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Environmental Horticulture Graduate Program

Environmental Horticulture Graduate Program

Shea Keene / Ph.D. Student in Environmental Horticulture

Shea Keene is a Ph.D. student in the Environmental Horticulture Department. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of South Florida. Originally planning on entering medical school, Shea followed a pre-medical track throughout her undergraduate career. During her final semester, however, she realized she was not happy in the medical field. She decided to scrap her medical school applications and instead applied for several horticultural internships, as she had found a love for plants and gardening in the preceding years. During the fall of 2014, Shea lived on the island of Kaua’i and completed an internship at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Upon her return to Florida, she gained employment at Bok Tower Gardens and worked full-time as a gardener for all of 2015. While there, the Director of Horticulture introduced her to UF professor Dr. Kimberly Moore, who recommended graduate school and the Environmental Horticulture Department. Shea applied and was accepted as a graduate student by Dr. Thomas Colquhoun. She completed her master’s degree in Environmental Horticulture in December of 2017 and started her doctoral program in January of 2018. Shea’s research interests include floral volatile analysis and consumer preference studies.

Adviser: Dr. Thomas Colquhoun

Shea Keene CV

    • 2018-Present Ph.D. in Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl
    • 2016-2017 present Master of Science in Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl
    • 2012-2014 Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa,
    • 2010-2012 Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fl


    • 2016-2018 Graduate Research Assistantship
    • 2016 Bloom and Grow Garden Society Graduate Scholarship
    • 2016 Vivian Munday Young Horticulture Professional Scholarship/Work Program
    • 2013-2014 USF Dean’s List
    • 2012 FSU President’s List
    • 2010-2011 FSU Dean’s List
    • 2010-2014 Florida Bright Futures Scholarship

    My master’s project includes work in two different areas that cover my academic background and interests. The first part of my thesis reflects my love of chemistry. I am investigating the volatile profile, or fragrance, of more than 100 daylily cultivars and a selection of parent daylily species. Daylilies are popular perennial plants that are one of the most widely hybridized genera with over 80,000 registered cultivars. Hybridizers have concentrated almost exclusively on flower form and color, largely ignoring fragrance. While some of the parent species of daylilies possess a lovely, unique scent, over the years of hybridizing many cultivars lost their fragrance. Establishing the volatile profiles of several progenitor species and an array of cultivars, and investigating whether certain factors (such as flower color, flower form, ploidy, and growing climate) affect the volatiles, would generate valuable information that hybridizers could use to breed toward more fragrant daylilies. The second part of my thesis reflects my background in psychology and interest in consumer research. I designed a study that assesses consumer preference for indoor plants with and without toxic qualities. The study was implemented with IdeaMap® technology, a software platform that utilizes modified conjoint analysis to rapidly assay consumer preference for individual features that together characterize a product. The study yielded valuable insight into segments of consumers that differ in their preference for houseplants and methods to better market houseplants to these consumer segments.


    Teaching Assistant for Plants, Gardening, and You


    • Designed the course schedule and arranged guest lecturers.
    • Created quiz and examination questions.
    • Oversaw the planning and maintenance of a special out of class project in which students investigated the effects of different wavelength LED lights on the rooting and growth of coleus cuttings.
    National Tropical Botanical Garden Horticultural Internship Program, Kalaheo, HI 2014