graduate students

Rachel Tageant

Master's Student


I grew up in western Washington, near the Hoh Rainforest and the Olympic Mountains. As a kid I loved being outdoors; however, my love for plants developed while I was in high school where I was involved with FFA (Future Farmers of America). For my undergrad career I first attended a local community college for two years where I graduated with an Associates in Science. This is where my love of plants was solidified. After that I attended Washington State University (WSU) where in 2022 I graduated with a Biology degree with an emphasis on plants. 

While at WSU I had the opportunity to work and conduct undergraduate research out of the Marion Ownbey Herbarium. There with the help of my TA, my advisor, and other graduate students, I realized I wanted to continue researching plants, which led me to California Botanic Garden. During the summers of 2021 and 2022, I worked for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as a Natural Resource Technician on a noxious weed crew. There I did field identification of targeted and associated species, and I learned how to operate heavy machinery including a forklift, marshmaster, and an airboat. A big part of my job was using herbicide to eradicate class A weeds. Although this job required a lot of manual labor, the field work aspect more than made up for it.  

My botanical interests include pollinator syndromes, fire ecology, community ecology, rare plant conservation, phenology changes due to climate change, and human impacts on plant communities.


For my thesis project I am conducting a floristic inventory of the Owens River Headwater Wilderness Area, Mono County, California. Located in the central eastern Sierra Nevadas, my study site is approximately 52 square miles, which includes the entirety of the Wilderness Area and surrounding areas. The elevation range for the site is 7,200-11,500 feet, and it is characterized by high-elevation meadows, creeks, forested mountain slopes, and alpine peaks. The information gathered during this study will be sent to stakeholders of the land for future conservation and land management efforts. The Owens River Headwater Wilderness is bio-geographically unique, as it is located between the California Floristic Province and the Great Basin Floristic Province. The proximity to the California and Great Basin Floristic Provinces and the broad elevation range of the site lends to the many diverse habitats within the site.

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