Faculty, Research Faculty and Emeriti Faculty


Lucinda A. McDade, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair of the Botany Department, Claremont Graduate University
Judith B. Friend Director of Research, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Professor McDade arrived at RSABG in Fall 2006 as chair of the CGU Botany Department and director of research at RSABG. She earned her Ph.D. from Duke University and has held previous appointments in academia (University of Arizona, 1992-2000), natural history museums (the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, 2001-2006) and in science administration (the Organization for Tropical Studies, 1985-1992). McDade's research focuses on the large (>4000 species) plant family Acanthaceae, on the role of hybridization in plant evolutionary history and in phylogeny reconstruction and on plant reproductive biology.

lucinda.mcdade (at) cgu.edu or
lmcdade (at) rsabg.org

Personal Page


J. Travis Columbus, Ph.D.

Professor of Botany, CGU
Research Scientist, RSABG

Professor Columbus joined the RSABG staff and CGU faculty in 1994. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. His focus is the systematics of the grass family (Gramineae or Poaceae), especially subfamily Chloridoideae, comprising some 1,400 species worldwide. In addition to fieldwork, he employs morphological, anatomical, cytological, developmental, and molecular data to discover the phylogenetic relationships among species, describe new genera and species, improve the classification, and gain insights into processes of diversification and biogeography.

j.travis.columbus (at) cgu.edu

Personal Page


J. Mark Porter, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Botany, CGU
Research Scientist, RSABG

Professor Porter joined the Garden in 1993 after completing his doctorate at the University of Arizona. His general research interests are the theory and applications of phylogenetic systematics. Porter is best known for his molecular systematic studies in the families Polemoniaceae and Cactaceae. He is especially interested in the contributions of phylogenetic information for the conservation of biotic diversity.

j.mark.porter (at) cgu.edu

Personal Page

Loeselia Clade
Cacteae Research


Research Faculty

Carol A. Wilson, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor of Botany, CGU
Research Scientist, RSABG

Professor Wilson joined the RSABG staff and CGU faculty in 2005. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and had a previous academic position at Portland State University. Wilson’s research focuses on molecular phylogenetics, systematics and biogeography of Iris (Iridaceae) and Loranthaceae, and the evolution and developmental morphology of sepal elaborations, dorsiventral leaves and geophytic structures in Iris, haustorial systems in the Loranthaceae and floral symmetry in both the Iridaceae and Loranthaceae.

carol.wilson (at) cgu.edu or
cwilson (at) rsabg.org

Personal Page
The Genus Iris


Adjunct Faculty

Elizabeth A. Friar, Ph.D.

Adjunct Associate Professor of Botany, Claremont Graduate University
Research Associate, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Professor Friar has recently been appointed program director in the Evolutionary Processes Cluster at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA.  Previously, she was a member of the botany faculty at RSABG. Friar held a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona prior to joining the faculty at RSABG. She received her B.A. in biology at Oberlin College (Ohio) and completed her doctoral studies at the University of Georgia. Her doctoral research focused on genetic variability and evolution in the woody bamboos (Bambusoideae: Poaceae) and her current research involves examining the effects of rapid change in population size and structure utilizing molecular techniques to determine the genetic variability of several species in the Hawaiian silversword alliance (Asteraceae).

friarea (at) gmail.com

Personal Page


Emeritus Faculty

Lee Lenz, Ph.D.

Professor of Botany Emeritus, CGU
Director Emeritus, RSABG
Research Scientist Emeritus, RSABG

After completing his Ph.D. at Washington University, St. Louis, and the Missouri Botanical Garden under Edgar Anderson, Professor Lenz came to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in 1948, and in 1960 was named executive director, a position he held until his retirement in 1983. He was appointed associate professor (later professor) at the Claremont Graduate School (now Claremont Graduate University) in 1952 and chaired the department from ca. 1956 to 1981. His early research centered around cytogenetics and taxonomy, especially in Iridaceae and in plants now treated as Themidaceae. He has also had an interest in the origin of cultivated plants and has carried out horticultural breeding programs at the Garden utilizing native western taxa. In recent years he has devoted much of his time to studies of the genus Yucca (Agavaceae).

lee.lenz (at) cgu.edu or
lenz (at) rsabg.org