History of the Scientific Surveys and ISTC

Prior to their move to the University as part of the newly formed Institute in July 2008, the Surveys and Center were housed in state government and governed by the Board of Natural Resources and Conservation. Within the University, the Institute Executive Director reports to the Vice Chancellor for Research. The Institute is now governed by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

Illinois State Archaeological Survey

Nuclear Physics Lab Building

The Illinois State Archaeological Survey has had many permutations throughout the past half-century of its existence. The survey traces its direct roots back to a 1957 cooperative agreement between the archaeological community, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the University of Illinois designed to protect archaeological resources impacted by transportation projects. In 1976, Professor Charles J. Bareis established the Resource Investigation Program (RIP) further solidifying the intergovernmental relationship of the university and IDOT to create a transportation archaeology program. For over three decades, Bareis’s leadership in establishing the inter-agency relationships with state and federal agencies made Illinois one of the early leaders in highway salvage and eventually compliance archaeology.

When Bareis retired in 1994, the university and IDOT reorganized RIP to create the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program (ITARP) under the direction of Dr. Thomas E. Emerson. The establishment of ITARP was the product of IDOT's need to develop a more centralized program to facilitate its cultural resource protection efforts and to ensure the preservation of the state's important archaeological resources.

In 1977, the Ancient Technologies and Archaeological Materials (ATAM) program was created by a multidisciplinary group of faculty and staff at the University of Illinois to further archaeometric studies. In February 2010, the joining of ITARP and ATAM, and our public outreach and educational activities into the new division of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey in the Prairie Research Institute has enhanced the university’s ability to contribute to the continued preservation of Illinois’ archaeological heritage while assisting in the promotion of sustainable economic development. More ISAS history.

Illinois Natural History Survey

Illinois Natural History Survey Building

The Illinois Natural History Survey began as the Illinois Natural History Society in 1858. It was housed at Illinois State Normal University at Normal. The society became legally chartered by the state legislature in 1861 and was charged with preparing a "survey of the State of Illinois in all departments of natural history," establishing a museum and creating a library of scientific publications.

In 1872, the museum was transferred from the society to the State. However, it continued to reside at Illinois State Normal University with Stephen A. Forbes as the new curator.

Forbes served as curator until 1877 when the society museum became the Illinois State Museum and moved to Springfield. Forbes and his staff at Normal metamorphosed into the State Laboratory of Natural History, which was given responsibility for collecting materials for the state museum and for carrying out plant and animal surveys.

Forbes accepted the post of state entomologist in 1882. Thus, the Office of the State Entomologist and the head of the State Natural History Laboratory were now filled by one person in one venue. When Forbes accepted an appointment to the University of Illinois in 1885, he was allowed to transfer the State Laboratory of Natural History and the Office of the State Entomologist to Urbana. These organizations were located in the Natural History Building on campus.

The final metamorphosis of the survey took place in 1917 when the Office of the State Entomologist and the State Laboratory of Natural History were combined into one organization—the Illinois Natural History Survey. Stephen Forbes became the first of only eight "chiefs" who have led the survey since it was established.

Many components make up the Illinois Natural History Survey, but its research, collections, publications, long-term studies, field stations, and educational outreach have made the Illinois Natural History Survey the largest and most successful state biological survey in the country.

Illinois State Water Survey

Illinois State Water Survey Campus

Control of contagious diseases — typhoid and cholera epidemics — and protection of water supplies came to the fore as public health issues in the 1890s. In 1895, the legislature appropriated an extra $5,000 to the University of Illinois' Chemistry Department to purchase laboratory equipment and to conduct a chemical survey of the waters of Illinois — the start of the State Water Survey.

Professor Arthur Palmer, who undertook this assignment, had great enthusiasm for scientific investigation, and, in addition to thousands of water analyses for both public and private water supplies, began studies of surface waters and the earth strata from which well waters came.

In the early years the principal forcus of the Water Survey was on water chemistry, with a gradual shift to hydrology by the 1940s, and more recently to the atmospheric sciences. These studies were supported by extensive data collections on surface waters, groundwater, and weather. Over 100 years of research and data collection have provided Illinois with the nation's most complete water and climatic data.

Knowledge of our water resources obtained over 100 years by the Water Survey provides a background for solving increasingly complex water problems and for anticipating future issues and problems.

Illinois State Geological Survey

Illinois State Geological Survey Building

Today's State Geological Survey, organized by statute in 1905, was a successor to an earlier geological survey in Illinois organized in 1851 and directed by Amos H. Worthen from 1858 to 1872. Worthen's eight large volumes published by the survey embraced the physical, historical, and economic geology of all the state's 102 counties. They included paleontology studies with the first descriptions of more than 1,500 species of vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants of the Paleozoic era.

This tradition of scientific excellence was inherited by the new State Geological Survey, which has continued to conduct basic and applied research on the geology and geochemistry of the state and its mineral and fossil fuel resources. By disseminating information about the results of its research and maintaining an extensive, accessible database, the Geological Survey has promoted responsible development and use of state resources and given a basis for sound policies about them. More ISGS history

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center was established in 1984 when the General Assembly passed the Hazardous Waste Technology Exchange Service Act (20 ILCS 1130/1). After beginning as part of the State Water Survey (1984-1989), the Center became an independent division of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources. In 1989, the Illinois Toxic Pollution Prevention Act (TPPA) established a Pollution Prevention Assistance Program at the Center. The Center moved to its current building near the University of Illinois' research park in 1990. In 1995, the elimination of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources resulted in the Center transferring to the Department of Natural Resources. To better serve businesses and citizens throughout Illinois, field offices opened in Oakbrook (1994), Brighton (1997), and Peoria (2004).

The Center has gone through a few name changes since its inception; initially known as the Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center (HWRIC) (1989-1996), and then changing to the Waste Management and Research Center (WMRC) (1996-2008). In July 2008, Governor Rod Blagojevich transferred the Center and the three Scientific Surveys from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to the University of Illinois (SB 970). During this transition, the Center changed its name to the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) to better reflect its research and technical assistance mission activities.

Text for the three surveys was modified from the Society for the Illinois Scientific Surveys' publication, "The Illinois Scientific Surveys".


Updated 02/07/14 AW

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