Lindsay’s research focuses on human-environment relationships, particularly the links between livelihoods and environmental change, and the practical and policy mechanisms that can advance sustainable development. Lindsay takes an interdisciplinary approach, grounded in systems thinking, using theories and both qualitative and quantitative methods from the natural and social sciences. Her systems focus helps to develop solutions to specific problems while recognising the complexity of the world's sustainable development challenges and the trade-offs and opportunities created by change. In 2017, Lindsay won a Wolfson Merit Award from the Royal Society, and in 2013, she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for her work on environmental change and sustainable development in drylands.
Lindsay’s research projects commonly involve big interdisciplinary teams that bring together researchers from around the world. Her work is published in a range of journals across multiple fields (see Google Scholar profile for details). She has worked and travelled in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas and currently has projects with collaborators across all continents. Her research is anchored in strong partnerships with in-country researchers at local universities, international institutions and NGOs. Her research has informed international policy through the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). She was a Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Regional Assessment for Africa (2018), as well as Lead Author for the IPBES Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment (2018). She was a Lead Author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Climate Change and Land (2019) and for the IPCC's 6th Assessment Report, where she was responsible for sections of chapter 8 on Poverty, Livelihoods and Sustainable Development, and co-led Cross-Chapter Paper 3 on Deserts, Desertification and Semi-arid Areas.