Natasha Riccio

PhD Student, Arid Land Resource Sciences

I am a field botanist and Sonoran Desert lover starting in the Arid Lands Resource Sciences PhD program at U of A (Fall 2021). My research interests encompass ethnobotany, arid land agriculture, and plant conservation. My thesis will focus on reproductive strategy, genetic diversity, and resiliency to climatic stressors in a species of domesticate agave, Agave murpheyi. This research will contribute to collaborative efforts with the Desert Lab and Indigenous nations to reinvigorate the preservation and cultivation of this significant desert-adapted food plant. I’m excited to weave together perspectives from different cultures and disciplines in my research.

I received a Bachelor of Science from Prescott College in 2018, where I focused my studies in field ecology and spent extensive amounts of time studying at the Prescott College Kino Bay Center along the Gulf of California in Sonora, Mexico. I fell in love with the Sonoran Desert flora there and continued to work as a field botanist and assistant instructor at the Kino Bay Center in the following years. In addition to working for Prescott College, I have worked as a field technician for the Ecological Restoration Institute in Flagstaff, AZ, Centro Rescate de Especies Marinas Amenazadas in Costa Rica, the National Ecological Observatory Network in Boulder, CO, and the Center for Adaptable Western Landscapes in Flagstaff, AZ. Outside of my work as an ecologist, I also express my affinity for plants through art, practicing herbalism, and gardening.