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.

My past work as a seasonal field botanist and biologist has taken me all across the western US, from Alaska to Joshua Tree. I've worked in horticultural settings for arborists, on ecological restoration teams, and for botanic gardens. I wouldn’t be where I am today without community colleges, where I began my studies in horticulture and desert ecology. I'm grateful to have my growth informed by multiple teachers in both science, the traditions of plant medicine, and various social and environmental justice movements. These experiences, both non-academic and academic in nature, have bolstered my long-standing interest in botanical conservation through the lenses of socio-environmental justice, and remind me to tune into the magic and beauty in plants and place. I'm excited to see where this next step of my botanical journey takes me.

My current research interests include floristics, field botany, rare plant conservation, and the biogeography of edaphically restricted plants. I'm driven by an interest in contributing research towards understanding, mitigating, and managing the impacts that climate change and resource extraction conflicts will have on botanical biodiversity, and engaging the public in meaningful and creative ways on 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’m writing a flora of the Silver Peak range, 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 Eriogonum tiehmii and Chloropyron tecopense, and shares species with the neighboring White Mountains. Nevada is botanically under-documented, especially when compared to neighboring states such as California. This botanical unknown, combined with heavy pressure from extractive industry makes conservation work challenging. The Silver Peak Range has seen virtually no floristic work in the past, yet is facing a precarious future with the looming pressures of lithium mining interests. Demand for this material is expected to grow rapidly in the near future and will compromise biodiversity in its path. In addition to this flora, I will be examining morphological and genetic differences between the disjunct populations of Chloropyron tecopense (Orobanchaceae), a rare plant that faces existential threat due to resource extraction in the area. 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 and determine actions to protect biodiversity for the future.

Additional Information

Twitter: @desertbotany


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