Mark R. Ryan, a leading wildlife biologist and an expert in conservation and natural resources, has been named the executive director of the Prairie Research Institute at the U. of I.
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Mark R. Ryan, a leading wildlife biologist and an expert in conservation and natural resources, has been named the executive director of the Prairie Research Institute at the U. of I. The director of the School of Natural Resources at the University of Missouri, Ryan will join Illinois Oct. 1, pending the approval of the U. of I. Board of Trustees.
“Dr. Ryan is a highly regarded researcher with a proven track record working in a large, complex organization,” said Peter Schiffer, the vice chancellor for research. “I am confident that he will be a strong leader who will develop a strategic vision that builds on the institute’s past work and fosters new, collaborative research and relationships.”
Ryan has deep administrative, research, teaching and public outreach experience, and has received a number of awards for his work, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Award for Excellence in Teaching. A fellow of the Wildlife Society, he has been a member of the faculty at Missouri since 1984. He completed undergraduate work at the University of Minnesota, and earned a master’s degree in wildlife biology and a Ph.D. in animal ecology from Iowa State University.
“The surveys that comprise the institute have a rich history of excellence in conducting and applying science to serve the people of Illinois,” Ryan said. “I am excited to join with the extraordinary professionals of the institute in continuing, expanding and enhancing that work.”
Ryan will replace Brian Anderson, who served as interim executive director after the departure of founding executive director William Shilts.
“We are grateful to Brian for his capable stewardship of the institute during the past year, and to Bill for his leadership in bringing the institute into the university and in setting it on such a solid foundation,” Schiffer said.
The Prairie Research Institute was established in 2008 at the U. of I. and is the home of the State Scientific Surveys: Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.
As executive director, Ryan will provide leadership, direction and overall administration for the surveys, promoting excellence in research and ensuring that the institute fulfills its legislative responsibilities to provide objective and relevant scientific advice to Illinois state government, municipalities and businesses.
“The institute’s role of ‘service through science’ is vital to the state’s economy and the quality of life of its citizens, and I am honored to have the opportunity to lead such an important part of the university’s mission,” Ryan said.