Because undergraduates in the School of MCB are not assigned an advisor, you may choose to meet with any one or more of the advisors listed below. We encourage you to find someone that you connect with and meet with them consistently throughout your time at Illinois. If you would like for us to assign you an advisor, please make that request when you schedule your appointment. Please use our online scheduler or call 217-333-6774.

Headshot of Timothy Bowers

Timothy Bowers (he/him/his) 
200 Burrill Hall
Advising since 2000
Learn more about Tim

Advising Interests
First generation students
Career Development
Graduate School
Students from small towns
High school to college transition  
Greek Life
Pre-health advising

MS, Physical Chemistry, University of Illinois, 1993
BS, Chemistry (ACS certified), Butler University, 1990

Research Interests
Magnetic resonance studies, MRI contrast agents

Growing orchids, gardening, reading, and spending time with my family.

Headshot of Bethany Burger

Bethany Burger (she/her/hers) 
200 Burrill Hall 
Advising since June 2022
Learn more about Bethany

Advising Interests
Undergraduate Research
Double Majors, Minors, Certificates
Study Abroad

BS, Psychology, University of Illinois, 2020
Minors in MCB and Leadership Studies
Certificate in Neuroscience from School of MCB

Research Interests 
Healthy Brain Aging
Trauma's Effects on Brain Development and Processing

Traveling, baking, reading, watching Big Ten athletics

Headshot of Lilia Agata Garcia

Lilia Garcia (she/her/hers) 
200 Burrill Hall
Advising since August 2021
Learn more about Lilia

BS, Biology, Illinois Wesleyan University, 2021

Advising Interests:
Multicultural students
First generation students
Major exploration
Undergraduate research
Study abroad

Research Interests:
Microbial ecology
Plant-microbe interactions

Painting, crocheting, reading, dancing, hiking and camping

Joe Fernandez, Headshot taken in front of MCB sign

Joseph M. Fernandez, PhD (he/him/his)

Coordinator for the Undergraduate Major in Neuroscience

200 Burrill Hall (enter through room 101 Burrill Hall)
Advising since 2024
Learn more about Joe

Advising Interests
First-generation, low-income, and under-represented students

Students struggling with health/disability
Career development
Pre-health advising
Undergraduate research
Graduate & Professional School preparation

PhD, Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University, 2022
BS, Psychology (Neuroscience), Yale University, 2012

Research Interests
Central Nervous System Injury & Disease
Traumatic Brain Injury
Oxidative stress

Gardening, Cooking, Woodworking, video games, anything Sci-fi/Fantasy, spending time with fiancé and dogs, music, travel, and outdoor adventures!

Headshot of Jack Ikeda

Jack Ikeda, PhD (he/him/his) 
484B Burrill Hall
Advising since August 2009
Learn More About Jack

Post-Doctoral Research: UC San Diego Medical Center, Durham VA Medical Center, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Colorado State University 
PhD, Microbiology, University of California at Davis, 1990
MA, Microbiology, University of California at Davis, 1984
BS, Biology, Santa Clara University, 1980

Advising Interests
Graduate school
Undergraduate research, senior thesis and Distinction

Teaching Interests
Molecular Genetics

Research Interests
Microbial pathogenesis

Boardgames, movies, photography, origami and the Beatles

Headshot of Dara Lawyer

Dara Lawyer (she/her/hers) 
200 Burrill Hall 
Advising since October 2022
Learn more about Dara

Advising Interests
First-generation and under-resourced students
Career exploration, advising, and development
Transfer students
Diversity, equity, and inclusion
Pre-health advising
Appreciative advising
Coaching as advising

MS, Community Development, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
BS, Speech Communication, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Certificate in Public Management, Laramie County Community College
Certificate in Academic and Professional Coaching, LifeBound

Research Interests 
First-generation student success, retention, and persistence
Academic advising outcomes and assessment
Transfer student success, retention, and persistence
Probationary student success, retention, and persistence

Baking, cooking, reading, movies/TV series (action, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy), anthropology, dancing, and music

Headshot of Brad Mehrtens

Brad Mehrtens (he/him/his) 
200 Burrill Hall
Advising since March 2004
LAS Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising, 2013 - 2014
Learn More About Brad

Advising Interests
Making the transition to Illinois for freshmen or transfer students
Preparing for professional or graduate programs
Understanding the undergraduate research experience
Acknowledging and addressing academic or personal issues
Appreciative advising

MS, Microbiology, University of Illinois, 1993
BS, Biology, Truman State University, 1991

Teaching Interests
MCB 150, Molecular & Cellular Basis for Life

Research Interests
Educational Pedagogy
Course Design

Acting, theater, movies, music and sports

Headshot of Dr. Shawna Naidu

Shawna Naidu, PhD (she/her/hers)

Senior Coordinator for Instruction - Honors

2024 Most Valuable Undergraduate Instructional Staff Award 
200 Burrill Hall
Advising since August 2006
Learn More About Shawna

Advising Interests
High-Achieving Students
Double Majors
Advising towards Graduate and Professional School
Intercultural Students
Peer Advising

PhD, MS Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1996, 1992
AB, Biology, Washington University in St. Louis, 1989    

Teaching Interests 
MCB 298 (Honors Lab Discussion Sections)
In my past life: General Biology, Plant Biology and Ecology

Research Interests 
Assessment of Advising
Increasing academic success of at-risk students
In my past life: Plant response to global environmental changes

Crochet, crafting, Science Fiction/Fantasy literature and movies

Alison Neff headshot taken outside Burrill Hall

Alison Neff, PhD (she/her/hers)

Coordinator for the Undergraduate Program, Department of Biochemistry

417 Roger Adams Laboratory
Advising since 2023

Advising Interests
Undergraduate Research
Preparing For Professional & Graduate Programs
First-generation Students
Underrepresented Students

PhD, Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Illinois
MS, Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Illinois
MS, Molecular, Cellular, and Systemic Physiology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
BS, Animal Sciences, University of Illinois

Reading, knitting, cooking, and spending time with family.

Additional Resources

Prospective Student Advisors

Melissa Michael, Associate Director for Curriculum and Instruction and Study Abroad Advisor

Alejandra Stenger, Assistant Director for Curriculum & Instruction + DEI, MCB Merit Program Director
* Para obtener información en español, comuníquese con Alejandra Stenger. Teléfono: (217) 244-7241

Melissa Reedy, Coordinator for Instruction

MCB Leaders

A small group of accomplished students in MCB that want to help current and prospective students learn more about the University of Illinois, the College of LAS and the Molecular and Cellular Biology major.

MCB Peer Mentors

The School of MCB offers incoming first-year students in biology the opportunity to be matched with a third or fourth-year student in MCB who will offer guidance on acclimating to university life. Our peer mentors are successful MCB Leaders, MCB Peer Advising interns and MCB Honors students who are prepared to talk with you about courses, career goals, research, campus activities/organizations, and general questions about navigating the campus.