Barb is a writer of literary fiction and a participant in this astonishing world. Semi-retired from her position as professor of tree physiology and forest ecology, she straddles life between town and her off-grid cabin in the woods.


Barb has written two novels (see Current Writing Projects) and is also working on a memoir. She also writes short stories, research papers (see her university website), and blogs.

Education and academicsBL_161022atLL (3) (small)

Barb grew up in a quiet corner of Los Altos Hills, California, a town on the border between roadless chaparral and Silicon Valley.  She cut apricots in the orchards as her first paying job. She got a BA from Swarthmore College, an MS from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, a PhD from Stanford, and did a post-doc at UC Berkeley, although the path first meandered through a community college, jobs in Alaska, Texas, and New Hampshire, and volunteering in the Peace Corps in an indigenous village in Guatemala.  

She moved to Corvallis, Oregon for a faculty position. There, she was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor in the Dept. of Wood Science & Engineering and the Dept. of Forest Ecosystems & Society.  Her research focussed on structure and function relationships in plants, especially related to biomechanics and water transport, and on wood quality. Her teaching included wood anatomy and function, tree physiology, forest biology, global issues in renewable resources, and forests and civilization. She recently retired but is still working part-time on manuscripts.



CabinQuiltAn ideal day would somehow involve being with people a little bit, having the dogs nearby, getting some exercise, being outside–particularly in a quiet place, and having some alone time which she’d usually spend writing and reading. 

She and her husband spend a few days every week at their off-grid cabin in the Oregon Coast Range, and live in an old house in Corvallis, Oregon the rest of the time. They keep busy there with getting to know the natural history–particularly, identifying the plants and animals, and figuring out where and when they can find them; beating down invasive species; planting and maintaining native species; and in the winter, making maple syrup. Maintenance takes more time than she would have imagined was possible because there’s the water system that plugs or freezes, the generator that is prone to squirting oil, roads and culverts that turn into rivers or ponds, a tractor that somehow needs to be greased in spots that are hard to reach, and trails that overgrow as soon as they open them. It is a luxury to have that place, and it’s all in good fun.

Connect with Barb Lachenbruch

  • Instagram: @AstonishedBarb for musings, @BotanyBarb for science
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