University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Led by world-class faculty
Promoted by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Led by world-class faculty

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is a world-class leader in research, teaching, and public engagement. Its expertise spans wide and includes the defining issue of this generation: tackling the climate crisis.

“At Illinois, we are conducting innovative research that will contribute to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change,” says Dr. Carmen Marlene Ugarte, Research Assistant Professor at UIUC College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). “Our programmes are multidisciplinary; consequently, students are exposed to a great variety of enriching experiences beyond their general area of expertise, which ultimately helps students acquire a variety of skills that are useful for early career professionals.” 

Born and raised in Southern Bolivia, Dr. Ugarte worked in conservation initiatives after college, before pursuing a higher degree in environmental sciences focusing on soil ecology. At ACES, she is a soil scientist and one of the lead principal investigatorss in the Soil Ecology Lab within the Department of Natural Resoures and Environmental Sciences (NRES). Her research team looks into the dynamics of soil food webs and their influence on ecosystem services provided by soil.

“These are services like nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and the regulation of population densities of deleterious soil organisms,” she says. “We also study plant-soil interactions that help us understand how to optimise management in organic cropping systems such that they remain productive while minimising their environmental impact.”

Dr. Ugarte closely collaborates with students on this important work that is relevant to today’s challenges with soil ecology. “Students play a central role in every project,” she says. “Under the umbrella of the overarching goals of the project, graduate students work in developing novel contributions to the scientific and farming community, while undergraduate and visiting students work alongside graduate students to learn and gain experience applying the scientific method to solve real-world problems.” 


Dr. Juan Arbelaez is another ACES faculty member who is pioneering innovation that can make a difference. As an assistant professor, plant breeder, and geneticist, he’s defying disciplinary boundaries to contribute to solutions that can reduce hunger, malnutrition, and poverty around the world. Arbelaez recruits undergraduate students for a three-week internship at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines to support a research project funded by the National Science Foundation.

“In this internship you would be exposed to rice research, and get a better understanding of the cultural importance rice has for the Philippines and Southeast Asia,” Arbelaez says. “Students even get to conduct research on plant pathology, physiology, breeding, genetics, and conservation.” 

The UIUC community is diverse — which works toward realising its goal of improving lives globally. UIUC has the sixth-largest international student population in the country. ACES features faculty and researchers who are engaged in more than 76 countries to provide and develop collaborative courses and international internship opportunities with foreign universities and companies. 

There’s no shortage of new ideas to enliven and spearhead its research areas in Agriculture and Environment, Data and Technology, Family and Communities, as well as Health and Wellness. This breadth of research is also reflected within ACES academic programmes, which feature varied subjects from engineering, finance and economics, to law, nutritional science and communication. No matter your interests, there is a programme pathway for you at this institution. 

As one of the top agricultural schools worldwide, an ACES education can take you far. There are numerous departments and programmes to choose from, including Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Agricultural and Consumer Economics, Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications, Animal Sciences, Crop Sciences, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Human Development and Family Studies, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Nutritional Sciences. 

UIUC College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

In ACES, students can explore a variety of research specialisations led by stellar faculty. Source: UIUC

Whichever programme you choose, they’re all led by faculty who are leaders in their field. “At Illinois, we are pioneers and innovators in agriculture, we have had a strong influence on how agricultural research is done around the world,” says Arbelaez. “We’re located among the most fertile lands in the world where we conduct some of the most innovative research. We have a world-class computer centre that helps us create multidisciplinary projects where we integrate biotechnology, crop sciences, and computer sciences to be extremely innovative, to really take a further step toward the next generation of farming.” 

Make the world a better place with a degree from UIUC College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), click here to apply now

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