Loyola University Chicago

School of Environmental Sustainability

Faculty Research

Throughout Loyola University Chicago, faculty are engaged in research projects to address problems that exist at the interface between humans and the natural world. Collaborative faculty research is encouraged and supported by the University, bringing together various perspectives to each project.  One common thread is that our research strives to address social and environmental inequality and imbalance and to understand and alleviate the resulting negative consequences.

Loyola has particular strengths in aquatic ecology and the Great Lakes ecology, with expertise in nutrient cycling, carbon cycling, soil microbiology, community dynamics and invasive species.  Other strengths lie in various approaches to analyzing our broken food systems and the effects on disadvantaged populations.

Faculty Research Projects

The effects of spatial and temporal variation of measured abiotic and biotic attributes on ecosystem health in the Chicago Area Waterways System: Building the foundation for scientific inquiry.

This study aims to assemble a database that summarizes abiotic and biotic characteristics across the Chicago Area Waterways System to facilitate spatiotemporal analyses of:

  1. Aquatic invasive species movement within and between watersheds
  2. Dynamics  of nutrients that limit plant and animal population growth
  3. Heavy metal pollution in urban ecosystems

Collaborators: Reuben Keller, Timothy Hoellein, Tham Hoang, John Kelly, Christopher Peterson, Catherine Putonti & David Treering

Bisphenol-A Exposures and Impacts

By combining expertise in biology, analytical chemistry, nutrition and social epidemiology this study takes a novel approach to examine a topical issue in BPA exposure and its association with aquatic and human health.  We utilize the structure of an existing, NIH-funded project in 3 populations/environments at very different levels of socioeconomic development and, therefore, potential exposure to BPA. 

We capture both the sources and levels of environmental exposure in each environment and examine the association with measured levels of BPA in aquatic life and humans, as well as with health outcomes such as reproductive failure (aquatic life) and obesity and diabetes risk (humans).

Collaborators: Amy Luke, Nancy Tuchman, Paul Chiarelli, Lane Vail, Matthew Reichert, David Treering, David Crumrine

Restoration of wetland biodiversity: examining biodiversity response to large-scale sustainable restoration

Biodiversity in species rich Great Lakes coastal wetlands is threatened by the spread of Typha and Phragmites, aggressive invasive plants. Promising preliminary data from our Great Lakes Restoration Initiative study indicate that sustainable management of these invasives through mechanical harvesting coupled with renewable biomass energy production has the potential to not only reduce environmental damage, but increase the economically solvency or restoration efforts.

Collaborators: Nancy Tuchman, Dennis Albert, Shane Lishawa, Beth Lawrence, Kim Greene

A novel approach to assessing the history of plant invasions: Utilizing historical aerial imagery and paleobotanical methods to age stands of invasive plant species: applications for invasion ecology research

This study illustrates the usefulness of generating invasive species stand-age maps with publically-available historical aerial imagery and conducting paleobotanical analyses of recent (>50 yrs) invasions to evaluate the effects of stand-age on ecological conditions.

Collaborators: Shane Lishawa, David Treering, Lane Vail, Owen McKenna, Eric Grimm, Nancy Tuchman

Denitrification in Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands: How do plant species invasions affect water quality services performed by wetlands?

The goals of this research are:

  • To determine how plant species invasions influence the biogeochemical capacity of Illinois/Indiana Great Lakes coastal wetlands to remove nitrogen through denitrification
  • to provide science-based recommendations to managers challenged with maintaining the ecological integrity of Illinois/Indiana Great Lakes coastal wetlands
  • To help land managers prioritize efforts to manage invaded wetlands,

Collaborators: Nancy Tuchman, Dan Larking, Pamela Geddes, David Treering

Loyola has a growing number of faculty, and both graduate and undergraduate students, whose research resides primarily at the nexus of religion and ecology.

Undergraduate and graduate student internships, fellowships and research assistantships are available to give students opportunities to take part in this process of discovery.