As a native of California’s Central Valley, Lauren Ponisio has a personal connection to issues concerning the sustainability of agriculture, and her primary research interest is to make agricultural systems better for humans and wildlife. Ponisio investigates strategies for designing agricultural systems to promote biodiversity conservation, and the links between conservation strategies and improving livelihoods.
As a U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation fellow, Ponisio led a meta-analysis examining the potential of alternative farming systems to contribute to global food production. This study was the first to definitively show that sustainable farming practices can improve crop yields. Ponisio popularized her work through giving radio interviews and writing popular science pieces. These pieces contrast paradigms of our current agricultural system of monocultures with more diversified alternatives.