Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

David L. Thomas New Chief of INHS

The Board of Natural Resources and Conservation appointed David L. Thomas, Director of the Illinois Waste Management and Research Center (WMRC), as the new Chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Board Chairman Brent Manning announced in November.

Dr. Thomas began his duties at INHS on December 1. He replaces Dr. Lorin Nevling, who retired last year.

"The Board and I believe David Thomas is a demonstrated leader who takes a broad view of issues and an interdisciplinary approach to solving problems," Manning said. "His extensive experience ranging from environmental consulting, solving real-time problems for industry, leading the Waste Management and Research Center, and maintaining his strong interest in ecology and sustainable development make him ideally suited to lead the Natural History Survey into the twenty-first century."

David. L. Thomas

Manning added, "He has led the Illinois Waste Management and Research Center from its infancy and developed it into a national leader in pollution prevention and waste management."

Thomas directed the WMRC for the last 12 years. He has a bachelor of science degree in zoology from the University of Illinois, and a master's degree in ecology also from the University of Illinois. His doctorate was in ecology and systematics from Cornell University. His master's thesis was on the life history of Percina darters of the Kaskaskia River, and was done as part of a larger investigation of the river by the Illinois Natural History Survey. His Ph.D. thesis was a comparative ecological study of six species of drums (Sciaenidae) of the Delaware River estuary.

Thomas was an INHS staff member during the 1960s, is a certified fisheries scientist with the American Fisheries Society, and has held memberships in the Federation of Research Biologists, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Icthyologists and Herpetologists.

From 1970 through early 1985, Dr. Thomas worked for two environmental consulting firms and a Boston-based architect engineering firm. He directed environmental studies for a number of major projects, including the first proposed floating nuclear plant, the Oyster Creek Nuclear Station, the Department of Energy's proposed Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion program, pumped storage plants in upstate New York, a larger water supply reservoir in New Jersey, and numerous transmission line projects.

From May 1985 through November 1997, Dr. Thomas was the Director of the Illinois Waste Management and Research Center, which is a division within the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He oversaw all the Center's activities, including the following programs: pollution prevention, research and laboratory services, information, and data management. He also coordinated the planning and development of the Center's $9-million Hazardous Materials Laboratory, a state-of-the-art research facility located at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Thomas has been active both nationally and internationally in the area of pollution prevention and sustainable development. He was on the first advisory board of the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable from 1990 to 1994 and was chair of the roundtable's board of directors from October 1993 to September 1994. He represented the roundtable on the Environmental Protection Agency's American Institute for Pollution Prevention from 1992 through 1996, and was on the institute's executive committee beginning in August 1993. He has worked with numerous countries, including Brazil, Egypt, Thailand, and Malaysia, to develop pollution prevention and cleaner production programs.

Illinois Natural History Survey

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