Meet Rachel Meyer, Executive Director of the UC Conservation Genomics Consortium
I joined the Consortium in 2016 with two main roles: to manage the program, including our citizen science activities, and to expand the research on biodiversity conservation focused on plants.
My research background is all-around botany, which includes genomics, phytochemistry, and ethnobotany. I’ve done botanical research in many parts of Asia and West Africa. Before this, I obtained my PhD in 2012 from CUNY and The New York Botanical Garden (advisor: Dr. Amy Litt) and then did a three-year NSF Plant Genome postdoctoral fellowship at NYU’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (advisor: Dr. Michael Purugganan). During these years, I was also one of three scientists running really fun plant science education business focused on cocktail bitters. I became more broadly interested in biodiversity, public outreach,interdisciplinary research, and science policy, which led me to Washington DC to serve the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology as a AAAS Science Policy Fellow. Now back in my home state of California, I can work across disciplines and connect with the many stakeholders and interest groups focused on understanding and monitoring the state’s tremendous biodiversity resources.
I’m developing a research project that will be co-advised by Dr. Victoria Sork (UCLA) and Dr. Bob Wayne (UCLA) on oak-grassland ecosystems. Stay tuned and please get in touch if you share an interest in this topic.
Please always feel free to get in touch with me if you want to learn more about the activities of the Consortium and other biodiversity research opportunities in the state. I’m also trying to grow a community of natural and social scientists who want to understand the natural history of California through integrating different types of data, including species inventories based on environmental ancient DNA, theory, and cultural evidence. Contact: Rsmeyer[at]ucla [dot]edu.
Here is a link to our new citizen science program, CALeDNA: www.ucedna.com.
I’m also an active member of the Botanical Society of America, so please connect if you want to learn more about us too! I am chair of their Economic Botany Section.