Lab Members

Sarah King  |  Associate Fisheries Biologist and SFEL Lab Leader 

My research interest involves top predator demographics and their role in large river systems across Illinois. I became interested in aquatic research during my undergraduate at Eastern Illinois University, where I assisted graduate students with fish community sampling in Kickapoo Creek and the Wabash River. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in 2011, I continued my education at EIU and received my MSc in 2014. I joined the Sport Fish Ecology Lab in 2014 and kick started the state-wide ancient fish demographics studies. I lead several projects that examine movement and habitat use, genetic connectivity, hybridization rates, and age and growth of gars and bowfin. These projects will contribute to the knowledge gap on these species in Illinois and help managers evaluate the need for management and conservation. Read more about these studies on our Research page.

Kimberly Stanhope  |  Outreach Coordinator

As the outreach coordinator at the Illinois Natural History Survey for the Sport Fish Ecology Lab, my work focuses on providing outreach communication  to anglers via the SFEL and IFishIllinois websites and through social media outlets, as well as at fisheries-related conferences. I take scientifically written information and transform it into easily understood rhetoric for public consumption. As the content manager for the IFishIllinois website, our goal is to provide Illinois anglers with timely and relevant information regarding fishery-related information in Illinois — IDNR press releases, season start dates, new regulations, tournament information, etc.

Visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Mary Dunn | Technician

In the spring of 2020, I graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s degree in Marine, Freshwater, and Environmental Biology. While in college, I worked in a behavioral ecology lab focused on species of Swordtail fish and allowed me to gain experience in research as well as aspects of fish husbandry. After graduation, I worked as an intern completing the National Coastal Condition Assessment where I had the opportunity to do various types of aquatic environmental sampling on the Great Lakes and Atlantic coast. From there I went on to work on a large salmon farm in Wisconsin where I was responsible for providing care to the salmon throughout all stages of their life. I have recently joined the Sport Fish Ecology Lab as a technician and am looking forward to gaining new experience in the fisheries field!

Logan Grimm | Technician

I completed my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences in May 2022. I previously worked in small grain research at the University through my undergrad years, which gave me experience both in the field and in a lab setting. In my free time I am usually outside kayaking creeks and rivers, fishing, or playing soccer. I have recently joined the Sport Fish Ecology Lab and am excited to learn more about fisheries through the work we do.

Justin Lombardo | Graduate Student

Throughout my undergraduate years as an Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability major, I developed a passion for fisheries ecology and management. This can mostly be attributed to my minor studies focused on fish and wildlife, where I had the opportunity to delve into issues within applied ecology. I spent the summer of 2022 in Northern Wisconsin studying the effects of angling pressure on largemouth and smallmouth bass recruitment within a private hunting and fishing club. This experience solidified my desire to further contribute to fisheries research. In December of 2022, I received my Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. After working as a technician in the Sport Fish Ecology Lab, I am now continuing my work with the lab as a Master’s candidate research assistant, with my thesis focused on the relationship between angling pressure and spawning bass populations in lentic water bodies surrounding the Queen’s University Biological Station in Ontario, Canada. The goal of this work will be to provide empirical evidence to support management regulation changes in favor of protecting spawning bass populations.

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.

Julie E. Claussen  |  Research Scientist, Retired

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.

Lab Affiliates

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.

Read more about my research here.

Dr. Cory Suski |  Professor

Dr. Suski is a co-advisor with Dr. Stein. The research in the Suski Lab can be defined as ‘”ecological physiology” as it combines laboratory and field studies to determine the ecological and physiological mechanisms that control abundance and distribution in freshwater aquatic organisms.

While my research is grounded in basic biology, many of my projects work to generate novel conservation strategies to protect freshwater ecosystems. Freshwater fishes are an ideal model system for this research because their diversity and abundance provides me with opportunity to examine these issues while considering evolutionary and trophic relationships.

Former Graduate Students

George Balto, M.S. (2022)
Sarah Molinaro, M.S. (2019) — Stream Ecologist, INHS, University of Illinois
Dr. Michael Louison (2018) — Assistant Professor, McKendree University
Austin Rundus, M.S. (2017)

Interns and Undergraduate Students

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 Sarah King at

In addition, students can work in our lab to gain valuable research experience and class credit during the fall and spring semesters. If you are an undergraduate student interested in research credit (NRES293 or NRES294), contact Sarah King at

Former Interns

Haruma Kurita (2020)
Jenna Mattes (2019)
Robbie Schmidt (2017-2019)
George Balto (2017-19)
Haley Capone (2017-18)
Joseph Nolan (2018)
Matthew Fabian (2018)
Hannah Winter (2017)
Brandon Kohler (2016)
Emma Easterly (2016)
Shane Sinclair (2015-16)
Jason Buckley (2015)
Sarah Molinaro (2014-15)
Travis Shoemaker (2014-15)
Samantha Jaworski (2014)
Brian Sorrentino (2014)
Anthony Kloppenborg (2014)
David Ollesch (2014)
Andrew Mathis (2014)
Michelle Singh (2014)
Katie Fleming (2013)
Sarah Buhman (2013)
Rosindo Garcia (2013)
Zach Harms (2012-14)
Nick Guth (2012)
Kyle Eckstrom (2012)
Rebeckah Haun (2012)
Greg King (2012)
Craig Mack (2012)
Austin Rundus (2011-12)
Andy Stites (2011)
Brian Sopcak (2011)
Kevin Chapman (2011)
Ethan Stephenson (2010-12)
Scott Cleary (2010-15)
Kristina Tranel (2010-11)
Cory Anderson (2010)
Nick Anderson (2010, 2013)
Rob Sweedler (2010-14)
Dan Kates  (2010-11)
Kevin Chapman (2010)
Jordan Panger (2010)

Lab Alumni

Dr. Jeffrey A. Stein, Senior Research Scientist and Lab Leader 2014-2023
Miles Kuiling Bensky, Post Doctoral Researcher
Connor Fiolek, Technician
Bob Illyes, Research Programmer
Sean Landsman, Fisheries Researcher
Torri Leek, Technician
Dr. James Lukey, Post Doctoral Researcher
Thomasine McNamara, Webmaster
Lynnette Miller-Ishmael, Data Coordinator
Kristen Patterson, Fisheries Researcher
Josh Sherwood, Fisheries Researcher
Justin Rondon, Pond Site Coordinator
Zachary Zuckerman, Associate Fisheries Biologist