Susan Mazer Wins Botanic Garden Conservation Award

Noozhawk features the Sixth Annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium.

August 25, 2017

Flannery Hill

Susan Mazer is the recipient of the 2017 Honorable John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Award, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has announced. Mazer is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCSB.

The award will be presented at the Sixth Annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at the Santa Barbara City College Fé Bland Forum, 721 Cliff Drive.

Photo of Susan Mazer

The community is invited to attend the symposium, which will focus on understanding and conserving biological diversity. To register, visit, or call 682-4726, ext. 102. Students can register for free, thanks to a sponsorship from the Santa Barbara City College Foundation.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a research facility that has been working to understand and protect California’s unique biodiversity for nearly a century, and serves as a resource for scientists worldwide.

“As a leader in research and conservation of native plants, the Garden presents the Pritzlaff Conservation Award to recognize global trailblazers in the field,” said Steve Windhager, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden executive director.

“The symposium connects the public and on the ground conservationist to leading thinkers who might otherwise only be accessible in an academic or professional setting,” he said.

At the symposium, Mazer and five other speakers from across the state will discuss the topic: Innovative Ways of Exploring Biodiversity: Embracing Big Data, Technology, and Citizen Science.

The symposium will highlight ways the public can get involved in learning about and protecting the diversity of life. It will finish with a panel discussion, addressing what everyone can do to understand and protect the earth’s biodiversity.

Mazer is a champion for plants. Through her research, outreach and mentorship, she furthers understanding of plant evolution and adaptation to change, training others in the research skill to investigate fundamental and universal processes, and inspiring the next generation of plant protectors.

Mazer co-founded the California Phenology Project and Project Baseline, large collaborative projects of national significance that will help us understand what climate change has in store for the seasonal cycles of wild plants and for plant diversity.

Through these projects and others, she has engaged legions of students and citizen scientists who have contributed observations critical for detecting the effects of climate change on wild plant species.

Mazer is mentor who has inspired many UCSB students to love plants through her classes in Plant Biology and Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution.

More than 200 undergraduates have contributed to her field-, greenhouse- and lab-based research, and she has taught and trained students in Thailand, Peru, China, and Costa Rica.

She has applied her research to further the conservation of some of the rarest plant species in the region and to inform the design of habitat restoration efforts.

Mazer received the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Young Investigator Award and served as the National Science Foundation’s program director for the Ecological Biology Program for two years.

She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Yale University and both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in botany from UC Davis; she is the current president of the California Botanical Society.

Her current field research in California is exploring the effects of drought on the evolution of wild populations of Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii) and Farewell-to-Spring (several species of Clarkia).

“The Pritzlaff Conservation Symposium is a wonderful opportunity to bring together people from a wide range of backgrounds who all share an interest in — and concern for — nature,” said Mazer.

“It’s inspiring to be together with like-minded people who feel a sense of responsibility towards conserving plant diversity, and this symposium provides a chance for us to learn from each other, to act collectively, and to ignite change,” she said.

Conservation leaders speaking at the symposium are:

Mazer: S.O.S. – the Power of Seeds, Observations, and Specimens to Predict Ecological and Evolutionary Responses of Plants to Climatic Variation.

Ken-Ichi Ueda, co-founder/director of iNaturalist — Is iNaturalist Citizen Science?

Mary Ellen Hannibal, author of The Big, Little World of Citizen Science: Bridging Scales Across Time, Space, People and Ecosystems.

Matt Guilliams, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden —Harnessing the Power of Natural History Collections and Evolutionary Data to Inform Biodiversity Conservation: An Introduction to the Channel Islands Phylodiversity Project.

Jon Rebman, San Diego Natural History Museum — The San Diego Plant Atlas Project.

Katja Seltmann, Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration — Engaging Scientists and the Public in Natural History Collections through Symbiota, an Interactive Online Data Portal.

For more information, visit

— Flannery Hill for Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

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