I am an interdisciplinary scientist with an interest in developing stronger avenues of communication and inclusion amongst the public, decision makers and scientists about human-wildlife conflicts. I received my Ph.D. and M.A. in Environmental Psychology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and I received my B.A. in Biology and Psychology from Swarthmore College. My past and present research addresses issues related to human-wildlife conflict using interdisciplinary methods and critical social theory. I am currently based in Bozeman, Montana and work throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) because I am motivated by the need to address the pace and scale by which people are degrading natural habitats and perpetuating conflicts across species. Rather than take an exclusionary and short-sighted approach in which I prescribe how other people or wildlife should live, work, and play in the GYE landscape, I ascribe to an integrative and participatory philosophy that identifies and differentiates the full-range of people’s stakes and interests to empower and enable rural agricultural livelihoods to successfully persist alongside healthy and abundant wildlife populations. In this context, I view myself as a broker who seeks to integrate the needs of people and wildlife communities alike, and I endeavor to transform stakeholders’ opportunities to meaningfully participate in the management of their special places, the places the make the GYE what it is. I am undertaking these efforts through my current projects and my position as the Program Manager for Future West in Bozeman, Montana, who’s mission is to help communities identify, choose, and achieve their desired future.
My research, work and environmental outreach reflects three interrelated streams of interest: 1) assessing the interplay between individuals and their surroundings to understand how people’s attitudes, knowledge, and perceptions of nature and wildlife are formed and maintained; 2) engaging theory and methods from multiple disciplines to interrogate human-animal relations; 3) employing a problem-oriented approach to research, prioritizing inquiry aimed at solving complex conservation problems, particularly growing concerns of species extinction and biodiversity loss due to climate change. This description reflects the academic nature of my work, and I am working to establish a framework for further evaluation into how management programs can be established, developed, and applied (in the Rockies and elsewhere) for mediating human-wildlife coexistence under contemporary conditions of environmental stress.
Through my integrative writing and public outreach, I work to illustrate how people’s interactions with animals and one another are influenced by deeply embedded cultural norms and values beyond just physical proximity or competition. My research highlights why participation of residents, attention to the perspectives of nonhuman animals, and ongoing collaborations across agencies are all necessary components for mediating human-wildlife coexistence in communities like the GYE. I am enthusiastic to continue my research and consulting work to meet the needs of people and wildlife, facilitating the improvement of science and policy measures, and communicating with the broader public about how to participate and engage with such critical environmental issues.
Since age 15, I have studied and worked with over 30 species of exotic animals around the world, including: hyenas, bats, giraffes, penguins, warthogs, orangutans, gorillas, and many others. These animal interactions have instilled in me an imperative to expand people’s scope about our own animality and consider the lives of animal ‘others’ when making decisions about our environment into the future. My work and research are born out of my broader and lifelong interest in understanding how our science and policy measures have a critical responsibility when it comes to mediating the tenuous coexistence between people and nonhuman animals, especially those that are simultaneously revered and reviled. This issue will only continue to grow as regions of urban sprawl intersect with the paths and habitats of wildlife, both locally and abroad.
This website hosts my various research, interests, and ideas. If you’re interested in some of my work or would like to collaborate on a project, please follow my blog or feel free to get in touch!