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Nat Knowles

Wilderness Conservationist



Natalie is a Canadian conservationist with a passion for the wild landscapes and diverse cultures of our world. Nat uses participatory research and creative writing to understand the root causes of biodiversity loss and climate change, and re-imagine our social-ecological systems to align with environmental justice and a sustainable future.

Nat was recently named the Scientific Exploration Society's 2023 Neville Shulman Explorer for her participatory research integrating traditional knowledge and conservation technology with the Kayapo Xingu communities in Brazil. She was also named a 2020 UN Young Champions of the Earth regional finalist and supported by the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund Grant and The Explorer's Club 2020 Rolex Grant. Natalie is also the Research Director for Protect Our Winters Canada.

Natalie holds a PhD in Geography and Environmental Management from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Science in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from the University of Oxford, where she graduated with distinctions and earned a Blue Varsity Award for skiing. Previously she completed a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Geography at the University of Denver, while a member of Denver's NCAA Div 1 National Champion Ski Team. Natalie also competed on Canada's Alpine Ski Team at the World Junior Championships and World University Games.

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The Kayapo Project

Indigenous-led Biodiversity Conservation

Protect Our Winters Canada

Climate Change Education & Advocacy

Please feel free to get in touch to learn more about existing or past projects, for research support or consultation, or to collaborate on an upcoming project together.



Nat's research is multi-disciplinary, drawing strongly on her background in Biodiversity Conservation, Geography, Ecology and Anthropology. With the aim of informing large scale transformative change, Nat focuses on participatory research to co-produce relevant knowledge, complex systems-thinking to understand the root causes of systemic challenges, and knowledge dissemination to ensure research reaches those working on the ground. At the same time, science is only useful if it's used, therefore Nat believes strongly in science communication, using creative writing, photography and film, social and mainstream media, presentations and more to share her experiences and understanding with diverse audiences.


Over 15 peer-reviewed articles on climate change, conservation & sustainability. Available for research, consulting, writing & collaborations.


Writing and speaking through podcasts, magazines, newspaper, film and more. Available for interviews.


University of Waterloo Lecturer. Available for guest lectures and presentations.



SSHRC: Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS & Sport Canada Research Initiative


Adventure Travel Conservation Fund


The Explorers Club:
Rolex Grant


Neville Shulman Explorer Award

Contact NAT

University of Waterloo, Faculty of the Environment

1 647 333 5463

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