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Illinois logo MCB The Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology

DR. SHAWNA NAIDU

Growing up, I liked nature and the outdoors. I wanted to study Environmental Science in college, but at my undergraduate university (Washington University in St. Louis) that major was discontinued, so I became a Biology major. Most of my peers were pre-med, but I knew that wasn't for me. I decided to go to graduate school and study plant ecology. That brought me to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I earned a Master's and a PhD degree in Plant Biology. I continued in a postdoctoral research position with my PhD advisor, Dr. Evan DeLucia, and then moved on to work with Dr. Stephen Long for several years. Throughout my time in research, I worked on the physiological response of plants to global environmental changes. My research included topics such as the effects of Ultraviolet-B radiation on pine trees, the effects of light exposure in canopy gaps on shade-developed hardwood trees, the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on pine trees and on soybean, and the cold-tolerance of Miscanthus grass species. Towards the end of my PhD and throughout my time as a post-doctoral student, I applied for various faculty positions around the country and had a few different job offers, but in the end, I decided to stay in Champaign to raise my growing family while my husband attended medical school and began his career as a physician. Remembering my time as a teaching assistant in graduate school and as a mentor to undergraduates in the research lab, I decided that I would like to refocus my career on working with undergraduate students. When the job as Coordinator for the MCB Honors Concentration opened up, it seemed like the perfect place to put my experiences and skills to work. I was hired and have now been enjoying this job for almost 15 years.