Wallace J. Nichols on Conservation: Use Your Brain

November 20, 2011 By: Benjamin Clary

“You must be from California,” is a common reaction that Wallace J. Nichols gets when he tells people about a field of study he is pioneering.  Neuro-conservation, as Nichols calls it, is an attempt to discover why people love the ocean and to use that enchantment as a tool to protect it, writes Michael Roberts of Outside Magazine .

As a doctoral student, in order to collect information for the conservation of sea turtles, Nichols enlisted turtle poachers as well as turtle lovers.  Despite professors telling him to eliminate the human element in his research, it made sense to Nichols to include it because the changes in ocean were “driven by humans.”

So far Nichols’ unorthodox methods have not garnered attention in the scientific world.  But it is these unorthodox methods that seem to set Nichols’ approach apart.  Speakers at a recent conference included scientists, surfers and even a high end realtor to discuss the premium attached to waterfront realty.

Despite setbacks, Nichols vows to press on and embraces his role as “the catalyst and cheerleader.”  As he once told Stanford graduate students, “we have the power of happiness on our side.”