Associate Professor, Ethnobotany
Office Location: 117 Olin Hall
Nanci Ross received her B.S. in Biological Science from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her Masters and Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Connecticut. Her dissertation title was “The impact of ancient Maya forest gardens on the modern tree species composition of NW Belize.” Nanci regularly teaches Introductory Botany, Introduction to Ethnobotany, Evolved Foodways, Biogeography, and a First-Year Seminar entitled, “Ethnobiology, Nature, and Culture.” Nanci joined Drake in 2010 after working as a researcher for the Missouri Botanical Garden studying climate change in the alpine areas of the Eastern Himalaya.
Her research interests are in the fields of ethnoecology, ethnobotany, plant ecology, historical ecology, and biogeography. Nanci’s overall research interests revolve around a fascination with the interrelatedness of human cultures and plant communities that can echo across time. She studies the long-term interactions of human cultures with their local ecosystem and the role of those cultures as a member of their ecosystems. Throughout history humans have altered the landscape to create a unique niche. This has, in turn, affected the evolution, diversity, and distribution of plant species worldwide. Current research projects are in three very different ecosystems: the lowland rainforest of Western Belize, the Southeastern United States and the alpine regions of the Eastern Himalaya.
Nanci is also a board member of the Open Science Network, an NSF funded organization of Ethnobiology Educators working to increase STEM education using Ethnobiology as bridge between disciplines. She works as an Associate Editor of the journal of Economic Botany, serves on the board of the Society of Economic Botany, and as the Secretary of the Economic Botany section of the Botanical Society of America.