Hope Jahren, The ‘Lab Girl’

Download Audio

“Lab Girl”, the powerful new memoir of a female scientist — geobiologist Hope Jahren — on life and love.

Geobiologist Hope Jahren is the author of a new memoir about her life and work, "Lab Girl." (Courtesy Erica Morrow)
Geobiologist Hope Jahren is the author of a new memoir about her life and work, "Lab Girl." (Courtesy Erica Morrow)

Hope Jahren is a remarkable scientist who turns out to be a remarkable writer as well. A geobiologist at the University of Hawaii who can take you into the deepest secrets of plants and earth, then turn around and stun you with her own deeply human story. Think Stephen Jay Gould or Oliver Sacks. But Hope Jahren is a woman in science, who speaks plainly to just how rugged that can be. And to the incredible machinery of life around us. This hour On Point, Hope Jahren on life and science.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Hope Jahren, professor of geobiology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she built the Isotope Geobiology Laboratories. Author of the new book, "Lab Girl." (@HopeJahren)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: ‘Lab Girl,’ Hope Jahren’s Road Map to the Secret Life of Plants — "By crosscutting between chapters about the life cycle of trees and flowers and other green things, and chapters about her own coming-of-age as a scientist, Ms. Jahren underscores the similarities between humans and plants — tenacity, inventiveness, an ability to adapt — but, more emphatically, the radical otherness of plants: their dependence on sunshine, their inability to move or travel as we do, the redundancy and flexibility of their tissues ('a root can become a stem if need be, and vice versa')."

TIME: Hope Jahren on Plants, Mud Manicures and Science’s Woman Problem — "Plants make excellent metaphors. Seeds can wait years for the right sprouting conditions; saplings strive for light; trees form symbiotic relationships with other organisms and struggle to reproduce. In her deeply affecting memoir, Lab Girl (Knopf), the pioneering geobiologist Hope Jahren exploits her study subjects, which range from fossil seeds to conifer forests, to limn her journey as an insecure young scientist through anxiety to full-blown, head-banging mania—and then meds, medals, and professional and personal fulfillment."

Elle: 'Lab Girl' Is a Fierce, Uplifting, Must-Read Memoir — "Hope Jahren is the rare breed of scientist who is both an accomplished geobiologist—she’s won three Fulbrights and has built as many labs in as many states—and a fantastic writer. In her engrossing new memoir, Lab Girl, Jahren is alternately funny and moving, whether she’s writing about deciduous trees, her marriage, her lab partner or her childhood."

Read An Excerpt Of "Lab Girl" By Hope Jahren

This program aired on April 5, 2016.


More from On Point

Listen Live