People

Graduate and Undergraduate students work on a wide variety of projects ranging from modeling population growth of understory species to quantifying the variation in, and importance of, seed embryo size.

Rachel M. Mitchell

Assistant Professor

  • B.S. University of Arizona – 2006
  • PhD University of Washington – 2013
  • NSF Postdoctoral Fellow – Duke University – 2014-2017
  • CV

Email me: rachel.mitchell (at) nau.edu

Graduate Students

Zoe Klein

Masters Student

Zoe received her BS in Environmental Sciences with a minor in Forestry from UC Berkeley in 2018. After graduation, she worked for the Sierra Inventory and Monitoring Network ad Sequoia and Kings National Parks as a field technician. Wanting to have more direct influence in management decisions, Zoe decided to pursue a MS at NAU. Zoe is interested in the effects of climate change on dryland restoration practices. She is interested in how to “prestore” public lands for future climate conditions. Her current research examines how maternal environmental conditions impact drought resistance in a native annual forb.

Ella Samuel

Masters Student
Wyss Scholar

Ella Samuel is currently pursuing her Master’s in Environmental Science & Policy at Northern Arizona University. Her graduate research with Dr. Rachel Mitchell involves measuring plant functional traits at a common garden site and associated field sites throughout the Southwest to understand local adaptation and climate resiliency of three priority restoration species. She hopes her research will inform land management and restoration practices in the Southwest. Her research is supported by the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management State Botanist, Zoe Davidson, and she collaborates with USGS Research Ecologists, Dr. Rob Massatti and Dr. Daniel Winkler.

Ella received her B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic. Prior to moving to the Southwest, Ella contributed to research projects pertaining to plant ecology and climate change in Maine, California, and Greenland, and was a restoration intern for the Elwha Restoration Project. For the past few years, she worked at the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management and was a contractor for the Institute for Applied Ecology Southwest Program. Ella is very passionate about botany and conservation and hopes to pursue a career in conservation and policy following her graduate degree.

Ethan Taber

Masters Student

Ethan grew up in rural Oklahoma, but moved west and earned a BA in Environment and Sustainability at Western Colorado University. After a few years working in the northern Rockies, the desire to further his education led him to NAU. Ethan’s main research interests involve plant community responses to the effects of a changing climate, specifically involving wildland fire and reduced snowpack.

Undergraduate Students

Paige Thompson

NASA Space Grant Recipient 2020-2021
HURA Fellow 2020-2021
I2S Intern 2019-2020

My name’s Paige Thompson, I’m an undergraduate at Northern Arizona University working on an Environmental Science with an emphasis in Biology as my Major with a minor in Anthropology. I’m passionate about the outdoors, herbalism, anything botany related, and reading. I’ve also begun to dip my toes into the world of plant and seed traits. 

Mallory Decker

I2S Intern 2020-2021

My name is Mallory Decker, I’m an undergraduate student at Northern Arizona University. I’m currently double majoring in Environmental Studies and Sustainability as well as German, in the hopes of attending school in Germany to further my studies in environmental science. I am passionate about ecological restoration as well as specifically the nature of invasive species.   

Lab Alumni


  • Ashlee Wolf (2018-2020)- Plant Conservation and Restoration Specials, BLM
  • Tyler Annetts (2018-2020) – Ecological Site Specialist, NRCS

Want to work with us?

I am always interested in highly motivated students! Please email me a brief introduction, a statement of research interests and experiences, and an unofficial transcript!


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