From her first solo-backpacking trip at the age of 16, Vanessa has enjoyed exploring the world, particularly the tropics. The glorious diversity encountered during these travels fuelled her fascination with the natural world and spurred her into a science career. After a decade as a professor, Vanessa became Director of Collections & Research at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. In addition to helming the magnificent living collections there, Vanessa engages in conservation initiatives and research on plant evolution. Current interests include population genetics of South African cycads and conservation of Malagasy plants. When Vanessa is not in the lab or field, she loves mucking about in her own garden, taking her family on hikes through Northern California, and continuing to travel the world.