graduate students

Peri Lee Pipkin

Master's Student


I grew up in the mountains of rural Northern Taiwan, surrounded with and fascinated by plants, but I first began formally studying botany here in California. I hold dual bachelor's degrees - A BFA in ceramics (I'm a second generation potter), and a BS in natural resources: applied ecology & botany from Oregon State University. I owe a lot of my successes to my community colleges, where I studied both horticulture and desert ecology. These experiences bolstered my long-standing interest in botanical conservation through the lenses of socio-environmental justice and resource-use conflicts. I'm excited to see where this next step of my botanical journey takes me.

I've worked as a seasonal field botanist and biologist in SW Alaska, NW Wyoming, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Death Valley, Grand Parashant, the Sierra Nevadas, and the Selkirk Mountains in Northern Idaho for several agencies and universities. I love fieldwork, especially in the deserts and in the alpine. I've also worked in horticultural settings, both for arborists, on ecological restoration teams, and for botanic gardens. I'm grateful to have my studies informed by multiple teachers in both science, the traditions of plant medicine, and various social/environmental justice movements.

My current research interests include floristics, rare plant conservation, and biogeography. I'm also fascinated by lichens and parasitic plants, and I really enjoy watching pollinators at work. I'm driven by an interest in contributing research towards understanding, mitigating, and managing the impacts that climate change and resource extraction will have on botanical biodiversity, and engaging the public with these issues. I'm excited to be studying here within the intersections of science, conservation, and critical ecological analysis in Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin, So. Channel Islands), on the traditional lands of the Tongva people.


For my master's thesis, I will be conducting a floristic inventory of the Silver Peak range, which is just over the California border in Esmeralda County, Nevada. This area ranges in elevation from 4,200 to 9,370 feet and includes a diverse array of vegetation types representing both the Great Basin and Mojave deserts, including pinyon juniper woodlands, Joshua tree woodlands, alkali wetlands, and bristlecone pine forests. It's also home to rare and endemic species, including imperiled species such Tiehm's buckwheat, and shares species with the neighboring White Mountains. This area has seen virtually no floristic work in the past, yet is facing a precarious future with the looming pressures of lithium mining interests. Lithium is a critical mineral in the fabrication of electric vehicle batteries, and as we transition from fossil fuels, demand for this material will grow rapidly in the near future. It's critical we document and understand the botanical components of unique ecosystems such as the Silver Peak range in order to craft effective conservation plans to protect biodiversity for the future.

Additional Information

Twitter: @desertbotany


Click here for email