Daniel Harder, PhD, Executive Director
Understanding nature is a life-long passion for Dan. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in botany from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and went on to graduate school in botany at UC Berkeley. After graduation Dan was hired as an assistant Curator at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) in St Louis. For more than a decade, he curated large collections of tropical legumes within the herbarium and led programs in botanical collecting, inventory, and research in 15 countries in the Old World. He established collaborative partnerships in Africa and Indochina that led to significant new species discoveries and new records for the floras of these regions. For eight years, until late in 2009, Dan was the Executive Director of the UCSC Arboretum and an adjunct faculty member at UCSC. He continues his research on plants from the Central Coast as a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Dan is excited to be working to sustain the Museum and support its primary mission of connecting people with nature and inspiring stewardship of the natural world.
Elizabeth Evans, Program Manager
Elizabeth fell in love with nature as a child on family backpacking trips in the High Sierra. A native of California’s San Joaquin Valley, and graduate of College of the Sequoias (A.A. Fine Art) and UC Santa Cruz (B.S. Earth Science), she joined the Museum staff in 2014. Elizabeth worked as an interpretive park ranger in five of California’s national parks, as an environmental education ranger for the San Francisco District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and taught Science and Art as a middle school teacher in rural Tulare County. She spent the last four years managing programs for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ Division of Interpretation, Education, and Outreach. Elizabeth is excited about engaging people of all ages with the rich natural history of the Santa Cruz area.
Liz Broughton, Visitor Services Manager
Liz grew up in the San Lorenzo Valley before heading off to UC Berkeley to pursue a degree in anthropology and Celtic studies. While there she conducted research on baboon teeth morphology for the Integrative Biology Department and interned with the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. She continued her education at the University of Washington in Seattle where she earned an MA in the little known field of Museology. She gained a broad understanding of museums through coursework and internships at the Burke Museum of Natural History, the Woodland Park Zoo, and the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. Liz is passionate about public understanding and engagement in science and as the current Visitor Services Manager, she manages the public spaces of the Museum.
Alie Welch, Financial Administrator
Alie has been fascinated with the sea cow since coming across an entry about the trials and tribulations of Steller’s sea cow in old encyclopedia volume that she used to read for fun as a kid. Hushed rumors circulate that possible sightings of a living sea cow have been made from the bluffs above Seabright Beach. As the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History has a sea cow skeleton, speculation has grown that it’s the long-lost mate of the Museum’s specimen returning at last. When you visit the Museum, perhaps you will see it in the boiling surf, searching…. If you do, please let Alie know asap. She logs the sightings. Alie has years of experience working in non-profit finance at local organizations, both as staff and a board member. She graduated from UCSC with a BA in film production and modern literature, loves star gazing, chess playing, and spinning fantastic yarns.
Peter Wampler, Field Program Coordinator
Peter was raised in the outskirts of Rochester, New York. It was here in the surrounding forests, that he began his lifelong love of the outdoors. While attending Calvin College as a history and archaeology student, this curiosity took greater shape as he began taking notice of environmental issues and the ideas of stewardship. This interest spring-boarded a career in environmental education that has meandered through two outdoor schools in central California. Professionally, Peter has also worked with adults and children with varying disabilities. Peter coordinates the Neary Lagoon Wetland Walk Program and assists with education programs at the museum. While his passions lie in education and environment, you may also see Peter around town riding his bike, out hiking, or checking out local music.
Ron Holman, Communications Coordinator
Ron moved to Santa Cruz County 40 years ago, in no small part due to the incredible beauty of the ocean beaches and the inspiration of the nearby redwoods. He has spent most of his time here building community, signified by his unique resumé of having worked at both Community Foods and Community Television. Ron is looking forward to continuing this tradition with his position at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. His favorite hobbies are gardening, playing music, and photography.
Chris Sulots, Program Assistant
Chris Sulots grew up surrounded by Joshua Trees within the Antelope Valley in Southern California. He moved north to study Archaeology first at Cabrillo College, where he performed excavations at Año Nuevo State Park, and then at UC Berkeley, where he earned his bachelors degree in Anthropology. He worked as an Archaeologist in Japan and in the Northern Sierra mountains of California. He served the public as a Librarian for the Cities of Berkeley and Santa Cruz. He loved teaching about the environment in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Aquarium of the Bay and in the East Bay Regional Park District (Fremont, Richmond, and Alameda). Here in Santa Cruz he continued this path as a Naturalist at the Web of Life Field School and as a Park Ranger with the City of Santa Cruz at the Loch Lomond Recreation Area. When not at the museum you may find Chris riding a bicycle along the coast, playing a stringed instrument, reading a book, or taking photographs of nature.