2021 Foundation Professor Elizabeth Leger

For Elizabeth Leger, who completed her Ph.D. at University of California, Davis and postdoctoral studies in New York, the University of Nevada always seemed like a perfect fit. “Here in Nevada, we have a real connection to students and people in the community. It’s a very clear, direct path between the citizenry and the University and that’s something that is very unique and I love about UNR — letting you do work that matters because you hear directly from your students and constituents about what they’re interested in.”

As a professor of biology and director of the University’s Museum of Natural History, Leger focuses on local adaptation and rapid evolution of native and invasive species, plant population biology and the positive impact her research can have on our region.

“My research and my lab focus on native plant restoration in the Great Basin,” said Leger. “It’s a very dry area and plants naturally live for a really long time. They don’t necessarily grow from seed every single year, but a lot of seeding is done after fires. Our research is trying to figure out how we can pick plant species and populations that do well post fire to make that process simpler and more effective.”

Alongside Associate Professor of Biology Chris Feldman, Leger also curated and opened the Museum of Natural History on campus in 2014 which features plant and animal specimens that are up to 170 years old. Donor support has been critical in the museum’s success and Leger plans to use her Foundation stipend to help protect these irreplaceable exhibits and further educate the community on the importance of natural history collection.

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