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Jessica Malisch, PHD

SCICON Field Station Associate Director UC Merced Natural Reserve System 

Jessica Malisch 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

SCICON Field Station Director 


Joy Baccei directs and implements land stewardship, research, education and outreach activities for the UC Merced Vernal  Pools and Grassland Reserve, and serves as the  the UC Merced point of contact for the 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.



Jessica Blois, PhD

Associate Professor, UC Merced, Life & Environmental Sciences

Faculty Director, UC Merced Natural Reserve System 

Jessica Blois oversees the Directors of the UC 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. Current Faculty Chair for the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women.

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.

Dianne Shew

SCICON Administrator

Dianne Shew oversees  administration for SCICON (the Clemme Gill School of Science and Conservation), which is the outdoor school of science and conservation operated by the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) for over 50 years, as well as the UC Merced SCICON Field Station, which opened its’ doors in 2019 to bring UC researchers to the area. Shew has been in the Administrator role since 2014, where she has been a long time employee with SCICON for over 20 years (since 2000). Dianne was previously SCICON's Program Specialist (from 2012-2014), overseeing all Interns, Naturalists and Specialists, and also served as SCICON’s Forestry Specialist (from 2000-2011), where the SCICON Tree Nursery has continued to expand under her care, including a tree seedling program that gives out hundreds of tree seedlings to schools on Arbor Day and during other special events. Dianne and her husband own and operate Balch Park Pack Station in the Sierras during the summer. She has three children and is very active in the Springville community and with the Springville School Board.  

Amanda driver

Education coordinator

Circle J Norris Ranch, SCICON Field Station

Amanda Driver oversees educational programming and coordination at the Circle J-Norris Ranch, and has been in the role since July of 2021. Her role includes a wide variety of duties, including collaboration with educators to create top-notch educational experiences, creation of unique environmental lessons for all elementary, secondary, and post-secondary students in Tulare County, scheduling field trips, providing teaching workshops and lessons, and working with the SCICON Field Station to offer Tulare County students a chance to learn about UC research.

Prior to joining SCICON staff and Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE), Driver served as the lead teacher for the Porterville Unified School District's Environmental Science Academy at Monache Highschool, where she worked for 16 years, working in the Environmental Science Academy since its creation 10 years ago.


Kermit Stevens

SCICON Maintenance

(559) 471-9276



Advisory Committee

In January2022, the UC Merced Science and Conservation (SCICON) Field StationAdvisory Committee was appointed.The committeemembers include UC Merced faculty and staff: Dr. Safeeq Khan, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist,Water and Watershed sciencesand Assistant Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Dr. Asa Bradman, Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health, and Mr. Brian Chongtoua, South-Valley Admissions Advisor. The committeewill assess, advise, provide strategic planning oversight on field stationoperationsand facilitatean ongoing mutually beneficial relationship between partners.Thefirst meetinghas been scheduled for May 2022.