Welcome to IB 100!
I am a professor of plant molecular systematics in the Department of Plant Biology. I arrived here in Champaign-Urbana almost 24 years ago, having completed my undergraduate education at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, graduate study at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and post-doctoral research at the University of Michigan and Indiana University. I am an outdoor enthusiast and have a great love of nature, so it was only natural that after taking my first botany course as an undergraduate I was hooked on the plant sciences. I chose to become a plant systematist because it involves both field and laboratory work, travel throughout the world collecting and observing plants, and an opportunity to address interesting questions of biodiversity, such as classification and relationships. I feel extraordinarily lucky to have a career that I absolutely love.
For information about my research program, click here.
I have three wonderful children, who do find it somewhat curious that their dad studies plants for a living. My daughter graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in communication design, and is now working in communication design in St. Louis. My oldest son graduated from the University of Illinois and majored in Integrative Biology. His interests are more in the animal/human sciences, rather than botany! My youngest son is now a sophomore at Yale University and plays soccer on their Varsity team. So, now more than ever, I have a greater appreciation of how hard each of you must have worked to get here and what the life of an undergraduate student entails!
I enjoy hiking, travel, and especially hiking in foreign countries, looking at plants every chance I get. Throughout the year you can usually find me standing beside a soccer pitch cheering on my youngest son. Otherwise, I am in the research lab, designing experiments, analyzing data, writing papers, or planning my next plant collecting trip or hiking adventure. I also am responsible for another course, IB 335: Systematics of Plants. If you enjoy natural history or simply want to learn more about the flowering plants around you, please check out this award-winning course!
I look forward to meeting each of you this term, so please don't hesitate to stop by anytime. I have open office hours, but to ensure that I will be available to meet with you, please try to set up an appointment beforehand via email.
I can be reached at sdownie "at" life.illinois.edu. If you wish to learn more about this course, don't hesitate to contact me.
I wish you all a great semester!
Stephen Downie on the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park, Canada (photo taken August 15, 2012)
Stephen Downie and a tomatillo plant, Urbana Illinois (photo taken August 15, 2013)