Sula Vanderplank, Ph.D.

Research Associate

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 AC 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.

Adjunct /Research Associate/Visiting Scholar/Scientific Advisor Appointments
TCU, Ranch Management Program, Fort Worth, TX 
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Los Angeles, CA
Centro de Investigacion Cientifica y de Educacion Superior de Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Gobierno del Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California, Mexico
Scripps Oceanographic Institute, La Jolla, CA
San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, CA
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens, Calremont, CA
Terra Peninsular AC, Baja California, Mexico

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

Sula Vanderplank (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 Vienna 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.