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Environmental journalist and author

Mary Ellen Hannibal

I am an environmental journalist and the author of five books.  I joined the Hadly Lab as part of ongoing research for a book I’m writing about the Anthropocene.  Much of the Lab’s current work to help define and understand this “human age” focuses on Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, a place that deeply informs my project.  Many fundamental ecological processes – like co-evolution – were figured out on this landscape, and some of the earliest and most definitive climate change experiments continue to be conducted here.  The deep bench of paleoecological work underlying today’s Hadly Lab provides an unparalleled context for grappling with what is happening to our Earth and how we might best survive it.

Among many fellowships and residencies, I am the recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science and Society Award and Stanford University’s Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism.  Publisher’s Weekly said of my book The Spine of the Continent:  The Race to Save America’s Last, Best Wilderness: “this is what science writing should be:  fascinating and true.” My most recent book, Citizen Scientist:  Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction, was named a best book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and won a Nautilus book award.  I am an evangelist for citizen science and see its capacity for equable distribution of actionable data as a profoundly positive way forward.

I am a creator and the writer of “Nature in the City,” a spatio-temporal map of San Francisco, synthesizing more than 50 maps of the terrain and telling stories of change over time.  I write regularly for many publications, including The New York Times, Science, Nautilus, and Bay Nature, and I am an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts.  Here is my TED talk about butterflies and the human soul: