We are hiring another AIS specialist!

May 26th, 2023 by

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is looking to hire an aquatic invasive species (AIS) specialist to conduct research and, especially, engage in outreach regarding AIS pathways. The successful candidate will serve as a full time, 12-month academic professional who works with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the Illinois Natural History Survey—part of the Prairie Research Institute at University of Illinois—and will work from an office at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois.


Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Conduct research into pathways of AIS introductions in the southern Lake Michigan region, particularly related to Organisms in Trade and recreational water users.
  •  Design and implement surveys to collect data on stakeholder knowledge and behaviors regarding AIS prevention.
  • Gather, compile, and analyze survey data for reporting and research projects.
  • Present research findings at local, regional, and international meetings.
  • Develop and conduct outreach activities and events to benefit the mission and visibility of the Survey, PRI, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and University of Illinois.
  • Design outreach materials for the AIS program and disseminate them to various stakeholder groups.
  • Implement and manage social media and other educational marketing campaigns for the AIS program.

A bachelor’s degree is required and experience engaging in outreach and presenting at conferences, to the public, or at professional settings is preferred.


The University of Illinois System is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer dedicated to building a community of excellence, equity, and diversity. They are committed to fostering an inclusive environment and welcome applications from qualified individuals of all backgrounds and identities. University of Illinois participates in the federal e-Verify program and participates in a background check program focused on prior criminal or sexual misconduct history.

We strongly encourage women, minorities, and people from traditionally underrepresented groups to apply. For more on Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s commitment to inclusion, please see our program’s values statement.


To learn more about the position’s responsibilities and qualifications, visit the job posting on the University of Illinois job board. Applications are due by June 13, 2023.

New video highlights long-time family business raising trout for stocking

March 27th, 2023 by

Nestled in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, Crystal Lake Fisheries has been a family trout farm for 70 years. Dwight and Mary Alice Emerson came to the site in 1950, drawn by the natural spring, and soon the Emerson’s were in the aquaculture business.

Crystal Lake Fisheries is the latest aquaculture farm featured in Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s video series Local Farmers, Local Fish.

“We created this video series to help inform seafood consumers as well as recreational anglers about fish and seafood farming in the Midwest,” said Amy Shambach, IISG aquaculture marketing outreach associate. “Aquaculture is a diverse and often misunderstood industry.”

This video is the first in the series to highlight aquaculture focused on raising fish for stocking.

The Emersons raise their own registered strain of rainbow trout from eggs to sportfish and they deliver these fish to private customers and through community and state contracts to stock local lakes and streams in Missouri and many other states.

“Our fish are fast biting and hard fighting,” said David Emerson, one of the Emersons’ sons and Crystal Lake Fisheries co-owner, along with his brother Marvin. “The majority of what we sell is stocked in water for people to catch.”


Trout have a long history of being farmed in the United States, going back to the 1800s, raised both for food and in state and private hatcheries for stocking. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are considered a “Best Choice” seafood option for pregnant women and children by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

This video is the ninth in the Local Farmers, Local Fish series that has highlighted farms in five Midwestern states. The project is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Sea Grant Office and in partnership with Purdue University, University of Illinois, North Central Regional Aquaculture Center, and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network.

For more information on trout and other locally raised fish, visit Eat Midwest Fish, which includes trout recipes, watch local farmers videos or download IISG’s Rainbow Trout: Farmed Fish Factsheet, developed to answer consumer questions about these fish.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.


Writer: Irene Miles
Contact: Amy Shambach

Illinois Groundwork provides a rich supply of green infrastructure resources

March 22nd, 2023 by

During large rainstorms, many Illinois residents brace themselves for flooding in their basements, streets and neighborhoods. A new online tool, Illinois Groundwork, provides communities and stormwater professionals with resources on green stormwater infrastructure, which provides a way for rain to be absorbed into soil where it lands.

Green stormwater infrastructure offers a way to enhance traditional or “grey” infrastructure using a rain garden or permeable pavement but this approach doesn’t always work as well as it might. Improving access to, and use of, data, research and other resources can help increase the effectiveness of green infrastructure in addressing stormwater management challenges.

“The University of Illinois not only has relevant research and data across many departments, but also real-world examples of successful green infrastructure, along with other extension and education tools, such as the Red Oak Rain Garden,” said C. Eliana Brown, University of Illinois Extension stormwater specialist. “This new tool brings these resources together, providing a robust platform to access green infrastructure knowledge.”

The project is a collaboration of IllinoisIndiana Sea Grant and Illinois Extension. A critical component of Illinois Groundwork is an Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG)-funded research project that focused on incorporating soils data into green infrastructure design. Soils are the foundation of effective green stormwater infrastructure performance.

“Soil characteristics establish how much and how fast water can move through and absorb into the soil,” explained Margaret Schneemann, IISG water resource economist. “Failing to take soils performance into account means we are not designing green infrastructure as cost-effectively as we could be and may be leaving its benefits on the table.”

“The goal of Illinois Groundwork is to complement and deepen existing community knowledge with better design capacity and soils knowledge to support local decision-making,” says said Mary Pat McGuire, University of Illinois landscape architect, who led the soils research. “Ultimately, design is a social process, people coming together to make a change.”  

The web tool outlines a process that users can follow to incorporate soils data into green infrastructure design. Throughout, Illinois Groundwork provides insights into helpful or necessary expertise, specific tasks, and additional resources. It also includes an interactive resource to help optimize green infrastructure sizing and Plant Finder, which covers 119 species, with information on soil type, light and moisture needs for each as well as photos and descriptions.

“Plant Finder helps designers select plants that are best suited for site conditions and promotes designing with maintenance in mind” said Layne Knoche, University of Illinois stormwater associate. Other resources include relevant Illinois regulations, literature addressing a range of green infrastructure benefits, and real-world green infrastructure examples.

Illinois Groundwork was made possible through a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Illinois Extension collaboration grant. For more information or questions about the website, contact the team at Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant or (765) 496-6009. Stormwater quality is regulated at the federal level via the Clean Water Act contains an amendment (33 USC 1342) creating the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Storm Water Management Program, which the US EPA oversees.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

Spring brings new IISG resources and opportunities to lean into the season

March 22nd, 2023 by

During this particularly cold March, it helps to know that spring weather is around the corner. With that in mind, I’d like to mention some upcoming workshops and other resources that can turn one’s focus to the coming warmer temperatures and what that brings.

For the fisher in you, our fisheries specialist, Peter Euclide, has organized an evening of information and discussion on topics that include yellow perch habitat, the economic impact of fishing, and a research roundup by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The Illinois-Indiana Spring Fisheries Workshop will take place on April 5 in Wilmette, Illinois.

If you can’t attend the in-person event, a virtual viewing of the workshop presentations along with a live question-and-answer session with the speakers is scheduled for the evening of April 13.

For master gardeners and fellow green thumbs, the Rainscaping Education program will hold two-part workshops in Rock Island County in Illinois on March 30 and April 6. On the Indiana side of the border, workshops will take place on April 15 and 18 in Grant County. In both states, participants will learn methods for managing stormwater to reduce runoff, in other words, for rain to be absorbed where it lands. Rain gardens are one method and Illinois workshop participants will be invited to take part in constructing a rain garden this spring, while Indiana participants will install a rain garden as part of the scheduled workshops, in partnership with Taylor University.

We’ve got a new website called Illinois Groundwork that provides guidance, tools, and resources to stormwater professionals, local leaders, and community members as they look to address local flooding with green infrastructure. This site, which went live on World Water Day on March 22, is based on an IISG-funded research project that focused on incorporating soils data into green infrastructure design. IISG’s Illinois Groundwork team has brought together a vast array of information on this newweb tool.

As we consider warmer weather, I’d also like to mention the website Lake Michigan Water Safety that was redesigned and enhanced last year to include safety tips for swimming, boating, and fishing. In addition, we’ve compiled on-the-ground and online resources for beach managers and others looking to raise awareness and provide safety tips. Check out this helpful site before heading to the water.

Finally, we have several new members of the IISG team and new research scholars to announce. Amanpreet Kohli is now the project coordinator for an effort funded by the NOAA National Sea Grant Office to identify knowledge gaps and support research on PFAS contamination in the Great Lakes. She is simultaneously finishing up her PhD at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Haider Mehdi is our new postbaccalaureate fellow. Having recently received his degree in biology from Northeastern University, he will be assisting three staff members with a variety of administrative and outreach projects. This will take place in three separate, 4-month rotations.

In addition, this year we are awarding funding to seven new faculty and graduate student scholars for one year to study water resources issues, including shoreline and infrastructure resiliency, aquatic food web dynamics, and homeowners’ perspectives on lawn alternatives. More on that to come soon.

Happy spring!


Tomas Höök
Director, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

New to Navy Pier waters, Chuoy the Buoy proved a valuable forecasting tool

January 23rd, 2023 by

Last May, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) launched its third buoy in southern Lake Michigan—this one based in the busy waters off Navy Pier. This new buoy with its flow of in-the-moment data is helping the National Weather Service (NWS) Chicago develop more accurate forecasts and warnings, especially related to nearshore wave heights and wind speeds.

This third buoy, known affectionately as Chuoy, joins IISG buoys in the nearshore waters of Michigan City, Indiana and Wilmette, Illinois. Together, these three, along with two University of Illinois buoys closer to the Wisconsin border, paint a comprehensive picture of coastal lake conditions in the two states. In addition to meteorologists, the data is used by scientists, boaters, anglers and beach goers.

“Information from these buoys allows recreational water users to make better informed decisions when it comes to safety,” said Ben Szczygiel, IISG buoy specialist. “The data allows people to plan for current conditions and avoid the water when there are increased safety concerns.”


At NWS Chicago, IISG buoys in nearshore waters have proven to be particularly helpful in filling in information gaps and validating nearby observations, most pointedly with regards to wave height. Previously, meteorologists had to make assumptions on how waves would impact the Illinois shore based on open water buoys.

“The initial arrival of the buoy off of Wilmette opened our eyes to the increase in waves in the nearshore areas,” said Kevin Donofrio, NWS science and operations officer. “We have learned that waves don’t always come down as quickly as winds decrease.”

This new understanding of wave action has only been enhanced with the addition of Chuoy. And its location near Navy Pier puts it right where many boaters are sailing or buzzing by, plus it is directly upstream of many Chicago beaches. 

Over the summer, the buoy also helped keep NWS forecasters up to speed on wind velocity, providing data measured much closer to the water than from the top of a nearby water intake facility—the Harrison-Dever Crib, which has been a long-time wind data resource.

The results of all this information are more accurate forecasts and advisories for boaters and swimmers. “We used this buoy to determine the risk level for our Surf Zone Forecasts and it plays a direct role in our Nearshore Marine Forecasts,” said Donofrio.

In the summer of 2022, Chuoy was also there to help with one of Chicago’s major lakefront events. In August, the annual Chicago Air and Water Show brings an average of two million people down to Lake Michigan’s beaches, marinas and parks as well as out in boats to experience the spectacle up close. Chuoy data helped inform on-the-ground decisions with regard to water and weather conditions and safety concerns.

As Dononfrio described it: “Forecasting for the marine environment can be very challenging with the limited observation network, but it can be very impactful.”

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.


Writer: Irene Miles
Contact: Ben Szczygiel

Invasive carp barriers may not stop invertebrates moving between Chicago waterways

January 4th, 2023 by

The largest electric barrier system in the world is in the Chicago River waterways—it’s there to prevent the spread of invasive carp from the Illinois River into the Great Lakes. But many other invaders, such as invertebrates, may not be impacted by barrier technology as they move between these watersheds, according to a recent Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant study. 

“Silver and bighead carp pose a huge risk to the Great Lakes, but many other species, most of which are invertebrates, can be serious invaders and we also need to prevent them from spreading either to the Mississippi River Watershed from the Great Lakes or the opposite,” said Reuben Keller, a Loyola University Chicago biologist who led this research project.

Aquatic invertebrates, organisms without a spine, include mussels, crayfish, snails, zooplankton and more. When some nonnative species have been introduced to new waters, they have taken a serious toll on the food web—quagga mussels in the Great Lakes provide the most dramatic example.

Keller’s team tested two barrier technologies on a sample of invertebrate species in a lab setting—one that uses electricity as does the barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Joliet, Illinois, and the other based on emitting carbon dioxide, an idea that is being researched and discussed as a potential backup technology to help stop the invasive carp.

Loyola physicist Robert Polak and his team of students provided their expertise to the design and set up of a fish tank that could recreate the same electrical charge as the real world barrier. “With help from the physics students, we were able to precisely know the electric field in the water,” explained Keller, “and to test the impact of different charges on organisms.” 

Focusing on two invertebrates—the red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, and the much smaller amphipod Hyalella azteca—the researchers found that even at electrical charges 400% higher than the barrier, no organisms died. The impact was limited to stunning and temporarily upsetting the equilibrium of organisms.

Carbon dioxide barriers work by bubbling this gas into the water as a deterrence. “Using carbon dioxide levels that elicit avoidance responses in Asian carp, we tested nine invertebrate species, covering a range of sizes and types,” said Colette Copic, who worked on this project as part of their Master’s thesis.

That concentration was fatal to only one species—the bloody red shrimp—originally from Eastern European waters, it is now established in the Great Lakes.

headshots of Colette Copic and Rachel Egly during fieldwork around waterbodies

Colette Copic (left) and Rachel Egly, Keller’s lab manager (right), collected invasive invertebrate species from local waterways to use in these barrier experiments.

The researchers also tested the species’ tolerances for a range of high carbon dioxide levels and the higher the rate the more the impact. At a concentration almost twice the level allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency, mortality was low, but the gas did cause many of the organisms to seem to fall asleep. “They almost essentially became frozen and then woke up once conditions got better,” said Copic.

Keller and Copic see the low fatality rate for invertebrates in the barrier experiments as both good and bad news. The positive story is that a carbon dioxide barrier added to the Chicago waterway to stop invasive carp will have very few unintended effects on non-targeted species, such as native invertebrates. But this also means that this barrier is not an obvious option if resource managers are looking to use a lethal approach to prevent the spread of invasive invertebrate species.

The researchers also created a tank where the invertebrates could choose to avoid carbon dioxide laden waters. As it turned out, many of them did, especially the adult red swamp crayfish. “These are definitely encouraging results, but I think that we need to know more and also be thinking about how these species are actually spreading,” said Copic.

The researchers created a tank in the laboratory in which invertebrates could choose to avoid water high in carbon dioxide and most did.

In general, the researchers see both the electric and carbon dioxide barrier technologies set to levels that deter invasive carp as doing little to prevent the spread of invertebrates between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin. Even at higher rates, they expect a similar lack of impact.

“Invertebrates typically drift rather than swim downstream and often move upstream attached to boats and barges,” said Keller. “They may be uncomfortable or incapacitated going through barriers but would likely recover on the other side.”

Keller is now engaged in new research to answer more questions related to barriers and invasive species, inspired by this project. Working with Polak’s team in the physics department, they hope to get an understanding of what happens to the electrical field when barges pass through the barrier.

“We don’t know whether the field is magnified or concentrated or whether it’s dissipated,” said Keller. “We’re hoping to get insight into whether the electrical field needs to be adjusted higher or lower as barges pass through to be a more effective deterrence.”



Development and First Tests of a Lab-Scale Electric Field for Investigating Potential Effects of Electric Barriers on Aquatic Invasive Invertebrates.


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.


Writer: Irene Miles
Contact: Carolyn Foley

The new year brings a bounty of Sea Grant professional opportunities

December 16th, 2022 by

With 2022 coming to a close and the new year around the corner, I would like to share some Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) opportunities for funding, fellowships, and employment that cover a range of skillsets, knowledge, and training—from undergraduates to seasoned scientists.

For starters, we have issued a request for proposals for two-year research projects that address southern Lake Michigan coastal concerns as well as have the potential to benefit underserved communities in the region. While we have designated areas of special interest related to this funding opportunity, we will consider preproposals in a variety of topic areas.

Coming soon will be more opportunities to specifically study PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in the Great Lakes. The National Sea Grant Office recently announced that IISG will lead the development of a regional research competition to better understand the risk, exposure, and remediation of these environmental contaminants.

For faculty members and graduate students interested in research funding, the 2023 IISG Scholars Program competition is now open. The program is designed to help build a community of researchers and outreach professionals focused on critically important Lake Michigan issues. These one-year awards are intended to help graduate student scholars further their research impact and help faculty scholars develop innovative, fundable proposals for future work in the region. 

We also have several prestigious fellowships open for graduate students looking to expand their horizons. For example, the Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship offers the opportunity to spend 2024 in Washington D.C. working in Congress or an Executive Branch office. The fellowship brings together graduate students’ interest in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources with national policy decisions affecting those resources.

Taking a moment to brag a little, in 2023, we will have more Knauss fellows than we’ve had before—three fellows representing IISG will spend the year working and learning in Executive Branch offices.

Are you a recent bachelor’s degree graduate? We’re looking to hire a visiting Great Lakes outreach associate to assist with a variety of science outreach and education efforts. In this position, you would work with three successive mentors for a 4-month rotation, each focused on different types of projects and subject areas that support IISG’s larger mission.

We are also hiring for our 2023 Summer Undergraduate Intern Program that provides students opportunities to work directly with our specialists and engage in social and environmental science, outreach, or communication efforts. IISG’s interns gain invaluable knowledge and skills allowing them to explore potential future career options, while simultaneously helping coastal communities and residents make more informed decisions about resource management and everyday activities. 

Speaking of hiring, I’d like to welcome two new members of the IISG team. While Janice Milanovich had been working part time with our pollution prevention team for the past several years, she is now officially on staff as a Great Lakes educator. In this position, she works to enhance Great Lakes literacy by engaging K-12 educators and students with aquatic science. Her extensive experience in environmental education, as well as outreach, will greatly enrich our education team.

Dominique Turney has recently joined Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. She is a Purdue University aquatic research scientist who will spend 25% of her time serving as a Great Lakes Science Initiative liaison for IISG. Through this position she will help connect and promote Great Lakes science at Purdue and IISG. Dom came to Purdue from the Illinois Natural History Survey where her research was focused on Asian carp in the Upper Mississippi River.

Happy holidays to all!

Tomas Höök
Director, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

More Chicago region decision makers are taking action on climate change

October 21st, 2022 by

As the world gets measurably hotter every year, many of us are experiencing the effects of climate change. A recent Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant climate planning survey of elected officials, natural resource managers, and other relevant professionals in the greater Chicago area reveals that they agree.

An overwhelming 90% of survey respondents reported that the climate in their location is changing, and more than 70% said that they are either extremely or very sure about that.

This survey, which was sent out in 2020, repeated a survey from 2012, thereby providing insight into evolving attitudes and actions of local officials. Then, 61% of respondents reported that their local climate was changing. Both times the survey was sent to professionals in Cook, Lake, Will, DuPage, Kane, McHenry and Kendall counties in Illinois and Lake, LaPorte and Porter in Indiana. In 2020, each of these counties was represented in the 144 responses.

“In terms of local climate change concerns, flooding, which can also include storm intensity and runoff, was rated the highest,” said Veronica Fall, IISG climate extension specialist.  “And it has increased over time—in 2020, 76% said information related to flooding was extremely important, which is notably higher than 56% in 2012.”

But local decision makers were not just concerned about flooding—the majority ranked 17 of 20 possible factors as extremely important, with land use planning and zoning, water infrastructure, climate adaptation costs, invasive species and economic vulnerability also near the top of the list.

“One encouraging result regarded climate adaptation planning,” said Fall. “In 2012, about 60% of the respondents were not involved in climate adaptation planning at all, whereas in 2020, the largest group was in the understanding phase—doing assessments and developing plans. And the percentage of respondents that were implementing an adaptation plan also increased since 2012.”



Fall was encouraged to see that nearly all survey participants felt that everyone should be involved in responding to climate change impacts, including government, other agencies, non-profits and more. And they felt that climate change should be considered in all decisions.

“Local officials are starting to understand that it’s going to touch every aspect of society,” said Fall. The survey also provided some insights into local needs in terms of information and resources. For Fall, this is helping her direct her efforts to where they can be the most helpful.

“One point that really jumped out to me was this—survey participants understood that temperature and flooding are going to increase, but Lake Michigan water levels were at a record low in 2012 and record high in 2020 so expectations of climate change impacts on lake level results from the two survey mirrored these occurrences.

“When it comes to Great Lakes water levels, it turns out that variability is the name of the game,” said Fall. “I’m trying to do more to share this information, to convey what it will look like in our region where we can expect higher highs and lower lows over the next few decades.”

She also discovered that many communities still need basic information on climate change and climate impacts. For instance, 41% of respondents reported that they only have some of what they need with regards to information on expected local impacts.

And as more decision makers understand that they need to create an adaptation plan, many are looking for a roadmap of how to do it. “In fact, 57% expressed a need for case studies based on communities that have already implemented their climate change adaptation plans,” said Fall.

To learn more about the climate change survey as well as read more results, download the Climate Planning Survey for Lake Michigan Communities factsheet.


The Helm magazine highlights some key Chicago region water-focused planning issues

October 12th, 2022 by

The 2022 issue of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s magazine, The Helm, is now available. This annual publication is a collection of program research, outreach and education success stories as well as ongoing activities to address coastal concerns. This issue is focused on water supply forecasting, climate change, Great Lakes Areas of Concern, and more, including IISG’s 40 years of service to the southern Lake Michigan region. 

Here are some headlines from this issue:

  • Chicago area communities tap into water supply data to plan for sustainability and affordability
  • IISG celebrates 40 years of research, outreach, and education
  • Great Lakes onboard educator workshops offer scientists learning opportunities
  • What factors contribute to revitalization in cleaned up Great Lakes Areas of Concern?
  • More Chicago area decision makers are taking action on climate change
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