Despite starting her early academic career studying and working with animals, Jessica's professional interest quickly became rooted in plants. Jessica has a diverse background that has focused on communicating science and promoting conservation with numerous stakeholders, including: scientists, the general public, and non-profit organizations. As The Morton Arboretum’s first ‘Treeologist,’ Jessica supports the Arboretum's mission and vision to be the leading center of tree expertise by communicating and sharing expert knowledge. While centered in the Science and Conservation Department, she works closely with Education and Marketing to help catalyze tree advocacy by creatively making tree science, horticulture, and conservation relevant and accessible to target audiences.
PhD, Biology, West Virginia University
MS, Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development, University of Maryland-College Park
BS, Conservation Science, Muskingum University
Google scholar link: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=7cYvmugAAAAJ&hl=en&authuser=1
Jessica’s dissertation research examined the conservation and sustainability of the rare, internationally important medicinal plant, American ginseng, especially how it relates to surface mining. In addition to her dissertation work, Jessica participated in a long-term research study investigating the impact of Climate Change on two plant species found in the tundra of northern Alaska. For the three years she was eligible, Jessica received ‘The Most Productive Biology Graduate Student Award’ at West Virginia University and the competitive Phipps Conservatory Botany in Action Fellowship (BIA). The BIA fellowship provided opportunities to learn scientific outreach skills, and training to reach a general audience about research through non-traditional methods. Throughout her professional career, she has developed scientific outreach and environmental workshops for all ages, published scientific papers and popular press articles, presented at conferences, and participated in media outreach, including radio public service announcements and YouTube videos.