Project Baseline, a Living Plant Genome Reserve for the Study of Evolution

Award Period: 

Saturday, October 15, 2011 to Friday, September 30, 2016

Award Amount: 

$325 292

Agency Name: 

University of Minnesota

Award Number: 


PI First Name: 


PI last name: 


MSI Person: 

Area/s of Research: 


The goal of this project is to collect seeds from multiple populations of each of 30-40 wild species of plants native to or introduced to California; these seeds will then be archived in the National Germplasm Resources Lab in Fort Collins, Colorado.  In the future, these seeds will be distributed to evolutionary biologists so that they can compare them to seeds obtained from the same populations in order to assess the degree and kind of evolutionary change that has occured due to environmental change.

Dr. Susan Mazer will direct all field components of this project that will be based in California and coordinate UCSB’s research activities with collaborators in Minnesota and New York.  The other collaborators (Dr. Julie Etterson [University of Minnesota-Duluth] and Dr. Steve Franks [Fordham University, New York]) will direct the field components to be performed in parallel in the Midwest and in New England.  In addition, the activities of all collaborators will be integrated by a Project Director who will be based in Duluth. 

Susan Mazer’s responsibilities include a variety of tasks that will require 1.5-2.0 months of activity per year, including:

  • Recruitment of Assistant Specialist, who will perform many of the day-to-day activities of this project;
  • assisting with species selection and the choice of collection locations in California;
  • coordinating with the Project Director at UMN-Duluth and the Assistant Specialist at UCSB to plan the annual collecting route and collection sites;
  • designing the most efficient collection schedule for the selected taxa;
  • soliciting, writing, editing, and disseminating contributions to Project Baseline eNewsletter that reports each region’s progress in the collection of seeds and provides communication among teachers, park staff, reserve docents, and citizen scientists about educational programs involving seed collection, seed preservation, and phenology;
  • supervising the Assistant Specialist’s adherence to Project Baseline protocols and data management plant;
  • collation and organization of environmental data to be transmitted to the Project Director; designing and
  • participating in training workshops to introduce the public, graduate students, and other scientists to the principles and methods of Project Baseline.