Summer 2023 Intro

Hello all, my name is Amanda and I’m a Ph.D. student at UAF. I’m part of the collaborative Ph.D. program between UAF and UAA and, therefore, reside in Anchorage. For my dissertation I’m using stable isotope to construct food webs in order to develop ecosystem models, my focus is Beringian seabirds. I’m an avid outdoorsman but as an ornithologist I’m partial to birds. I don’t have much a botanical background but my love for botany has grown as I’ve advanced through my graduate studies and especially since moving to Alaska. I enjoy identifying edible plants and fungi specifically when pollinators are involved. I work in the stable isotope lab at UAA and have access to numerous types of microscopes, fortunately for me. At the moment my favorite plant is probably Peperomia ‘Funky Frog’. I have close to 75 houseplants and absolutely love anything houseplant related, specifically epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants). As far as native plants go Lupine is just beautiful to me and I stop to look at it any time I find some. I am really looking forward to taking this class as I hope to gain a better understanding of botanical terms and dichotomous keys. Cheers!


  1. Welcome Amanda,
    great you are venturing out of your comfort zone and taking this class. But as I often say to my students in Systematic Botany who are mainly Wildlife students, as it is a required course for this program of study, plants are everywhere in our daily life. You eat them, you wear them, you live in them. They are just everywhere, and none of the charismatic megafauna would be here without plants. My office neighbor is Kevin Winker, who is the curator of birds here at the UA Museum. Many birds are actively involved in plant dispersal, as well as pollination. Some are passive dispersers, as the some seeds get stuck in the plumage and hitch a ride to far away places. See this interesting paper documenting dispersal in the plumage from Alaska to South America

  2. Blake Spears

    Welcome Amanda, I would also add that if you ever get the chance, you should come visit the Museum of the North and look at their collections room. I love looking at all the different collections when I am down there playing in dirt and picking out bones.

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