Shotgun scientist joins Miller Worley Center
Angelica Patterson 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.
Angelica Patterson, a plant ecophysiologist who was dubbed “the shotgun scientist,” is the new Miller Worley Center for the Environment curator of education and outreach.
In this role, Patterson will work on curricular development across disciplines and departments, utilizing the Campus Living Lab and its environmental monitoring program. She begins her role on August 1.
“I’m so excited to join the Mount Holyoke College community,” said Patterson. “I’m looking forward to connecting people to the Miller Worley Center and letting them know what kinds of resources are available. We want to incorporate people’s varied interests and backgrounds into learning about and exploring nature, the environment and science. Science communication to broader audiences is one of my passions.”
“Angelica is a wonderful addition to the community; she’s going to expand students’ horizons as to what environmental work can be and make it more interdisciplinary,” said Olivia Aguilar, the Leslie and Sarah Miller Director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment and associate professor of environmental studies. “She is a vital addition to the Miller Worley Center and our attempts to infuse opportunities for learning about environmentalism into the curriculum.”
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.