Thanks to a generous donation from Michael (MS, ’02, Earth Science & Environmental Change) and Lalana Fortwengler, the Tom L. Phillips Memorial Fund for Paleobotany has supported graduate students and collection management for the University's world-class coal ball collection.

Coal balls are the remains of 300 million year old plants from the midwest, when the last supercontinent, Pangea, had formed and Illinois was largely a tropical swamp. Over 600,000 specimens are housed here, far and away the world's largest collection of coal balls. Interdisciplinary research in both Plant Biology and Earth Science & Environmental Change are using these collections to investigate this ancient world.

Check out the news story from Integrative Biology and the article in The Quadrangle