DR. EVANGELINE BALLERINI
I was born and raised in a small town (650 people!) on the border of Yosemite National Park where my mom was a waitress and my dad was a Stonemaster. From this little mountain hamlet, I grew up having many outdoor adventures along the banks of the Merced River and amongst the jagged peaks and high elevation meadows of the central Sierra Nevada mountains. Little did I know it while growing up, but these experiences left their mark on me and would end up as a continuous influence.
When I went to college at UC Berkeley, I thought I wanted to be a medical doctor - but those plans changed during my first semester when I got a B in Gen Chem and realized that getting A's in college is hard! Even though I wrote off med school pretty early in the game, I still wanted to study biology and after Intro Bio, I realized that I really loved how the rules of genetics and evolution could explain so much about life on earth, and because I had a hard time killing or harming animals, I gravitated toward plants. I stumbled into doing some paleobotanical field work in Montana one summer where I learned that graduate students and professors are real people and that life as a graduate student looked kind of fun (of course I made these assertions entirely based on their parties and didn't actually see all of the work that they were doing).
Without any concrete career plans in mind, I wound up in graduate school at an uppity private school back east. Because you can take the kid out of California but you can’t take California out of the kid, I moved to New England only to end up studying a California native plant that had grown in my “backyard” as a kid (Aquilegia formosa, or the Crimson Columbine). Following graduate school, after a brief foray into the South to study irises, I finally returned to California to continue work exploring adaptation and speciation in columbines with a post doctoral fellowship at UC Santa Barbara.
In 2019, I accepted a position as faculty at California State University, Sacramento. I feel extremely lucky to get to do two things that I love, teaching and research, in a place not far from where I grew up with easy access to some of my favorite places on earth in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California!