Meet the Faculty
Faculty with diverse backgrounds are committed to unique approaches to environmental issues.
Dr. Brandon Derman
Phone (217) 206-8581
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Brandon received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Washington in 2015. His scholarly and teaching interests center on the production, regulation, and contestation of environmental marginality at scales from the globe to the neighborhood. His current research examines the framing of nature-society relations in climate change law, governance, and social mobilization, and the political opportunities that situate participation by historically-marginalized groups in climate and sustainable development policy making.
Dr. Anne-Marie Hanson
Phone (217) 206-8162
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Anne-Marie received her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Arizona in 2013. She also holds an MA in Latin American Studies and BA in Anthropology and Spanish. Anne-Marie’s research/teaching interests include political ecology; garbage, recycling, and marine litter; environmental justice and urban sustainability; gender and global environmental change. Her current research focuses on the intertwined political ecologies of waste management, nature protection, and sustainable development in coastal Yucatán, Mexico. Her work is published in regional and international journals, including Gender, Place, and Culture and Antipode, and in her co-edited book: A Political Ecology of Women, Water, and Global Environmental Change (Routledge 2015).
Dr. Amy McEuen
Research Associate Professor
Phone (217) 206-7341
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Amy received her PhD in Terrestrial Ecology from the University of Michigan in 2002, she also holds a MS in Wildlife Ecology from University of Michigan, and a BA in Biochemistry from UC Berkeley. Her scholarly and teaching interests are in conservation biology and plant community ecology. She and her students have been studying the tallgrass prairie restoration sites at the Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon preserve near Havana, Illinois since 2008. She is also interested in the challenges global environmental change poses for conservation and approaches that foster conservation outside of nature reserves (e.g., wild gardening).
Dr. Thomas Rothfus
Research Assistant Professor
Director, Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon
Phone (217) 206-7418
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Tom received his Ph.D. from the Depart of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago in 2005, where he studied invertebrate paleoecology. Before coming to UIS, he served as the Director of the Gerace Research Centre, San Salvador, The Bahamas, where he became increasingly interested in protected areas and the application of the fossil record to conservation questions. Tom currently serves as the Director of UIS’s Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon. His current research interests focus on the Emiquon Preserve and the Illinois River, and include a range of topics from utilizing the shallow fossil record to assess changes in ecological communities, to exploring the semi-aquatic mammal community of the Preserve using camera traps, to evaluating the extent to which litter (plastics in particular) is entering our freshwater systems.
Dr. Dennis Ruez, Jr.
Associate Professor and Department Chair
Phone: (217) 206-8425
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Dennis received his Ph.D. in geological sciences from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007 and joins UIS after spending three years teaching at Auburn University. Dennis is a vertebrate paleontologist with research interests in the relationship of past climate change and fossil mammal communities. This includes the rigorous testing of paleoecological models and developing new quantifiable methods of examining past environmental change. To this end, Dennis has done field work throughout the US – coast to coast, and border to border. His work is published both in regional journals and international ones (including Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Journal of Human Evolution, and Journal of Paleontology).
Visit Dr. Ruez’s web site.
Dr. Megan Styles
Phone (217) 206-8580
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Megan received her Ph.D. in Environmental Anthropology at the University of Washington in 2011. She also holds an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Washington and a B.A. in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Megan’s research focuses on issues of sustainable development and social justice in Africa and the United States. Her Ph.D. research investigated the social and ecological effects of cut flower (mainly rose) farming along the shores of Kenya’s Lake Naivasha. Before joining the faculty at UIS, Megan completed a teaching post-doc in the University of Washington’s Program on the Environment. She also worked as an environmental educator in high school classrooms in Knoxville, TN, and conducted research on fishing dependent communities at NOAA Fisheries. Megan’s research was recently published in an edited volume entitled The Ecotourism-Extraction Nexus: Political Economies and Rural Realities of (un)Comfortable Bedfellows. She is passionate about teaching, mentoring students, and conducting research that will lead to a more just and sustainable future.
Dr. Tih-Fen Ting
Phone: (217) 206-7876
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Tih-Fen Ting received her Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan in 2003. She has a B.S. in Biology from Tunghai University and a M.S. in Wildlife from Humboldt State University. Her research interests include conservation ecology and population-environment interactions. Broadly speaking, Dr. Ting is interested in examining and finding ways to conserve species, habitats, and ecosystems in our human-dominated landscapes. A major focus of her research program has been on the conservation and recovery of threatened and endangered species, including state-listed species such as Franklin’s ground squirrel, osprey, and short-eared owl. Students in her lab investigate population dynamics, occupancy, habitat use, and movement ecology of various wildlife. This research program builds on principles of conservation biology, population ecology, population genetics, ecological and spatial modeling, natural resources management, and other disciplines.
Her work before Michigan focused mainly on the ecology, behavior, and demography of various avian species (including northern spotted owls). At Michigan, as a doctoral student, Tih-Fen began an interdisciplinary exploration on issues regarding interactions between human populations and the environment. Her dissertation focused on how resource accessibility affects individual reproductive decision-making in China. She also has collaborated with colleagues to examine the association between cancer and environmental pollution in Taiwan. In 2002, Professor Ting was selected as a LIFE fellow in the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course.
Dr. Yun Zhao
Phone (217) 206-7895
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Yun received his Ph.D. in Geography from Oklahoma State University in 2018. Using geospatial techniques such as GIS and remote sensing, Yun’s current research primarily focuses on the complexity of urban form and its implications on various environmental and socioeconomic applications, including landscape ecology and transportation sustainability. Yun is the GIS Lab Director at UIS, and teaches various introductory and advanced courses in GIS and remote sensing.
Professors from the natural and social sciences and the humanities often lend their expertise to broaden the educational experiences of our students. Below is a partial list of those faculty members.
Associate Professor, Chemistry
Microbial and aquatic ecology
Edward Hawes, Malcolm Levin, John Munkirs, Charles Schweighauser, Roy Wehrle.
The department brings in individuals from the surrounding community, and worldwide, whose professional expertise in a particular subject allows students to broaden their educational experience.
Wil Burns, Wynne Coplea, Matt Evans, Deanna Glosser, Stephen Janasie, Tom Heavisides, Roger Kanerva, Troy Lepper, Malcolm McCallum, Tom Miskelly, Mehdi Nassirpour, Erinn Nicley, Jennifer Perry, Mohammed Shahidullah, Desserae Shepston, Jennifer Scanlan, John Sherrill, Darlene Snyder, Chris Widga, Chris Young.