Cathy originally comes from Canada, where she grew up and went to school in Calgary, Alberta. After finishing her B.S. in Zoology and M.S. in Behavioral Ecology at the University of Calgary, she worked on a variety of wildlife management jobs in California and Arizona. Because of habitat quality issues underlying many wildlife management projects, plant ecology and conservation became an important element in her work, and today most of her focus in researching or enjoying natural systems centers on plants, including the striking relationships between geology, botany, and plant ecology that are so prominent in California. She brings her skills and interests to the position of Director of the University of California’s Donald and Sylvia McLaughlin Natural Reserve (a position which she splits with her husband, Paul Aigner) where she has worked since Sept 2002.
In addition to her love of science and natural history, Cathy has reached out to the general public as well as school children to help foster an understanding and love of science and nature. She served as community outreach manager at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, a botanic garden dedicated to California native plants, and has developed outreach programs at the McLaughlin Reserve. She has also worked with a team of educators from Lake County and Sonoma State University to provide science curriculum workshops for grade 4-6 teachers in Lake County. Cathy also understands the need to work across fence-lines and political boundaries when addressing land stewardship or conservation issues. She served as the Executive Director for the Lake County Land Trust for 6 years before retiring to devote herself fulltime to the McLaughlin Reserve.