kandres halbrook

Kandres Halbrook's interests in genetics, grasslands, and natural history led her to study the evolutionary ecology of Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama), a widespread native grass in North America. After graduating from the University of California, Davis with a B.A. in History and Anthropology, she worked as an archaeologist and interpretive specialist for the U.S.D.A. Forest Service. It was while with the Forest Service that she integrated her interest in understanding how past peoples used plants with her burgeoning interest in how plants adapt to changing environments and how they are modified by human-mediated selection. This then inspired Kandres to earn a B.S. in Biology from Eastern Oregon University and pursue a career in botany, evolutionary biology, and restoration ecology. Her graduate work concerns basic and applied aspects of sideoats grama’s reproductive biology, systematics, distribution, and adaptation to climatic changes. Her work understanding the complex reproductive biology of sideoats’ apomictic (asexual reproduction through seed) populations may lead to more effective plant selection and seed increase techniques for use in restoration plantings while her common garden studies and habitat distribution modeling of the three infraspecific varieties of sideoats grama suggest that the traits that distinguish the varieties are the result of phenotypic plasticity and not necessarily adaptation to a particular suite of environmental variables. These results have implications for understanding plant response to environmental change and development of seed transfer zones for widespread species. And, as fate would have it, what goes around comes around and Kandres is modifying techniques used to discriminate among paleobotanical macrofossils recovered from archaeological sites to study the relationship between chromosome number evolution in sideoats grama and fluctuating climatic conditions in the post-Pleistocene period.

Kandres is active in teaching and mentoring college and high school students in the biological sciences. She has taught laboratory sections in Field Botany, Plant Biology, and Organismal Biology, was a 2005–2006 N.S.F. Fellow (GK–12 C.A.T.T.S.) with the BIOTECH Project, and is presently a science mentor with plantingscience.org sponsored by the Botanical Society of America.