Jennifer Ackerfield, Ph.D. Candidate

Jennifer Ackerfield, Ph.D.

Head Curator of Natural History Collections, Associate Director of Biodiversity Research
Research Areas

Biodiversity of the Southern Rocky Mountains, Flora of Colorado, Evolution, Systematics, Biogeography of thistles (Cirsium) in North America

Personal Statement

As the Head Curator of Natural History Collections and the Associate Director of Biodiversity Research, I coordinate the growth, improvement, and support of Denver Botanic Gardens’ biodiversity research efforts. Natural history collections are moments in time, and as such they represent invaluable sources of material for biodiversity, ecology, evolutionary, systematic, and climatic studies.

I coordinate and lead fieldwork to floristically interesting or under-collected areas to document and catalog the rich biodiversity in Colorado and the Southern Rocky Mountains. These collections also help build upon the "Flora of Colorado," the most current and comprehensive guide to the flora of the region, which I authored in 2015. In addition, I develop research projects which complement and enhance the existing research at the Gardens as well as incorporate natural history collections.

I am currently involved in research I term “a prickly puzzle,” which aims to identify the evolutionary, biogeographical and ecological patterns that underlie diversification, speciation, and trait evolution in the thistles (Cirsium) of North America.

Lastly, I provide outreach for the Gardens by actively connecting members of the community to biodiversity and natural history collections through citizen science campaigns, speaking engagements and workshops. 

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