Institute at Brown for Environment and Society

Elizabeth Ryan '13


Elizabeth Ryan '13 is an Environmental Science and Architectural Studies concentrator interested in conservation biology and ecology. She is working with Professor Dov Sax (EEB/ES) and Michael Dosmann (Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum) to better understand how plant species ranges will respond to climate change. This past summer, she looked for seedlings of North American exotics at botanical gardens across the east coast to broaden existing knowledge of where certain plants can reproduce. In addition to the Arnold, Elizabeth conducted field work in Pennsylvania at the Tyler Arboretum and Bartram’s Garden, and in New York at the Cary Institute. This reproduction information, when matched with climatic data, will be used to pinpoint certain species traits that can guide predictions of where plants will be able to survive in the future. The aim of this investigation is to help determine which species are appropriate for “managed relocation”, a strategy in which human’s move plants that might not be able to move themselves. The constant guidance of the Arnold Arboretum”s Living Collections curator, Michael Dosmann, was invaluable when navigating the world of public horticulture. Equally helpful were  the plant identification skills, and stories about the Arboretum’s trees, that he passed along to Elizabeth.  Elizabeth is on the Cross Country and Track & Field teams at Brown. A native of the Northeast, she enjoys triathlons, pick-up soccer, skiing, catching insects, and herding sheep and goats.