Donovan Lab Members
Current Lab Members

Principal Investigator

   Dr. Sharon M. Donovan, PhD, RD

Dr. Sharon Donovan

Dr. Donovan received her B.S. and Ph.D. in Nutrition from the University of California, Davis. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology at Stanford University School of Medicine, she accepted a faculty position at the University of Illinois, Urbana in 1991.  She was promoted to Professor in 2001 and, in 2003, was named the first recipient of the Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Health at the University of Illinois.  She served as Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences Interdisciplinary Graduate Program from 1999-2009.  She is actively involved in her professional societies and will serve as President of the American Society for Nutrition for 2011-2012.

Contact Information

339 Bevier Hall
905 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: (217) 333-2289
Email: sdonovan@illinois.edu

View CV

Assistant Research Professor

   Marcia Monaco Siegel, PhD

Marcia Monaco Siegel

Marcia Monaco Siegel received her B.S. in Dietetics at the Pontificia Catholic University of Campinas in Brazil, her M.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Rhode Island and her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois in 1994. Her scientific training was followed with a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratories of Drs. Matt Wheeler and Sharon Donovan at UI, where she worked on the development of an IGF-I transgenic line of swine. Marcia is involved in several projects that focus on the understanding of the role of nutrition, particularly components of breast milk, in the development of the gastrointestinal tract. She has over 20 years of experience in using the piglet as a model for biomedical research and often collaborates with other investigators in the adaptation of the piglet model for their research. In the spring of 2011, Marcia received the Professional Staff Award for Excellence from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Contact Information

338 Bevier Hall
905 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: (217) 244-2873
Email: monaco@illinois.edu

View CV

Visiting Research Specialist in Nutrition

   Mei Wang, PhD

Mei Wang

Mei Wang has been working at the Donovan Lab as a postdoc research associate since 2007. Her current research interests focus on the impact of early nutrition (breast-milk, formula, formula with prebiotics, and breast-milk in combination with formula) on the colonization of intestinal microbiota and immune function using a neonate pig model. Mei obtained her Ph.D. at the Department of Food Technology, Engineering and Nutrition, Lund University, Sweden. During that time, her research aimed at the characterization of intestinal microbiota in healthy and diseased subjects by DNA-based methods. Mei's research interests are gut microbiota, infant formula, and pre- and probiotics.

Contact Information

363 Bevier Hall
905 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: (217) 333-2685
Email: meiwang@illinois.edu

View CV

Postdoctoral Fellows

   Emily Radlowski, PhD, RD

Emily Radlowski

Emily Radlowski received her PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her researched focused on early nutrition (breastfeeding, formula feeding, or the combination of the two) and its effect on immune development using a neonatal piglet model. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate in the laboratories of Dr. Sharon Donovan and Dr. Rodney Johnson. Her current projects include developing a piglet model for research involving the small for gestational age infant.  Through her training as a PhD student and now a post-doc, Emily has learned many techniques including gut enzyme assays, flow cytometry, immune cell isolation, ELISAs, microarray analysis as well as behavioral testing using a piglet model. In addition to her research, Emily is involved with the Graduate Dietetic Internship, as an assistant to Dr. Sharon Donovan.

Contact Information

338 Bevier Hall
905 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: (217) 244-2863
Email: radlowsk@illinois.edu

View CV

PhD Students

   Elizabeth Reznikov, PhD student

Elizabeth Reznikov

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Reznikov joined the Donovan Lab in the fall of 2009. Lizzy is the recipient of the Ruth. L. Kirschstein Fellowship. The overall focus of her dissertation research has been on the biological effects of lactoferrin on gastrointestinal and immune development in the piglet model. She has conducted several animal studies examining intestinal proliferation, enzymatic activity, histomorphological, immunohistochemical measures and gene expression on the intestine in piglets supplemented with lactoferrin. Lizzy has also optimized several methods including quantifying proliferation and migration, and immune cell staining. This data has been presented at Experimental Biology 2011, and 2012. Both years Lizzy’s abstracts were chosen for a Trainee Travel Award from the Int'l Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation. She is currently working on her next project that will study the interaction between lactoferrin and probiotics in modulating the systemic immune system and microbiota in a novel piglet Staphylococcus aureus sepsis model.

Contact Information

338 Bevier Hall
905 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: (217) 244-2863
Email: rezniko1@illinois.edu

View CV

   Kirsten Berding, PhD student

Kirsten Berding

Kirsten Berding joined the Donovan Lab in the fall of 2013. The German native obtained her Bachelor's degree in Dietetics from the University of Memphis, Tennessee. As a Student Athlete competing in Track and Field she also worked as a Research Assistant in Dr. Randy Buddington's lab with the focus in pediatric research using a preterm piglet model. She conducted her own research project by developing an oral fluid supplement for preterm piglets to improve growth and development. She presented her research at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. Her current research is focusing on the gut-brain axis and microbiome in the piglet model. She is pursuing a PhD degree in Nutritional Sciences and plans on completing the Dietetic Internship at the end of her degree.

Contact Information

338 Bevier Hall
905 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: (217) 244-2863
Email: berding2@illinois.edu

   Natasha Chong Cole, MPH, RD

Natasha Chong Cole

Natasha joined the Donovan Lab in the fall of 2013 as a member of the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program (I-TOPP). Before coming to U-of-I, she worked as a Registered Dietitian in Southern California doing weight management consulting for a bariatric surgery group. She holds a Master of Public Health degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Loma Linda University and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance from Southern Methodist University. Her research project will be in the area of child feeding practices and interventions in childhood obesity prevention.

Contact Information

338 Bevier Hall
905 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: (217) 244-2863
Email: nccole@illinois.edu

   Julia Kim, RD

Julia Kim

Julia Kim received her B.S. in Clinical Nutrition at University of California, Davis. After finishing her dietetic internship at Napa State Hospital, she worked as a dietitian, providing nutrition counseling to elderly patients and teaching classes on general healthy living, diabetes, renal disease, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Julia joined the Donovan Lab in fall 2013 as part of the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program (I-TOPP) to receive training in research as a public health professional. Her research project will be in the area of breastfeeding, breast milk composition and childhood obesity. Her long-term goals are to conduct research, teach as a professor, and influence public policy to decrease childhood obesity.

Contact Information

338 Bevier Hall
905 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: (217) 244-2863
Email: jkim578@illinois.edu

Master's Students

   Julia Marsiglio, B.Sc.

Julia Marsiglio

Julia Marsiglio received her B.Sc. in Dietetics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013 at which point she joined Dr. Donovan's research group to pursue a Master's in Human Nutrition. Her current research focuses on outcomes of bariatric surgery, specifically laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. Julia is also currently completing the dietetic internship program at the University of Illinois.

Contact Information

338 Bevier Hall
905 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: (217) 244-2863
Email: marsigl2@illinois.edu

Undergraduate Students

Photo Not Available

Jessica Chen, Class of 2014

Mollecular and Cellular Biology