Lera Boroditsky

Lera Boroditsky is a Professor of Cognitive Science at UCSD and Editor in Chief of Frontiers in Cultural Psychology. She previously served on the faculty at MIT and at Stanford. Her research is on the relationships between mind, world, and language (or how humans get so smart).

She has been named one of 25 Visionaries changing the world by the Utne Reader, and is also a Searle Scholar, a McDonnell scholar, recipient of an NSF Career award, and an APA Distinguished Scientist lecturer. She once used the Indonesian exclusive "we" correctly before breakfast, and was proud of herself about it all day.

Get a quick research overview (WSJ and Scientific American)

3 words to describe Nature?

To me nature is the ultimate luxury. When I find myself alone in a wild beautiful place, I feel like I’m the richest person in the world. So, luxury and freedom. I hope that’s three words.

3 things Nature taught you?

To embrace change

To welcome uncertainty

To relish complexity

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Floating down any empty river

Staring at the stars from a natural geothermal hot spring that magically stays at 105 degrees F

Hidden inside a mature fig tree canopy, especially when the figs are ripe

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

So glad to be so small, and to be surrounded by endless possibilities

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Hungry for mushrooms and that soft underfoot sous-bois 

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Hopeful that there’s a volcano-warmed river nearby I can jump into

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

How earth-centric of us to keep calling it a sunrise or sunset, when we’ve known for centuries that we’re the ones rotating. Who’s going to come up with a good name to describe these earth-tilts that either reveal or obscure the sun from our view? I’m accepting suggestions. 

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Like we need a little baseline to go with the drums

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

If I’m in a sailboat, excited. Otherwise, like I should find a nice cave to huddle up in.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

I live in Southern California, so I can have all 4 in one day. Why choose? :)

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

I don’t think of myself as separate from nature, so 11?

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Mushroom hunting in Belarus with my dad. The birch forests in Belarus are these magical light-filled playgrounds, and looking for mushrooms is an incredible state of focus and flow, and if you’re lucky, with a delicious end.