Faculty Directory

Jarmila Pittermann
  • Title
    • Professor
  • Division Physical & Biological Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department
  • Affiliations Rachel Carson College
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • CSC Coastal Biology Building, 274
    • Thimann 387
  • Mail Stop CBB/EE Biology
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High Street
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Plant Sciences, Ecology, Biology, Climate Change, Plant Biology
  • Courses Plant Physiology, Structure and Function Bio 135; Plants and Society Bio 118

Research Interests

I’m broadly interested in plant structure and function, and the manner in which plants respond to climatic perturbation. I am especially interested in water transport and how plants balance the need to efficiently supply water to the leaves while maintaining appropriate resilience to drought stress. Critical to our understanding of plant response to both past, current and future climate change, this basic safety-efficiency tradeoff has shaped in large part, the evolution of plant form and function and it constrains the physiological thresholds that shape extant plant biogeography. My work combines field work with experimental studies, and includes extensive lab work and as well as detailed anatomical analyses of cell structure.

My current projects include:

1. the evolutionary ecophysiology of seedless vascular plants such as ferns and lycopods

2. the short- and long-term drought response of redwood understory vegetation

3. Cenozoic climate change, and how it shaped the evolution of vascular plants

4. the evolution of xylem, including xylem allometry in seedless vascular plants

5. the ultrastructural aspects of plant biomechanics

I encourage my students to explore their own interests within the broad context of plant ecophysiology.

Biography, Education and Training

Hon. B. Arts and Science, McMaster University, Canada

M.Sc., University of Toronto, Canada

Ph.D., University of Utah

Post-doctorate, Miller Institute for Basic Research, University of California, Berkeley

Honors, Awards and Grants



Selected Publications

Selected Publications

Pittermann J, Wilson JP, Brodribb TJ. 2016. The role of water transport in plant diversification. in The Encylopedia of Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 4, Kliman R, ed. Elsevier Inc. p. 358-365. 

Baer A, Wheeler J, Pittermann J. 2016. Not dead yet: the seasonal water relations of perennial ferns during California's exceptional drought. New Phytologist. 210:122-132.

Brodersen CR, Jansen S, Choat B, Rico C, Pittermann J.  2014. Cavitation resistance in seedless vascular plants: the structure and function of interconduit pit membranes. Plant Physiology, 165:895-904.

Rico C., PittermannJ., Polley W., Fay P., Espinwall M. 2013.  The effect of variable CO2 on the hydraulic properties of Helianthus annuus.  New Phytologist.  199:956-965.

Pittermann J., Stuart S.A., Dawson T.E., Moreau A. 2012. Cenozoic climate change shaped the evolutionary ecophysiology of the Cupressaceae conifers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 109:9647-9652.