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Mills Professor’s Efforts to Save Critically Endangered Marin County Wildflower Featured on KGO 7 News

Oakland, CA—January 30, 2017

Mills College Biology Professor Sarah Swope and her students are working to help save a critically endangered Marin County wildflower that exists nowhere else on Earth.

“Literally no one else in the world is doing research on this species,” noted Swope. “We are genuinely worried about the long term prospect of this species.”

Recently, the Marin County Board of Supervisors awarded Mills College $40,000 in research  funding, with Mills Biology Professor Dr. Sarah Swope as the principal investigator, to study a newly introduced population of the Tiburon jewelflower at the Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve in Tiburon, California for three years.

Swope and her students previously re-introduced a patch of the flower using seeds collected and stored in a seed bank and from seeds taken from currently living plants. Now, the new round of research funding awarded to Mills will help Swope and her students determine how the new group of flowers fares in the wild and if the reintroduction helps reduce the risk of the species from becoming extinct.

The research is not only important to the survival of a critically endangered species, but it is an extremely rare opportunity for undergraduate students to be involved in such high-level research with important implications.

According to Swope, the research will help Mills biology students explore some of the most basic questions to try and understand how plant populations persist in a highly variable world that is increasingly drought prone. These are some of the basic scientific questions which advance understanding of how the natural world works.

Students working on this project are gaining skills that will make them highly employable and effective in conservation research, Swope explained. In addition, the students will be co-authors in a peer-reviewed scientific paper.

 “I am completely smitten with this species,” Swope said. “It’s very interesting and engaging intellectually and somewhat challenging. It’s lots of fun and I absolutely love working with my team of students. It’s very gratifying to know that my work can be turned into a more effective conservation effort for this species.”

Learn more about Professor Swope’s work to save the endangered Jewelflower here:

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