Monday, August 06, 2012

UIS Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon awarded National Science Foundation grant

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon has been awarded a $23,280 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant will help develop a practical plan for future research at the station over the next decade by fostering a dialogue among scientists, resource managers, and educators.

“This recognition by the NSF shows the importance of the research, outreach, and education being led by UIS faculty at the Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “The restoration effort being done at Emiquon holds the potential for great scientific significance.”

The grant will allow UIS to directly support the research of scientists and students who are in residence at the field station, located near Lewistown, Ill. on the Illinois River. Staff will explore better ways to enhance the impact of Emiquon research by attracting more researchers, coordinating data management, and streamlining access to scientific results.

“Gaining NSF support is an important accomplishment for the station and will define our efforts for the next decade,” said Michael Lemke, director of the UIS Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon and professor of Biology. “Planning will help us increase the impact of existing relationships and forge new educational alliances.”

The UIS Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon was established in 2008 to help monitor, guide, document, and interpret the Emiquon restoration, a floodplain restoration effort that is among the largest in the nation. Researchers have a particular interest in the study of microbial communities and have facilitated an ongoing, long-term study of them at Emiquon.

“Work at Emiquon is providing insights into water quality issues of the Illinois River system in particular, and to river ecology in general,” said Lemke. “The field station is becoming a regional leader in the effort to coordinate scientific study, to manage the increasing amounts of data being generated, and to encourage learning and outreach during this crucial time.”

The grant will also allow the field station to strengthen its existing partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Dickson Mounds Museum (DMM), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). In 2000, TNC purchased over 7,000 acres and established the Emiquon Preserve. The USFWS established 2,114 acres of lands in a conservation effort that included the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge and adjacent Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge. Together, the USFWS and TNC are restoring land that was largely used for row crop agriculture, back into a mosaic of shallow lakes, wetlands, bottomland forest and tallgrass prairie that is now called the Emiquon Complex. DMM is adjacent to the restored area, and has long had an active interest in the history and archeology of Emiquon.

Lemke is the principal investigator on the project and Keith Miller, associate director of the field station and computer science professor, is the co-principal investigator. For more information, contact Lemke at 217-206-7339 or mlemk1@uis.edu.

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