Speakers

David Ackerly

David Ackerly

Dean, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

A professor of integrative biology, Ackerly studies climate change impacts on California biodiversity. He is a principal investigator of the NRS’s California Heartbeat Initiative.


Speakers 1

Jim André

Director, Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center

As director of the reserve since 1994, André has been very involved with floristic studies throughout the desert southwest, writing floras of the Mojave National Preserve and Owens Valley. In addition, he has served as a leading organizer of major conferences and interagency science programs coordinating academic research and arid lands management.


Speakers 2

Roxanne Beltran

Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz

Beltran studies the strategies elephant seals use to survive in the open ocean. Field courses she took as an undergraduate helped inspire her career in marine biology. She is now analyzing the importance of field courses in student’s educational trajectories.


Speakers 3

Peter Bowler

Senior Lecturer, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Irvine

Bowler is the faculty manager of the NRS’s San Joaquin Marsh Reserve and Burns Piñon Ridge Reserve for many decades. Each year he immerses dozens of undergraduates in aquatic ecology through field visits and practicums at the marsh.


Speakers 4

Gary Bucciarelli

Director of Research, Stunt Ranch Santa Monica Mountains Reserve, UC Los Angeles

Interested in stream ecology, conservation genomics, and the evolution of chemical defenses, Bucciarelli studies California newts and the amphibians of the Santa Monica Mountains. He welcomes thousands of schoolchildren from across the Los Angeles Basin on field trips to Stunt Ranch to learn about local ecology and natural history.


Speakers 5

Dan Costa

Distinguished Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz

Costa is a pioneer in the development and use of electronic tags to track the movements and behavior of marine mammals such as the northern elephant seals of Año Nuevo Island Reserve. The Director of the UCSC Institute of Marine Sciences, he has served as chair of the committee that provides oversight to the NRS since 2002.


Speakers 6

Justin Cummings

Founding Program Director, Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program, UC Santa Cruz

Having earned a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology and a designated emphasis in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz, Cummings works to train early career college students to become future leaders in the field of environmental conservation. He was sworn in as Mayor of Santa Cruz, California in December 2019.


Frank Davis

Frank Davis

Distinguished Professor, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UC Santa Barbara

Davis is the Executive Director of the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network Office, and Director of the La Kretz Research Center at Sedgwick Reserve. His research focuses on the ecology and conservation of California species and ecosystems, oak population biology, and the ecological consequences of climate change.


Todd Dawson

Todd Dawson

Professor, Integrative Biology and Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley

Dawson’s research team strives to find ways to merge real-time information about plant functional responses to environmental challenges with new technologies from the fields of isotope chemistry, engineering and remote sensing. Through the California Heartbeat Initiative project, he and the team are applying these technologies to quantify water availability and change across ecosystems of the UCNRS, including at Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, where he serves as faculty director.


Kelly Easterday

Kelly Easterday

Manager of Conservation Technology, The Nature Conservancy

Easterday oversees GIS and technology projects related to operations, management, and research at the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve near Santa Barbara. Prior to joining the preserve she was a postdoctoral fellow with the NRS’s California Heartbeat Initiative.


Becca Fenwick

Becca Fenwick

co-PI, California Heartbeat Initiative

The Director of Environmental Information Technology for the UC Natural Reserve System, Fenwick has previously served as director of the NRS’s James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve and Yosemite Field Station.


Peggy Fiedler

Peggy Fiedler

Executive Director, UC Natural Reserve System

A botanist by training, Fiedler has led the UC Natural Reserve System since 2010. Under her watch, the NRS has expanded from 37 to 41 reserves, established a UC-wide field course that travels from reserve to reserve, and conducted a capital campaign that raised more than $75 million in land and funding to support the organization.


Kerri Frangioso

Kerri Frangioso

Staff Research Associate, Dave Rizzo Plant Pathology Lab, UC Davis

For the last 20 years Frangioso has been researching Sudden Oak Death, a non-native introduced pathogen which is killing millions of trees and changing fire regimes around coastal California. Her research is primarily at Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve in Big Sur, but her studies span the state to examine the transformation this devastating pathogen is having on our ecosystem, and to help develop mitigation measures to try to save our valuable forests. 


Kim Hammond

Kim Hammond

Professor of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, UC Riverside

Director of the UC Riverside Natural Reserve System, Hammond studies how physiological capabilities enable animals to meet the demands of their environment. At White Mountain Research Center, she studies how deer mice acclimate to altitude via genetic and physiological adaptations.


Yinan He

Yinan He

Postdoctoral Scholar, California Heartbeat Initiative, UC Berkeley

An environmental geographer specializing in remote sensing in natural environments, he is examining how technologies such as LIDAR, hyperspectral data, and GIS can help us understand geographic phenomena and landscape patterns, and assess wetland characteristics such as hydrology and water quality.


Heather Henter

Heather Henter

Academic Coordinator, UC San Diego Natural Reserve System

Henter uses the four UC San Diego reserves to give high school, community college, and university students the opportunity to do original research within the context of a class.  Course-based projects range from insect surveys using DNA barcoding to monitoring invasive species to quantifying the cultural ecosystem services of the reserves.


Trish Holden

Trish Holden

Professor of Environmental Microbiology, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UC Santa Barbara

The director of the UC Santa Barbara Natural Reserve System, Holden is an expert in how microbial activity affects soil, water, and nutrients. She is investigating how residues and detritus from tobacco and cannabis use impact environmental health, with a focus on water quality, in natural areas such as NRS reserves.


David Holway

David Holway

Professor of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, UC San Diego

An ecologist, Holway studies how social insects such as bees, ants, and wasps invade new environments. His projects at the NRS have included helping to eradicate the Argentine ant from Santa Cruz Island and investigating the long-term recovery of native ant assemblages following Argentine ant removal.


Speakers 7

Travis Huxman

Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Irvine

Huxman is a physiological ecologist who focuses on understanding the evolution of functional traits in plants and the impacts of climate change on ecosystems. He is investigating climate-ecosystem interactions and their influence in coupling of carbon and water cycles in arid landscapes, including at the NRS’s Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center, where he is faculty director.


Kerri Johnson

Kerri Johnson

Postdoctoral Scholar, California Heartbeat Initiative, UC Berkeley

A geomorphologist, Johnson is interested in the mechanistic ways that climate, microclimate, and land-use influence landscape water storage and erosion. Her ongoing research at Santa Cruz Island and at Blue Oak Ranch Reserves explores how interactions between topography, bedrock weathering, soils, plants, and water shape landscapes. 


Speakers 8

Maggi Kelly

Professor and Cooperative Extension Specialist, Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley

Kelly uses a range of geospatial data and analytics – from spatial modeling, remote sensing, drones, LiDAR, historical archives, surveys, participatory mapping, and the field – to gain insights about how and why California landscapes are changing, and what that change means for those who live on, use, and manage these lands.


Walt Koenig

Walt Koenig

Research Zoologist Emeritus, UC Berkeley

As the former resident zoologist at Hastings Natural History Reservation, Koenig led one of the world’s longest-running studies of vertebrates on acorn woodpecker behavior and ecology. He continues to study these highly social birds as well as patterns of acorn production in California oaks.


Chandra Krinz

Chandra Krintz

Professor of Computer Science, UC Santa Barbara

Krintz utilizes the power of computing to enhance techniques such as precision farming by analyzing environmental variables and optimizing the use of resources such as water. At Sedgwick Reserve she is using machine learning to identify species captured by trail cameras.


Speakers 9

Kevin Lafferty

Marine Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey

Lafferty’s main field of study is the ecology of parasites. His study of a trematode that infects snails, fish, and birds at the NRS’s Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve led to the hypothesis that parasites dominate food web links.


Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee

Graduate Student, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, UC Santa Barbara

As an undergraduate at UC Los Angeles, Lee was in the first cohort of students to enroll in the NRS’s California Ecology and Conservation Program. Her experiences at the NRS helped propel her to field research opportunities on Palmyra Atoll and the Sierra Nevada where she conducts her graduate work in ecology.


Prasant Mohapatra

Prasant Mohapatra

Vice Chancellor for Research and Distinguished Professor, Computer Science, UC Davis

Mohapatra’s research interests are in the areas of wireless networks, mobile communications, cybersecurity, and Internet protocols. He utilized the rugged topography of Quail Ridge Reserve to test methods for improving wireless connectivity in challenging environments such as cities and mountainous regions.


Richard Norris

Dick Norris

Professor of Paleobiology, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

As the son of the founder of the NRS, Norris grew up experiencing the excitement of doing science in the field. As faculty director of the UC San Diego Natural Reserve System, Norris works to ensure that both future generations of students and San Diegans continue to have the opportunity to learn from nature at the campus’s four reserves.


Sarah Ottley

Sarah Ottley

Executive Director, Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC)

ARC integrates English literacy development and Environmental Science education with wilderness experiences, empowering students from underrepresented backgrounds to become life-long learners, stewards of the environment, and leaders in their schools and communities. ARC has facilitated programs at a dozen NRS sites, and all of its Summer Immersion Courses are hosted by UC field stations.


Hank Pitcher

Hank Pitcher

Fine Artist and Senior Lecturer, College of Creative Studies, UC Santa Barbara

Pitcher creates iconic paintings of contemporary California culture and the coastal landscape. He teaches cross-disciplinary science and art classes that often visit NRS reserves.


Jessica Purcell

Jessica Purcell

Assistant Professor, Department of Entomology, UC Riverside

Purcell studies the evolution of diverse and unique social systems in arthropods, using natural variation in social behavior to understand the selective pressures favoring different social strategies. She has identified a previously undescribed method ants use to hunt spiders s at Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center.


Cristina Sandoval

Cristina Sandoval

Director, Coal Oil Point Reserve

The endangered western snowy plover colony at Coal Oil Point Reserve thrives thanks to reserve director Sandoval. She established a docent program that keeps visitors from trampling the nests, protects hatchlings from high tides and predators, and is restoring native vegetation on reserve dunes.


Brad Shaffer

Brad Shaffer

Distinguished Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Los Angeles

Director of the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science and Director of the California Conservation Genomics Project, Shaffer researches the evolutionary biology, ecology and conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles. His research into the ecology and genetics of the California tiger salamander have been applied to the conservation of this endangered species.


Brian Smithers

Brian Smithers

Assistant Research Professor, Montana State University

Smithers studies sub-alpine forest and alpine plant community responses to climatic variables to predict species responses to climate change throughout the Great Basin and at the White Mountain Research Center. He is also the Executive Director of GLORIA Great Basin, an organization that examines long-term alpine plant community responses to climate change as part of the international GLORIA project.


Jackie Sones

Jackie Sones

Research Coordinator, Bodega Marine Reserve

In the natural history field for 30 years, Jackie has experience in marine, estuarine, freshwater, and terrestrial systems and with a diversity of taxa. Through field observations and long-term monitoring, she documents change in coastal ecosystems and recently has described the impact of marine heatwaves on species in northern California.


Blake Suttle

Blake Suttle

Founding Instructor, California Ecology and Conservation Program, UC Natural Reserve System

Suttle developed the NRS’s California Ecology and Conservation Program from a good idea into a sought-after and inspiring immersive field course. He maintains an active research program within the UC Natural Reserve System, managing a long-running experiment at the Angelo Coast Range Reserve investigating ecological responses to environmental change.


Chris Swarth

Chris Swarth

Founding Director, Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve

Swarth served as the first director of the 6,500-acre NRS reserve next door to UC Merced. To encourage the return of American kestrels to the Central Valley ecosystem, he enlisted both local birders and students to build nest boxes, band the nestlings, and monitor fledged birds.


Margaret Zimmer

Margaret Zimmer

Assistant Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences, UC Santa Cruz

Zimmer studies how rainfall becomes runoff, the pathways water takes through landscapes, and the biogeochemical implications of these pathways. At Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, she uses isotopic, hydrological, and biogeochemical methods to examine the major mechanisms behind streamflow generation and the resulting hydroscape.