California Botanical Society

2021 Botany Speaker Series

The CalBotSoc botany speaker series aims to showcase and promote the work of early career botanists. If you are an early career botanist interested in giving a talk of general interest to our members, please email us at

image_6483441 Sarah Jacobs


IMG_0490 Brianne Palmer

OlliffYang_grassland Rachael L. Olliff-Yang

CM_bioblitz Maria Jesus

thumbnail_IMG_E8384 Jenna Ekwealor

SuePierre_large_DSC3435 Suzanne Pierre

thumbnail_IMG_4561 Natalie Love

Justin Luong Justin Luong

SF Conservatory (3) Adriana Hernandez

Lorena_Villanueva Lorena Villanueva-Almanza

Thursday, November 11, 2021 7-8pm PT
Sarah Jacobs

"Using paintbrushes to study speciation"

The plant genus Castilleja (the iconic group of wildflowers more commonly known as "the paintbrushes") is a very young and diverse group of plants found primarily in western North America. Taxonomy in the genus has been challenging, resulting in its notoriety as a 'difficult group'. Much of the difficulty has been attributed to its young age, polyploidy, and the apparent ease of hybridization when species co-occur. This talk will broadly cover the biology of Castilleja, what we do (and don't) know about its evolution, and how my research is aiming to fill in the gaps. I will also highlight the challenge of defining species in lineages like Castilleja and what that means for systematics and taxonomy in the group.

Dr. Sarah Jacobs is an Assistant Curator of Botany, and the Howell Chair of Western North American Botany, at the California Academy of Sciences. In her role as curator, Sarah runs a research lab studying plant systematics and speciation, with a particular focus on the genus Castilleja, and contributes to the guidance of the institution's herbarium, with an emphasis on its western North American collection. While Sarah hails from Arakans, she has been 'west of the Rockies' for 15 years; she earned her Masters at Washington State University, her PhD at the University of Idaho, and worked as a postdoc at UCLA for two years, prior to accepting her current position in the Bay Area.



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2021 Schedule of Talks

14-Jan: Lorena Villanueva-Almanza

11-Feb: Adriana Hernandez

11-Mar: Justin Luong

8-Apr: Natalie Love

13-May: Suzanne Pierre

10-Jun: Jenna Ekwealor

8-Jul: Maria Jesus, CBG & Claremont Graduate University

12-Aug: Rachael Olliff-Yang, UC Berkeley

9-Sep: Brianne Palmer, SDSU & UC Davis

14-Oct: Daniel Winkler, USGS

11-Nov: Sarah Jacobs, Cal Academy

9-Dec: Ryoko Oono, UC Santa Barbara

View Recordings of Past Talks on our YouTube Channel:

Botany Speaker Series Playlist

California Botanical Society
c/o Jepson Herbarium
1001 Valley Life Sciences Building
Berkeley, California 94720-2465