Sula E. Vanderplank

    Biodiversity Explorer

    Ph.D. in Plant Ecology, University of California, Riverside
    M.S. in Botany, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont Graduate University
    B.Sc. in Botany, University of Reading, UK.

    Sula is a field botanist who loves natural history, floristics and conservation science. Her graduate research has focused on the botany and ecology of the mediterranean-climate region of Baja California, Mexico, which is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots. She actively collaborates with the land trust Terra Peninsular A.C., of Mexico, and has numerous local and regional collaborators in Mexico and the United States, helping to bring current science to regional conservation projects. For the last eight years Sula has published broadly on the flora of this region including a field guide to quail-friendly plants, and coauthoring two chapters highlighting the remarkable biodiversity of northern Baja California in a book on vascular plant endemism of the world. Sula recently finished her Ph.D. research at the University of California, Riverside with Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra where she won the departmental student achievement award. She is now participating in a series of expeditions to explore new regions and document botanical diversity.

    Sula gets her love for plants from her father, John Vanderplank, who is a specialist in Passionflowers. She worked at the National Collection of Passiflora in England for many years before going to study botany and finding her own passion for conservation. She enjoys mule-riding, leather-working, playing pool, and being at sea.


    Personal website: Link

    BRIT's Blog: Link

    Research page: Link













    *An academic lineage: From Sula to Darwin in eight steps*

    Sula Venderplank (1979–) finished her Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside, under the guidance of Exequiel Ezcurra.

    1. Exequiel Ezcurra (1950–) did his Ph. D. studies at the University College of North Wales under the mentorship of Peter Greig-Smith, doyen of quantitative ecology in Britain.

    2. Peter Greig-Smith (1922–2003) studied at Downing College Cambridge with A. S. Watt, the father of community ecology and plant spatial patterns.

    3. Alexander Stuart Watt (1892–1985) studied at Cambridge under the mentorship of Sir Arthur Tansley.

    4. Arthur G. (Sir Arthur) Tansley (1871–1955) studied at the University College, London, with F. W. Oliver (and later in Viena with Sigmund Freud).

    5. Francis Wall Oliver (1864–1951) studied at the University College, London, with Ray Lankester.

    6. Sir E. Ray Lankester (1947–1929) studied at Downing College, Cambridge, and Christ Church, Oxford, under George Rolleston. Through T.
    H. Huxley, a close friend of the family, whilst still a child Ray had met Hooker, Henfry, Clifford, Gosse, Owen, Forbes, Carpenter, Lyell, Murchison, Henslow and Darwin.

    7. George Rolleston (1829–1881), an English physician and zoologist, studied at Pembroke College, Oxford, and St Bartholomew's Hospital, London; his intellectual mentor was Thomas Henry Huxley.

    8. Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895), who became one of Charles Darwin’s dearest friends, was one of the great autodidacts of the 19th century. He studied at the University College, London, with Thomas Wharton Jones, but never finished his university degree as, deep in debt, he had to apply for an appointment in the Royal Navy. Charles Darwin is widely recognized as Huxley’s intellectual mentor and source of inspiration.