Lara Mengak

PhD Student

I am a conservation social science PhD student masquerading as a wildlife ecologist. For my dissertation, I will be looking at the social-ecological system of wolves, ranchers, and drought in eastern Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, more broadly. Our work will explore how wolves, wild and domestic ungulates, and drought affect the relationships between people and wildlife on Western rangelands. We hope to understand how humans make decisions regarding drought, wolves, and other rangeland conditions, and how large ungulates respond to drought and wolf activity. When not working, I enjoy hiking, reading, and trying to get my cat to hang out with me.

I earned my B.S. in Ecology from the University of Georgia and my M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from Virginia Tech. My master’s research focused on human disturbance of fall migrating shorebirds in the Northeastern U.S. I have been fortunate to be involved in a variety of research efforts across the U.S. and internationally, and these experiences and my broad interest in wildlife ecology has shown me the importance of understanding the intersection between human and natural systems. I believe that understanding people’s relationships with nature is essential to the future of conservation and human communities.