• REU Interns with Mentor

    2023 REU Mentors

    Each student will be assigned to one or two NGRREC mentors and their laboratories. This placement will be determined by preferences each student lists on their application but will ultimately set by the program leaders. Available mentors and their research interests include:

    Dr. John Crawford

    Website: https://crawfordlab.weebly.com

    Keywords: amphibians, habitat alteration, habitat degradation, global climate change

    Research Interests: A primary goal of research in the Crawford lab is to explore important contemporary questions about the conservation and management of amphibians. Interactions with state, federal, and private land managers as well as with policymakers play an important role in determining what information is most needed and has helped formulate questions. Current research interests center on the effects of habitat alteration, habitat degradation and global climate change on amphibian populations. Our lab is also currently involved in several long-term projects aimed at understanding and mitigating amphibian declines.

    Previous REU projects include:

    • Population ecology of the state-threatened Bird-voiced Treefrog in Illinois
    • Distribution and abundance of Spotted Salamanders in ephemeral wetlands
    • Effects of road salt on breeding site selection of Gray Treefrogs

    Dr. Anthony Dell


    Keywords: macroinvertebrates, community ecology, food webs, species interactions, temperature, body size, metabolic ecology, movement ecology, automated tracking

    Research Interests: Research in the Dell Lab fuses metabolic ecology, movement ecology, and community ecology to address basic and applied questions in biology. The lab works towards a fuller understanding of ecological systems across scales, including time, space, and levels of biological organization. We work across the "tree of life" and across diverse habitats and have a growing interest in how the movement and behavior of organisms influence species interactions and the role of the physical environment. Our work also explores how humans interact with and are affected by, the natural world, with the goal of producing science that can inform management and policy. 

    Previous REU projects include:

    • Effect of artificial light at night on the foraging behavior of wolf spiders
    • Role of microplastics in driving macroinvertebrate species interactions in a freshwater stream
    • The role of agricultural runoff in structuring a wetland food web

    Dr. John Grady

    Website:  www.johnmgrady.com

    Keywords: global diversity, warm v. cold-blood animals, predation, marine megafauna, macroecology

    ​Research Interests: Research focus includes how predation and other species interactions drive spatial patterns of diversity in vertebrates. Of particular interest are interactions between metabolically divergent taxa, such as warm-blooded seals and cold-blooded sharks. Current research is: 1. exploring movement and spatial diersity of marine predators and 2: conducting experiments on mice (warm-blooded predators) and insects (cold-blooded prey) to understand how movement, learning and predation success vary with temperature. Students interested in data analysis, predator-prey behavior, global diversity or ecological theory are encouraged to apply. 

    Previous REU projects include:

    • Mouse-insect predation and neural dynamics over a thermal gradient
    • Energetic drivers of marine predator biogeography
    • Vertical niche partitioning of trees in forests 
    • Shrew energetics and biogeography

    Dr. Lyle Guyon


    Keywords: forest ecology, large river floodplains, invasive species

    Research Interests: The primary focus of Dr. Guyon's lab relates to furthering our understanding of large river floodplain ecosystems and associated habitats to facilitate their restoration and sustainable management. Specific research interests include: floodplain vegetation community dynamics; invasive species control and management; canopy gap dynamics; forest succession; river bluff hill prairie restoration; and reforestation methods in floodplain habitats. Additional activities include teaching summer field ecology courses at NGRREC and coordinating NGRREC's management of the 430-acre Palisades Nature Preserve and other environmental research and demonstration areas. 

    Previous REU projects include:

    • Floodplain Forest Response to Multiple Large-Scale Inundation Events
    • Reforesting UMRS Forest Canopy Openings Occupied by Invasive Species
    • Forest canopy gap dynamics: quantifying forest gaps and understanding gap – level forest regeneration in Upper Mississippi River floodplain forests

    Dr. Danelle Haake


    Keywords: stream ecology, macroinvertebrates, anthropogenic impacts, urban watersheds, stressor identification, citizen science 

    Research Interests: The stream ecology lab is focused on understanding the impacts of human activities on stream invertebrate communities and evaluating the ability of land management alternatives to reduce harm to stream ecosystems. Current and upcoming work includes evaluations of the impacts of winter road salt use, studies of microplastic distributions, and an exploration of population dynamics of freshwater mussels in an urbanizing watershed. Much of our research incorporates the efforts of citizen scientists and other community collaborators in data collection, evaluation, and community education. 

    Previous REU projects include:

    • Source/sink dynamics of invasive Asian clam populations in the greater St. Louis region
    • Habitat selection by aquatic invertebrates in wetlands and adjacent streams
    • Quantification of microplastics in the water column and sediments of headwater streams

    Dr. Jason Knouft


    Keywords: aquatic ecology, GIS, global change, fish

    Research Interests: The primary research this lab focuses on integrating genomic to whole organism biodiversity data, outputs from hydrologic models, and field-based environmental data within a GIS framework to examine contemporary and future impacts of human activities on freshwater systems. Research in the lab is also focused on developing management approaches that result in sustainable physical and ecological freshwater systems.

    Previous REU projects include:

    • What are the effects of temperature on fish physiology and behavior?
    • Hydrodynamic projections with climate change
    • Effects of urban runoff on stream systems

    Dr. Paige Mettler-Cherry

    Keywords: Boltonia decurrents, floodplain ecology, plant biology, plant demography, plant population ecology, Schoenoplectiella hallii, threatened and endangered species

    Research Interests: Research has focused on the plant population ecology of the threatened floodplain species, Boltonia decurrens and the threatened bulrush, Schoenoplectiella hallii. Floodplain plants like B. decurrens and their communities have evolved in synchrony with the historic flood regime of the Illinois River; anthropogenic disruptions to the hydrologic cycle have negatively impacted these populations and the communities they live in. Wetland species like S. hallii have been negatively impacted by the drawdown of groundwater, a component of an accelerating freshwater crisis marked by low river levels and declining aquifers. Our research continues to explore the life history of wetland plant species, their role in the community and to inform management of natural areas. 

    Previous REU projects include:

    • Population ecology of the imperiled plant, Boltonia decurrens,along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers

    • Demography of the threatened plant, Schoenoplectiella hallii.

    Dr. Jenny Mullikin

    Keywords: bees, wetlands, urban ecology, plants, species interactions, pollution

    Research Interests: Research will focus on the interactions between pollinators and their environment, specifically urban and wetland environments. I recently studied diet specialist bees across an urbanization gradient, and combined GIS and behavior studies to understand how specialist bees survive in cities. I am also interested in exploring wetland bee diversity, the management and conservation of wetland-dependent taxa, and management of wetland mitigation areas.

    Previous REU projects include:

    • Hibiscus bee diet along an urbanization gradient

    Dr. Justin Shew


    Keywords: wildlife ecology, conservation biology, wildlife management, conservation ecology, behavioral ecology, applied ecology, avian ecology, community ecology

    Research Interests: Our research is broadly interested in applied ecological questions. However, more specifically, our work involves investigations of wildlife and vegetation response to management practices within a multi-scale context. The goal of our research is to inform management decisions of landowners, habitat practitioners, and the multiple agency partners. Through my research and the conservation programs that I manage at NGRREC, I have gained extensive experience working with federal/state agencies, such as The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). A future direction of our lab hopes to explore associations between species functional and conservation-related traits to habitat management and landscape context.

    Previous REU projects include:

    • Effect of management and forest structure on Eastern whip-poor-will occupancy: an Illinois species of greatest conservation need
    • Multi-scale habitat associations of the medium-sized mammal community: a trail camera study
    • The effects of microhabitat and tree characteristics gray treefrog recapture rates

    Dr. John Sloan


    Keywords: soil/sediments, water quality, nitrogen/nitrate, phosphorus, carbon sequestration

    Research Interests: The watershed science research program focuses on the connections between landscape processes and water resources. We investigate how nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon) flow through the watershed to their ultimate delivery to the Gulf of Mexico. We examine multiple components of the watershed including river channels, backwaters, reservoirs and wetlands to determine whether they serve as sources or sinks for nutrients and sediments. The goal of our research is to identify best management practices (BMPs) that minimize human-induced impacts on water quality. We use a variety of sampling methods to collect water chemistry and sediment data from streams, rivers, reservoirs and wetlands in the Mississippi River Basin. Our Environmental Chemistry Lab has the capability to analyze organic and inorganic forms of nutrients in water, sediments, plants, and soils. 

    Previous REU projects include:

    • Biogeochemistry of nitrogen and phosphorus in floodplain wetlands
    • Carbon sequestration in floodplain wetlands and restored ecosystems
    • Great Rivers Ecological Observatory Network (GREON)

    Dr. Stella Uiterwaal 


    Keywords: predation, diet movement, wildlife ecology, community ecology, foraging

    Research Interests: Why do predators each what they do and as much as they do and how all of this depends on the predator's traits, community and environment. Research also includes how the movement of predators and prey can impact predation. Current work focuses on the Forest Park Living Lab project which combines these topics to assess movement, diet and health of wildlife in Forest Park, including owls, raccoons, opossums, waterbirds and turtles.

    Previous projects include:

    • Wolf spider diet, foraging, and niche partitioning

    Dr. Richard Warner

    Keywords: agricultural ecosystems, wildlife ecology and management, human dimensions

    Research Interests: Systems approaches to research in agricultural ecosystems; impacts of farm programs and technologies on environmental quality; population ecology and management of wildlife; interactions of human companion pets with wildlife populations; risk assessment.

    Previous projects include:

    • Impacts of farm programs on the quality of riparian zones
    • Population ecology of waterfowl
    • Human use of river systems
  • Contact

    Amy Monroe, REU Program Coordinator and NGRREC Assistant

    One Confluence Way
    East Alton, IL 62024

    Phone: (618) 468-2910

    Tony Dell, REU Principal Investigator

    One Confluence Way
    East Alton, IL 62024

    Phone: (618) 468-2837

    Jason Knouft, REU Principal Investigator

    3507 Laclede Ave.
    St. Louis, MO 63103

    Phone: (314) 977-7654