Anna Sher


  • Faculty

What I do

My research program at University of Denver has three, overlapping foci: 1) conservation of biodiversity, 2) the ecology of exotic invasive species, and 3) restoration of degraded ecosystems. The primary concentration of the Sher Lab has been the ecology of restoration of riparian habitats invaded by non-native plants. I mentor graduate and undergraduate students doing research in these areas and teach upper division courses including Conservation Biology, Invasive Species Ecology, and Advanced Research Methods (an upper-level statistics class). I am also the faculty director of DU-MERISTEM: Mobilizing Equity to Raise Inclusivity in STEM, and co-PI on the $1m grant from the National Science Foundation to fund it.

Professional Biography

Anna A. Sher is a full professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Denver. Receiving her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico, she pursued post doctoral work as a Fulbright fellow in Israel to investigate plant interactions at Ben Gurion University’s Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, and she also studied the biology and control of an invasive grass at the University of California, Davis. She has also taught ecology at Earlham College where she regularly led the Kenya Study Abroad Program. Dr. Sher is an international expert in the ecology and management of invasive Tamarix trees; her research includes not only restoration ecology and invasive species biology, but also insect biocontrol, ethnobotany, climate change, and rare species conservation. Since arriving in Denver in 2003, Dr. Sher has also served as Director of Research and Conservation at Denver Botanic Gardens, and as a visiting lecturer at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. She is co-author of the textbook series Ecology Concepts and Applications (Molles and Sher 2018). Dr. Sher is a champion of social justice and particularly gender equality in STEM and LGBTQ+ rights. loves to teach students, whether it be through lecturing, collaborative research, mentoring, or writing.


  • Ph.D., Biology, University of New Mexico, 1998

Professional Affiliations

  • Ecological Society of America
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Sigma Xi


Our current projects involve investigating plant community response to riparian restoration and the human element of this response. We do this using multivariate statistical methods that explore patterns on the basis of nativity, functional traits, and characteristics of the land managers responsible for the restoration projects. Past projects have included documenting phenological shifts in high altitude plants in response to climate, conservation of rare plants, and the impact of invasive species on ecosystems.

Areas of Research

Plant Ecology
Conservation Biology
Restoration Ecology
plant competition
multivariate statistics

Key Projects

  • CNH-S: Interactions Between Human Perspectives & Natural System Dynamics in the Restoration of Riparian Forests in the Southwestern U.S.
  • ESFFORES - Evaluating Success of Floodplain Forest Restoration
  • Best Practices Manual for Monitoring Riparian Restoration in Colorado
  • 2014 Watershed-Wide DRRP Monitoring Contract
  • Riparian Wetland Communities Before and After Tamarisk Removal

Featured Publications

Gonzalez, E., & Sher, A. A. (2017). Vegetation Response to Control of Invasive Tamarix in Southwestern US Rivers: A Collaborative Study Including 416 Sites. Ecological Applications, 27, 1789–1804.
Molles, M., & Sher, A. A. (2018). Ecology Concepts and Applications. McGraw Hill Education.
Sher, A. A., El Waer, H., Gonzalez, E., Anderson, R., Henry, A. L., Biedron, R., & Yue, P. (2018). Native species recovery after reduction of an invasive tree by biological control with and without active removal. Ecological Engineering, 111, 167-175.
Henry, A. L., Gonzalez, E., Robinson, W. W., & Sher, A. A. (2018). Spatial modeling improves understanding patterns of invasive species defoliation by a biocontrol herbivore. Biological Invasions, 20(12), 3545-3562.


Sher, A. A. (2017). Ecosystem consequences of invasion by and removal of Tamarix spp. (???) in the arid western U.S. Departmental seminar series. Israel: Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Ben Gurion University Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research.
Sher, A. A. (2018). Ecosystem consequences of invasion by and removal of Tamarix spp. (???) in the arid western U.S. University of Otago Botany Department Seminar Series. Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago.
Sher, A. A. (2018). Ecosystem consequences of invasion by and removal of Tamarix spp. in the arid western U.S. . University of Western Australia Biology Department Seminar. Perth, Australia: UWA.
Clark, L., Gonzalez, E., Sayre, N., Lave, R., & Sher, A. A. (2018). The ecology of the human component of restoration. Ecological Society of America Meeting. New Orleans, LA: ESA.


  • Faculty Career Champion, DU Career & Professional Development
  • Researcher of the Year, Department of Biological Sciences