Lauren E. Oakes is an ecologist and human-natural systems scientist. She is an Adjunct Professor in Earth System Science at Stanford University and a Conservation Scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Adaptation Program. Lauren teaches workshops and short-courses in narrative science writing and interdisciplinary environmental sciences, and she combines ecological research with methods from the social sciences to understand how people adapt to climate change impacts. She earned her PhD from Stanford University’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (2015) and her bachelor’s degree from Brown University (2004) in Environmental Studies and Visual Art, studying film and photography. Her first book, In Search of the Canary Tree (Basic Books, Hachette Book Group), is a narrative science memoir about finding faith in the ability of people to cope with a rapidly changing planet. Science Friday selected the Canary as one of the Best Science Books of 2018.
For nearly 20 years, Dr. Oakes has worked on a suite of environmental issues as a researcher, scholar, advocate, and documentarian (Alaska Gold 2012; Red Gold 2008). During that time, she confronted changes in rural communities and challenges in conservation, such as mining development in pristine watersheds in Alaska or road development through the temperate forests of Chile. She witnessed whole communities transformed by oil and gas development in the American West. She spent six years studying climate change impacts to forest ecosystems in the Alexander Archipelago, Alaska. At the core of her passions for research, teaching, and communicating issues of environmental change is the desire to improve resource management and conservation practices.
Oakes is the lead author of peer-reviewed publications in the sciences, but she also writes for popular media outlets. She has written about her research for the New York Times and contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times. Her work has been profiled by The Atlantic, Scientific American, Smithsonian, Outside Magazine, National Geographic, The Christian Science Monitor, Adventure Kayak Magazine, and ClimateWire, among other outlets. With years of experience in professional outdoor guiding, she has also lead multi-day expeditions for National Geographic Expeditions and co-designed/co-taught Stanford field courses in Alaska and the Grand Canyon.