Events & Media

Patricia Holden to Lead UCSB Nature Reserves

Bren professor of environmental microbiology Patricia Holden has been named director of the UCSB Natural Reserve System (NRS), effective July 1. She will replace William Murdoch, professor of population ecology in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology (EEMB), who served as director for the past ten years. While assuming her new responsibilities, Professor Holden will remain at Bren as a full-time faculty member.

"Dr. Holden's research addresses a wide range of topics involving the interactions of humans, bacteria, and the environment," said Michael Witherell, Vice Chancellor for Research, in announcing her ppointment. "We are fortunate that a person of this stature and experience has agreed to take on this very important position."

While not directly involved in the search, UC NRS Director Peggy Fiedler said, "Trish Holden brings a rare expertise in bacterial ecology to the Natural Reserve System, and that's very exciting. I'm sure she will be quickly embraced and strongly supported by the highly collegial community of scientists who work in the system. There's plenty to do, and we're delighted to have her."

The UCSB NRS is part of the University of California Natural Reserve System, which includes 36 sites comprising approximately 135,000 acres. All nine UC campuses, excepting UCSF, which is primarily a medical school, operate reserves in the system. UCSB manages six reserves — K.S.N. Rancho Marino, Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve (actually, two sites), Coal Oil Point Reserve (at UCSB), Sedgwick Reserve, Santa Cruz Island Reserve, and the Carpinteria Salt Marsh.


Sedgwick Reserve – Photo: Nick Dicroce

Each reserve was chosen to represent a particular natural environment. The director is responsible for overall management of the NRS sites and promoting an active program of research and education at them. Professor Holden will be ably supported by Susan Swarbrick, Associate Director of the system, and the onsite director at each site.

All the reserves host researchers from UCSB, other UC campuses, and other universities, with research projects conducted on the sites typically being funded separately by NSF or other agencies. The NRS organization provides the facilities and support that the research projects need to operate at the sites, some of which are quite remote.

"The University of California Natural Reserve System is the largest university-run system of natural reserves in the world, and UCSB manages the most important set of reserves within that system," Witherell said. "Trish Holden and the superb staff of the UCSB Natural Reserve System will support the superb programs of teaching, research, and public service that are carried out at all of our reserves."

The search committee for the position was led by chair, Carla D’Antonio, professor of plant and ecosystem ecology in the UCSB Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology.