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A Joshua Tree Love Story
told in stop motion animation
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Joshua Tree Love Story 2019

Human activities have catapulted us into the 6th major extinction event on our planet where we will continue to see rapid species loss with far reaching consequences. Art has the potential to connect people to concepts at an emotional level and is a powerful tool to communicate difficult science concepts. Together with recent MFA grad Lauren Benzaquen, UCSC undergraduates Grace Ackles and Hannah Caisse, and professional doll maker Dayle McKinney, I have translated my doctoral research into a narrative for stop motion animation. Joshua trees are under threat from climate change and my ecological research focuses on how the plants are reproducing across Joshua Tree National Park, and if the plants' key symbiotic interactions will be affected by the changing climate. I hope to capture the complex behavioral ecology and data into an emotional story that is both accessible to a wide audience and scientifically accurate. 


This stop motion animation project is advised by Jennifer Parker, UCSC Professor of Art and Digital New Media, sponsored by the Joshua Tree National Park Association, and co-produced by OpenLab and Porter College at UC Santa Cruz. The project will culminate mid to late 2018 with a film screening, art show featuring the sets and characters, and ecological talk.

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Lesson Plans for Educators Linking to the Animation!

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Jennifer Albrink, 2019. A Joshua Tree Love Story at the black rock gallery. Palm Springs Life.

Jonathan Wosen, 2019. UC Santa Cruz program brings science to life through art. Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Jennifer McNulty, 2019. Public invited to view Norris Center art-science residency projects. Tuesday Newsday.

Hillary Sloane, 2019. Juniper and the Joshua trees: Morongo Valley native delves into the desert species’ survival. Hi-Desert Star.

Richard Dion, 2019. Juniper Harrower on art and science. The Soul of California podcast.

Philip Kiefer, 2018. Iconic Joshua Trees may disappear but scientists are fighting back.

National Geographic.


Harrower, J. 2019. Merging Art, Science, and Motherhood to Save Joshua Trees. Leonardo: doi: 10.1162/leon_a_01791

Harrower, J., Parker, J., Merson, M., 2018. (cover feature) Species Loss: Exploring Opportunities with Art-Science. Journal of Integrative and Comparative Biology:doi.10.1093/icb/icy016

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