Prairie Research Institute

About PRI


The Prairie Research Institute benefits the people, economy, and environment of Illinois, delivering impact to every corner of the state. Our staff apply scientific knowledge and data in geology, ecology and biodiversity, archaeology, water, weather and climate, pollution prevention, hazardous waste management, and sustainable energy to:

  • Develop sustainable energy solutions
  • Keep drinking water safe
  • Identify geologic and mineral resources used by industry
  • Provide critical weather and climate data to the agriculture industry
  • Fight the spread of invasive species
  • Support statewide transportation infrastructure projects
  • Help communities prepare for flooding
  • Fight agricultural pests, like corn rootworm
  • Combat diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes
  • Identify water resource problems and help communities develop solutions
  • Help businesses and organizations save energy and save money by implementing sustainable practices

PRI manages more than $75 million in research funding annually and employs more than 500 full-time scientific and administrative staff and several hundred more part-time staff, graduate students, and affiliates. The institute occupies 72 buildings, 29 of those beyond the University’s Urbana-Champaign campus, positioning PRI scientists to serve all Illinoisans.

PRI comprises five state scientific surveys: the Illinois Natural History SurveyIllinois State Archaeological SurveyIllinois State Geological SurveyIllinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. Previously embedded within a state agency, these units were moved into the University of Illinois in 2008. Because of its unique mission to provide scientific expertise to state agencies, communities, industries, and individuals, with specific responsibilities described in state statutes, PRI is funded by a separate line-item in the state budget. PRI delivers an outstanding return on the state’s annual investment. For every dollar that PRI receives from the State of Illinois, it brings in nearly $4 in competitive grants and contracts.

PRI also oversees the Illinois Water Resources Center, which works with scientists, water professionals, and communities to address the state’s water resource challenges.