People

Thomas J. Benson, Ph.D.
Senior Wildlife Ecologist and
Critical Trends Assessment Program Coordinator
Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute

Research Associate Professor
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1816 S. Oak St., Champaign, IL 61820
tjbenson@illinois.edu

I’ve been lucky to work closely with many graduate and undergraduate students, post-doctoral research associates, research scientists, and field and lab technicians.  In addition to personnel listed on this page, we work in close collaboration with many other scientists at the University of Illinois and other institutions.  I’m also fortunate to work closely with a great group of scientists as part of the Critical Trends Assessment Program, a long-term monitoring program focused on birds, plants, and terrestrial arthropods in Illinois.

Current Students and Post-docs

Dr. Robbie Emmet, Post-doctoral Research Associate (co-supervised with Drs. Kirk Stodola and Max Allen). Quantitative approaches for estimating populations and decision support in natural resources.

Lauren Monopoli, Ph.D. Student in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (co-advised with Dr. Auriel Fournier). Birds and Gulf coast fire ecology.

Stephanie Schmidt, M.S. Student in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (co-advised with Dr. Auriel Fournier). Ecology and conservation of wetland birds.

Sarah Stewart, M.S. Student in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences      (co-advised with Dr. Mike Ward). Ecology and conservation of Eastern Whip-poor-wills.

Sarah Winnicki, Ph.D. Student in the Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (co-advised with Dr. Mark Hauber). Maternal effects on avian development.

Grant Witynski, M.S. Student in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences     (co-advised with Dr. Mike Ward). Ecology of moths, the primary food resource for Eastern Whip-poor-wills.

Former Students and Post-docs

Dr. Javan Bauder. Post-doctoral Research Associate (co-supervised with Drs. Kirk Stodola and Max Allen). Quantitative approaches for estimating populations and decision support in natural resources.

Valerie Buxton, M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2014. Habitat use, nest survival, and stress hormones of grassland birds in urban landscapes.

Dr. Tony Celis. Post-doctoral Research Associate. Behavioral ecology of birds.

Dr. Scott Chiavacci, Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2016 (co-advised with Dr. Mike Ward). Avian nest predation: relationships with landscape characteristics and influences on adult and nestling behavior.

Tyson Dallas, M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2015. Habitat use and demography of Red-headed Woodpeckers in west-central Illinois.

Kristen Finch, M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2016 (co-advised by Dr. Heath Hagy). Grassland and breeding bird use of moist-soil wetlands managed for waterfowl.

Jake Hennig, M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2014. Aerial surveys of spring-migrating waterfowl within the lower Wabash River floodplain.

Maureen Hurd, M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (co-advised with Dr. Mike Ward). Ecology and conservation of Chimney Swifts and Common Nighthawks in cities and towns.

Claire Johnson, M.S. Student in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Habitat use and behavior of Black-billed Cuckoos, a poorly understood and conservation-priority species.

Dr. Tim Lyons, Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2017. Landscape and population ecology of Ring-necked Pheasants.

Dr. Loren Merrill, Post-doctoral Research Associate. Consequences of habitat and landscape for the physiological ecology of shrubland birds.

Emilie Ospina, M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2017. Incubation temperature impacts growth, physiology and survival in nestlings of an open-cup nesting passerine.

Dr. Henry Pollock, Post-doctoral Research Associate in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (co-supervised with Dr. Jeff Brawn). Population and community ecology of lowland forest birds in Central Panama.

Dr. Bryan Reiley, Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2017. Habitat use, population size, and nestling ecology of conservation priority bird species using restored fields in agricultural landscapes.

Kaity Ripple, M.S. Student in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (co-advised with Dr. Kirk Stodola). The role of invasive shrubs in influencing habitat quality for conservation-priority shrubland birds.

Ian Souza-Cole, M.S. Student in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (co-advised with Dr. Mike Ward). Ecology and conservation of Eastern Whip-poor-wills.

Dr. Kirk Stodola, Post-doctoral Research Associate (co-supervised by Dr. Mike Ward). Long-term trends in bird populations, stopover ecology of American Golden-Plovers.

Kyle Van den Bosch, M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2018 (co-advised by Dr. Mike Ward). Influence of vegetation structure and landscape context on the occupancy of shrubland birds.

Ben Williams, M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2018 (co-advised by Dr. Heath Hagy). Stopover duration and habitat use of spring-migrating ducks.

Amber Wingert, M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 2015. Barn Owl habitat use and responses to call broadcasts.

We’ve also been fortunate to work closely with dozens of field and lab technicians, all of which have been critical to the success of our research projects.