Lara studies the temporal dynamics of urban forests, including tree mortality and growth, canopy cover change, historical development of urban forests, species composition change, and citizen science monitoring. Her studies take a participatory research approach, collaborating with practitioners for study design and implementation. She has been funded by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, the TREE Fund, the Garden Club of America, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and the Schwabacher and Berkeley Fellowships. She received a PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelors in Biology and Masters of Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a Research Ecologist with the US Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Philadelphia Field Station.