Groundbreaking Biology Research at Mills College Featured on Facebook Live

Oakland, CA–January 25, 2017

Research by Mills College scientists that could help save a critically endangered Marin County wildflower that exists nowhere else on Earth is the topic of the latest broadcast, “Live from the Heller Room at Mills College” on Facebook Live.

This month’s event featured Associate Provost for Recruitment and Student Success Maggi Hunter interviewing Mills Biology Professor Sarah Swope and Mills alumna Geneva Lee ’16 about their work with the Tiburon jewelflower.

The flower exists only on the Tiburon peninsula in Marin County where it has lost much of its habitat to housing and commercial development and where climate change is threating its existence.

Research grants from Marin County Parks are helping Swope, Lee and other Mills biology students determine if “the loss of genetic diversity of the plant is contributing to the decline of this species,” said Swope. Additionally, Swope and Lee said their research is trying to determine if the plant has enough genetic diversity to survive recent radical shifts in weather due to climate change.

The research project, said Swope, is helping students learn about the natural world and whether the findings are relevant to other California plant species that exist in small isolated patches and are sensitive to drought.

Lee noted that her work with Swope is a rare opportunity for undergraduate students to do groundbreaking research on a very popular subject. Lee has presented her work on the Tiburon jewelflower at three different international conferences, which are the largest gatherings of ecologists in the world.

“It makes me feel like I belong in the scientific community, which is powerful thing,” said Lee, who is currently applying to medical schools.

The next Mills College Facebook Live event February 23 at 2:30 p.m. will feature graduate students from the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business & Public Policy who are preparing for a conference put on by the Mills College Center for Socially Responsible Business. The topic of the conference is confronting the equity gap in America.