Dr. Jennifer Ackerfield  
Jennifer Ackerfield
Head Curator and Associate Director
Denver Botanic Gardens

Ph.D.Botany, Colorado State University
M.S. Botany, Colorado State University
B.S Botany, Colorado State University


Dr. Jennifer Ackerfield is currently the Head Curator of Natural History Collections and Associate Director of Biodiversity Research at Denver Botanic Gardens. Previously, Dr. Ackerfield was a curator at the Colorado State University Herbarium. She is passionate about teaching and mentoring, with course offerings including Plant Identification and Grass Taxonomy, she even has her own textbook the Flora of Colorado. Dr. Ackefield also aims to connect people with plants through her outreach, whether it be through Botanical Illustration or engaging the community in hikes and iNaturalist.

Javier A. Ceja-Navarro
Javier A. Ceja-Navarro
Research Scientist
Biological Systems & Engineering, LBNL
Ph.D. Biotechnology, Cinvestav-Mexico
B.S. Chemical engineering, ITC-Mexico


Dr. Javier Ceja-Navarro is a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He studies host-microbe associations and multitrophic interactions in ecosystems such as the gut of insects and the rhizosphere of plants. Javier’s goal is to develop and apply innovations in molecular biology, microbiology, analytical chemistry, and bioinformatics to understand the mechanisms that control microbial trophic interactions in complex ecosystems.

Jessamine Finch Jessamine Finch
Research Botanist
Native Plant Trust

Ph.D. Plant Biology and Conservation,
Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden
B.A. Biological Sciences, Smith College

Jessamine Finch is a Research Botanist at Native Plant Trust and manages the Seed Bank of the New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP) at Garden in the Woods (Framingham, MA). In addition to supporting NEPCoP and managing ~2,000 seed collections of >400 rare taxa, she designs and executes applied plant conservation research projects and teaches courses on botany, genetics, and ecology.

Andrew Ford Andrew Ford
Consulting Botanist and Certified Arborist
Sequoia Ecological Consulting, Inc.

B.S. Wildlife Conservation and Management,
Humboldt State University

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-ford-2380923b/ https://sequoiaeco.com/about/the-team/andrew-ford/

Andrew Ford is a California Certified Consulting Botanist and International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist for Sequoia Ecological Consulting, Inc in Walnut Creek, CA. Mr. Ford is responsible for preparing botanical reports, conducting special status plant species surveys, mapping occurrences of rare plants, consulting and conducting research for policy regarding plants, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and guiding restoration efforts for plants in various habitat types of California. Along with these responsibilities, Mr. Ford specializes in endangered plant habitat restoration, wetland delineations and soils science.

Naomi Fraga
Naomi Fraga
Director of Conservation
California Botanic Garden

Ph.D., Botany, Claremont Graduate University
M.S. Botany, Claremont Graduate University
B.S. Biology and Botany, California Polytechnic University, Pomona


Dr. Naomi Fraga is the Director of Conservation Programs at the California Botanic Garden (CalBG) and Research Assistant Professor at Claremont Graduate University. At CalBG, Fraga provides programmatic leadership and management for the plant conservation programs. She oversees a broad spectrum of plant conservation work including rare plant research, botanical surveys, seed conservation, restoration, conservation genetics research and invasive plant management. Her research focuses on the systematics of the species formerly treated in the genus Mimulus (commonly known as monkeyflowers, Phymaceae), of which she has discovered and described several new species. Dr. Fraga also conducts research in floristics of California, conservation biology, and plant rarity and endemism..

Elliot Gardner Elliot Gardner
Postdoctoral Associate
International Center for Tropical Botany,
Florida International University and
National Tropical Botanical Garden

Ph.D. Plant Biology and Conservation, Northwestern University
and Chicago Botanic Garden

J.D. Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
B.A. English, Columbia University


Dr. Elliot Gardner is a tropical plant systematist. He uses phylogenomics and traditional taxonomy to investigate the evolution of tropical plants. His primary taxonomic expertise is in the Moraceae, but he has been involved in projects involving a number of angiosperm families. He has mostly worked in Southeast Asia, but has recently started working on Pacific flora as well.

Kadeem Gilbert Kadeem Gilbert
USDA-NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow
The Pennsylvania State University

Ph.D. Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
B.S. Natural Resources, Cornell University


Dr. Kadeem Gilbert is currently a USDA-NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow at Penn State and will be moving into an Assistant Professor position at Michigan State starting August 2021. He studies carnivorous plants (particularly Nepenthes) and their interactions with insects and microbes. He also studies symbioses between plants and other organisms more broadly, focusing on the ability of plants to physiologically modify the properties of the microenvironment to which their symbionts are exposed.

Mason Heberling Mason Heberling
Assistant Curator of Botany
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Postdoc, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Postdoc, University of Tennessee Knoxville
Ph.D. Biology, Syracuse University
B.S. Biology, Penn State University


Dr. Mason Heberling is an herbarium curator and plant ecologist studying the functional ecology of understory plant species in temperate forests, especially in the context of climate change and introduced species invasions. As a museum curator, he strives to facilitate and broaden the use of natural history collections by students, researchers, and the public. As a museum-based researcher, he uses herbarium specimens, field experiments, and observational data to understand basic plant function and complex ecological interactions.

Erica Krimmel Erica Krimmel
Digitization Resource Coordinator
Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio)

M.S. Library and Information Science, San Jose State University
B.A. Environmental Studies, University of California Santa Cruz


Erica Krimmel is a biodiversity information scientist who works with herbaria and other natural history collections to maximize the accessibility and usefulness of their data. Her background in information science adds broadly applicable technical skills and theory to her passion for life sciences, in particular botany. Prior to coming to iDigBio, Erica worked as a collections manager at U.C. Berkeley's Sagehen Creek Field Station (SCFS), the Chicago Academy of Sciences (CACS), and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (LACM).

Jacob Landis Jacob Landis
Postdoctoral Researcher
Cornell University

Ph.D. Botany, University of Florida
M.A. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas
B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas


Dr. Jacob Landis is a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University working with Drs. Chelsea Specht, Susan Strickler, and Jeff Doyle. He has worked on a variety of genomics based projects involving crops such as soybean, rice, and barley; as well as wildflowers in the genus Calochortus and Costus. Another main area of research interests include diversification analyses from smaller clades of genera and families to larger studies involving all monocots and angiosperm wide.

Robert Laport Robert Laport
Assistant Professor & Herbarium Curator Rhodes College
Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Rochester
M.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Rochester
B.S. Biology, Oregon State University


Dr. Robert Laport is an assistant professor and herbarium curator at Rhodes College, a small liberal arts college in Memphis, TN. He teaches courses in evolution and plant diversity, and conducts research with undergraduates often just discovering the world of plant ecology and evolutionary biology. His teaching experiences include teaching field ecology at the Rochester Institute of Technology, which also served hearing impaired students from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and teaching evolution at the University of Colorado-Denver, an institution serving a large population of first generation, minority, and non-traditional students. Research in the lab ranges from investigating the ecological aspects of whole genome duplication and the origins of biodiversity to characterizing eastern deciduous forest community structure in urban/suburban environments and conservation of American chestnut.

Carla Maldonado Carla Maldonado
Herbarium Director, Professor, and Researcher
Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz-Bolivia
Ph.D. Genomics and Evolution, University of Copenhagen
M.S. Biology, Aarhus University
B.S. Biology, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés


Dr. Carla Maldonado is a botany scientist with practical and theoretical experience ranging from field work in the tropics to molecular-based laboratory and analytical techniques. Her research has focused on the taxonomy and phylogeny of plants, but she is increasingly interested in biogeography and evolution and how this knowledge can be used for conservation.

Elizabeth McCarthy Elizabeth McCarthy
Assistant Professor, PUI
SUNY Cortland

Ph.D. Biology, Queen Mary, University of London
B.A. Biology, Smith College


Dr. Elizabeth McCarthy (she/her/hers) is an assistant professor at The State University of New York College (SUNY) at Cortland in central New York. SUNY Cortland is a predominantly undergraduate institution, and Elizabeth has a nearly equal balance of teaching and research. Her research interests focus on how polyploidy and hybridization affect the evolution of flower color, shape, and size.

Angela McDonnell Angela McDonnell
Postdoctoral Researcher
Chicago Botanic Garden

Ph.D. Plant Sciences, Oklahoma State University
B.S. Biology, Edgewood College


Dr. Angela McDonnell is a plant evolutionary biologist who studies American milkweed vines, Australian nightshades, population genomics of rare plants, and Hawaiian carnations. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where she is focused on Schiedea genome assembly, transcriptomics, and phylogeny to better understand the evolution of breeding system and other traits in an adaptive radiation.

Joe Miller Joe Miller
Executive Secretary
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)

Ph.D. Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics,
University of Wisconsin - Madison
M.S. Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics,
University of Wisconsin - Madison
B.A. History, University of Minnesota - Minneapolis


Dr. Joe Miller is a systematic botanist who has focused on the phylogenetics of the Australian Acacia. Miller’s interests shifted to data integration and infrastructures which led him to the NSF where he worked on systematic biology funding programs and international collaboration. He is now Executive Secretary of GBIF, Global Biodiversity Information Facility, which coordinates a global network of participating countries and organizations, provides data-holding institutions around the world with common standards and open-source tools that enable them to share information about where and when biodiversity has been recorded.

Vivian Negron-Ortiz Vivian Negrón-Ortiz
US Fish and Wildlife Service

Ph.D. Botany, Miami University, Ohio
M.S. Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
B.S. Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez


Dr. Vivian Negron-Ortiz is a botanist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service at the Panama City Field Office in Florida, focusing on protection and preservation of 10 federally listed plant species and their habitats, and several at-risk species. In this position, she conducts surveys and research, and prepares mandate documents under the Endangered Species Act. She coordinates, facilitates, and implements activities pursuant to sections 4, 6, 7, 8, and 10 of the Act.

Mark Olson Mark Olson
Professor and Researcher
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Ph.D. Evolutionary and Population Biology,
Washington University in St Louis
B.A. Botany, University of California, Santa Barbara


Dr. Mark Olson is an evolutionary biologist specializing in the evolution of plant morphological diversity, especially in the structure and function of woody stems. He uses an "evo-devo adaptationist" approach that explains organismal form through study of how natural selection interacts with developmental possibility. He also studies the applied properties of the "miracle tree" family Moringaceae.

Jocelyn Pender Jocelyn Pender
Conservation Data Analyst
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

M.S. Biology, University of Ottawa
B.S. Environmental Science, University of Ottawa


Jocelyn Pender is a Conservation Data Analyst at the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre. Previously, she worked as a Biodiversity Data Manager at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and a Business Intelligence Developer at Fullscript in Ottawa, Canada. Her career combines her love of biodiversity and the natural world and her aptitude for data analysis and management.

J.Chris Pires J. Chris Pires
Curators' Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean
University of Missouri

Ph.D. Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A. Biology, University of California, Berkeley


Dr. J. Chris Pires is a Curators' Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri. His lab focuses broadly on plant evolutionary biology—from phylogenetic studies in plant diversity to genome-wide analyses of gene expression. He is known best for his work on the dogs of the plant world, Brassica oleracea.

Tiana Rehman Tiana Rehman
Herbarium Collections Manager
The Botanic Research Institute of Texas (BRIT)

M.S. Environmental Science, Texas Christian University
B.S. Environmental Science, Southern Methodist University
B.A. Cultural Anthropology, Southern Methodist University


Tiana Rehman is the Herbarium Collections Manager for the combined herbaria of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, comprising approximately 1.5 million specimens in the BRIT, SMU, VDB, and NLU collections. As such, she facilitates the care, access, and growth of this scientific botanical resource, as well as managing the herbarium staff and volunteers working in the collections.

Brad Ruhfel Brad Ruhfel
Collection Manager and Assistant Research Scientist
University of Michigan

Ph.D. Biology, Harvard University
M.S. Resource Ecology and Management, University of Michigan
B.S. Ecosystem Biology, Eastern Michigan University


Dr. Ruhfel is a collection manager of vascular plants and assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan Herbarium. His research focuses on plant diversity and explores questions in plant systematics, biogeography, and the flora of the Eastern United States. This research combines fieldwork, herbarium work, and molecular study. Current projects focus on resolving the evolutionary history and biogeography of the river-weed family (Podostemaceae).

Vera Velasco Vera M. E. Velasco
Senior Research Associate
University of Toronto in Mississauga

Ph.D. Plant Biology, McMaster University
Diploma in Project Management for Research, University of Toronto
B.S. Plant Biology, University of the Philippines


Dr. Vera M.E. Velasco is the Senior Research Associate for Growth Facilities Operations at University of Toronto in Mississauga (UTM). Her mandate includes performing cutting edge research independently or in collaboration with faculty and staff who are users of the growth facilities and internationally. She oversees the operations of UTM Growth Facilities and ensures that these facilities are sustainable and at the forefront of science and technology. Vera is also the co-founder of Filipinos in Canada-Academics, Researchers and Scholars which supports Filipino/a/x leadership, advocacies, and professional development in all sectors.