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Dr. Read has been a professional biologist and restoration ecologist for 27 years since graduating with a Ph.D. in biology from UC Irvine in 1989. At a college class she was introduced to the limitless variety of flowers and ways in which plants attract pollinators. This inspired her doctoral thesis, which focused on ways in which variation in pollinators and seed dormancy give plants a wide range of evolutionary strategies to survive changes in climate. Toward the end of her graduate studies she saw the need for scientists in applied ecology and made a decision to break away from the ivory tower to deal with difficult trade-offs between human benefits and preservation of nature. Since 1990 she has monitored hydropower impacts on streams, restored riparian forests impacted by stream diversions, and restored scrub habitats impacted by illegal development. Since 2003 she has managed the Ballona Freshwater Wetlands on the west side of Los Angeles, California. Constructed as mitigation for a development project, this wetland system was highly controversial. But Edith persisted in her belief that despite its construction by a developer, the habitat was essential for wildlife in a highly urbanized watershed. After ten years, the wetlands met all success criteria. Rare bird species such as Virginia rail, least bittern, and least Bell’s vireo have returned to nest at Ballona thanks to these wetlands. Under her leadership, the Ballona Freshwater Wetlands continue to be an example of one of the most successful wetland projects in the nation in terms of biological value and improving quality of runoff entering the Pacific Ocean.
Despite this busy calendar she found time to establish her own company with 15 employees, and volunteer as president of the International Society for Ecological Restoration, secretary of the Southern California Academy of Sciences, and Board member of the Friends of Ballona Wetlands. She has also published three papers in the course of her career:
Read, E.A., 2016. A flora of the Ballona Wetlands and Environs. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 114(3): 149-163.
Read, E.A., 2010. Constructed wetlands help achieve water quality and conservation goals at Ballona. Urban Coast 2(1): 57-50.
Read, E.A., 1994. The importance of community classification to mitigation and restoration of coastal sage scrub. Restoration Ecology 2:80-86. Cited as a reference in the current classification of California vegetation (Sawyer et al., 2009).