Scientific Staff

Chai-Shian Kua, PhD

Urban Tree Science Leader, Center for Tree Science

Content Detail

As the Arboretum’s urban tree science leader, Chai-Shian Kua works with a wide range of stakeholders on projects related to urban tree research and management.

Her work includes working with municipalities, non-profit organizations, universities, and other stakeholders who have a vested interest in urban tree health and sustainability.

Kua leads the ‘Urban Tree Science Working Group,’ a collaborative effort involving multiple departments and disciplines. Through this effort, the working group strives to improve tree science expertise, strengthen current partnerships, create new networks, and inspire and train the next generation of tree champions who will be responsible for advocating for and managing urban trees in the future.

Kua spearheaded the 2020 Chicago Region Tree Census. This initiative involved close collaboration of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI) and the Center for Tree Science (CTS). Kua played a pivotal role in implementing the census, which aimed to collect data on the trees in the Chicago region.

From 2017 to 2020, Kua was the adjunct associate professor at the Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Urban Tree Ecology and Applications. During her time there, she facilitated collaborations between The Morton Arboretum and colleagues from the Shanghai municipality to develop science-based urban tree management strategies.


As an ecological genomicist, Kua has published in leading journals in her field. As a senior science administrator, she has made it a professional priority to advance the core missions of the Center for Tree Science, developing partnerships and enhancing relationships with key stakeholders across the globe.

She has presented at multiple scientific conferences nationally and globally, chaired and organized numerous symposia and workshops, and also secured funding for key research and projects.

She is also professionally dedicated to mentoring young scientists; she frequently provides presentations on STEM-related topics to teachers and students and also seeks out independent research projects that she can collaborate with students on.


PhD, Ecology (Ecological Genomics)

Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing, China

MSc, Medical Genetics, Medical School

University of Newcastle
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

BS, Biology

The College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, VA

Master Gardener Certificate

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
College Station, TX


Certified Arborist, International Society of Arboriculture

Certified Red List Assessor, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)