What’s New

Commencement -2019

The ENS Program Marshals for 2019:

ENS Undergraduate Marshal – Caleb Froidcoeur

ENS Graduate Marshal – Beth Kramer

Graduate Academic Honors – Holly Hershberger and Karrie Quirin

MS Student’s Research Takes Him to Nepal

Congratulations to Joshua Rai, who successfully defended his Environmental Studies MS thesis entitled, “Environmental and Social Impacts of Yarsagumba [Chinese Caterpillar Fungus] Harvesting in Rural Alpine Regions in Nepal” on April 25. Yarsagumba, also known as “Himalayan Viagra,” is one of the most valuable biological resources in the world. Joshua’s field-based research project used mixed methods, including semi-structured interviews with yarsagumba harvesters and pastoralists, Grassland Health Assessment transects, and remote sensing, to examine how yarsagumba harvesting impacts fragile grassland ecosystems and rural villagers in Dolakha District, Nepal. Josh is also a skilled photographer, and some of his images from his fieldwork can be viewed on his National Geographic profile: https://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/profile/1668983/. Josh’s committee members included Dr. Megan Styles (ENS, Chair) and Drs. Brandon Derman (ENS) and Amy McEuen (BIO). 

New Green Project List 2019

UIS Green Projects serves as an avenue for students to take a leadership role in making UIS and the surrounding community more environmentally friendly. We encourage and finance student-driven initiatives that contribute to sustainability.


  • Green Parking 2.0
  • Residential Recycling Bins
  • Kids for Compost
  • Living Wall
  • Water Bottle Filling Stations
  • Solar Charging Stations
  • UIS Composting
  • Sustainable Gardens
  • Reusable Clam Shells

View successful project from 2017/2018

Change in Masters Degree Fall 2019

As of Fall 2019, the Department of Environmental Studies will be changing the Master’s degree program. Instead of offering both a Master of Arts and a Master of Science degree, ENS will now offer a Master of Science degree with three concentrations: 1) Environmental Planning and Management 2) Sustainable  Development and Policy and 3) General Environmental Science. The admission requirements and application process remain the same. As always, changes are made with our student’s best interest in mind. If you have any questions, please contact the department at ens@uis.edu

Dr. Brandon Derman attends the 2018 UN Climate Negotiations in Poland

Dr. Brandon Derman traveled to Katowice, Poland in December to observe the latest round of the United Nations climate negotiations.  The Katowice negotiations (COP24, in UN lingo) came on the heels of two major climate reports:  the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees and the second volume of the US’ Fourth National Climate Assessment.  Both reports underscored key themes in recent scientific observations:  that climate change is here now, poses extreme risks, and is progressing more quickly than previous studies predicted.  At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions from human activities continue to rise.  Current evidence suggests we have a mere dozen years to drastically reduce emissions if we are to stave off climate disruption that could prove catastrophic for vulnerable earth systems and human communities.  As such, negotiators, scientists, and members of civil society anticipated COP24, where countries gathered to hammer out the “rule book” for the world-wide Paris Agreement to reduce emissions, with bated breath.

Dr. Derman’s latest research looks at how civil society groups (NGOs and social movements) have made “climate justice” a stake in UN negotiations and other venues.  Katowice and coming negotiations may well prove crucial for such groups, who demand “fair shares” of necessary emissions cuts among countries, and a thoroughgoing “just transition” to protect the most vulnerable people as we develop coordinated responses to climate change – and as warming continues.


Dr. Dennis Ruez Researches Water Quality in Ghana

In Summer 2018, our own Dr. Ruez accompanied a group of seven University of Illinois Springfield students and two other faculty members to Ghana, West Africa as part of an international study abroad trip. The UIS students and faculty are investigating the prevalence and risk factors for diabetes, hypertension and hepatitis C co-infection with HIV among the Ghanaian population. They are also assessing water quality by collecting samples from local sources and testing for coliform, E. coli and other harmful properties. This is the first time that UIS has sent students to Ghana for a summer study abroad program.  Contact Dr. Ruez for more information about his research in Ghana, druez2@uis.edu.


Dr. Ting Speaks at Sustainability Conference in San Diego

The 2010 Conference of the Association for Integrative Studies was held in San Diego with the title “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Integrating Ethics and Sustainability.” There, Dr. Ting gave a talk entitled “Fuzzy Buzzwords and Interdisciplinarity” that explored the terminological challenges within sustainability.

Dr. Ruez Attends the 2010 American Quaternary Association Meeting

Dennis attended the biennial conference of the American Quaternary Association that focused on the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary in the Americas.  This is the general time when many large mammals in North and South America became extinct, people migrated to the Americas, and large ice caps covered much of the Northern Hemisphere.  Dennis’ work used the diversity of fossil rodents, insectivorans, and rabbits to create estimates of the paleotemperatures across the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary.

Il. Temperature Gradient MapThis sample image shows a longitudinal temperature gradient in Illinois during the late Pleistocene due to the presence of a glacier in the northeastern portion of the state.  Today, there is a latitudinal gradient, with colder temperatures in the northern part of Illinois.



Abstract Lincoln StatueAlthough the conference was in Laramie, Wyoming, naturally Dennis found a giant head of Abe Lincoln on a 30-foot granite pedestal.  Once you move to Springfield, it’s hard to miss the random monuments to our past president.


Dr. Ruez Challenges U.S. Representative John Shimkus’ Comments on Climate Change.Thermometer

The past winter’s cold temperatures have heated the debate about climate change. Dr. Dennis Ruez responds to statement by U.S. Representative John Shimkus in a recent State Journal -Register article.