Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Lydia Olander

Director, Ecosystem Services Program


Lydia Olander directs the Ecosystem Services Program at the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability at Duke University. She is an adjunct professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment. She leads the National Ecosystem Services Partnership, supporting efforts to integrate ecosystem services into decision making, studies environmental markets and mitigation, climate mitigation and resilience from natural and working lands, and sustainable infrastructure, and is working to expand engaged interdisciplinary sustainability science in academia. She also serves on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board and the secretariat of The Bridge Collaborative. She has published in a wide range of professional journals including Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, Ecosystems, Biogeochemistry, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Forest Ecology and Management, Earth Interactions, Environmental Research Letters, Global Environmental Politics, Environmental Management, The Environmental Law Reporter, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Advances in Agronomy, Global Change Biology, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Ecosystem Services, Ecological Indicators, Nature Sustainability, and BioScience.

Prior to joining the Nicholas Institute, she spent a year as an AAAS Congressional Science and Technology Fellow working with Senator Joseph Lieberman on environmental and energy issues. Before that she was a researcher with the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Global Ecology, where she studied the biogeochemical impacts of logging in the Brazilian Amazon and utilized remote sensing to extrapolate regional impacts. She received her PhD from Stanford University, where she studied nutrient cycling in tropical forests, and earned a master’s degree in forest science from Yale University.

Lydia recommends:

David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet, documenting the mass extinction of Earth’s species and wild places over the course of his lifetime and shares his vision for a better future; and The Social Dilemma which dives into the originally unintended consequences of making the internet profitable that are now the fundamental structure of the internet economy and all of the social media products we use. Probably the most damaging of these unintended consequences has been intensifying deep social divides, undermining what little common truth we held as citizens that could help us build consensus and solve problems.