graduate students

Nina House

Master's Student


I grew up in Central New York. In 2017, I received my bachelor’s degree in Biology from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego. While at SUNY Oswego, I performed research on microplastic ingestion by forage fish in Lake Ontario. This research inspired my passion for freshwater ecosystems and sustainability. Upon graduation, I moved to southern California, where I began to focus on my interests in botany. I started working at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) in 2018, where I worked in the seed house as a Seed Conservation Technician. I am forever grateful for the opportunities RSABG has given me and I’m looking forward to continuing to grow in the graduate program and as a botanist!


My study is an inventory of the vascular flora of the Manter and Salmon Creek watersheds, a 132 sq km section of the Kern Plateau in the southern Sierra Nevada. The site ranges from approximately 8,000 to 10,000 ft and contains a diversity of habitat types – such as large montane meadows, mixed coniferous forests, granite rock formations, and perennial streams. 

Approximately 65 sq km of Domeland Wilderness is included within the study site as well, an area that has seen very little in the way of plant collections. 

With relatively poor knowledge of the flora of the Sierra Nevada, and climate change becoming an increasing threat, the need for comprehensive knowledge of the flora of the region has never been more vital. The impacts of climate change are being seen throughout California in the form of drought, higher temperatures, and altered fire regimes. The Sierra Nevada is a particularly interesting place to witness these changes. As temperatures rise, mountain ranges act as refugia for plants obligated to colder conditions. This can include ancient paleoendemics, as well as species that currently thrive at lower elevations but will not be able to tolerate increasing temperatures.

Documenting the plant species present in the Sierra Nevada is of critical importance to establish a baseline that can guide management, conservation, and facilitate our understanding of landscape scale change in a warming climate. 

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