About Us


The California Heartbeat Initiative (CHI) is part of the UC NRS, using the 41 reserve network across the state as the backbone to apply research and monitoring, data analysis and communication, and training and mentoring to the pressing environmental issues of climate warming, ecological change, and habitat loss. Every aspect of CHI provides environmental STEM experiences to college students and young professionals from groups underrepresented in the environmental sciences.

The UC Natural Reserve System, the largest university run system of reserves in the world, is the backbone for these efforts. Its 41 reserves across California encompass more than 756,000 acres, 50 miles of coastline, and over 2000 native plant and animal species.

The UC NRS is a library of ecosystems throughout California. Most of the state’s major habitat types are represented, from coastal tidepools to inland deserts, and lush wetlands to redwood forests. No other network of field sites can match its size, scope, and ecological diversity. The NRS offers outdoor laboratories to field scientists, classrooms without walls for students, and nature’s inspiration to all.

CHI’s first focus topic is freshwater and it’s distribution within the ecosystem. By combining environmental sensors on the ground with multispectral drone and satellite imagery researchers have been able to get a landscape scale glimpse into the how our ecosystems use and store water through the year. CHI is currently a partnership among the UC Natural Reserve System, UC Research and Extension Centers, California State Universities, California State Parks, National Parks and private field stations. Our team members (link https://chi.ucnrs.org/team/) are based at the UC Office of the President, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz.