DSC_1064Dr. Rafe Sagarin is a marine ecologist at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 where he is leading an exciting new project to create a living model of the Gulf of California.

A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Dr. Sagarin consults with organizations including the American Red Cross and the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as executives from the world’s largest corporations on how they can unleash the natural power of adaptability to survive and thrive in an unpredictable world. His innovative and interdisciplinary research has been published in the leading peer reviewed journals in science, environmental studies, law, and international affairs, as well as in popular magazines and online media.

IMG_1871Dr. Sagarin has lectured and held research positions at the world’s top universities including Stanford, Duke, UCLA, and University of Arizona. He served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Congressional Science Fellow in the office of U.S. Representative Hilda Solis. His two recent books are Learning from the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorism, Natural Disasters, and Disease (Basic Books) and Observation and Ecology: Broadening the Scope of Science to Understand a Complex World (Island Press).


Rafe discusses adaptability and managing conflict with Chester Crocker and Ellen Laipson in a panel at the US Institute of Peace



Rafe running a workshop of first responders at the Naval Postgraduate School.             Photo art by Angela English

Rafe running a workshop of first responders at the Naval Postgraduate School. Photo art by Angela English


15 thoughts on “@RafeSagarin

  1. I can’t wait to read your book, Learning from the Octopus. I am sure you are aquainted with Jeanine Benyus’s work on Biomimicry, which I also am very excited about. I am an environmental specialist with the NYS DEC advancing green chemistry at NY’s high schools. I just happen to stumble across an article about your work. Fascinating! Deborah Knight

    1. Deborah – Thank you for your interest. I have also enjoyed Janine’s work and finally got to get in touch with her – hopefully we’ll work on some things together in the future. As an educator, I think you’ll appreciate some of the ways I’ve brought adaptable ideas into the classroom, which I describe in the book.

      1. Rafe, I look forward to reading about your ideas for the classroom. Perhaps I can get some ideas on how to better present the concept of green chemistry to high school teachers. Sometimes, it is a tough sell.

        Btw, you might be interested in reading my article on biomimicry, “Inspired by Nature” in The Conservationist magazine. Here is the link: http://www.dec.ny.gov/pub/56478

      2. Deborah, Thank you for your interest and for sharing your article. We have just submitted a paper on our adaptable classroom ideas, but they’re not all that complicated–just some simple techniques for giving ownership of the class to students and outlets for them to continually share their knowledge. Stay tuned for details. Best, Rafe

  2. Rafe,
    My wife and I attended your talk at the Portland Powell’s Hawthorne store. We really enjoyed listening to you and how your responded to the audience questions. I’m looking forward to digging into your Octopus book. I’m a quotes fanatic and have compiled what I call a “Thoughts about Life: One Humanist’s Bible.” (It is something of a personal mania.) It currently includes some 3,500 quotes. The first section is titled “Our Journey” and includes sections titled “Uncertainty” and “Tack and Tune.” I have a feeling your book may add a quote or two to the work.
    Thanks again for visiting our fair city and sharing your ideas.
    Rob Russell

    1. Rob,
      Thank you for coming to the talk – it was a great audience at my favorite bookstore. I’d love to take a look at your quote book sometime! Best – Rafe

  3. Rafe,
    I am about half-way through “Learning from the Octopus” and I have to say, I’m enjoying this excellent and thought provoking book.

    I picked up your book as some light reading to keep my brain working over the holiday break and got so excited by your ideas that I found myself taking notes and developing an annotated bibliography entry before I even finished! Your outside-the-box approach to problem solving (as spoken by someone very much “inside” the box) is refreshing and inspiring. It is also extremely encouraging to see the value that you have created by engaging people from so many disciplines in discussing problems that are relevant and contemporary.

    I’m nearing the end of my Master of Public Administration degree. My concentration is in emergency management. I’m hoping to go on study homeland security in the future and perhaps pursue work in research or policy making. Your book has already earned a place on my bookshelf as an important work to inspire critical thinking in my future studies.

    Thank you for this important contribution to the discussion of our nation’s safety and security.

    John L.

    1. Thank you, John. Some of the most interesting stories and insight in “Learning from the Octopus” came from practitioners in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Good luck with your studies and please share the book widely.

  4. Rafe,
    I so enjoyed your talk last week at the ELP program in Monterey. I am a big believer in learning from the natural world. Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains, I spent most of childhood out in the natural world observing many of the great connections you talked about last week. I loved your book and after visiting your site, I enjoyed your artwork as well. Thank you for taking the time to make the connections so clear for us…..how we can apply Nature’s adaptable solutions to emergency management and homeland security. Such wisdom is vitally important.

    1. Angi, Thanks for your comments. I was fortunate to live in NC for a few years and the Appalachians were definitely a highlight of living there. You may also enjoy my recent book, “Observation and Ecology” which is more directly about how we observe the world and how it teaches us. Thank you so much for your valuable work helping to keep us all safe!

  5. Rafe, I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation as I chanced to sit next to you on a flight from Phoenix to San Jose. I am enriched for having done so, and am looking forward to reading “Learning From the Octopus.” Best wishes on your future endeavors!

  6. Rafe,

    Thanks for coming to the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum. It truly is a type of gem. I hope your optimism about the potential of adaptability will be at least partially born out by coming changes in world politics. Oppositional ideology seems such a powerful driver for so many humans, especially among the less educated and more likely to take up bomb making.

    I didn’t have any idea what to expect from your talk but I found much I could relate to, from choosing instantly to work with Chuck Baxter in the Hopkins tide pools, to harnessing the contributions of students to make a course into a much more effective learning experience.

    I delayed getting my BA degree for almost 20 years. I finally finished it when I got a chance to join Ken Norris and Steve Gliessman for the UCSC Natural History Field Quarter (as student and part time bus driver). Then I got a chance to do a senior project on using ecological information to predict the usefulness of native Egyptian plants in artificial landscape plantings.

    I look forward to reading your books and following your work at the Biosphere project.

    John Kern

  7. Enjoying Octopus. Luckily for me it is written so as to be able to be understood by non-scientists! Enjoying contemplating its ideas and strategies in the corporate legal world. Thanks!

  8. Merely a smiling visitor here to share the adore , btw outstanding style. Audacity, more audacity and always audacity. by Georges Jacques Danton. daacekaedegd

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