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Sara ElShafie
Padian Lab

Sara ElShafie


Research: "I study the effects of climate change on animals over time. We know that our climate is warming rapidly, and it is already affecting animals around the world. But in order to anticipate those effects in the future, we need to understand the effects of climate change on animals in the past. Therefore, I look at the fossil record of animals - specifically, reptiles in North America - during past episodes of rapid climate warming. By comparing these fossil data with data from existing animal populations, I seek to understand the long term effects of climate change that we might expect in the near and distant future.

In addition to this doctoral research, I study applications of narrative in science communication and education."

Why I study paleontology: "I love paleontology because it requires both scientific thinking and imagination, analysis and art. Paleontology also connects to almost every field of science. It is the perfect gateway drug to get people interested in science! Furthermore, studying the history of life on Earth, and how that history continues to shape the Earth today, is a very humbling and gratifying experience. It is the perfect way to gain a deeper appreciation of yourself and everything around you."

Why the UCMP?: "The UCMP offers students the invaluable opportunity to simultaneously participate in a top-notch university program and a top-notch museum. As students in Integrative Biology affiliated with the UCMP, we are able to learn from professors, curators, educators, collections managers, technicians, and artists, all in the same environment. As a student with a passion for both research and public outreach, I am so excited to be able to learn in both spheres at once through the course of my graduate training!"


ElShafie, S. 2018. Making Science Meaningful for Broad Audiences through Stories. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 58(6): 1213 - 1223.  Read it

ElShafie, S. and S. Sumida. 2018. Science through Narrative: Engaging Broad Audiences - An Introduction to the Symposium. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 58(6):1204 - 1212.  Read it

Loverd, R., S. ElShafie, A. Merchant, and C.S. Gerbin. 2018. The Story of The Science and Entertainment Exchange, a program of the National Academy of Sciences. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 58(6): 1304 - 1311.  Read it