Audrey Harvey, PhD Candidate

“My dad works for the Navajo EPA, so conversation about the land, nature, and environmental work on the Navajo Nation was common in our home,” said Harvey. Her family raised horses and cattle and developed their own management plan for grazing. For an ethnobotany project in high school, she explored her grandmother’s use of plants to make medicinal treatments and weave rugs. “Thinking about how we interact with the land has been a lifelong story.”

Harvey, a recipient of awards from the American Indian Graduate Center and Alfred P. Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership program, joined Ecoss in 2020 and is researching the “maternal effects” of plants that grow in rangelands, examining how their seed production is affected by the environmental conditions they experience. These native wildflowers, also known as forbs, are important for both pollinators and forage. As part of a multi-year USDA project, her team in Karen Haubensak’s lab is asking if the conditions under which native forbs grow—their maternal conditions—predispose the seeds of those plants to be hardier, and thus good candidates for large restoration projects. 

“Restoration brings many of my interests together,” Harvey said. “I want to be working with people, on the ground, answering questions with my scientific knowledge. I’ve always wanted to work with and for people—especially people in my community, who don’t necessarily have the resources to always develop a restoration plan.”

(Photo credit: Adrian Sanchez Gonzalez)