Food & Nutrition

Food & Nutrition Experts

Sharon M Donovan

Assistant Professor
The Institute for Genomic Biology
United States of America


Dr. Donovan received her B.S. and Ph.D. in Nutrition at 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. She was promoted to Associate Professor with indefinite tenure and to Full Professor in August 1997 and August 2001, respectively. She served as Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences between 1999 and 2009 and Director of the Graduate Dietetic Internship from 2008-2014. Dr. Donovan teaches both basic and advanced nutrition classes to undergraduate and graduate students and has been included on the "List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students" 23 times for 9 different courses. Dr. Donovan has over 165 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and receives grant support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), foundations and the food and pharmaceutical industry. Her research efforts have been recognized by both national and international organizations with several awards, and her graduate students have been the recipients of prestigious fellowships, scholarships and awards for their research accomplishments. She served as President of the American Society for Nutrition for 2011-2012 and will serve as the President of the International Society for Research on Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML) for 2018-2020.

Research Interest

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.


  • Comstock, S.S., Li, M., Wang, M., Monaco, M.H., Kuhlenschmidt, T.B., Kuhlenschmidt, M.S., Donovan, S.M. (2017) Dietary human milk oligosaccharides but not prebiotic oligosaccharides increase circulating natural killer cell and mesenteric lymph node memory T cell populations in noninfected and rotavirus-infected neonatal piglets. J. Nutr. 147:1041-1047.

  • Davis, E.C., Wang, M., Donovan, S.M. (2017) The role of early life nutrition in the establishment of gut microbial composition and function. Gut Microbes 8:143-171.

  • Luchini, V., Musaad, S.M., Donovan, S.M., Lee, S.-Y. (2017) Observed differences in child picky eating behavior between home and childcare locations. Appetite 116:123-131.

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