Stephen Lezak

Stephen Lezak

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2019 PhD Polar Studies
  • Trinity Hall

My work focuses on the connections between human and physical landscapes. My past research began at Oberlin College and continues today at the University of Oxford, always supported by my extraordinary mentors. With their guidance, I examine the nexus of climate, extractive industries, and the human communities most directly affected by environmental change. In the past several years, I have studied these transformations in rural Mongolia, expanding and curtailing opportunities for nomadic herders living in the Gobi Desert. To date, my research has been published and featured in several academic and popular outlets, including The Washington Post. At Cambridge, I will be studying many of these same socioecological systems, but in the context of the Arctic. By focusing on the world’s fastest-warming region, I hope to examine the (un)natural laboratory of melting glaciers and retreating sea ice. While these changes send some communities into retreat, they also create new opportunities for developers and extractors to prospect for wealth in Earth’s last terra incognita. This new frontier offers a glimpse into a future where climate change doesn’t cause the end of the world but the beginning of a new chapter of socioecological history. I hope my research will shed light on this future to inform policy and innovation that helps vulnerable communities cope with the pressing demands of a changing climate.

Previous Education

University of Oxford Env. Change and Management 2017
Oberlin College Politics