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Janelle Burke

Associate Professor

  • Biology
  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Interim Chair
    Environmental Studies


Dr. Janelle Burke is an Associate Professor of Biology and currently serves as Interim Chair of the Dept. of Earth, Environment and Equity (E3). Trained as a botanist, her research expertise is in plant evolution and diversity. She has described 14 new species of plants, and has two plant species named in her honor: Coccloba burkeae and Miconia burkeae. At Howard University, she has served in a leadership role to develop and grow the Environmental Studies and Science program, which was launched in 2016. She has also been instrumental in securing multiple grants and partnerships to support this program and its associated student opportunities. She has a passion for developing innovative, interdisciplinary curricula that prepare HBCU students for leadership roles in environmental and sustainability careers.

Education & Expertise


Plant Biology

Cornell University


Behavioral Biology
The Johns Hopkins University



Intro. to Environmental Studies

A survey course on of cross-disciplinary environmental topics, including climate change, conservation, environmental justice, environmental policy and plastic pollution. 

Plant Diversity

A biology course that covers the fundamentals of the plant kingdom: plant diversity, plant morphology, plant-human interactions and plant evolution. 

Honors Thesis

A course for seniors enrolled in the COAS Honors Program to complete and submit their honors thesis in line with program requirements. 




Plant Evolutionary Biology


NSF- 2024-2027: Excellence in Research: Developing a Model System for Studying the Determinants of Flower Morphology in Tropical Dioecious Trees

NSF- 2021- 2024: Excellence in Research: The evolutionary origins of sex chromosomes in docks and sorrels (Rumex)

NSF- 2016-2020: Targeted Infusion Project: Promoting Environmental Education in Urban Social-Ecological Resilience

NSF- 2016-2019: Collaborative Research: Digitization TCN: The Mid-Atlantic Megalopolis: Achieving a greater scientific understanding of our urban world

NSF- 2016-2020: Research Initiation Award: A model plant group to study the evolution of diverse reproductive systems

Group Information