Dr. Erika Zavaleta is asking the big questions with her work in climate change and ecology. Her talk ‘Adapting to Changing Climate: Ecology, Conservation, and Inclusion’ focuses on issues that, though often off the radar of daily news and conversation, fall uncomfortably hard on daily reality. Her guiding statement/question for the talk brought the entire concept together and leaves one pondering the future of climate science and policy across the globe: Nature will likely survive climate change, but will it be a nature we can or want to live in?
Dr. Zavaleta’s research and published work takes the Goliath of climate change and knocks it down to size by examining many component parts of the problem: ecological, social, political, and economical. She investigates the impacts of human systems on ecological and geological processes ranging from agriculture’s impact on soils to suburbia’s role in depleting species diversity and resilience. Her lab even tackles social hurdles of climate science, such as dwindling diversity in the profession, by sponsoring and supporting diverse research positions in her lab through the UCSC Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program. This unique, multi-disciplinary approach to investigating climate change helps drive new discoveries in its impacts and the possibilities for changing human systems to lessen our collective impact.