graduate students

Carolyn Mills

Master's Student


I'm from Carlsbad, California and consider southern California to be my botanical home. My introduction to botany came via a fortuitous Craigslist job posting in 2013. Ever since, I've been lucky to work in botany at some of my favorite places on earth, including the Mojave National Preserve, Yosemite National Park, eastern Nevada and California's Channel Islands. I hope to work as a botanist for a federal agency following graduation and never want to leave the desert.


I am conducting a  floristic study of the Nopah Range in southeastern Inyo County, California to document plants of this under-explored region. The Nopah Range lies at the transition between the Mojave and Great Basin  deserts, near the border of California and Nevada, in the driest desert in  North America. Conditions in the Nopah Range are harsh, with hot, dry summers and precipitation falling mostly in the winter months. A unique feature of  the range is that it is primarily composed of carbonate rocks such as limestone  and dolomite, some of which date back to the Precambrian era (up to 1.7 billion  years old)! It is a very rugged place lacking water and trails and much of the region is only accessible by hiking. There are few historical collections from range, so it is a  “botanical black hole,” and the information collected over the course of this study will provide information on the distribution of  plants and the status of rare plants in the range.

Additional Information

A Vascular Flora of the Nopah Range, Inyo County, CA
Meet the Amargosa, Tecopa, CA - Oct 2019
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, CA - Sept 2019
Desert Session at the Southern California Academy of Sciences Symposium - May 2019
Comparative Leaf Anatomy of Xeric Taxa in the Nopah Range, Inyo County, CA
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, CA - May 2019

Grants and Awards:
Research Grant 2019, Cactus and Succulent Society
Robert Reynolds Award 2019, Desert Symposium
Student Research Award 2019, Society of Herbarium Curators
Jean Platt Fund Award 2018, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Mary DeDecker Grant 2018, CNPS Bristlecone Chapter
Helen Sharsmith Grant 2018, California Native Plant Society
Alan Romspert Grant for Desert Botany 2018, Southern California Botanists

Twitter: @MojaveMills


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