Paul J. CaraDonna, Ph.D., Research Scientist, Chicago Botanic Garden
Paul CaraDonna graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in botany in 2010. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona in 2016. His dissertation research investigated the consequences of climate change for plant-pollinator interactions. At the end of his dissertation, he spent two years in Denmark as a research fellow at the University of Copenhagen. He recently began a permanent research position at the Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University, where his research aims to understand the causes and consequences of species interactions, mostly with plants and pollinators.
Louise Clemency, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Louise Clemency is the field supervisor for the Chicago Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Highlights of her 20-plus years with the agency include conserving piping plovers on New York State beaches, working on endangered species policy in Washington, D.C., co-chairing the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, negotiating sturgeon passage around hydropower dams, and managing U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Offices in Wisconsin and Chicago. Current conservation work of the Chicago Field Office focuses on Hine’s emerald dragonfly, eastern massasauga rattlesnake, eastern prairie fringed orchid, rusty patched bumble bee, and monarch butterfly.
Richard Hawke, Plant Evaluation Manager, Chicago Botanic Garden
Richard Hawke has been the plant evaluation manager at the Chicago Botanic Garden since 1986. He has a horticulture degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is an instructor for the School of the Chicago Botanic Garden, the author of Plant Evaluation Notes, and is an author and contributing editor for Fine Gardening. In 2005, he received the Perennial Plant Association’s Academic Award for teaching excellence. The Plant Evaluation Program received the Award for Program Excellence from the American Public Gardens Association in 2008.
Heidi Natura, Founder of Living Habitats—Landscape Architect & Ecologist
Since 1990, Heidi Natura has been actively involved in promoting the wise use of our natural resources through her professional planning and design work. It is her responsibility as a registered landscape architect and mission as the leader of Living Habitats to understand and creatively express the needs and wants of humans on the land, balanced with the needs and limitations of the earth and its many other inhabitants. With every project undertaken, and in collaboration with clients, Living Habitats applies creative thought and action to address the many environmental challenges we all face today.
Ayse Pogue, Senior Horticulturist, Chicago Boatnic Garden
Ayse Pogue is the senior horticulturist for the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden. She is also responsible for overseeing and coordinating the maintenance of Evening Island, the Ellis Goodman Family Foundation Green Roof Garden South, the Josephine P. & John J. Louis Foundation Green Roof Garden North, and the Bernice E. Lavin Plant Evaluation Garden. In addition, she assists with gardening classes, leads tours, and gives demonstrations. Pogue has worked for the Garden since 2007, when she started out as a seasonal assistant horticulturist. Inspired by her work at the Garden, she decided to continue her formal education and received a master's degree in natural resources and environmental sciences from the University of Illinois in December 2013. She takes her passion for plants home by maintaining a large vegetable garden and raising heirloom chickens in a handmade coop in her suburban Chicago backyard.
Rebecca Tonietto, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Michigan-Flint
Rebecca Tonietto completed her master’s degree and Ph.D. in the Plant Biology and Conservation Program at the Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University, where she evaluated green roofs as pollinator habitat and the effects of prairie restoration on bee communities. She was a Smith Fellow and studied bee conservation in urban agriculture sites of shrinking cities. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, where she has developed The Porch Project with Flint resident Megan Heyza. The Porch Project is community-engaged research designed to meet neighborhood aesthetic goals and provide community building opportunities though pollinator-friendly landscaping enhancements. She is also a co-founder of Plant Love Stories, a website and social media movement designed to inspire recognition of the role plants play in our lives—by helping to connect us to one another, to our land and culture, we all have a plant love story to share!