PRI is home to seven state scientists who provide objective, reliable, timely scientific expertise and data to the policymakers, industries, communities, and people of Illinois. These scientists are Illinois’ authoritative experts on the history, current issues, and emerging concerns in archaeology; natural resources and ecology; climatology; entomology; geology; hydrology; and pollution prevention.
Office of the State Archaeologist
The Illinois State Archaeologist provides archaeological information and advocates for the public importance of the archaeological record in Illinois. Activities of the Office of the State Archaeologist include:
- Preservation: Identifying, evaluating and planning for the management and preservation of public and private archaeological sites and cultural landscapes in Illinois; working with public and private entities to preserve significant cultural resources in Illinois
- Research: directing and conducting archaeological research in Illinois, with a particular focus on research with a direct economic impact on Illinois’ citizens; enabling smart development and helping preservationists and developers cooperate in achieving their goals
- Data Management: retaining and managing archaeological databases featuring records of survey and excavation reports, photographs, burial mounds, and artifacts; acting as a repository of knowledge and a clearinghouse for distributing information about Illinois’ rich resources
- Education: educating the people of Illinois through events, exhibits, publications and other media; informing other agencies about current legislative changes and programs, regulatory information, and best practices in cultural resource management
State Archaeologist Timothy Pauketat
State Archaeologist Timothy Pauketat, who is also the director of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, has conducted most of his field research at and around the American Indian city of Cahokia or related complexes. His general research interests are materiality, affect and agency; religion and ontologies; cities and landscapes; global medievalism; climate change; North American archaeology; Woodland and Mississippian cultures; indigenous Prairie-Plains history; pottery.
Office of the State Biologist
The Office of the State Biologist communicates information and provides expert advice to the residents of Illinois and to our legislators and policymakers on issues related to nature, ecology, and conservation.
State Biologist Eric Schauber
Animal ecologist Eric Schauber is State Biologist and director of the Illinois Natural History Survey. He previously was at the Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where he was a wildlife ecologist in the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and a professor and the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Zoology. He earned a PhD in ecology from the University of Connecticut, a master’s degree in wildlife science from Oregon State University, and a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from the University of Massachusetts. His research tackles a broad suite of questions mainly centered around populations of mammals. Topics range from documenting factors that influence where foxes, coyotes, and other carnivores are found across southern Illinois to understanding how marsh rice rats move between wetlands. One main focus of his research has been studying contacts within and between social groups of white-tailed deer, and using that information to understand and manage how diseases spread in the deer population.
Office of the State Climatologist
The State Climatologist serves as Illinois’ authoritative voice on climate science and conducts research on and monitoring of Illinois weather and climate conditions. Activities of the Office of the State Climatologist program include:
- Education and outreach: informing the people of Illinois about long-term climate trends and climate variability; monitoring and responding to current weather and climate conditions, such as drought, heat waves, and heavy rainfall events; providing climate information to state agencies, policymakers, businesses, farmers, and other stakeholders; using social media, media interviews, and presentations to effectively reach Illinoisans.
- Research: conducting applied climate research on issues that impact Illinois, such as drought, heat waves, and heavy rainfall events and reporting the results of this research; working with local, state, and federal agencies to understand and respond to climate-related issues.
- Data Management: preserving Illinois climate and weather records that date to the 1800s and extracting insights from these data.
State Climatologist Trent Ford
Hydroclimatologist Trent Ford, a native of Roanoke, Illinois, became State Climatologist in 2019. He previously was an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Resources at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he taught courses on weather, climate, and society and hazardous weather and researched heat wave predictability and ways to use soil moisture data to improve drought monitoring. He earned a bachelor’s in geography from Illinois State University before completing his master’s and PhD at Texas A&M University.
Office of the State Geologist
The Illinois State Geologist serves as the authoritative spokesperson on matters of geoscience for the state of Illinois; represents Illinois with the Association of American State Geologists; and provides timely, accurate, objective information on research and scientific inquiries to the public, scientists, industry, and governmental agencies.
Activities of the Office of the State Geologist include:
- Research: Prioritizing, promoting, directing, and conducting geological research in Illinois, with a focus on addressing key socially relevant issues as well as serving key constituents and stakeholders.
- Public policy: Working with local, county, state, federal, and international agencies on the relevance of the geosciences and its potential positive impact on laws, rule-making, and land- and water-use decision making.
- Education: Educating the public on the geoscience’s importance (water and mineral resources, waste disposal, siting, construction, earth hazards, energy, and environmental protection) through public presentations, field trips, publications, and online information.
- Collaboration: Working with the AASG, USGS, and foreign geological surveys, and serving on national/international committees, all for program development, enhancement and optimization, and implementation for the benefit of scientific organizations and the public.
State Geologist Dick Berg
State Geologist Richard C. Berg is also the director of the Illinois State Geological Survey, where he has worked since 1974. His scientific specialties are Quaternary geology, aquifer sensitivity assessment, and three-dimensional geological mapping. He has worked extensively with government officials at the local, state, and federal levels to promote a better understanding of the complexities of the subsurface as it applies to balancing economic development decision making with wise water and mineral resource use and environmental protection. He received his Ph.D. in soil geomorphology from the University of Illinois.
Office of the State Entomologist
The State Entomologist serves as the authoritative spokesperson on matters related to insects or other arthropods of Illinois; provides current information on research and scientific inquiries on invertebrates, generally, and arthropods, specifically, to the public, scientists, industry, and government agencies; and is the primary point of contact for organizations that require transdisciplinary science to address questions related to the ecology, management, or control of invertebrates, generally, or arthropods, specifically, including insects.
State Entomologist Christopher Dietrich
State Entomologist Christopher Dietrich has more than 30 years of entomological research experience. He has conducted field work in 17 countries and published more than 175 refereed scientific papers. He is broadly interested in insect biodiversity, evolution, classification and identification and is a world authority on leafhoppers and treehoppers (Hemiptera: Membracoidea), which include many important agricultural pests, invasive species, and vectors of plant pathogens. His current research focuses on documenting insect biodiversity, resolving phylogenetic relationships among major hemipteran lineages, and developing new tools and infrastructure for identifying and tracking species. He earned his B.S. in biological sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and PhD in entomology at North Carolina State University.
Office of the State Hydrologist
The Illinois State Hydrologist is responsible for providing science-based information from Water Survey studies and other survey experts related to water resource issues, such as floods, droughts, and regional and local water supply.
State Hydrologist Laura Keefer
State Hydrologist Laura Keefer has more than 30 years of experience in multi-scale watershed monitoring studies of hydrology, sediment, and nutrients for many Illinois watersheds. She also serves as technical or science advisor, as well as Water Survey representative, on dozens of committees ranging from watershed planning to state and federal interagency task forces to resolve hydrologic, sediment, and nutrient watershed issues. She leads the Watershed Science Section at the Illinois State Water Survey.
Office of the State Pollution Prevention Scientist
The Illinois State Pollution Prevention Scientist serves as the authoritative spokesperson on matters of pollution prevention for the State of Illinois; represents Illinois on the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable and similar organizations; provides timely, objective information on advances in methods, practices, research, and policy related to pollution prevention to industry, government agencies, scientists, and the public.
State Pollution Prevention Scientist Kishore Rajagopalan
State Pollution Prevention Scientist Kishore Rajagopalan has over 30 years of experience in plant operations, green process development, separation technologies, and pollution prevention research. His research interests involve the integration of separations research to advance green process development with a special focus on membrane processes. He holds three U.S. patents and has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles. At the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center he is an associate director and oversees the Applied Research on Industrial and Environmental Systems group.