Ellen is from Wisconsin, and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in botany from the University of Wisconsin. She has worked in Indiana’s natural areas since 1987, first coming to Indiana to work with the DNR – Division of Nature Preserves to do rare plant inventory and mapping of rare species in the state. She then worked for Holcomb Research Institute (then at Butler University in Indianapolis) doing acid rain research and population biology of rare prairie plants among other environmental research projects. She became the first botanist for the Wayne-Hoosier National Forest in 1991 and spent several years working for the Forest Service in natural resource management.
As part of her current position, Ellen has worked on invasive species issues at the state level. She is the Invasives Committee chair for the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society, the chair of the Invasive Plant Species Assessment Working Group in Indiana, and a member of the Indiana Invasive Species Task Force that led to the formation of the Indiana Invasive Species Council in the 2009 legislative session. She currently leads the Invasive Plant Advisory Committee which reports to the Invasive Species Council.