New manager for Sagehen Creek Field Station

Ecologist Ash Zemenick is the new station manager at the NRS’s Sagehen Creek Field Station. Image: courtesy Ash Zemenick

An ecologist who conducted dissertation research at the NRS’s Sagehen Creek Field Station is returning as the station manager of the reserve. Ash Zemenick will begin work at the reserve starting July 1, 2021.

“I’m excited to return to Sagehen to foster supportive and inclusive community that enables the reserve’s research, education, outreach and art programs to continue to thrive,” Zemenick says. “My top priorities are to expand reserve funding and research capacities, and help Sagehen become a leader in equitable and accessible field station operations.”

Zemenick first visited Sagehen at the start of graduate school at UC Davis. Having been enamored with the Sierra Nevada since hiking the John Muir Trail in 2009, they were immediately taken with the mountain surroundings of the reserve. They went on to conduct field research at Sagehen for two summers studying how plant visitors shape floral microbial communities. A flower’s microbiome influences how well it can attract pollinators.

Zemenick came to UC Davis after graduating from the University of Michigan, where they studied interactions between ants, hemipterans, and fungi in coffee agroecosystems.

After earning a doctorate in ecology at UC Davis, Zemenick took a postdoctoral fellowship at Auburn University. There, Zemenick researched the importance of diversifying and humanizing scientist role models on student outcomes. At a concurrent postdoctoral fellowship at Michigan State University, Zemenick helped create and direct Project Biodiversify, a repository of teaching materials and methods to diversify, humanize, and increase inclusivity in biology classrooms. Part of this effort includes holding workshops for instructors to learn about inclusive teaching methods, particularly for subjects related to the biology of sex and gender. They also managed a mobile plant nursery in Sacramento that assists people seeking to incorporate native plants into their landscaping.

Today, Zemenick’s varied interests include ecology and environmental science involving plants, insects, microbes, ecological networks, natural history, and discipline-based education research. They look forward to spending time in naturalizing, backpacking, climbing, and biking in their new mountain home.

Sagehen Creek Field Station consists of 9,000 acres located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada near Truckee. The reserve is part of the Central Sierra Field Stations, a network of five nearby research areas managed by UC Berkeley. These research areas include two NRS reserves, Sagehen Creek Field Station and Chickering American River Reserve; the Central Sierra Snow Laboratory; Onion Creek Experimental Watershed; and North Fork Association Lands.

In addition to managing Sagehen Creek Field Station, Zemenick will coordinate requests to work at Chickering American River Reserve as well as North Fork Association Lands. As Chickering and the North Fork lands are privately owned, user visits are negotiated with the private land partners.

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