Fraga Awarded 2010 Switzer Fellowship

Naomi Fraga, Ph.D. candidate in the Botany Department at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) and Claremont Graduate University, has been awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship. Each scholar receives $15,000 to help with the expenses related to completing their masters or doctor degrees. This year, only 21 fellowships were awarded to emerging environmental leaders who are currently pursuing advance degrees that will enable them to address critical environmental challenges.

Fraga, whose career path centers on ecologically sound public lands management, is currently a conservation botanist at RSABG. She manages the field studies program and actively works with federal, state and local agencies to conduct botanical research that seeks to inform responsible public land management.

Fraga’s doctoral research is centered on a group of closely related species in the genus Mimulus (commonly called monkey flowers). Through her research she hopes to provide a better understanding of species limits, evolutionary relationships and reproductive biology in Mimulus. She is broadly interested in conservation of biodiversity and has spent much of her research working in the field (primarily in California) revealing diversity that is yet to be described. Naomi holds a M.S. in botany from Claremont Graduate University and a B.S. in botany and biology from California Polytechnic University, Pomona.

This is the 24th year of the Switzer Environmental Fellowship Program of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation that recognizes the achievements of outstanding environmental leaders. The 2010 scholars were recently chosen from universities in California and New England to receive the Switzer Fellowship, which is one of the nation’s most prestigious academic awards for environmental leaders. The Switzer Foundation identifies, supports and nurtures emerging environmental leaders. Fellowships are merit-based and rigorously competitive.

“The Switzer Foundation makes strategic investments in individual leadership to improve environmental quality,” explained Lissa Widoff, executive director of the foundation. “The 2010 Switzer Environmental Fellows are pursuing degrees in diverse disciplines and preparing to address the most complex scientific, policy and conservation issues of our time with integrated approaches. These individuals are united in their focus to actively apply their problem-solving abilities to implement positive change in the environmental realm.”

More information on the 2010 class of Switzer Fellows, and the fellowship program, is available on the Foundation website at