Scientific Staff

Chai-Shian Kua, PhD

Urban Tree Science Leader, Center for Tree Science

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As the Arboretum’s Urban Tree Science Leader, Chai-Shian works with a wide range of stakeholders on projects related to urban tree research and management.

Chai-Shian is currently leading the 2020 Chicago Region Tree Census, working closely with the Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI) and the Center for Tree Science (CTS). She is also an adjunct Associate Professor at the Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Urban Tree Ecology and Applications (SERCUTEA), where she works with colleagues on developing science-based urban tree management strategies. Her efforts to develop and improve relationships with partners in China resulted in a signed Memorandum of Understanding aimed at expanding professional exchanges and collaborations on urban tree research.

Some of the many projects she has helped develop with academic and industry partners include a pilot study monitoring urban tree water use with real-time smart sap flow sensors (with ICT International, Australia) and genomic sequencing of Tanoak (with CGI-USA, the University of Tennessee, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley). 

As an ecological genomicist, Chai-Shian 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
Shanghai, 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

Adjunct Associate Professor, Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Urban Tree Ecology and Applications