Hope Jahren is a professor, a geobiologist and a geochemist; somehow, amidst all of that, she managed to pen her memoir; Lab Girl is divided into five parts, a prologue, an epilogue, and three segmented chapters in between. Jahren writes about her life in one half of each chapter, and something she discovered in her research at that time in her life alongside it, using each scientific discovery as a metaphor for the personal breakthroughs she was having.
The book was generally well-received, and critics particularly liked the way in which Jahren made botany and geohemistry accessible to readers with absolutely no background in either. Ten publications named it to their Best Book of the Year list, including Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post. Jahren also received a number of prestigious awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award in the autobiography category.
Jahren is best known for her work in analyzing fossil forests that date back to the eocene, which was approximately fifty million years ago. Her work revolves around isotope analysis, which enables her to reconstruct the climate and environmental conditions of the past, revealing such things as what animals ate, what humans ate, and how the flora and fauna of the time contributed to the survival of both. Jahren is the recipient of the James B. Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union, and is currently a professor of geobiology at the University of Oslo in Norway.