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Professor

Sharon M. Donovan

CAS Professor of Food Science & Human Nutrition

Donovan image
Photo by David Riecks

Dr. Donovan obtained her B.S. and Ph.D. in Nutrition from the University of California at Davis in 1983 and 1988, respectively. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, she joined the faculty at UIUC in February 1991 as an Assistant Professor of Nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. She was promoted to Full Professor in August 2001, and has held the Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Health since 2003. She also holds appointments in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and the Carle-Illinois College of Medicine. She served as Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences between 1999 and 2009. In July 2020, she was appointed as Director of the newly established campus-wide Personalized Nutrition Initiative at Illinois.

The Donovan laboratory conducts basic and translational research in the area of pediatric nutrition. During this phase of life, proper nutrition is of key importance for growth, development, and long-term functional outcomes, such as cognition and immune response. On-going work in the lab is focusing on optimizing intestinal and cognitive development of neonates, development of the gut microbiome and prevention of childhood obesity and picky eating in children. She is the author of more than 225 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. Dr. Donovan has garnered over $35M in grant support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), foundations, and the food and pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Donovan is an internationally recognized leader in the field of nutrition. She served as President of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) from 2011-2012 and the International Society for Research on Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML) from 2018-2020. She was a member of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee. She also served on the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine from 2012-2018 and in 2017 was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Medicine. Other honors include University Scholar (1888-2001) and member of the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois; the Team Award for Excellence in Research (2015), Spitze Land-Grant Professorial Career Excellence Award (2014), Paul A. Funk Recognition Award (2010), Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Research (2006) and Faculty Award for Excellence in Research (1997) in the College of ACES at Illinois; the Norman A. Kretchmer Memorial Award in Nutrition & Development (2006) and the Mead the Johnson Research Award (1997) from the American Society for Nutrition; and the 2016 Lucille S. Hurley Distinguished Lecturer, in the Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis.

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