Katharine L. Gerst

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Katharine L. Gerst

Assistant Research Scientist

School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona

National Coordinating Office, USA National Phenology Network

1955 East 6th Street, Tucson, AZ 85721



  • PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, advisor: Dr. Larry Venable (2011). Dissertation title: The Influence of Biogeography and Mating System on the Ecology of Desert Annual Plants.

  • B.S. Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, UCLA; magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa (2001).

  • University of California study abroad program in Tropical Biology, Costa Rica (1999).

Research positions:

  • Research scientist and liaison to the California Phenology Project: USA National Phenology Network (2011-present).

  • Graduate Research Assistant: Linking long term community and population dynamics to ecophysiological traits in desert annual plants. University of Arizona (2004-2005).

  • Tropical plant research: Hemi-epiphytic aroid diversity, distribution and physiology (La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica). UCLA (2003-2004).

  • Post graduate researcher on Salt cedar biology: UC Davis/USDA (2001-2002).

  • Field Assistant: UCLA/USGS fire ecology study (2001), UC Berkeley alpine sagebrush ecology study (2002), and UCLA invasive riparian plant ecology study (2003).

  • Field supervisor and Internship coordinator: University of California White Mountain Research Station (2001, 2002).

Peer-Reviewed Publications:

  • AH Rosemartin, TM Crimmins, CAF Enquist, KL Gerst, JL Kellermann, EE Porthumus, JF Weltzin, EG Denny, P Guertin, & L Marsh. 2013. Phenological data resources to inform natural resource conservation. Biological Conservation.

  • Haggerty, BP, ER Matthews, KL Gerst, AG Evenden, & SJ Mazer. 2013. The California Phenology Project: Tracking Plant Responses to Climate Change. Madroño 60: 1-3.

  • Barron-Gafford, GA, AL Angert, DL Venable, KL Gerst, AP Tyler, & TE Huxman. 2013. Photosynthetic temperature responses of co-occurring desert winter annuals with contrasting resource-use efficiencies and different temporal patterns of resource utilization may allow for species coexistence. Journal of Arid Environments 91: 95-103.

  • Gerst, KL, AL Angert, & DL Venable. 2010. The effect of geographic range position on demographic variability in annual plants. Journal of Ecology 99: 591-599.

  • Villegas, JC, CT Morrison, KL Gerst, CR Beal, JC Espelata, and M. Adamson. 2010. Impact of an ecohydrology classroom activity on middle school students' understanding of evapotranspiration. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Science Education 39: 150-156.

  • Huxman TE, GA Barron-Gafford, KL Gerst, AL Angert, AP Tyler, & DL Venable. 2008. Photosynthetic resource-use efficiency and demographic variability in desert annual plants. Ecology 89:1554-1563. 

  • Angert AL, TE Huxman, GA Barron-Gafford, KL Gerst, & DL Venable 2007. Linking growth strategies to long-term population dynamics in a guild of desert annuals. Journal of Ecology 95: 321-331.

Publications in review or revision:

  • Enquist, CAF, J Kellermann, KL Gerst, AJ Miller-Rushing. 2013. Phenology for natural resource management: connecting science to practice. In Revision for International Journal of Biometeorology.

  • Denny, E, KL Gerst, AJ Miller-Rushing, GL Tierney, TM Crimmins, CAF. Enquist, P Guertin, AH Rosemartin, MD Schwartz, KA Thomas & JF Weltzin. 2013. Standardized phenology monitoring methods to track plant and animal activity for science and resource management applications. In Revision for International Journal of Biometeorology.


  • George Wright Society Conference, 2013: “The California Phenology Project: A Case Study of PPSR” (oral).

  • California Desert Research Symposium, 2012: “Reproductive ecology of selfing and outcrossing desert annual plants” (oral).

  • Ecological Society of America Meeting, 2012: “Implementing a regional phenology network: the California Phenology Project" (oral).

  • Ecological Society of America Meeting, 2010: “The effect of pollen limitation and resource availability on reproduction in selfing and outcrossing annuals” (poster).

  • Noon seminar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Fall 2010: “Inter-annual variability in plant and pollinator phenology”

  • Ecological Society of America Meeting, 2009: “Timing of reproduction in outcrossing and selfing desert annual plants: the role of pollinators and herbivores” (oral).

  • Noon seminar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Spring 2009: “How pollinators, herbivores, and mating system mediate reproductive success in annual plants”

  • Ecological Society of America Meeting and Pollination conference, 2008: “Resource limitation and allocation in selfing and outcrossing desert annual plants” (poster).

  • NSF GK-12 conference, Washington DC, 2008. “Reproductive ecology of selfing and outcrossing Camissonia” (poster).

  • Noon seminar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Fall 2007: “Resource allocation in selfing and outcrossing desert annual plants”

  • Noon seminar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Spring 2007: “Reproductive consequences of female biased sex ratios at the range margin in Bursera microphylla

  • Ecological Society of America Meeting, 2006: "Mating system evolution in Bursera microphylla (Burseraceae)" (oral).

Teaching and Outreach:

  • Graduate Associate in Education and Outreach for Biosphere 2 (2008-09).

  • Teaching Assistant, University of Arizona: Conservation Biology (2004-2006), Natural History of the Southwest (2007), and Ecology (2009).

  • Guest lecturer for Desert Flora lecture series at the Desert Institute, CSU San Bernardino.

  • Develop and taught science curriculum in 3rd-5th grade classrooms in Tucson Unified School District as a BioME NSF GK-12 fellow (2007-2008).

  • Guest lectures in: Conservation Biology (2004-07), Environmental Biology (2005-07).


  • PlantingScience.org mentor, Botanical Society of America (2007-present).

  • Content expert for middle school science teacher training for units in Ecology and Biodiversity, Tucson Unified School District.

  • Manuscript reviewer: International Journal of Plant Sciences, New Phytologist, Ecosphere, Journal of Ecology.

Grants, Awards and Honors:

  • Marshall Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2009-2010).

  • California Desert Research Fund (Community Foundation), $3300 (2008), $3800 (2009).

  • University of Arizona College of Science Service Award Nomination (2009).

  • Garden Club of America Desert Studies Grant $4000 (2008).

  • McGinnies Scholarship in Arid Land Studies (University of Arizona) $1000 (2008).

  • Travel Award, Plant Population Ecology section of ESA, $295 (2008).

  • Biodiversity Travel Grant (University of Arizona), $2029 (2008).

  • BioME NSF GK-12 Teaching Fellowship, $30,000 (2007-2008).

  • Cactus and Succulent Society of America Research Grant, $1450 (2006).

  • Graduate Student and Professional Council Travel Award, $400 (2006, 2009).

  • Honorable Mention, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (2006).

  • Rabbi Maurice T. Galpert Memorial Scholarship, $2000 (2005).

  • Lucretia B. Hamilton Scholarship (University of Arizona), $500 (2005).

Professional Membership:

  • Ecological Society of America (since 2005), Botanical Society of America (since 2005).

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