Justin Luong

justin with grassjustin doing restorationJustin is originally from Irvine and was interested in the natural world since a child through regular trips to Hawaii where he got to explore tropical habitats. This interest blossomed when he left for college at UC Santa Barbara. There he grew a love for native plants and restoration, where he eventually worked for the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration as restoration coordinator restoring vernal pool habitats and researched how to reintroduce the endangered Lupinus nipomensis. He now is a PhD student at UC Santa Cruz where his research focuses on improving grassland restoration in a changing climate. Justin sees a naturalist as someone who enjoys their surroundings, makes observations and questions why those observations happen. He thinks often times urban ecology and urban naturalism is often discounted which excludes lots of different people, even though there is plenty of ‘nature’ to appreciate in those areas. Justin’s most memorable experience as a naturalist comes from visiting his favorite location, Lizard’s Mouth, where he enjoys spending time and watching the sunset with his husband.lizard's mouth

Justin believes it is important to diversify positions of power as often time, BIPOC and LGBTQIA folks feel there is no hope of a career when they don’t see anyone like them higher up. Furthermore, it is important to reimage the traditional western definition of “naturalist” so that it includes more types of knowledge and is not exclusionary to newcomers.