Angelica Patterson’s research focuses on understanding how natural communities shift and respond to climate change. She studies how trees adapt and move in response to increasing average temperatures; she uses a shotgun to collect tree branches that are many feet off the ground, which led the Guardian to dub her “the shotgun scientist” in a 2020 article.
Patterson received her bachelor’s in natural resources from Cornell University and her master’s, master of philosophy and doctorate degrees from Columbia University in plant ecophysiology. Her interests in understanding the mechanisms behind climate-induced tree migration and plant community shifts inspired her to examine tree physiological responses to temperature as part of her research. More specifically, her research compares the photosynthetic and respiratory responses of over 20 tree species with differing historic range distributions in order to evaluate which species may be better able to tolerate climate changes that are predicted to occur within the next 50–100 years.
Patterson is a strong advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in the environmental sciences and has served on various committees and working groups. Before coming to Mount Holyoke, she served as the master science educator at Black Rock Forest in New York.
Areas of Expertise
- M.S., Ph.D., Columbia University
- B.S., Cornell University