graduate students

Courtney Matzke

Master's Student


I grew up in Florida, but lived in Washington for 10 years before recently relocating to Claremont, CA. I have a bachelor’s degree in art as well as a Bachelor of Science in Plant Biology. I recently obtained my Master’s of Science in Plant Biology from Washington State University. At WSU I studied the molecular underpinnings of distyly in the tropical genus Turnera as well as alpha-amylase genes and proteins in cultivated wheat.

My interests in botany are vast and I have many years of experience working with plants in different areas including molecular genetics, field botany, restoration and horticulture to name a few. I am currently interested in floristics, conservation, and plant evolution.

I’m extremely excited to be working in Southern California due to its huge amount of biodiversity and endemism. My main goal throughout my studies at the California Botanic Garden is to learn as much as I can about plant diversity in Southern California with the hope of contributing my research towards conservation.


My study will document the vascular flora of the Piute Mountain Range located at the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada. The Piutes are a transition range leading to the Tehachapi Mountains and Transverse Ranges. This position makes it significant as a potential North-South plant migration corridor from the Sierra Nevada into the Transverse Ranges. The study site is situated near the juncture of the Sierra Nevada, Mohave Desert, Central Valley and Transverse Ranges with elements of all four appearing in the vegetation. It encompasses coniferous forest, chapparal, Joshua tree woodland, as well as desert transition zones. The site also contains a wide variety of geologic features and substrates, including a series of metamorphic rocks and limestone. The array of habitats and substrates is expected to harbor a diverse flora as well as rare and endemic plants.

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