Local Partner Projects

Dedicated to improving human-wildlife interactions around urban waterways by supporting research-based solutions that benefit wildlife and humans alike.

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Shedd Aquarium: Kayak for Conservation

Urban Rivers has teamed up with Shedd Aquarium to install and care for Shedd's River Island, 260 sq ft of dedicated floating habitat within the Wild Mile. Shedd's River Island features more than 15 strategically chosen aquatic, wetland and terrestrial plant species that provide food and shelter to native wildlife. Used as a destination for their Kayak for Conservation stewardship program, Shedd’s River Island provides a powerful platform for community education as well as key habitat for native fauna. If you'd like to paddle the Chicago River and monitor wildlife with Shedd conservation experts, you can learn more here.


Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

Chicago’s Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) has partnered with Urban Rivers to conduct a 4-year study measuring the effects of our floating habitat on the populations and health of local fish species. MWRD utilizes electrofishing techniques to safely and efficiently gather fish and benthic organism samples every few months.


We partner with universities and students on research projects to scale impact and insights. Below is a selection of current and completed research.

MS & PhD Projects


DePaul University

MBA students are working on a specific business problem, which they will present solutions for in June. 

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Northeastern Illinois University

Collecting periphyton and performing mesocosm experiments at the Chicago Botanic Garden, to better understand the effects of our floating habitat on the river ecosystem.

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Illinois State University

Through the lab of Dr. Eric Peterson, we are assessing the impact of our floating wetland habitat on water quality metrics (e.g. the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, chloride) in the area immediately surrounding the installation. 


University of Illinois

Conducting urban bird surveys. Also building a bottom-up, trophic-level bat habitat on the Wild Mile’s artificial floating riverbanks in the Chicago River to help sustain urban bat species affected by white nose syndrome and wind turbine fatalities.


Undergraduate & Community Projects



Students from the Horticulture Club are building and monitoring habi-hacking devices, designed to maximize the biodiversity on our floating habitat.


DePaul University

Business students collected research on similarly based organizations and created case studies, which analyzed several key aspects of said organizations that our team could potentially benchmark off of. 


Want to collaborate with Urban Rivers on an academic project? We're always eager to partner on new research proposals.