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Lauren A. O'Connell

Assistant Professor of Biology


Gilbert 306

Misha Bruk/Stanford University

I am interested in understanding how animals come up with new ways to face challenges and opportunities in their environment. These evolutionary innovations in physiology and behavior can teach us about basic organismal biology, evolutionary mechanisms of adaptation, and how flexible organisms are to changing environments. I view my role in the lab as providing the resources and support for our team to accomplish their scientific questions and personal growth.

I grew up on a goat farm in rural Texas with a family of six. My parents are not academics and growing up low-income I did not have the social capital to navigate higher education. As a laboratory leader, I am committed to using my platform to hold myself and my academic community accountable by recruiting and supporting people from many different backgrounds. My goal is for all the trainees I interact with to feel heard, appreciated, and valued. Training in my laboratory is focused on individual growth and professional development and I believe promoting compassion, empathy, and diversity in our team leads to happier people and more scientific innovation. To become equipped for this goal, I have completed over 60 hours of Mentorship Skill Development that includes the following modules:

  • The Science of Effective Mentorship
  • Optimizing the Practice of Mentoring
  • Leveling the Playing Field by Articulating Expectations
  • Improving Communication with your Mentee
  • Sharing Mentorship Challenges and Solutions
  • Culturally Aware Mentoring
  • Cultural Self-Awareness
  • Promoting Research Self-Efficacy
  • Raising Issues of Culture in the Research Mentoring Relationship
  • Putting Culturally Aware Principles into Practice

When not in the lab, I am hanging out with my three daughters, making stained glass windows, and dreaming of one day getting back into raising goats and chickens.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers



Positionality Statement: I am a 39 year old white woman living in the United States. I hold a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology and have been working in the field for the past 15 years. I recognize my position as a privileged white woman and my access to resources that are not available to everyone. I try to be mindful of my own biases and recognize how these may shape my research. I strive to listen actively to those with a different lived experience.