Tom Zink, Adjunct Professor, San Diego State University. Role of microorganisms in the nutrient cycling processes of arid and semiarid soils and its practical application in desert restoration, macrofungi species surveys.
Dr. Mike Allen, Center for Conservation Biology, University of California, Riverside. Ecology and biology of soil microorganisms. Focus on the regulation of community and ecosystem processes by soil organisms, especially mycorrhizal fungi. Current research concentrates on global change dynamics and related effects on restoration of arid and semiarid ecosystems.
Richard Hillary: B.S. Biology Science, Ecological Emphasis, San Diego State University. Past projects included the development and implementation of monitoring and management technique for sensitive and listed plant species, as well as extensive work on the restoration and enhancement of southern California coastal dune systems.
Senior Project Manager:
Julie Lambert: Julie's responsibilities at SERG include supervising all projects, writing and editing project reports,
preparing project proposals, and creating and maintaining positive relationships with clients. She holds a
B.Sc. in Biology from Laval University, Quebec, Canada, and has been working as an ecologist in
southern California since graduating in 2000.
Lauren Garstka: Lauren moved from the Midwest joining the SERG botany crew in March 2017. She is originally from
Illinois growing up right out side of Chicago. She completed her undergraduate degree in Natural
Resource management with a minor in Soil Science and focusing on wetlands at the University of
Wisconsin Stevens Point. She currently runs the Botany project for SERG on San Clemente Island. When
she is not sitting at her desk she enjoys hiking around the island, exploring all the different canyons and
watching the water for any marine life that passes by.
Laura Hernandez: Laura Hernandez is Indigenous to San Diego. She graduated from Humboldt State University in 2016
earning a bachelor's degree in Environmental Biology and minors in Watershed Management and Soil
Laura is a Project Manager with SERG, responsible for three native habitat restoration projects. One
project is located on Navy property along the Silver Stand and Hwy 75, creating and maintaining coastal
dune habitat. One is a native grass farm at the Rancho Jamul Ecological for seed collection. The third one
is in Santa Ysabel on the Wheatley Ranch Property and is focused on enhancing habitat for the Western
Joyce Qiao: B.S. Environmental Systems Earth Science, University of California San Diego, 2018. Current projects include conducting seed analysis tests, helping maintain greenhouse, and assisting with restoration projects on Naval Base Coronado.
Field Crew Leaders:
Elizabeth Bercel: Born and raised in the Sonoran desert of Arizona, Elizabeth is passionate about exploring the natural world and
sharing this knowledge with others. She completed her undergraduate degree in Tucson, AZ, gaining a
Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Since graduating, she has worked in remote and
rural settings focusing on environmental education, habitat restoration, outdoor recreation, and community
development. With her position working for SERG, she is currently on San Clemente Island, working on
projects such as: greenhouse management, biosecurity implementation, database editing, and seed lab
Cassandra Wilson: Cassie is a Southern California native and received her B.S. in Biology from San Diego State University. Upon
completing undergraduate research on native and exotic flora in San Diego, she knew her future would be within
the outdoors. Post college, she has worked field positions with NOAA in Antarctica and with UC Santa Barbara.
Currently she is appreciating her life on San Clemente Island and is grateful that she gets to wake up and do what she
is passionate about everyday. Her crew has a strong bond and they are working hard together to explore the
island and find new populations of sensitive species and rid of invasives. She has taken over as their island's Co-
Green House Manager and is looking forward to establishing improvements and enhancing biosecurity.
Pearl Hoogs: A self-designed bachelor's of science program integrating fire ecology research and forest management
studies has led Pearl to conservation and wildland firefighting crews, and now to an integrative approach to
restoration with SERG. She finds joy in geospatial data analysis and prescribed burn plans, and can be found
surfing and mountain biking when not on San Clemente Island.
Robert Kaaret: Robert has been working at SERG since August 2018 on the botany crew. He Graduated from Whittier College
in 2018 with a B.A. in Environmental Science and Environmental Studies.
Emily Menendez: Emily started work for the SERG botany program in August of 2018. She graduated from the State University of
New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in May of 2016 with a degree in Environmental
Biology and a focus in Botany. Since graduating, she has pursued several field positions involving habitat
restoration, invasive species removal and management, organic agriculture, and rare plant monitoring.