Jenna Lawrence

photo of Jenna Lawrence with monkeys in the background

After chasing monkeys around Peruvian Amazonia, Jenna received her Ph.D. from the department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology at Columbia University and the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology. Her research focused on the reproductive strategies and behavioral ecology of brown titi monkeys, and, although she delighted in their duets — and in males being the primary caregivers — the true highlight of her fieldwork was watching dung beetles roll away her poo. She had previously honed her bird-chasing skills for her undergraduate honors thesis at Boston University, searching countless hours for ovenbird nests by following the 'chip' alarm calls of female birds — that all too often were instead coming from chipmunks. (She no longer finds them cute.)

Although mammals and birds were her first loves, as faculty at Columbia University, Jenna has embraced all biodiversity both on land and at sea. She has taught undergraduate, graduate, and executive-education courses in the department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability, the M.S. Program in Sustainability Management, and the department of Environmental Science at Barnard College. For years she has led field-ecology courses in Jordan and the Dominican Republic in which students develop individual research projects exploring terrestrial and marine ecosystems. She has also introduced urban ecology to New York middle-school teachers and spent three and a half months circumnavigating the globe as the biology professor for Semester at Sea.