Elizabeth A. Hadly, PhD
Professor of Biology
I call myself an accidental professor. Growing up as a military brat, I had never considered an academic life and knew nothing about it. I thought that my only options for becoming a scientist were to study primates (the only women scientists I was familiar with were Birute Galdikas, Jane Goodall, and Diane Fossey), or to become a doctor. So I headed off to college as a pre-med, switched my major to Anthropology, and ended working as an archaeologist in the American west. While working in Wyoming I fell in love with the Yellowstone ecosystem, and was eventually employed by the National Park Service where I became the first (and only?) paleoecologist. I finished my MS degree, and then my PhD, doing field work in Yellowstone, all the while feeding my curiosity about how the natural world of today came to be. I continue to be curious about biodiversity, using science of the past to help inform us of the realities of our uncertain global future. And I am committed to communicating why the research my lab does matters at every level inside and outside of Stanford—from first-year students to alumni to global leaders. Most importantly, I am eager to create a team comprised of people from different cultures and identities because diversity makes science better, makes communication and outreach better, and makes society better (and more fun).
Not only are we grounded in the science of ecology and evolution, but my lab and I also like to cross boundaries. Whether we are merging geology, story-telling, or engineering with biology, or bringing novel communication tools to bear on science outreach, such as writing about life in science via social media, we like to work outside the box. I mix it up in teaching too. Some of my courses bring together, for instance, artists and scientists for a field course, or teach Story-Mapping to create interactive and visual products that have been used at the state and national levels by policy makers. I believe in Stanford’s educational and research missions and its commitment to fostering excellence for global purpose, and have spent the last several years in administrative roles that permit me to help to build a diversity of off-campus opportunities to do so.
As a SoLID mentor, I would be keen to help my mentees to find their own voices as students and as scientists, and to foster their independence along whatever path of purpose they seek. This, in fact, is the most important thing I do at Stanford.