Natural Resources Specialist
Hollister Field Office
The opportunity to work on the Clear Creek serpentine barrens revegetation project brought Ryan O'Dell to the BLM. Serpentine - also known as ultramafic -- landscapes are generally difficult areas for plants to grow, due to low nutrient levels and high levels of toxic heavy metals. Many of the plants that grow on serpentine soils are recognized as threatened or endangered.
Ryan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Biology (2002) and Masters of Science degree in Soils and Biogeochemistry (2005), both from the University of California, Davis. He says his scientific interests are "serpentine ecology, edaphic endemism, plant evolution and adaptation, and revegetation of harsh sites" -- though it might take a scientist to know what some of those subjects are.
Ryan was born at Travis Air Force Base, California in 1979. As he says, he is a native (not invasive) Californian. Both his parents were in the Air Force at the time. For the first ten years of his life he lived in Vacaville. After that, he grew up in a sparsely-populated area in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Paradise, California. It was there that he developed a keen interest in nature, especially botany and geology. He spent much of his time hiking and exploring the foothills and mountains of the region.
While attending UC Davis, he was a member and president of the botany club and participated on several field-trips with fellow botanists from the club. His most memorable trips were to the Calaveras Big Trees and a week-long trip to Baja California. The most impressive plant he saw while in Baja was an enormous, 50-foot tall, cardon cactus with a 4-foot diameter trunk.
During breaks from school he worked in a variety of summer and part-time jobs. He worked as a roofer, at a fruit cannery, a genetics lab, and finally as a research lab assistant. While attending graduate school, he was a graduate research associate. Following completion of his schooling, he stayed on with the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources in the Soils and Revegetation lab, working as a research associate and continuing to study harsh site revegetation. He came to work with BLM in 2007 as a natural resources specialist.
He enjoys the great outdoors, especially botany, geology and hiking. Ryan’s additional interests include architecture, design, art, foreign film and electronica/synthpop music.
Ryan is single and lives in Gilroy. His younger brother and parents still live in Northern California.