Hi there! I’m Heather, and I’m excited to be the Ohio Plants TA this Fall!

I’m currently completing my PhD in EEOB, and will be graduating in December. My research on a cold-water group of sea anemones (not botanically based, I’ll explain why I’m here more in a second) has spanned topics including systematics, biogeography, invasive species, and ecology. I’ve had the privilege of traveling and diving a lot to conduct my fieldwork throughout the world studying and collecting the “flowers of the sea”. My MS in Biology, however, was based on the systematics and species distribution modeling of a clade of sedges (Cyperaceae), and I focused much of my learning on ID-ing wetland plants. Now I’m looking forward to re-activating that knowledge with you this semester!

I consider myself a naturalist-type biologist, and I enjoy being able to identify the things I see outside. I taught four semesters of Ohio Birds, and am an avid birder along with my husband (Mael, also in EEOB). I log a lot of what I see and photograph to iNaturalist.com, and help identify species that other people upload to the site. Most of the photography I do is underwater, but that’s only because I don’t have as good of a setup as Bob has for photographing plants :). I am really looking forward to seeing the creativity that each of you will bring to this class, and helping you in your discovery of the plant species that surround us in Ohio.

I’m here to help you succeed! This applies to outside of class as well. I know that we have many Juniors and Seniors this semester in the course. If any of you have any questions about graduate school, I’m happy to help you navigate that whole, complicated process of finding the right fit for you. Same with brainstorming potential careers after undergrad!

I’m including below some neat plants that I’ve come across, both in and out of Ohio.

This is the northern white cedar, a rarity in southern Ohio, in The Nature Conservancy’s John and Marion Becker Cedar Falls Preserve.

I was really, really lucky to experience the peak of the 2019 California superbloom while there for a workshop. This was easily one of the top 10 most amazing natural wonders I’ve ever experienced. The hills are covered in poppies and other wildflowers.

This moss has a brilliant adaptation! I found this little patch of Schistostega pennata (Goblin’s Gold) in a tiny crevice on the side of a volcano in northern Japan. The moss actually uses the protonema to reflect back light that it doesn’t use, which makes it appear to glow in very low light.






This is a really neat sedge, Eriophorum scheuchzeri, that looks like cotton balls in a field. While you won’t find this specific species in Ohio, keep an eye out for similar looking plants – there are at least three species of Eriophorum (cotton grasses that aren’t grasses) in Ohio.