Prairie Research Institute

Our Impact


The Prairie Research Institute provides scientific research, expertise, data, and services that help Illinois policymakers, communities, companies, and people make sound decisions about our natural and cultural resources.

PRI is active in every part of Illinois, touching every one of the state’s 102 counties.

PRI delivers an outstanding return on the state’s investment. For every dollar PRI receives in state funding, it earns nearly $4 in competitive grants and contracts.

PRI holds more than 60 databases and data clearinghouse programs, including the Illinois drought database, state oil and gas resources, and lidar elevation maps.

PRI is home to premier biological and geological collections that include irreplaceable fossils, geological samples, and biological specimens.

Scientists across PRI contribute critical expertise to projects by the Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Tollway. Our archaeologists assess how improvements and expansion of transportation infrastructure may impact our cultural heritage. Ecologists identify wetlands and survey the plants and animals present in areas of road and bridge work. This work helps track the spread of wildlife diseases. Geologists evaluate potential environmental hazards and determine how these hazards may affect IDOT’s plans for future use of the land.

The Technical Assistance Program helps companies and organizations introduce more environmentally sustainable practices. A 10-year program focused on rural manufacturing companies helped businesses save $30.2 million, reduce electricity use by 264.5 million KWH, reduce water use by 195 million gallons, reduce natural gas use by 2.2 million therms, and eliminate 561,000 pounds of hazardous waste.

The Illinois State Water Survey tests hundreds of water samples every year for hazards like arsenic. The Water Survey also leads nationwide programs that help private well owners and small, rural water operators ensure that their drinking water is safe.

PRI’s medical entomologists conduct research and provide scientific knowledge about mosquito and tick vectors so that communities can more effectively detect, prevent, and control diseases such as Zika and West Nile.

For every Illinois home sold, PRI provides critical data to banks, title companies, insurance companies, and consumers.