I am a human-environment geographer with a regional specialization in Sub-Saharan Africa and technical expertise in geospatial technologies, social-ecological modeling, and collaborative approaches to conservation. My research engages at the intersection of natural and social science, focusing on issues of empowerment, access to resources, and knowledge creation in conservation planning and decision-making. I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University.
Following a B.S. in Forest Science, I served in the Peace Corps as an environmental extension agent in Senegal, West Africa. This experience catalyzed my interest in social and ecological systems into a career dedicated to merging the often oppositional goals of conservation and development. For my Master's research, I tested the reliability of wildlife count data produced by citizen scientists in Kenya - and learned to think more critically about whose knowledge matters in the field of ecology. My dissertation used a case study of shrub encroachment in the Ethiopian highlands to better understand and apply a process of collaborative model design and validation, and to understand its impacts on socially and culturally embedded learning.
I am committed to a career that democratizes science, formalizing the integration of local, Indigenous, and scientific knowledge. Though it is by no means a simple task, I believe researchers have an obligation to bridge the gap between those who study a system and those who manage and live in it. Participatory approaches to conservation may be time consuming, but they are worth it!