Skip to main content

Indiana Authors Awards Honoree

Michael Homoya, Shane Gibson and Gillian Harris

Michael Homoya

2020 Children’s Shortlist

Michael Homoya authored the scientific text for Wake Up, Woods, the Indiana selection for the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book and recipient of the 2020 GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement. He has written over 75 scientific papers, popular articles, and books about Indiana’s natural features, including Orchids of Indiana and Wildflowers and Ferns of Indiana Forests: A Field Guide. Homoya earned B.A. and M.S. degrees in botany at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, after which he taught elementary school science on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and biology at Southwestern Community College in North Carolina. For 37 years he served as botanist/plant ecologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Nature Preserves before retiring in 2019. Homoya is a Fellow and former president of the Indiana Academy of Science as well as board member and immediate past president of the Indiana Native Plant Society. He is currently an adjunct faculty member in biology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. In 2019 Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb awarded him the Sagamore of the Wabash for his contributions to preserve Indiana’s natural heritage. Other honors include the Indiana Academy of Science Distinguished Scholar Award, the Distinguished Career Public Service Award from Conservation Law Center, and the Barbara J. Restle Lifetime Conservation Award from Sycamore Land Trust. Homoya lives in Brownsburg with his wife Barbara and is fortunate to have their two sons Aaron and Wes, daughter-in-law Andréa, and grandson Soren living in nearby Indianapolis. 

Shane Gibson

2020 Children’s Shortlist

At an early age, Shane Gibson’s dad immersed him in nature through fishing, hunting, searching for morel mushrooms, walking the farm for historical artifacts, and just playing outside. This immersion in nature grew into a life-long passion for the outdoors. With degrees in environmental science and elementary education from Indiana University, Shane enjoys blending his love of nature, writing, and literature. He is the environmental education director for Sycamore Land Trust, was director of environmental education at Bradford Woods, has been an elementary teacher, and has worked in native plant restoration. Shane has envisioned his poetry and other writings in book form for many years and is thankful for this publication. Shane lives in Monroe County, Indiana, with his wife Taji, two boys Tanner and Sawyer, and a slew of flea-bitten varmints.   

Gillian Harris

2020 Children’s Shortlist

As a natural history illustrator and botanical artist, Gillian Harris works at the intersection of art and science: she enjoys delving into field guides and other resources to research her detailed illustrations, while appreciating how drawing or painting a subject deepens her understanding of it.  

Based in Bloomington and Brown County, Indiana, Gillian earned a B.A. in English at Indiana University (1984) and attended graduate school at Harvard University. As a nondegree student she later studied botany at Harvard, University of Michigan, and IU. At Michigan she also studied natural science illustration, and her first project was with Michigan Science Art, a consortium that contributed work to a 12-volume animal life encyclopedia. Gillian has since illustrated field guides and gardening books, one of which, Shrubs Large and Small, she co-wrote with Moya Andrews. Her work has appeared in the journals Smithsonian in Your Classroom and The Botanical Artist. 

Gillian has always sought to mesh her artwork with her interests in natural history and conservation. She was artist-in-residence at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (now National Park), and at T.C. Steele State Historic Site in Brown County, home to Selma Steele Nature Preserve. She was selected as the Great Smoky Mountains Wildflower Pilgrimage’s “Artist of the Year” in 2004 for her renderings of Appalachian flora. Her artwork has appeared at the Detroit Zoo and on signage for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, and in “Focus on Nature,” the annual natural history illustration exhibition sponsored by the New York State Museum. Her illustrations have been used by wildlife and conservation organizations and botanical gardens. Gillian has exhibited in several juried international shows sponsored by the American Society of Botanical Artists, which seeks to bring together science and art, including Botanical Art Worldwide: America’s Flora; and Losing Paradise?: Endangered Plants Here and around the World. These and other ASBA exhibitions in which Gillian participated traveled to numerous venues, such as the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History;  the United States, New York, Missouri and Chicago Botanic Gardens; the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley; and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England.  

An Indiana Advanced Master Naturalist, Gillian has taught wildflower classes for the Master Naturalist certification program and leads wildflower walks for local organizations, including the annual Brown County Wildflower Foray and the South-central Chapter of the Indiana Native Plant Society. She also edits IU Press’s Indiana Natural Science Series, and has had a column, “The Wild Garden,” focusing on sustainability and landscaping with plants indigenous to Indiana, in the Bloomington Herald-Times.  

Gillian’s travels are usually centered around hiking and photographing wildflowers, ferns, insects, and birds. Two of her favorite haunts are the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. But most of her inspiration comes from her own backyard, and the flora and fauna she encounters while walking or paddling through southern Indiana.  

See the entire children’s shortlist or learn more about the 2020 Awards.