and public service. Despite my administrative duties, I continue to enjoy working closely with my students on their research projects. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to contact me directly to explore research of mutual interest.
Jain1 Jain,  Atul

215 Atmospheric Sciences


Kent Kent,  Angela

S-510 Turner Hall

Director of PEEC, Professor

Photo Leakey,  Andrew

1402 IGB

Associate Professor
Plant Biology, PEEC

My research program is focused on improving mechanistic understanding of: <ol> <li>Plant responses in natural and agricultural ecosystems to global environmental change</li> <li>Adaptation of food and fuel crops to global environmental change</li> <li>Sustainability of biofuel feedstocks</li> </ol> This will enhance understanding of how the environment impacts ecosystem goods and services including biodiversity, productivity, water cycling and food supply. To do this we combine molecular, biochemical, physiological and ecological tools to assess plant performance in manipulative field experiments and controlled environment chambers. On-going projects: <ol> <li>A systems-level analysis of drought and density response in the model C4 grass Setaria viridis</li> <li>EBI 2011: Sustainability of woody biofuel feedstocks</li> <li>Plants iView – an after school program in plant biology</li> <li>Altered Root-To-Shoot Signaling And Osmotic Adjustment As Key Determinants Of Soybean Stress Tolerance Under Drought And Elevated [CO2]</li> <li>Agroecosystems: Effects of changes in climate, carbon dioxide and ozone over the Central United States</li> <li>How will productivity, evapotranspiration & insect herbivory of the Midwest agroecosystem respond to the combined drought and elevated [CO2] anticipated for 2050?</li> </ol>
Slong Long,  Stephen

379 ERML/134 IGB

Gutgsell Endowed Professor
Crop Sciences, Plant Biology, PEEC

Research topics: <ul> <li>Environmental physiology including cold tolerance</li> <li>Global atmospheric change impacts on crops and natural vegetation</li> <li>C4 photosynthesis</li> <li>Biomass energy crops including Miscanthus and switchgrass</li> <li>Mathematical models of photosynthesis </li> </ul> The overall objectives of my research program are as follows. 1) To understand mechanisms of plant responses to both rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and tropospheric ozone, with particular reference to photosynthesis and relating changes at the molecular and biochemical level to observations of whole systems in the field. </p> 2) Establish the potential of mitigation of atmospheric change through the development of herbaceous energy crops. 3) Advance the development of accessible mechanistic mathematical models relating environmental effects on photosynthesis to plant productivity (see: <a href="http://www.life.uiuc.edu/plantbio/wimovac/">http://www.life.uiuc.edu/plantbio/wimovac/</a>). 4) To understand the limitations to C4 photosynthesis and the adaptation of the process to cooler climates. My lab integrates molecular and biochemical studies with physiological studies of photosynthesis, using state-of-the-art and custom built gas-exchange, fluorescence and controlled environment instrumentation. Much of the work involves developing and testing hypotheses on plant environmental responses under controlled conditions and then testing these in large-scale multi-partner field facilities. The International journals <a href="http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journals/GCB/">Global Change Biology</a> (Blackwell Science) and <a href="http://www.gcbbioenergy.com/">GCB Bioenergy</a> are edited from my laboratory. We have active research links with several global change laboratories within and outside the US, including Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, Japan, Switzerland and the U.K. A number of our laboratories graduate students have undertaken a part of their research at the overseas sites.
Moruiz O'Hara,  Marilyn

2639 Vet Med Basic Sciences Bldg.

Clinical Associate Professor

Philipp Philipp,  David

237 NRSA

Research Affiliate
Animal Biology, PEEC

Photo Punyasena,  Surangi

139 Morrill Hall

Associate Professor
Plant Biology, PEEC

My research focuses on the role that climate has played in the long-term evolution of Neotropical forests, primarily through the reconstruction of paleoecological and macroevolutionary trends of individual plant clades from the fossil pollen record. Despite its modest standing in the popular imagination, fossil pollen is an ideal source for paleoecological information. The palynological record is one of the most ubiquitous terrestrial fossil records. Pollen and spores are abundant, resist degradation, and are found at the bottom of most water bodies, past or present. For this reason, the palynological record is expressly suited for quantitative analyses of continuous, long-term trends in plant ecology and evolution, including time-series analysis of origination and extinction rates, migration, and functional morphological evolution. Paleoecological analyses complement neo-ecological approaches to the study of Neotropical forest composition, diversity, and structure, providing extensive temporal information that is unattainable through other forms of investigation. My approach to understanding the relationship between plant diversity and climate has been multifaceted, investigating both modern spatial and Holocene/Late Quaternary temporal patterns in Neotropical vegetation. Current research includes (1) exploring Quaternary and deep-time (pre-Quaternary) patterns of tropical plant diversity, ecology, and evolutionary change; (2) developing and applying quantitative vegetation models of paleotemperature and paleoprecipitation; and (3) developing quantitative measures of pollen morphology. The aim of this interdisciplinary research program is to develop a temporal picture of tropical forest evolution in order to better understand how community composition and functional ecology are affected by climatic change. The results provide a means of testing regional and global climate models, as well as predicting the response of tropical forests to anthropogenic climate forcing.
Wahl Wahl,  David

235 NRSA

Illinois Natural History Survey; Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences; Affiliate Entomology, PEEC

Wander Wander,  Michelle

N-225 Turner Hall


Yeng 274 Yang,  Wendy

639 Morrill Hall

Assistant Professor
Plant Biology, PEEC

I am broadly interested in how human activities are changing how natural and managed ecosystems function and how ecosystem responses to global change can feedback to drive or slow future global change. My research is in terrestrial biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology with a focus on determining process rates and drivers of chemical transformations in the environment. I am particularly interested in the controls on greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of anthropogenic nitrogen inputs on soil nitrogen retention and loss, the effects of plant community composition shifts on soil nitrogen and carbon dynamics, and the coupling of biogeochemical cycles beyond carbon and nitrogen. An important component of my research is the development of novel methodological approaches using tracer and natural abundance stable isotope techniques, in particular to quantify soil dinitrogen emissions and gross fluxes of greenhouse gases. My research program currently includes projects within two major themes: Controls on Redox-Sensitive Biogeochemical Processes, and Plant Community Composition Effects on Biogeochemical Processes. Specific projects include: <ul> <li>Effects of Rainfall Intensification on Soil Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Midwest</li> <li>Controls on Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium in Upland Soils</li> <li>Iron-mediated Biogeochemistry in Terrestrial Ecosystems</li> <li><a href="http://www.agroforestry4food.com/">Woody Polycultures as a Transformative Solution to Sustainable Agriculture</a></li> <li>Mycorrhizal Mediation of Forest Nutrient and Carbon Cycling</li> <li>Invasive Species Effects on Ecosystem Nitrogen Dynamics</li> <li>Plant-Soil-Microbe Interactions in Bioenergy Cropping Systems as part of the <a href="https://cabbi.bio/">Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation</a> (CABBI)</li> </ul>