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Jessica Blois, PhD

Professor, UC Merced, Life & Environmental Sciences

Faculty Director, UC Merced Natural Reserve System 

Oversees Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve, Yosemite and Sequoia Field Stations, and UC Merced-SCICON Field Station

B.S. University of California, San Diego

M.A. in Biological Sciences, Humboldt State University

PhD in Biology, Stanford University

Faculty member at UC Merced since January 2013, serving in numerous roles across the University.

Dr. Blois’ research combines field work, genomics, and ecological modeling to understand the factors influencing changes in genes, species, and communities across time and space. She supervises graduate students in the Quantitative & Systems Biology and Environmental Systems Graduate Groups. She received the 2017 MacArthur and Wilson Award from the International Biogeography Society to recognize her early career scientific contributions, her work has been published in Nature and Science, and in 2018 she received a CAREER from the National Science Foundation for her research.


Jessica Malisch, PHD

Associate Director, UC Merced Natural Reserve System

Oversees operations and personnel at Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve, Yosemite and Sequoia Field Stations, and UC Merced SCICON Field Station.

•B.S. University of North Carolina, Wilmington

•PhD in Biology, University of California, Riverside

Associate Director for the UC Merced NRS since February 2022. Prior to employment at UC Merced Dr. Malisch was the director of Research and Epidemiology at the St Mary’s County Health Department and an Assistant Professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Dr. Malisch’s research focuses on ecological and evolutionary physiology of vertebrate species. Her research investigates how organisms cope with and respond to challenges. This research has direct implications for species management and conservation. In particular, Dr. Malisch studies metabolic and endocrine predictors of facultative altitudinal migration of white-crowned sparrows breeding at the crest of the Sierra Nevada Range. In addition to white-crowned sparrows, Dr. Malisch’s past research has investigated how a variety of vertebrate species respond to challenge including white-throated sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, desert iguanas, and laboratory mice.

Joy Baccei, MS

Director, Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve & SCICON Field Station 

Directs and implements land stewardship, research, education and outreach activities for Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve and UC Merced Science & Conservation (SCICON) Field Station.

  • B.S., Environmental Science (watershed science), Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
  • M.S., Environmental Systems (wetland ecology), University of California, Merced, CA

Prior to employment with UC Merced in March of 2020, Baccei was employed with Yosemite National Park for 18 years, where she worked in several capacities, including restoration and plant ecology, watershed, trail system, and wilderness management. Most recently, as an applied wetland ecologist, she oversaw wetland and rangeland ecological management, restoration, research, and monitoring, and collaborated with several agency, academic, non-profit, tribal, and public partners. As an applied wetland ecologist, her UC Merced Master’s research focused on plant-soil interactions and high elevation wet meadow adaptive management in relation to pack stock grazing and use.

Breezy Jackson, PhD

Director, Yosemite and Sequoia Field Stations 


Directs and implements research, education and outreach activities at Yosemite and Sequoia Field Stations

  • B.S., Environmental Science, Saint Mary's College, Moraga, California
  • M.S., Environmental Science, University of Idaho 
  • M.S., Leadership in Physical Education and Outdoor Recreation, University of Idaho
  • PhD, Ecosystem Ecology, The Ohio State University

Dr. Jackson comes to UC Merced from Yosemite National Park where she worked for four years as a wildlife biologist and managed multiple research projects aimed at protecting sensitive terrestrial wildlife taxa including mountain lion, Sierra Nevada red fox, butterflies, and bats. She also led a collaborative investigation of the influence of regulated river hydrology on aquatic-terrestrial food chains leading to riparian songbirds and bats in working relationships with academic, federal, state, and non-profit partners. Her doctoral research focused on the influence of wildfires on stream-riparian ecosystems of the central Sierra Nevada including changes in riparian vegetation, geomorphology, stream water chemistry, and aquatic-terrestrial food web linkages. Jackson also worked as a fire fighter and fire lookout on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington state and as a field coordinator for the United States Antarctic Program.

Marlon Spinneberg

Steward, Yosemite Field Station

Integral to Yosemite Field Station daily operations, Spinnegerg performs multiple operational activities and services for field station buildings, including general maintenance, tracking of repair services, space planning and coordination, and development of procedures, policies and communications related to infrastructure and safety.