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Geological survey chief to lead Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability


Jeff Unger, News Bureau

Wm Shilts
William W. Shilts

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — William W. Shilts will become the executive director of the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability at the Urbana campus pending approval today by the Board of Trustees, which is meeting in Chicago.

The institute comprises the four state scientific surveys that recently became part of the Urbana campus: the Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (formerly the Waste Management and Research Center).

Shilts has been the chief of the geological survey and the state geologist since June 1995. The survey employs more than 200 people and has research and service programs in groundwater, energy and mineral resources, geophysics, engineering geology, geochemistry, and environmental geology. Shilts was a research scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada for more than 20 years.

“I am very pleased to welcome Bill Shilts to campus as the executive director of the INRS,” Richard Herman, the chancellor of the Urbana campus, said today. “With his leadership, we will accelerate the research and development efforts needed to support a sustainable future for the state of Illinois and the nation.”

Shilts’ research has focused on the physical and chemical characteristics of glacial sediments, environmental geochemistry, mineral exploration, permafrost processes, and the relationship of disrupted sediments to the recurrence rate and strength of prehistoric earthquakes.

Since joining the survey, Shilts has made a priority the environmentally acceptable development of Illinois’ energy resources and detailed, three-dimensional geologic mapping in rapidly developing urban and suburban areas.

Under his leadership, the geological survey played a key role in attracting FutureGen and major carbon sequestration projects to Illinois, placing Illinois in the forefront of research on emission-free production of energy from coal.

“Bill Shilts presents a compelling vision of the institute's capability to serve our society,” said Charles F. “Chip” Zukoski, the vice chancellor for research at the Urbana campus. “With Bill at its helm, the new institute is poised to leverage the resources of the state scientific surveys with those of the campus to meet the state’s needs for sustainable science and technology.”

Shilts, who is an adjunct professor of geology at Illinois and Illinois State University, as well as at the University of Quebec at Montreal, earned his bachelor’s degree at DePauw University, his master’s at Miami University and his doctorate at Syracuse University.