Celebrating the Nature of California

Celebrating the Nature of California

Friday, October 25

5:00 – 8:30 pm

Valley Life Sciences Building

University of California, Berkeley


Join the Celebration!

  • Complimentary refreshments & beverages (including wine & beer) *
  • Museum tours — arrive early to sign up
  • California Heartbeat Initiative – special presentation
  • UC Field Stations & Natural History Museums & Gardens
  • Teacher resources & citizen science
  • Hands-on activities
  • Event Finale! The Future of California’s Nature: Conservation leaders in conversation
            *Featuring wine from the Clif Family Winery and beer from Drake’s Brewing and Lagunitas Brewing Company. Thank you to our generous beverage sponsors for these donations!
Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn woodpeckers have been studied at Hastings Reserve since 1968.


5:00 - 7:00

Refreshments, Exhibits & Hands-on Activities in VLSB Courtyard & lobbies

5:30 - 6:30

UC Berkeley Natural History Museum Tours

Why do we need natural history museum collections? The millions of specimens contained in the six natural history museums at UC Berkeley have provided the building blocks of data from which scores of researchers have described new species, unraveled complicated kinships among organisms, and discovered how organisms evolve and adapt to their environments. Go behind the scenes in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and the Jepson and University Herbaria to discover amazing treasures of biodiversity. Registration for tours will begin at 5:00 pm in the VLSB courtyard  

5:30 - 6:30 VLSB 2063

California Heartbeat Initiative

with Prof. Todd Dawson

Dr. Dawson leads the California Heartbeat Initiative. This effort builds on techniques pioneered by UC researchers to track the fate of raindrops as they move through the landscape. They’re tracking sap flow through trees, and measuring transpiration from leaves. They’re monitoring wells extending to bedrock, and flying drones to gauge the moisture content of forests. All of this information helps model how long water lingers in different segments of the environment. The initiative will measure environmental water at NRS reserves and other protected lands across the state, then integrate the data into climate models. The result: five- to fifteen-year predictions of California’s water status.
The Inspire 1 drone, made by DJI, flies with an RGB camera over the UC Berkeley Blue Oak Ranch Reserve in Santa Clara County.

CHI-Freshwater will employ drones, multispectral cameras, microclimate stations, and other next-generation sensors to reveal how state ecosystems respond to water.

7:00 - 8:15 VLSB 2060

The Future of California’s Nature: Conservation leaders in conversation

Dr. David Ackerly, Dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources
Dr. Ana Alvarez, Deputy General Manager of the East Bay Regional Park District
Dr. Peggy Fiedler, Executive Director of the UC Natural Reserve System
Dr. Betsy Mitchell, Program Coordinator, Berkeley Natural History Museums
In today’s world of rapidly warming temperatures and rising seas, California’s land stewards are working hard to protect the state’s renowned biodiversity, unique ecosystems, and natural landscapes. Applying the best available science, land practices, and environmental technologies new and old is more important than ever. Achieving these goals in an atmosphere of shifting political winds and environmental conditions requires both thoughtful cooperation and establishing networks of new partners to share information, resources, and talent. Three leading Bay Area scientists discuss their hopes for how science-based land stewardship can ensure a vibrant California for the decades ahead.
Angelo Coast Range Reserve

The Angelo Coast Range Reserve, one of the NRS’s most diverse sites, is located on the South Fork of the Eel River.

Sea Anemones
David Ackerly

David Ackerly

David D. Ackerly is Dean of the College of Natural Resources and a faculty member in Integrative Biology and Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include climate change impacts on biodiversity, integration of phylogenetics and ecology, and conservation biology in relation to 21st century climate change. Dr. Ackerly is a strong advocate for the notion that we must cross traditional disciplines to better understand and address society’s greatest challenges. He received his undergraduate degree at Yale and a PhD from Harvard, where he also completed a post-doctoral fellowship. David was on the faculty at Stanford University before joining Berkeley’s Integrative Biology Department.

Ana Alvarez


Ana M. Alvarez is Deputy General Manager at East Bay Regional Park District, the largest regional park system in the nation. She has worked in parks and recreation management for nearly two decades. At EBRPD, Dr. Alvarez oversees park finances, planning, operations, stewardship, and development, as finance planning and having payday options as well. From 2009 to 2016, Dr. Alvarez served as the deputy director of parks and open space for the City and County of San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department. Before coming to San Francisco, she was director of the City of Santa Fe Spring’s Community Services Department, and director of the City of Oceanside’s Parks and Recreation Department, among other public service positions in Southern California. Ana received her Master’s degree in Public Administration from Cal State Northridge and her PhD in Policy, Planning & Development from the University of Southern California.

Peggy Fiedler

Peggy Fiedler


Peggy L. Fiedler is Executive Director of the University of California Natural Reserve System, the largest university-administered suite of research stations in the world. Before joining UC’s Office of the President, she established the Conservation Biology at San Francisco State University, where she served on the faculty from 1987–2000. Her research interests have revolved around the biology of rarity, conservation of endangered taxa, and the development of conservation principles for ancient landscapes in Western Australia. During her tenure at the NRS, Dr. Fiedler has helped launch a systemwide field class for undergraduates, develop a 10-year strategic plan, facilitate a capital campaign, and renew interest in the NRS as a university resource for scientific inquiry. She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard and her Master’s and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Betsy Mitchell


Betsy Mitchell is the Berkeley Natural History Museums K–12 program Team Coordinator. She received her Ph.D. in Zoology from the UC Berkeley, where she studied animal behavior and ecology. She has studied the behavior of monkeys in Panama, Costa Rica, Peru, and Kenya, and done research on forest ecology in Caribbean mangroves. She has taught natural history and environmental science at UC Berkeley and has worked in elementary school science classrooms. Betsy enjoys sharing what she and others can learn about the natural world with students of all ages. Because children are naturals as scientists, she finds it especially satisfying to be bringing hands-on, exploratory science activities to middle and high school classes.

Todd Dawson

Todd Dawson

Todd Dawson is a professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Research in his laboratory focuses on the interface between plants and their environment. The tools of physiological and evolutionary plant ecology and stable isotope biogeochemistry are currently being applied towards the study and interpretation of this interface. Investigations draw upon a variety of physiological methods, modeling and the use of stable isotopes as avenues for improving our understanding of how the ecophysiological characteristics of plants are shaped by and respond to the environments they inhabit.

Thank you to our generous beverage sponsors for these donations!

Featuring wine from the Clif Family Winery and beer from Drake’s Brewing and Lagunitas Brewing Company.
Lagunitas Brewing Company
Science at Cal
Berkeley Natural History Museums
Berkeley - University of California