The Urban Rivers Research Institute

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

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Our Mission and Goals

As human populations grow and wildlife populations and wildlife diversity decline at an increasing rate, The Urban Rivers Research Institute is dedicated to uncovering and implementing effective and sustainable ways to improve our urban waterways for the long-term benefit of both wildlife and humans.

We focus on urban waterways because their importance and their prevalence across the globe allow for highly scalable impact.

The United Nations estimates that over 68% of people will live in cities by 2050. Almost all of those cities are directly connected to bodies of freshwater. The Urban Rivers Research Institute is based in Chicago, but the solutions that our team and researchers validate can be applied across cities worldwide for exponential impact.


What We Do

The Urban Rivers Research Institute works with university students who are focusing their research in an ecological field.

We empower these students with:

  • Grant funding

  • Access to our Urban Rivers research sites in Chicago

  • Access to Urban Rivers citizen scientists for research assistance

  • Access to the Urban Rivers Research community, which includes past researchers and our academic advisory board.

Please join us as a researcher or donate now to fund a University student project and be part of the change we hope to see in the world.


About Urban Rivers

Founded by a team of environmental researchers and entrepreneurs, Urban Rivers is focused on challenging the status quo by empowering ideas that make urban waterways better environments for all organisms. The Urban Rivers Research Institute is most interested in designing, testing, and ultimately validating scalable wildlife habitat solutions with the aim of having a positive impact on urban waterways around the world.

How Urban Rivers measures the success of the Urban Rivers Research Institute with a few leading and lagging indicators of success. Our leading indicators: the number of research students supported, the number of habitat solutions developed, and the  number of citizen scientists and learners engaged through our research initiatives. Our lagging indicators: the increase in abundance and diversity of native plants and wildlife.

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 investigating the use of recycled car battery housings to provide bats with habitat, while preventing the spread of white nose syndrome.


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.