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Urban Nature Research Center

In the field with Miguel Ordeñana detecting bats

It may surprise you, but Los Angeles exists inside a “Biodiversity Hotspot,” which is a Conservation International designation for an area with plants and animals that are incredibly diverse, but also under threat. The Urban Nature Research Center's (UNRC) goal is to help to spotlight ways to boost and sustain that biodiversity, and ultimately make L.A. a hospitable place for wildlife—and, by extension, humans—to thrive.

But our scientists need help from all Angelenos. Most of L.A.’s wildlife lives in private property—backyards, schoolyards, the courtyard of your apartment building. Scientists can’t trespass there! UNRC wants to engage the public to collect large amounts of data—data that wouldn’t be possible without community scientists who share their observations with museum researchers by e-mail and through social media. 


Our Staff

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Greg Pauly, Ph.D.
Curator, Herpetology & Director, Urban Nature Research Center

Dr. Greg Pauly is Curator of Herpetology and Co-director of the Urban Nature Research Center. He studies the natural history, evolution, and conservation of reptiles and amphibians.

Austin Baker, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher, Entomology

Austin is managing a large initiative to sequence DNA "barcodes" for every insect species in California.

Kayce Bell, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator, Mammalogy (Terrestrial Mammals)

Museum collections form a vital component of Kayce's research on mammal and parasite diversity and distribution. She is interested in the processes that lead to new species and how host diversity impacts parasite evolution.

Estella Hernandez
Associate Collections Manager, BioSCAN, Urban Nature Research Center

Estella works on the BioSCAN project and manages students and volunteers who are also involved on the project.

Maiz Connolly
Coordinator, Community Science

Maiz spent countless childhood hours exploring the fields, foothills, and tidepools of Southern California, and has loved natural history for as long as she can remember.

Adam G. Clause, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Herpetology & Urban Nature Research Center

Adam earned his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia, where he studied how natural history and human dimensions can improve conservation practice for threatened vertebrates in California, Mexico, and Fiji.

Lila Higgins
Senior Manager, Community Science

Lila is a museum educator with almost two decades of experience in museum education and community science programming.

Amy Jaecker-Jones
Program Manager, Community Science

Amy Jaecker-Jones joined the community science program in 2018. Her primary responsibility is coordinating the City Nature Challenge, at both the local and international levels.

Jann Vendetti, Ph.D.
Twila Bratcher Chair in Malacological Research and Associate Curator, Malacology, and Associate Director, Urban Nature Research Center

Jann Vendetti is NHM’s Twila Bratcher Chair in Malacological Research, and a founding member of the Urban Nature Research Center.

Allison J. Shultz, Ph.D.
Associate Curator, Ornithology

Allison is an ornithologist who integrates research across evolutionary timescales to gain an understanding of the processes that produce the patterns of biodiversity.