Who we are
Budburst is managed by the following individuals and is supported by generous contributions from our sponsors
PH.D., Budburst Director
Emma received her Ph.D. in Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior from Indiana University where she studied plant community ecology. Her research focused on how co-occurring invasive plant species interact with each other and how they impact native prairie communities. She also brings experience from the conservation non-profit sector, previously working at the Mono Lake Committee in eastern California, where she gained an appreciation for interpretive science education. Throughout her work and education experience, she developed a passion for effective science communication and believes that connecting to the plants all around us can serve as a gateway to broader environmental activism.
Ph.D., Education Manager
Sarah received a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from Michigan State University. She has taught field and college courses on a wide range of subjects, including evolution, genetics, animal behavior, and general biology. She has spent significant time working with K-12 educators and students to incorporate current scientific research into classroom activities. She currently also serves as a director of Project Biodiversify, which aims to enhance human diversity and inclusivity in biology courses. She believes all community members deserve and need an understanding of biology and its relevance to their lives.
MS, Community Engagement Manager
Taran is a graduate of the Plant Biology and Conservation Program at Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden. She previously researched the diversity of plants in the Colorado Plateau, as well as the germination of seeds in the Midwest prairie. Taran is dedicated to removing barriers to science education and participation, recognizing the importance of justice, accessibility, and communication.
Dr. Jennifer Schwarz Ballard
Ph.D., Co-principal Investigator
Jennifer is vice president of Education and Community Programs at the Chicago Botanic Garden. As such, she supervises youth and adult education, horticultural therapy, and the Windy City Harvest urban agriculture programs. Jennifer brings expertise in both formal and informal science education. Her specialities include diversity studies, program design, and evaluation. Before joining the Garden, she completed her graduate studies in learning sciences at Northwestern University.
Ph.D., Co-principal Investigator
Kayri is the Medard and Elizabeth Welch Senior Director of Ecology and Conservation at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Her research interests include the effects of climate change on plant species, restoration genetics, pollination networks, ex situ conservation, and invasion biology. She is on the adjunct faculty of Loyola University, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois-Chicago. She chairs the Non-federal Cooperators Committee of the Plant Conservation Alliance and collaborates with a variety of academic institutions, agencies, and stewardship organizations to help improve conservation efforts for plants and plant communities.
MS, Principal Web Applications Developer
Owen Zaengle works as the Principal Web Applications Developer at the Chicago Botanic Garden. He supports the team in managing and developing Budburst technologies. Owen enjoys working at the intersections of conservation research, technology, and the environment. He holds a B.S in Environmental Science from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and M.S in Lake Management from the State University of New York College at Oneonta and is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Environmental Science through the Graduate Program in Environmental Science at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. In his work, Owen aims to develop processes and technologies that support equity, justice, and humility towards ecological flourishing.
Budburst is supported by a private endowment for native habitats restoration. Additional support is provided by Walder Foundation.
We would also like to acknowledge past sponsors who made the growth of Budburst (formerly Project BudBurst) possible through their generous funding and support:
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