A Healthy World

Imagine...A Healthy World

Our planet’s health requires efficiency and sustainability all along the continuum between production and consumption—of food, energy, and the myriad resources we need to live. Work in the College of ACES lies at the center of inquiry into the interactions among the Earth’s natural and managed ecosystems. After all, Midwestern agriculture is among the largest managed ecosystems in the world.

Our expertise is put to work tackling critical environmental challenges—in water and land use, soils, air quality, climate and weather, and natural resource management. We focus on the role of proper nutrition in plant, animal, and human health; prudent management and conservation of living environments and habitats; and effective economic incentives and public policy frameworks.

Through interdisciplinary collaborations, we are finding innovative ways to solve real-world problems. We are training the next generation to integrate these discoveries to improve healthy living for the world’s many species while bettering the environment in which they can all thrive.

Other Features

Highlighted Research

Microbiota and gastrointestinal health
Dr. Kelly Swanson

Mammals have evolved with microorganisms inhabiting their gastrointestinal tract, co-existing in a state of symbiosis.  A stable gut microbiota, which may be influenced by several environmental factors including diet, is key to host health.  Dr. Kelly Swanson’s laboratory has evaluated how dietary fibers and prebiotics affect the composition and activity of gastrointestinal microbiota in humans, dogs, and cats.  Results from Swanson’s laboratory have shown that the consumption of these fermentable carbohydrates beneficially shift the microbiota and their metabolites, promoting gastrointestinal health.


ABE 374: Environmental Control for Buildings
Angela Green

ABE 374, Environmental Control for Buildings, focuses on controlling the atmospheric environment within an enclosed space, from the perspective of temperature, moisture, gas, and other contaminants. The course covers fundamental psychrometric principles, energy balances, and occupant comfort, with applicability to humans, animals, plants, and any other biological organism.

Professor Angela Green hopes “students walk away from ABE 374 with an understanding of moist air properties, approaches to changing those properties, and energy requirements for heating and cooling spaces, as well as improved competency in technical communications.”Former ABE 374 students have a wide range of careers today. Some work directly with HVAC after graduation, and others work for companies that make conveyor belts, power machinery, and even nutritional supplements. Several have gone on to graduate school, and several were at the U of I as international exchange students and have returned to their home countries.

Green’s favorite part of teaching this course is watching the evolution in students’ understanding of something that surrounds them every day but that most have never before considered.

ABE 374 contributes to a healthy environment by equipping students with knowledge of indoor conditions, which are vital to health. Green says, “Since most people, and many animals and plants, spend much of their time indoors, thermal comfort and air quality are critical to maintaining homeostasis and optimal biological performance. “