Johanna Varner

University of Utah

Ph.D., Biology (University of Utah), M.Eng., Biological Engineering (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), B.S., Biology (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Other webpage:

Research Summary: 

Jo grew up in Salt Lake City, UT near the Wasatch Mountains. Following her love of science, she spent 5 years at MIT earning B.S. and M.Eng. degrees. After a few years of traveling, blueberry farming in New Zealand and managing a local bakery, she returned to graduate school in Ecology, studying factors that promote American pika survival in marginal habitats under climate change. In addition to her research, she is heavily involved in organizing pika citizen science efforts across the country. Through these programs, volunteers collect valuable data about pika status and distribution across their range while forging meaningful personal connections with alpine ecosystems. Pikas are also an ideal platform for engaging K-12 students in discussions about the local effects of climate change.

Jo hopes to make a career niche for herself in experiential science education, combining her passions for nature and the mountains with her love of science and communication. She is particularly interested in bringing authentic field ecology research experiences to K-12 classrooms.