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Sport Fish Ecology Lab Members

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jeff stein

Dr. Jeffrey A. Stein
Senior Research Scientist

My research interests focus on the study of basic and applied ecology of freshwater and marine fisheries to understand linkages between ecological function and exploitation of populations by human activities. Fundamentally, I seek to explore how human activities can impact the reproductive ecology and behavior of fishes, ultimately translating findings into meaningful and effective conservation actions.

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david phillipp

Dr. David P. Philipp
Principal Scientist, Emeritus

Dr. David Philipp's research interests focus on three major areas: conservation genetics, reproductive ecology, and the effects of fishing on natural populations. His findings have helped to document the negative impacts of outbreeding depression that can result from hatchery stocking programs, as well as to illustrate the evolutionary effects that fishing can have on natural populations. Much of his research has targeted centrarchid species, particularly focusing on the factors that impact their parental care activities, reproductive success, and annual recruitment. In recent years, Dr. Philipp has broadened his interest in these research topics to include the marine flats ecosystem, studying bonefish reproductive behaviors and the effects of recreational angling on post-release behavior and survival of flats fishes.

Dr. Philipp teamed with Orvis on a short video clip about how bass move with the seasons. View that clip here.



Julie E. Claussen
Research Scientist

I began working at the Natural History Survey in 1984, and after a short stint working on stream ecology projects, I joined the fish genetics laboratory working on the conservation of native fish populations. Over the years, my interests in fish and fisheries research have evolved to include the reproductive life history of centrachids, sustainable fisheries practices and management, and the impact humans have on sport fish populations. Many of the studies I am involved with focus on the effects of recreational fishing, including its impact on reproductive activities, reproductive success, recruitment, post-release behavior and survival. Another large area of focus is the long-term effect of fisheries management stocking practices and outbreeding depression in fish populations. In more recent years, I have worked on new methods for fisheries outreach and education, recognizing the need for scientists to engage with the natural resource constituents.


josh sherwood

Josh Sherwood
Fisheries Researcher

My research interest is primarily in stream ecology. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2009, focusing on Fish and Wildlife Conservation. While an undergraduate, I worked as a Field Technician at the Illinois Natural History Survey where I conducted fish and mussel surveys across Illinois. I received my Master's Degree from Western Illinois University in 2011. While working toward my Master's, the focus of my research was performing freshwater mussel surveys of the Spoon and La Moine Rivers and examining the effects of basin land-use on mussel communities. I am happy to be back at the University of Illinois as a Research Scientist at the INHS working on the Fishes of Champaign County project.



Kristen Patterson
Fisheries Researcher

My research interests largely lie in factors affecting the success of native fishes. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of Guelph in 2007. During that time, I gained a range of experience in everything from fisheries assessments of the lake-wide community in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario to the experimental rearing of cod families for aquaculture on the east coast of Canada. I obtained my Master’s Degree from the University of Manitoba in 2011, where the focus of my thesis was determining the potential impacts of farmed rainbow trout that escape from cage culture operations in Lake Huron. I spent two and a half years post-graduation in Arizona monitoring populations and determining factors limiting the survival of endangered fish species in the desert southwest. I am excited to be back in the Great Lakes region and look forward to contributing to sport fish restoration as a Research Scientist with INHS.



Dr. James Lukey
Post Doctorate Researcher

My research interests focus on three areas: fish ecology, conservation biology and conservation decision-making. I received my Master of Science in Marine Biology from Rhodes University in South Africa in 2006. My work focused on fish communities in a small intermittently open estuary and examined the movement and habitat use of different species in these important nursery habitats. In 2006, I worked on a project identifying important marine priority habitats and species for the National Biodiversity Action Plan for the Marine Biological Association of the UK. I earned my Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology from the University of Guelph in 2010, examining decision-making of species at risk. I was a Post Doc at the University of Notre Dame focusing on the impacts of climate change on species ranges and the integration of effects of climate change on species at risk. At the Illinois Natural History Survey, I am examining the sport fish community in the recently restored West Branch of the DuPage River, looking at communities of fish in the urban stream environment and doing telemetry work on adult smallmouth bass to review their movements and habitat use. 



Sarah Huck
Research Technician

I enjoy all aspects of fisheries research, but am particularly drawn to studies involving movement and habitat use of riverine fishes. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Science from Eastern Illinois University in 2011. As an undergraduate, I worked as a student researcher in the EIU fisheries and aquatic research lab, assisting graduate students with fish community sampling in streams and lakes. In the summer of 2009, I worked as a large river fisheries field technician for the Illinois Natural History Survey and assisted with fish community sampling on the Wabash and Ohio Rivers. I received my Master of Science in Biological Science (focus in fisheries biology) from Eastern Illinois University in 2014. The focus of my thesis research involved assessment of broad and fine scale movement and habitat use of flathead catfish in the lower Wabash River. I am very excited to be a part of the INHS and look forward to contributing to the amazing research conducted in this lab.



Michael Louison
Graduate Student

My research interests focus primarily on the connections and correlations between certain behavioral and physiological traits in Midwestern sport fish species. Specifically, I am researching the differential vulnerability of fish to recreational angling techniques and the underlying causes of this vulnerability. In short, what behavioral, physiological, and genetic mechanisms may be at work to cause one individual of a species to be more eager to strike a lure than another individual? This research has big-picture applications within the field of evolutionary ecology, as humans may be capable of altering the suite of traits that may have particular metabolic and behavioral characteristics by selectively removing fish through angling. Much of my research will make use of the unique population of high vulnerability/low vulnerability largemouth bass housed at the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois, however my work will examine correlations in other popular Midwestern game fish as well. Prior to arriving in Illinois, I lived in Wisconsin, receiving my B.A. in biology from Ripon College in 2007 and my M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 2013.


Lynnette Miller-Ishmael, Data Coordinator
Bob Illyes, Research Programmer 
Tommie McNamara, Database Manager, Webmaster
Kim Stanhope, Outreach Coordinator
Saurabh Dahitule, Web Application Developer
Justin Rondon, Pond Site Coordinator
Austin Rundus, Graduate Research Assistant


Each field season, our lab provides internships to undergraduate students to gain valuable experience in fisheries field ecology. Through our collaboration with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries, we place students side by side with professional fisheries managers to assist with extensive field sampling of fish populations throughout Illinois. Our interns gain valuable, real-world experience in fisheries ecology and are an important part of many of the fisheries research and management activities throughout the state of Illinois.

If you're interested in learning more about becoming an intern for our Lab, please contact Jeff Stein at

Our Interns this year:

  • Scott Cleary
  • Rob Sweedler
  • Andrew Mathis
  • Travis Shoemaker
  • Zach Harms
  • Samantha Jaworski
  • Brian Sorrentino

Intern Alumni:
Josh Sherwood – Received his M.S. from Western Illinois University
Zachary Zuckerman – Received his M.S. at University of Illinois in Dr. Cory Suski’s lab.
Pat Wilkins – Working on M.S. at University of Illinois in Dr. Yong Cao's lab.

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