Focus on Faculty
Lisa Donovan, professor of plant biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, helps students gain a better understanding of the natural world so that they can make informed decisions as citizens and stewards of our natural resources
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned my bachelor’s degree from Salisbury University in Maryland and my master’s degree in marine studies from the University of Delaware. I earned my doctorate in plant physiological ecology from the University of Utah. I am currently professor in the department of plant biology, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, where I teach, conduct research and serve as graduate coordinator.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came to the University of Georgia in 1995 and was attracted by the diversity and excellence of the plant biologists here.
What are your favorite courses and why?
At the undergraduate level, I enjoy contributing to BIOL 1108, “Principles of Plant Biology II” for biology majors, because it provides the opportunity to interact with a lot of students early in their academic careers. At the graduate level, I enjoy teaching PBIO 8890, “Plant Reproductive and Physiological Ecology,” because I get to teach my specialty to receptive and enthusiastic graduate students.
What interests you about your field?
An understanding of ecological and evolutionary relationships helps explain the patterns that I see in the natural world around me. It also has the potential to help us mitigate the effects of global climate change.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
I have had some research successes, but I get just as much satisfaction from being graduate coordinator, which allows me to facilitate the professional development of young scientists.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa
Research allows me to contribute to our understanding of plant ecological and evolutionary responses to the environment. Teaching keeps my small research contributions in perspective within the bigger picture of science and society. You never really understand something until you teach it!
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I hope that students will gain a better understanding of our natural world and develop the ability to make more-informed decisions as citizens and stewards of our natural resources.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is one who is curious, self-motivated and reliable.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
My favorite thing to do on campus is to walk around all of the different areas and appreciate the beautiful campus and all of the different people.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Travel, walk and explore, cook, read and do jigsaw puzzles.
Community/civic involvement includes….
I work with Campus Cats, which is a nonprofit organization that works to humanely reduce the number of feral cats on the UGA campus. We additionally encourage everyone to spay/neuter their pets and never abandon them.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
I don’t have a single favorite book, but I am currently enjoying several fictional series: the space adventures of Honor Harrington and her six-legged treecat by David Weber, archeologically informed fictional histories of North American peoples by Kathleen and Michael Gear, and novels of English and Welsh royalty during the Middle Ages by Sharon Kay Penman. I like fiction that transports me to a different place and time.
Proudest moment at UGA?
Watching my graduate students graduate!
(Published on Jan. 26, 2014)