Jenna T. Baughman Ekwealor

PhD Candidate, Berkeley Fellow, NSF Research Trainee


I am most fascinated by the very small, those organisms that are easily overlooked by macrobes like ourselves, and by extremophiles, those that can survive and thrive in conditions thought to be difficult for life itself. I find these interests come together in studying dryland mosses. These small plants have found a way to only truly ‘live’ when conditions are right (that is, when enough water is present), and dry out to go completely quiescent when water is absent. For desert mosses, that is most of the time! Yet, dryland mosses are able to quickly begin to grow and thrive again, while recovering from any damages that might have accumulated. I find this process inspiring and it intrigues me to think about the evolutionary, both micro and macro, implications of this lifestyle.

For more information, visit my website,

Research Interests

For my dissertation I am investigating the evolution of UV tolerance in mosses. I hope to answer: how are Mojave Desert mosses in high-intensity light environments protected from solar damage while desiccated and dormant? I am also broadly interested in whether and how microbial and lichen biological soil crust (biocrust) communities might facilitate mosses’ occurrence in extreme microhabitats.


For my dissertation I plan to identify and characterize passive UV protection mechanisms, or sunscreens, in dryland mosses of the genus Syntrichia. I am interested in the genetic, metabolomic, and evolutionary components of UV protection in addition to how this trait might be related to biocrust community facilitation, competition, and, ultimately, composition.

I am also working on the Desiccation and Diversity of Dryland Mosses NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity project, a collaborative effort that includes PIs, post-docs, and students spanning 8 universities across the U.S. For more information about this project click here.

For a full CV click here.


1. Ekwealor, Jenna T. B.; Fisher, Kirsten M. Photosynthesis through quartz: Hypolithic mosses in the Mojave Desert. (In prep).

2. Baughman, Jenna T.; Payton, Adam C.; Paasch, Amber E.; Fisher, Kirsten M.; McDaniel, Stuart F. Multiple factors influence population sex ratios in the Mojave Desert moss Syntrichia caninervis. American Journal of Botany 104(5):1-10 (2017), DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1700045

3. Meijome, Tomás E.*; Baughman, Jenna T.*; Hooker, R. Adam; Cheng, Ying-Hua; Ciovacco, Wendy A.; Balamohan, Sanjeev A.; Srinivasan, Trishya L.; Chitteti, Brahmananda R.; Eleniste, Pierre P.; Horowitz, Mark C.; Srour, Edward F.; Bruzzaniti, Angela; Fuchs, Robyn K.; Kacena, Melissa A. C-Mpl is expressed on osteoblasts and osteoclasts and is important in regulating skeletal homeostasis. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 117:959-969 (2016), DOI: 10.1002/jcb.25380 *Contributed equally

4. Eleniste, Pierre P.; Patel, Vruti; Posritong, Sumana; Zero, Odette; Largura, Heather; Cheng, Ying- Hua; Himes, Evan R.; Hamilton, Matthew; Baughman, Jenna; Kacena, Melissa A.; Bruzzaniti, Angela. Pyk2 and megakaryocytes regulate osteoblast differentiation and migration via distinct and overlapping mechanisms. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 9999:1-11 (2015), DOI: 10.1002/jcb.25430

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