Outstanding Alumni Contributions 2009

Rich Cahill receives his award from ISGS Director Don McKay

Individuals who have retired from the ISGS but who have continued to make significant contributions to the Survey may be recognized with an Outstanding Alumni Contributions Award. Such contributions might include significant collaboration on research projects, provision of support services, contributions to outreach efforts, or advocacy in the public arena. This year's recipient is Richard Cahill, who retired in 2008 after more than 33 years, and who continues to serve the ISGS after his retirement.

A "utility infielder of geochemistry," Cahill has published investigations on topics as diverse as coal, petroleum, radioactivity of rock and sediments, radon occurrence in Illinois, wastes of all kinds including compost, and wetlands for a multitude of projects including the Long-Term Ecological Research Program. No stranger to field work, Cahill routinely served as a "field hand" in collecting cores on the Illinois River that were sampled for all types of analyses. He is regularly consulted on vibracoring, especially for ponds and streams. He has been recognized inside and outside of the ISGS and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for his services and expert opinion in scientific investigations and reviews of technical documents, including those in politically sensitive areas such as CERCLA (Superfund) sites. He also is recognized as an expert on the Illinois River, including sediment deposition and occurrence, geochemistry of contaminants, and history. Before his retirement, he was an active member of the ISGS Safety Committee and ensured that the chemicals in the Geochemistry Section were current or disposed of properly when he retired. He continues to be active in this safety activity.

Cahill also continues to contribute to Survey programs. He can generally be found working in his laboratory or consulting with colleagues on geochemical problems. He continues his research on the Illinois River and helps other researchers on their projects, especially those without funding. He currently is analyzing trace elements in coal balls for fellow retiree Philip DeMaris. Cahill is among the most active researchers among our retired staff members. He received a plaque that reads, "Outstanding ISGS Alumni Contributions: Richard A. Cahill, in appreciation of your post-retirement dedication to the ISGS through your ongoing contributions to the Geochemistry Section."