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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

I’ve always reached for fiction books instead of non-fiction; I love getting lost in stories when I read, and so I never thought that non-fiction was for me. However, I got curious one day and decided to pick up Lab Girl by Hope Jahren to try something new.


Jahren is a geobiologist who first got her start in science in her father’s lab, and fell in love with studying plants. Lab Girl is her memoir that details both her career in science and personal anecdotes along the way, from a hospital job to being a professor, and the constant struggle to get funding as a scientist. There are also the coolest plant facts sprinkled throughout the book that make you realize how much is going on in your own backyard; such as how much a tree truly goes through to thrive.

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Cameron Smith / Her Campus

More than just being informative about what a career in science is like, Lab Girl is entertaining and hilarious. She and her lab partner; Bill, travel, teach, scrape together funds and equipment, and go through so much in the pursuit of their research. I was completely sucked into the story, as each day in Jahren’s lab was an adventure filled with triumphs, setbacks, and discovery. The fact that it was a true story made it even more engaging, as it felt like I was stepping into someone else’s life. I flew through the book, and Jahren has a new book about climate change called The Story of More that I ran to Barnes & Noble to buy!

Lab Girl gave me a true look into what being a female scientist was like. Although I was still totally unsure of what I wanted to study in college when I first read Jahren’s book, I eventually decided to become an environmental conservation major. Having a female role model in a field I was passionate about made me feel more confident about choosing a major and also made me so excited to study our environment. Although I can’t guarantee Hope Jahren’s story will turn you into a science convert, I cannot recommend Lab Girl enough for anyone who may be unsure of their path or even if you just love learning about plants and our Earth.

Katherine Dickey

U Mass Amherst '24

Katherine Dickey is currently an environmental conservation major at UMass and is interested in education, film, and sustainability. Outside of school, Katherine loves playing piano, making vegetarian food, and spending time outside at the beach. She is super excited to be a member of CHAARG, PITCH, and Her Campus at UMass!
Contributors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst