Our People

Maria Lemke

Director of Conservation Science, Illinois

Peoria, IL

Maria Lemke in the field.

Maria Lemke Maria Lemke, Director of Conservation Science, works in Illinois on the Mackinaw River project, photographed on the Franklin family farm near Lexington, Illinois. © Mark Godfrey/TNC

Areas of Expertise

Freshwater Ecology

Media Contact

Isabel Morales


Maria Lemke currently directs the science program for The Nature Conservancy in Illinois. Since 2002, much of her work as a freshwater biologist with TNC has revolved around working with partners to implement and quantify effectiveness of agricultural conservation practices in the Mackinaw River watershed and conducting floodplain wetland research at Emiquon and Spunky Bottoms preserves in central Illinois.

Prior to working for The Nature Conservancy, Maria worked for several years with the Illinois Natural History Survey. She was stationed at the Illinois River Biological Station in Havana, Illinois, and focused on monitoring larval fish and zooplankton production in backwater lakes on the Illinois River.

Maria received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Oklahoma, where she studied the response and recovery mechanisms of aquatic insect communities to flooding and drying disturbances. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Alabama, where her research focused on population and production dynamics of wetland microcrustaceans.

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Protecting the Mackinaw River (3:33) The Nature Conservancy is working with farmers and landowners in Illinois to construct wetlands that help keep valuable nutrients out of the Mackinaw River.