Botanist Gregory Wahlert, Ph.D., is CCBER’s newest staff addition and has already begun his duties as Research Botanist and Collections Manager. Greg hails from Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, in Northern California, and discovered his fascination with taxonomy and the natural world while earning his Environmental Science merit badge for Boy Scouts. After high school Greg worked as a rare plant preserve steward near his home, overseeing the conservation of a rare ceanothus (Ceanothus confusus) and a rare manzanita (Arctostaphylos stanfordiana subsp. decumbens) among others. Later, he pursued his interest in plants through an undergraduate Botany Degree from Humboldt State University. Greg’s graduate career began at San Francisco State University, where he earned his Master’s degree studying the evolution of California’s manzanitas. For his Ph.D. work, Greg left California and studied the systematics of tree violets in Madagascar at Ohio University, as he had always wanted to experience the biodiversity of the tropics firsthand. Greg completed his dissertation, entitled “Phylogeny, biogeography, and a taxonomic revision of Rinorea (Violaceae) from Madagascar and the Comoro Islands” in 2010 and has since continued his research in plant systematics as a postdoctoral researcher at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the University of Utah
Although Greg’s work here at CCBER concerns the curation of all natural history specimens, the herbarium will occupy most of his time. Digitizing collections, curation, and taxonomic and floristic research focusing on the plants of California’s Central Coast region are all part of the plan for Greg. Welcome to CCBER!