Department of Crop Sciences

Weed Science


tractor spraying herbicides

Weed science is a very dynamic field of research integrating cultural, mechanical, chemical, and biological management techniques to obtain economically and environmentally sustainable weed management systems.

Research interests and expertise of the weed science faculty include: molecular and biochemical mechanisms of herbicide selectivity, evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds, weed ecology and biology, soil-herbicide interactions, evaluation of new herbicides, and weed-crop competition.

Emphasis is on solving weed management problems in Illinois field crops through basic and applied research.

Opportunities for Study

Study in weed science leads to M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. Students take courses in weed science that discuss herbicide selectivity/mode of action and weed ecology/biology, as well as courses in crop sciences, plant physiology, biochemistry, plant anatomy, statistics, and contemporary laboratory techniques. In consultation with thesis advisors, students select their thesis research topics.

There is a strong emphasis on team approaches; consequently, numerous opportunities exist to develop integrated research topics that combine field and laboratory studies. Cooperative programs often lead to opportunity for association with students and faculty in soils, plant physiology, biotechnology, plant breeding, plant pathology, and entomology.

Career Opportunities

Employment prospects for M.S. and Ph.D. recipients are excellent. University opportunities include faculty or staff positions in research, teaching, or extension. Government opportunities include the USDA-ARS, Environmental Protection Agency, and various state agricultural departments. Industry opportunities include herbicide discovery and development research positions, crop consulting, and marketing of agricultural pesticides.


The weed science laboratories in Turner Hall are well-equipped with such items as refrigerated centrifuges, spectrophotometer, scintillation counters, amino acid analyzer, biological oxidizer, and liquid and gas chromatograph. Greenhouse and growth chambers are available, including those equipped with laboratory sprayers. Space for field research is available at: