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Meet Jennifer Funk

Dr. Jennifer Funk is a Professor in the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University, where she has taught and mentored students for 13 years. She served as Chapman University’s Biology Program Director and Mentor for the Simon STEM Scholarship program for students facing difficult life and economic circumstances. She has been a board member and scientific advisor for the California Invasive Plant Council, which is a boundary organization that translates and synthesizes invasive species research for the direct use of land managers. In 2020, Jennifer received the prestigious Eugene P. Odom Award for Excellence in Ecology Education.

Dr. Funk finds working with students is the most rewarding aspect of working at Chapman University and these interactions have been instrumental in her development as a researcher and instructor. She has taught and mentored students across all levels, starting from K-12 up to the post-doc level. Jennifer believes that research is a critical component of undergraduate science education and has worked with a diverse group of students from different majors including health sciences, biochemistry, biology, and environmental science. She works closely with students to obtain research grants to support their work, to present results at regional and national conferences, and to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals. To increase the representation of underrepresented minorities in science and better prepare high school students for STEM majors, Jennifer developed the Chapman Orange High School Ecological Research Experience (COHERE) program, which offers high school students the chance to learn sophisticated biogeochemical and ecological lab techniques.

In July 2020, Jennifer is moving to the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis where she plans to continue teaching ecology and mentoring high school, undergraduate, and graduate student researchers.

The Ecological Society of America is Dr. Funk’s primary professional society, and she has been an active member since she joined in 2000. As a graduate student, she won poster and oral presentation awards from the Physiological Ecology section, for which she served as secretary from 2010-2012. In 2015, Jennifer co-founded the Invasion Ecology section, and served as chair of the section for two years, then as Secretary for an additional year. She has organized multiple ESA symposia: Plant functional traits as tools for ecological restorations (2007), Revisiting the Holy Grail: Using trait-based ecology as a framework for preserving, utilizing, and sustaining our ecosystems (2012), and The future of invasion ecology (2016).