Dr. Jacqualine (Jackie) Grant is a long-time conservation biologist who loves Utah’s amazing landscapes, interesting people, and outstanding desert biodiversity. She teaches genetics and conservation biology, directs the Garth and Jerri Frehner Museum of Natural History, and manages the University of the Parks initiative at Southern Utah University.

Jacqualine Grant, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Biology, Southern Utah University

Dr. Jacqualine (Jackie) Grant is a long-time conservation biologist who loves Utah’s amazing landscapes, interesting people, and outstanding desert biodiversity. She teaches genetics and conservation biology, is a Fulbright Scholar, and directs the Garth and Jerri Frehner Museum of Natural History.

Why are you interested in your research focus?

I am interested in the conservation of Utah’s native plants and pollinators because they are often small and not immediately apparent, yet beautiful and integral to the functioning of high desert ecosystems. Utah is a hotspot of bee diversity, which means that it is also home to a broad variety of flowering plants. As a conservation biologist who interfaces with natural resource managers, I can provide the tools needed to manage public lands effectively and to restore private and public lands after natural and human-caused disturbances. Despite the diversity of bees in southern Utah, some of our partners do not have the baseline information needed to know which species live in each habitat under their purview. Without this information, it is very difficult to make informed management decisions. I am also driven by a desire to know how we can inventory bees and plants by using non-destructive or minimally invasive techniques. By pursuing the development of genetic and acoustic techniques, we plan to reduce the impact that common survey techniques can have on bee populations.

A great moment in the field

One of my favorite moments was when my team and I stumbled upon a great, purple, vanilla-scented forest of Rocky Mountain bee plants. The plants were over six feet high and had spread out over several acres of what was normally a dry sandy wash. Hummingbirds, bumble bees, monarch butterflies, and swallowtail butterflies were hovering around the flowers and sipping the nectar. The pom-pom like purple flower clusters were offset by red-rock sandstone in the distance, which made for a stunning contrast. Deserts are often portrayed as expendable habitats, but they contain an inordinate amount of intricate life forms that have singularly adapted to this harsh environment. The scene was so unexpected, and just a few weeks later the flowers were gone, the seeds expelled, and all that remained were the pale beige skeletons of the plants.

Education
  • B.S. Texas A&M University Biochemistry
  • M.S. Cornell University, Animal Science
  • Ph.D. Cornell University, Neurobiology and Behavior
  • Postdoctoral Training: David H. Smith Fellow for Conservation Science (Colorado State University)
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