Through a New NASA Grant, Interdisciplinary Team to Measure Nitrogen Released from Agriculture Sources

(Left) a satellite-based NOx emission map from TROPOMI derived by Kang’s group, which shows detailed sources of NOx in central and southern US (image credit: Kang Sun); (right)The fast flux sensors, developed by Zondlo’s group, to make continuous flux measurements of NH3 for this project (image credit: Mark Zondlo) .

As researchers continue to understand the effects agriculture plays in climate and environment, a new research project was recently funded by the NASA Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science (IDS) program, which includes experienced researchers from four institutions. The new project has for the first time made it possible to show the impact two nitrogen fluxes — ammonia (NH3) and nitric oxide/nitrogen dioxide (NOx) — have on agricultural productivity and air quality.

The study led by Kaiyu Guan, Director of the Agroecosystem Sustainability Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), will integrate satellite remote sensing, strategic field work from commercial farmland in Central Illinois, and ecosystem biochemistry modeling to quantify these nitrogen emissions from agriculture across the U.S. Midwest. The goal is to quantify the magnitude of NOX and NH3 from these fields to the atmosphere. Being able to use approaches from both in situ measurements and satellite data in biochemical modeling will help corroborate the measurements of each.

The three-year interdisciplinary project brings together atmospheric scientists Mark Zondlo from Princeton University and Kang Sun from the University at Buffalo; ecosystem scientists  Steven Hall from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wendy Yang from UIUC; and agroecosystem modelers Guan and Bin Peng from UIUC.

Sun’s team will examine the latest NASA satellite data to understand how to develop new methods to estimate the emissions of these two trace gasses. Zondlo will use state-of-the-art, fast flux sensors to make continuous flux measurements of NOX and NH3 and also targeted measurements on a mobile laboratory to bridge the field and satellite scales. Hall and Yang, both field-level measurement experts, will measure NOX at the field level. Guan and Peng will take these measurements and develop the final model.

“It is exciting to work with a team on a project that bridges across vastly different scales and synthesizes across measurement and modeling. This approach is critically needed to advance our understanding of the patterns of agricultural emissions.”  Zondlo commented. 

Ultimately, the goal is to provide improved guidance to farmers on future use of nitrogen fertilizer and alleviation of nitrogen emissions from agricultural practices to improve air quality in agricultural dominated landscapes.

“This is a very unique NASA IDS project,” Guan explained. “We want to take advantage of satellite-based observation, in-situ data, as well as biochemical models to holistically understand the nitrogen cycle. This information has previously been hard to gather.”

Wendy Yang – Professor of Plant Biology (Courtesy University of Illinois News Bureau)

What stood out about the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign when Wendy Yang interviewed for a tenure-track faculty position in its Department of Plant Biology a decade ago was the institution’s trademark collaborative nature. A decade later, in that environment, she and her collaborators are making their mark in solving some of the globe’s most pressing climate issues.

“I realized immediately that Illinois is a unicorn institution,” she said. “I met world-class scientists in so many disciplines who don’t have egos, who work together and are collaborative with no walls between units on campus. I’ve been here for 10 years and I’m glad that first impression was accurate.”

That collaborative environment was instrumental in the establishment of two major centers headquartered at Illinois, in which Yang is a core figure — the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI), now in its seventh year and its second round of funding, and the Agroecosystem Sustainability Center (ASC), now in its third year. Yang is Associate Director of ASC and Sustainability Theme leader for CABBI.

It is that against backdrop where Yang has established her research lab and is working to tackle global climate issues, such as mitigating soil nitrous oxide emissions.

“I’ve been working to understand soil nitrous oxide emissions since even before my first day as a graduate student,” noted Yang, who holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from University of California-Berkeley. “What piqued my interest has been the fact that it has been a tough challenge for the scientific community for decades. Although scientists have known some of the processes that have produced nitrous oxide emissions since before the 1900s, and there have been hundreds if not thousands of studies on these processes, we still can’t predict these emissions in the field. That’s something we need a better understanding of if we are going to successfully mitigate nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural systems.” 

Yang points out that part of the dilemma is that up until now much of the research to understand drivers of soil nitrous oxide emissions has been done in a controlled environment in laboratories. The U.S. Department of Energy funding through ASC’s SYMFONI and SMARTFARM projects has not only brought the research to the field, but allowed the purchase of 20 chambers distributed throughout the field that automatically measure soil nitrous oxide emissions each hour. 

“When you go outdoors, soil conditions are very complex,” Yang said. “Thanks to this project, we’ve been able to produce unprecedented high-spatial, high-temporal resolution data sets on nitrous oxide emissions. It has been a dream project for me. No one else has been willing or able to invest that much funding in one field, but that’s what we need.”

Her team has discovered that even within the confines of a single field, the nitrous oxide emissions are varied — some places higher and some lower. That, among other things, has helped inform management practices where researchers can target the hot spots. 

The collaborative nature of ASC has meant researchers aren’t doing their work in silos, which has been important in helping make recommendations to farmers in areas such as cover cropping. While Yang’s team is looking at its effects on nitrous oxide emissions, ASC Director Kaiyu Guan, Associate Director Andrew Margenot, and DoKyoung Lee, professor of crop sciences, are also doing cover cropping work and can share their findings with Yang’s group.

“A big challenge, especially for the farmers, is increased volatility in precipitation,” she said. “Not only are we getting more intense spring rainfall, but now we’re also getting  drought  that makes it so difficult to not only manage crop productivity, but also to attain the intended sustainability outcomes of climate-smart agricultural practices.” 

Yang’s group is currently conducting a meta-analysis to evaluate trade offs in the soil carbon benefit from practices versus unintended effects on soil nitrous oxide emissions.  While cover cropping might reduce carbon emissions, it might also increase nitrous oxide emissions, which Yang notes is 300 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. 

“A small increase in nitrous oxide emissions may completely offset the climate change mitigation benefits of the soil carbon gains,” Yang said. “What we have learned from our SMARTFARM research is that greater soil organic carbon availability is part of what makes these nitrous oxide hot spots hot.”

Yang shares Guan’s vision of a future where scientists can not only analyze 20 different spots within a field but scale that up to regions, countries, and even the globe.

“What excites me about Kaiyu’s work is that he is crossing that scale from meters to hundreds of kilometers,” Yang said. “We aim to discover predictive variables that can be remotely sensed and scaled from one field to across regions.” 

In that vein, Yang has taken her studies to the area of the globe that is responsible for the highest naturally produced nitrous oxide emissions — tropical rain forests. That’s because nitrous oxide naturally occurs in soils that lack oxygen. Because the rain often pushes the oxygen out of the soils, it encourages the process of nitrous oxide there. 

“One of the reasons I love studying nitrous oxide is that while there are really important questions we need to address in agricultural systems here, we are also indirectly affecting natural emissions. My work has importance everywhere,” Yang said. 

“When I first started in this field some 20 years ago, we were a bit more concerned about the industrialization of the tropical regions and how the nitrogen deposition we’ve seen in temperate industrialized countries was coming to these tropical areas. We wanted to understand how indirectly fertilizing these areas could change tropical nitrogen cycling. We weren’t considering management of tropical forests, but more so representing those changes in our models. Everything that goes into our Earth system models is crucial for predicting future climate change.”

Part of the challenge in reducing nitrous oxide emissions is reversing the cycle. Half of the increase in atmospheric nitrous oxide concentrations comes from human activity, which has resulted in both increased rains and drought. Yang notes that it directly affects the nitrous oxide emissions that occur naturally not only in rainforests, but elsewhere as well. 

“We expect that as the amount of reactive nitrogen we put into the atmosphere increases, it either rains out or it settles out and it fertilizes even our natural ecosystems,” Yang noted. “So even when humans are not having direct impacts on nitrous oxide emissions through fertilizer application, we are still indirectly fertilizing our natural ecosystems, particularly in areas near industrial activities. There have even been studies which show that near roadways, emissions coming out of the tailpipes of cars end up depositing near the roadways.” 

Image Credit: Wendy Yang

“There is currently a lot of interest in climate smart agriculture with start-up companies emerging and industry leaders pouring funds into this,” Yang added. “I think everyone wants an easy solution, for instance sprinkling microbes on the soil, that would fix our problems for us. However, I think we are realizing that there is a reason why those microbes aren’t surviving naturally or dominating naturally in agricultural soil environments. We need to broaden our focus in developing technologies to reduce the nitrous oxide emissions.”

Which is why it has been important for Yang’s group to work closely with that of Margenot, whose focus is also on soil composition, and with Guan and Jonathan Coppess, who can work closely with politicians on areas such as government subsidies to make these climate practices cost-effective for the farmer. 

Yang is excited about what future collaborations could mean in helping solve these global climate issues. She has been doing team science leadership training through the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. 

“We learned that when you build a team, you need to have team members who work well together, not necessarily just the best and the brightest,” she said. “Our success with CABBI shows that at the University of Illinois we know how to function at that large scale, and we know how to build teams that work well together.” 

While the collaborative nature of ASC shows its benefits in research, it also benefits from being at the heart of the study area – the Midwest – and its understanding of bringing to the table the most applicable piece to the puzzle: the farmers. 

“Through DK and Andrew’s relationships with the farmers, we have insight into the actual challenges of the farmer,” Yang said. “We understand the importance of trying to come up with solutions that are not counterproductive to the livelihoods of the farmers.

“I think one of the strengths of our ASC team is that because we have people looking at the same problem from different angles, we can see the tradeoffs, whereas other people may have blind spots because they are only looking at it from one angle,” she said. “Because at ASC we have people from many disciplines working together as a team, we can holistically address these questions.”

With the core group of ASC researchers, including Yang, transitioning from early-career to mid-career scientists, it produces a unique energy. 

“We are on the upper trajectory in our research programs,” Yang noted. “We are finding a lot of overlap in our visions for not only what we want to accomplish as scientists, but also the impact we want to have on society. One of the exciting parts for me is that when we put all that energy together and it’s all going in the same direction, there is so much we can accomplish. We all have big dreams.”

Due to its status as a long-lived greenhouse gas, controlling the emission of nitrous oxide (N2O) is recognized as a core component of climate change mitigation. This gas largely comes from nitrogen fertilizer applied to soil in agricultural regions. An international team led by the Agroecosystem Sustainability Center (ASC) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is developing an initiative to better track and understand these emissions. This is the foundation to formulate better ways to reduce soil nitrous oxide emissions and verify those reductions. ASC convened this group of international leaders in soil nitrous oxide research on Jan. 17-19 in Chicago to develop a consensus vision for this new initiative and strategize about next steps.

At the heart of the plan is an observational data network called N2Onet, which will accelerate the progress toward fully understanding the drivers of soil N2O emissions and improving model predictions of those emissions. The three-day workshop helped articulate the challenges currently hindering this progress and how this network could be designed to help overcome those challenges.

Fertilizer plays a critical role in high crop production, which in turn helps feed a growing world population. Climate-smart practices aim to maintain or even increase the productivity of agricultural lands while reducing the rate of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere. Current practices such as reduced tillage and cover cropping may increase carbon uptake and storage in agricultural systems, but could unintentionally stimulate soil N2O emissions, which would counter those climate mitigation outcomes.

Knowledge of N2O emissions is currently limited due to a lack of high spatiotemporal resolution data on emissions and their potential drivers in the environment. The most commonly used emissions measuring tool relies on a manual chamber-based approach that limits the spatial and temporal extent of sampling, likely not capturing some areas that disproportionately contribute to field-scale emissions and episodic, short-lived emission pulses that can account for over half of annual emissions. This can lead to inaccurate prediction and evaluation of how agricultural practices affect emissions. 

N2Onet strives to fill in those gaps by bringing together data that can lead to transformative research in this area, akin to what the Ameriflux Network is doing for carbon cycling. A novel aspect of the network will be the synthesis of data across spatial scales, developing new measurement protocols and sites, to simultaneously support breakthroughs in process-based understanding of emissions, greenhouse gas accounting, and modeling of emissions.

“I was excited to see convergence in ideas about what is needed in an observational network to accelerate the knowledge advances needed to effectively measure, model, and mitigate agricultural soil emissions of this potent greenhouse gas,” said Wendy Yang, ASC Associate Director and Professor of Plant Biology at Illinois. “The workshop successfully built momentum behind this initiative to bring together N2O researchers and their data from around the world, and ASC will continue to play a leading role in this effort.” 

The N2Onet organizing committee include ASC scientists Yang, Evan DeLucia, and Kaiyu Guan, and Claudia Wagner-Riddle from University of Guelph. 

Credit: Robertson & Saad 2021 JAWRA 57(3): 406

Agroecosystems Sustainability Center Associate Director Andrew Margenot gave the keynote address at The Fertilizer Institute Research Forum on March 19 in Dallas, Texas. Margenot’s address was titled Non-point source – and non fertilizer?  – nutrient losses: the case of phosphorus. 

Margenot reviewed evidence that current nutrient loss reduction strategies do not discriminate among non-point sources of nutrient losses, which include but are not limited to agriculture. Specifically, he noted that only a small percentage of streambank phosphorus erosion is recorded, yet it likely accounts for a much more significant amount of the sediment exported through the river system in the Midwest. Therefore, much of the streambank derived-P may not have been correctly attributed.  
He also points out that both legacy and residual phosphorus – a distinction he recently proposed in Environment Science & Technology – should be considered when evaluating the source for phosphorus in the streams and rivers. Lag effects of P losses from legacy and residual P sources can decouple P losses measured today from contemporary fertilizer usage. A current ASC project on this topic is funded by Illinois NREC, and recently reviewed by Margenot at the annual Illinois NREC meeting

Margenot profiling soils in coffee agroecosystems in Guatemala. This work, conducted via participatory research with smallholder farmers, seeks to identify means to increase coffee yield and quality to improve smallholder income in a region that is largely economically dependent on this tropical crop.

To find the dirt on Andrew Margenot, you may need to sift through the literal dirt. Currently an associate professor of soil science, Margenot specializes in soil biogeochemistry to understand agroecosystem functions such as nutrient storage and cycling, crop production, contaminant filter and storage, and climate regulation. 

His research team of 40 personnel has approximately 35 active grants, with 80 percent of those projects focused on the Midwest context. The emphasis of this work is on nutrient management, soil organic matter cycling and soil health, involving direct work with stakeholders ranging from USDA NRCS to farmers via a lot of on-farm research.

“We are interested in understanding outcomes of practices: why is a practice working or not for a given outcome of interest?” Margenot explained. “Can we explain those outcomes in order to predict future outcomes? We work with the Agrosystem Sustainability Center (ASC) to assess and explain those outcomes and study the biogeochemical mechanisms that underpin agroecosystem functions.” 

Although the University of Illinois sits in the heart of some of the richest soils in the world, Margenot cut his teeth on high weathered, low fertility soils in the tropics, notably East Africa and Latin America. 

“The soils in these parts of the tropics have low fertility because they are old,” Margenot explained.”It’s like a 95-year-old person.”

Having studied on the coasts, with a bachelor of arts degree  from Connecticut College, majoring in both philosophy and biochemistry and molecular biology, and a PhD in soil biogeochemistry from UC Davis, he thinks there are several misconceptions there about the Midwest.

“ I think that we as a field of research have mistaken ecological simplicity of the Midwestern agricultural landscape with biogeochemical simplicity. It’s not simple, and the problems we face are not easily solvable,” he said.

A current topic of focus is nutrient management, focused both on improving fertilizer use efficiency and how nutrient losses practices can maximize efficiency and minimize losses, and why.

Margenot stands in a soil pit next to Jim Isermann at Isermann Farms in LaSalle Co., IL. The pit profiles the official state of Illinois soil, the Drummer series. Essential to the approach taken by Margenot’s team is start with farmers, be they in the Midwest or in Guatemala or Kenya, to understand the challenges that agroecosystem managers face and how researchers can better align scientific approaches to target real-world solutions.

“As part of that, we build a lot of tools to understand the system and test mechanisms,” he added. “If you don’t have a tool, you have to build it to understand why something is changing.”

Such as finding the right level of phosphorus in the soil to support high crop yields while reducing run-off losses. Margenot calls phosphorus the “Goldilocks nutrient” because it is hard to get it “just right”. Margenot’s team has also discovered that in assessing the nutrient losses to the surface water, researchers have not been accounting for natural losses through eroding streams. 

“A portion of our phosphorus losses are due to practices from 60-80 years ago,” Margenot said. “We call these legacy phosphorus. We have a really poor understanding of legacy nutrient losses, but the problem is that is what is driving our losses today. So it’s an inexact science.”

Although headquartered in central Illinois at the state’s flagship land grant campus, Margenot diversifies his research across fields in northern, central and southern Illinois, the greater Midwest, and in the tropics. 

“In order to make our findings and discoveries applicable globally, we try to understand the why of things,” he said. “Even in Illinois, you go from a very cold climate to the beginning of a nearly  subtropical climate. We tend to be spoiled here because even the ‘lesser’ soils in southern Illinois are still very fertile compared to weathered soils in the tropics.  If we can explain how soils function at a biogeochemical, process-based level, then those same insights can be applied to understand soils and agroecosystem functions anywhere, from the red oxisols of Kenya to the black mollisols of Illinois.”  

Margenot also uses this approach to demonstrate that while one agroecosystem management practice may work well in one context, positive trade-offs  are not necessarily universal. For example, cover crops might increase yield in places with marginal soils like southern Illinois or Missouri, but might not in areas where soils are richer.

“Cover cropping is in some ways a Swiss Army knife: you can customize cover crops for all kinds of outcomes,” he added “Are there benefits of using cover crops to reduce soil erosion by wind or nitrate leaching? Absolutely. That’s what we should be thinking about cover cropping in the ‘flat and black’ in the heart of the Corn Belt. In the rolling ground of the Ohio River Valley that bounds the southern extent of the Corn Belt, we know that cover crops increase yield – in contrast to the central Corn Belt – while  also mitigating soil erosion by gravity.”

A severely eroding streambank in southern Illinois. Streambank erosion is an overlooked but critical contribution to non-point phosphorus and sediment loads to surface waters. Margenot’s team is leading an ASC project to quantify – for the first time – streambank erosion and its contributions to P loads in Illinois. These results will directly inform Illinois and US EPA strategy on improving water quality in the Midwest and the Gulf of Mexico.

That is an example of the kind of innovative research that Margenot and others at ASC hope can improve processes and outcomes in both Illinois and around the globe. They are at the forefront of addressing the growing problems of climate resilience and food security. 

On the microscale, he is teaming with ASC to help update the Illinois Agronomy Handbook, where some of the recommendations are more than 80 years out of date. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Research and Education Network (NREN).

“We aren’t great at keeping up with understanding these systems because we are not keeping up on the basics on how we manage them,” he reasoned. “The amount of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen recommended for fertilizer are based on efforts from the 1960s.”

Margenot also notes that much of the recommendation is from sampling the top six inches of the soil. Their updates will include results that will account for soil specific reserves of nutrients at the root level some three to four feet deep. Margenot’s team is applying biogeochemistry to understand fertilizer fate, use and non-fertilizer soil contributions to crop uptake. 

“The idea here is to understand how the biology of soils and native reserves in the subsoil can contribute to crop uptake,” Margenot said. “To me, that’s where agroecology becomes good agronomy, and offers a more biologically inclusive approach to nutrient recommendations to improve the farmer’s bottom line. With co-benefits to water quality. That’s something the traditional agronomy approach has missed, and many ecologists have turned their nose up in favor of more pristine, unmanaged ecosystems. I think the agroecosystem is where the action is at, and frankly, the need.” 

On the environmental side, Margenot’s team is part of an ASC Illinois NREC project, which  is gathering data on erosion of streambanks and resulting phosphorus loading across the major and representative HUC-8 watersheds of Illinois. While studies of Baltic Sea basin states like Germany and Poland, have found that one-third of their entire phosphorus loss have come from eroding stream banks, no such data exists in Illinois. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has mandated that by 2025, states and federal agencies report on progress toward achieving programmatic commitments. This study will directly inform the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, the report from the State of Illinois. 

“If we have a similar result as our colleagues in the Baltics, we will need to reallocate resources in order to solve the problem,” Margenot said.  

As ASC strives to be a global leader in monitoring and modeling agroecosystems for improving sustainability under climate change, Margenot’s team will be valuable in bringing research to understand the role soil plays.

Magenot concluded, “Applying basic biogeochemistry with a systems approach can provide insights to help close gaps that have only grown over the last 50 years.”

Five University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professors have been named University Scholars. Top, from left to right: Merle Bowen, African American studies; Cecilia Leal, materials science and engineering; and Ying Diao, chemical and biomolecular engineering. Bottom row, left to right: Brian Ogolsky, human development and family studies; and Kaiyu Guan, natural resources and environmental studies.
Bowen photo by Della Perrone; Leal, Diao and Ogolsky by L. Brian Stauffer; and Kaiyu Guan by Chris Brown Photography, courtesy of NCSA.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Five University of Illinois professors at the Urbana-Champaign campus have been named University Scholars in recognition of their excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. 

The scholars program recognizes faculty excellence and provides $15,000 to each scholar for each of three years to enhance their academic career. The money may be used for travel, equipment, research assistants, books or other purposes.

“Faculty excellence is truly the University of Illinois System’s foundation, and unquestionably the basis for the exceptional academic experience of the nearly 95,000 students who enrolled in our three universities last fall,” said Nicholas Jones, the system’s executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs. 

“The University Scholars program spotlights outstanding individuals and provides resources for them to expand their academic horizons. They so richly deserve the accolades that come with this recognition, and their accomplishments also represent the standards to which we aspire as we actively recruit educators and researchers of the highest caliber.”

The five Urbana campus recipients, as described by their nominators:

Merle Bowen
Photo by Della Perrone

Merle Bowen, a professor of African American studies, specializes in Africa and African diaspora. Her recently published book, “For Land and Liberty: Black Struggles in Rural Brazil,” received the P. Sterling Stuckey Book Prize from the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora. 

Her current research continues her concern with Black rural communities’ struggles for land and against environmental injustice. In her pedagogy, she balances detailed lectures with in-class and supplemental activities designed to stimulate student engagement, from group analyses and short presentations to structured in-class debates. 

She has mentored students from the Abdias do Nascimento Scholars Program of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and she serves as academic director of the Civic Leadership Institute for President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. 

Ying Diao
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Ying Diao, a professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering, has established a vibrant and imaginative research program at the interface of materials chemistry, molecular electronics and biomedical sciences. Her highly creative research draws inspiration from many disciplines to significantly advance molecular electronics technology, which promises to have a transformative impact on electronics, clean energy and healthcare. 

Diao works in the area of molecular assembly and additive manufacturing. She has published 68 articles as an independent investigator. Diao is an outstanding educator, winning the School of Chemical Sciences Teaching Award in 2017. She has also mentored 33 undergraduate students, about half of whom are female. She is the chair of the department’s graduate recruiting subcommittee and works to increase diversity through proactive recruiting efforts and forming connections with HBCUs. 

Kaiyu Guan
Photo by Chris Brown Photography, courtesy of NCSA

Kaiyu Guan, a professor of natural resources and environmental studies, has advanced sensing and modeling technologies for monitoring and assessing agricultural productivity and ecosystem services. 

Guan initiated and founded the Agroecosystem Sustainability Center to bring together multidisciplinary teams to address key challenges in measuring, modeling and quantifying the sustainability of agriculture.

His academic achievements have fostered more than 140 journal articles. Guan is committed to training undergraduate students, especially underrepresented students. 

His recent work on agricultural carbon emission has gained national attention, and he has provided scientific advice related to agricultural carbon emission reduction to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture. 

Cecilia Leal
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Cecilia Leal, a professor of materials science and engineering, is a pioneer in the area of biomaterials self-assembly and lipid nanoparticles. She has established a highly visible research program in determining structures and interactions of soft materials that impart biological and therapeutic function. 

Leal is the creator and lead organizer of the highly successful Girls Learning about Materials Summer Camp for middle school girls. This camp was initially supported by her NSF CAREER award and remains completely free to participants. She developed and offered three materials science-focused workshops for incarcerated students at the Danville Correctional Center as part of the Education Justice Project at Illinois. 

She has been named twice to the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their students. Through her efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, she has made significant, culture-shifting changes to the materials science and engineering department  and the Grainger College of Engineering.

Brian Ogolsky
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Brian Ogolsky, a professor of human development and family studies, is an internationally recognized leading scholar in the field of relationship science, an award-winning teacher and director of graduate programs, and a generous contributor to faculty governance. 

Ogolsky has made major theoretical and empirical contributions to the field of relationship science, with a specific emphasis on romantic partners’ relationship functioning. His publication record includes two internationally awarded books (with a third in press), nine chapters in edited volumes and 47 peer-reviewed journal articles. 

He has been named to the List of Teachers Rated as Excellent by their Students every semester he has taught. Ogolsky excels as a mentor for students, and he has received the Faculty Mentor Award and the Provost Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring. 

He has served on the board of directors for the National Council on Family Relations and the International Association for Relationship Research. He has served on grant reviews for the National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.