Documenting the world's vast plant diversity has been one of the most challenging endeavors in the natural sciences. Inspired by the exuberant tropical plant diversity, my research interests started with floristic projects on cloud forests and tropical wet forest relicts in Venezuela. I have studied species diversity and taxonomy of the giant genus Croton (Euphorbiaceae) and participated in collaborative projects on the systematics of the diverse genus Ruellia (Acanthaceae).
Search for Academy curators, collections managers, and research staff working to answer some of the world's most pressing scientific questions.
I received my M.S. in Ecology and Systematic Biology from San Francisco State University in 2010, studying the genus Mendoncia (a tropical vine) in Africa and Madagascar. At CAS, I focus on curatorial projects and specimen preparation.
My research focus has combined field and laboratory studies of aquatic animal evolution and behavior, ranging from microscopic bioluminescent bacteria to macroscopic man-eating elasmobranchs.
I am the Project Coordinator for the California Academy of Science’s involvement in the LEARN CitSci research project. In collaboration with the Natural History Museum of LA, Natural History Museum of London and education research partners in the the UK and US, this project aims to better understand the ways that citizen science can affect and educate youth.
When I was about 8 years old, I sat at the kitchen table and used a blue ballpoint pen to draw the "blueprints" for the research vessel I would be using when I became a marine biologist. Things don't always go the way you plan--even when you start early. But I can say that my life as a field biologist and phylogeneticist of marine organisms has never wavered from the exciting endeavor represented by those childhood sketches.
Nathalie Nagalingum studies the evolution and diversification of plants, particularly ferns and cycads, and also oversees the Academy’s botany collection. Nagalingum is one of just a handful of researchers worldwide who studies cycads, a palm-like plant that comprises the most endangered group of organisms on Earth. In addition to her research, Nagalingum is passionate about museum science and the opportunity to use her research findings to inform broader conservation projects.
The study of mesophotic reef fish communities is among my major research interests. I am exploring biodiversity and evolutionary processes of reef fishes in isolated seamounts and oceanic islands of the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery of endemic species and the assessment of their distribution and genetic patterns have contributed to a better understanding about the origin of species and biodiversity in these isolated environments.
Chrissy Piotrowski is responsible for the care and maintenance of a vast, taxonomically diverse invertebrate research collection (excluding entomology specimens). She oversees all collections-related activities and documentation: acquisitions, curation, taxonomic determinations, loan and exhibit of specimens, research visits, inquiries, and maintenance of an online searchable database of digital specimen records.