Loyola University Chicago

School of Environmental Sustainability

Past Projects

From Pollution to Possibility: A Sustainable and Interdisciplinary Solution to Biodiesel Production Wastewater

Building on the scientific and educational successes achieved in Phase I, we will implement a three-branched Phase-II project focused on design, scientific experimentation, and outreach education. The project will consist of 1) designing a small-scale, affordable, and effective, solar-powered methanol recovery unit and building several prototypes; 2) continuing development of biological, non-toxic, and carbon emissions-reducing treatments for biodiesel waste through adaptive scientific experimentation and design, with the goal of launching a 0-waste, biodiesel production and waste-management system in year 2 and; 3) conducting outreach education consisting of a) developing and introducing high-school science curricula based on project outcomes, b) publishing research results and designs, and c) distributing published materials and conducting outreach to small-scale biodiesel producers throughout North America.

Collaborators: PI: David Crumrine PhD and Major Co-Investigators: Shane Lishawa MS, Lane Vail MS, Zach Waickman MBA, Sarah McDowell

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

Influence of Algal/Bacterial Interaction on Denitrification in Stream Biofilms

This research examined how the biogeochemical process of denitrification, which converts nitrate (NO3), a form of nitrogen which can cause algal blooms, to nitrogen gas (N2), which is unavailable to most organisms, is influenced by microalgal species composition and stage of community development in stream biofilms.

Our research tested the hypothesis that species-specific variation in carbon exudates produced by benthic algae will influence taxonomic composition and physiological processes of associated bacterial consortia, and that variation in critical biogeochemical processes is linked to variation in these associations.

Changes in algal species composition over a month of development of stream biofilms were tightly coupled with changes in the composition of denitrifying bacterial assemblages in a stream running through a restored prairie. Algal and denitrifying bacterial assemblages were uncoupled in a stream receiving effluent from a waste-water treatment plant. These results are significant because they suggest anthropogenic factors that affect biofilm community composition may alter their capacity to perform critical ecosystem services.

Collaborators: Christopher G. Peterson [LUC—IES], John J. Kelly [LUC—Biology], Kimberly A. Gray [NWU—Civil Engineering].