Julia Gardner Harencar


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo, CA

  • Role
    Scientist Mentor: I will mentor teams of students online

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    Speciation and sources of biodiversity; Abiotic and biotic factors, and genetic mechanisms influencing
    local adaptation and plant population dynamics; Geographic variation in plant demography and genetics; The conservation of rare native plants in a rapidly changing climate.

  • Profile Question 1
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    I first realized that a career in science interested me while studying abroad in Italy as a junior in high school. My favorite class at the linguistic high school in which I was placed was chemistry, and I found myself helping my fellow classmates with their homework and loving that the subject crossed our initial language barrier. When I began my college search and had to choose a major, I had decided on science major, but was torn by the many interesting fields within science. I soon fell in love with biology, and in my second year of college, took a plant ecology class that changed my life. The following summer I got the opportunity to conduct research in plant ecology with my professor, and realized that a research career in biology and plant ecology was exactly wha I was meant to do. I was hooked by the idea of asking unanswered questions about the world and solving them with a combination of methods that included time spent outdoors and time spent analyzing complex genetic data. The unification of field studies and genetics has become an important passion and has drawn me to the study of plant population biology and evolution.

  • Profile Question 2
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    This is a very difficult question as I have several plants I consider favorite plants for different reasons. I will pick just one to tell you about hear, but feel free to ask me about others! One of my favorite plants is Calochortus tiburonensis. I have an obsession with the entire Calochortus genus because it is filled with beautiful and often rare, endemic species. Additionally, California, my home state, is the center for diversity of the genus. There are 58 species and subspecies that an be found in the state and it is a lifetime goal of mine to see them all in bloom in their natural habitats. So why is Calochortus tiburonensis special? This is the first plant I ever studied in an official capacity. My first real experience on a research team involved hiking around the one isolated hilltop where this species is found and recording everything from exact location to leaf width and flower number for individuals within little 2m by 1m rectangular plots, and I loved it! It was the study of this species that drove home for me a desire to become a scientist and study plants.

  • Profile Question 3
    Do you have advice for students about preparing for a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    My advice to students preparing for a career in science is to keep with you always your curiosity, creativity, and sense of wonder.
    Curiosity will always be your best friend both for learning what others have discovered, and for making your own discovery. Without curiosity, science loses its fun and a scientist loses their ability to discover.
    Creativity is often seen as only important to the arts, but this is wholly false. Creativity is essential to experimental design, and together with curiosity, to discovery. Not to mention that a resourceful creativity is often called for in cases of short funding or unplanned for events in the lab or field!
    Curiosity and creativity will go a long way to make you a good scientist, but it is a sense of wonder that will propel you onward in a science career. If you can't get excited by learning the fantastic things science has to reveal, you will find it a long hard path. However, with a sense of wonder, everything you learn and discover is an boost that pushes you along. Never feel embarrassed to get excited and never hold back feelings of wonder!

  • Availability
    I am NOT available, please temporarily remove me from the available mentor list

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?

Recent Posts

PHSWC Rogers Team 8 Julia Gardner Harencar

Hey team!

How are things going? Is all your data collection complete? How is the project wrapping up?


PHSWC Rogers Team 8 Julia Gardner Harencar
commented on a blog post

That is indeed my real middle name! It is spelled a little differently than gardener, but I also still think it is pretty cool! :D 


PHSWC Rogers Team 8 Julia Gardner Harencar
commented on a blog post

That is great to hear Jordan! Sounds like you have some pretty clear implications of the heat treatment. Where are you in the process of your project? Are you almost done collecting data? What comes next?

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