I am a new assistant professor studying rangeland social science, stakeholder perceptions of land cover change and collaborative management processes. I’m originally from north Texas, where I spent the first 18 years of my life dabbling in things I was rubbish at – ballet, violin, harp, judo, etc. I attended Indiana University for my undergraduate degree, and after joining an animal behavior research lab, changed my biology major to an individualized major in animal behavior, ecology and conservation. I will admit I also spent a fair amount of time caving on the weekends.
I attended graduate school because I had become more interested in the human dimensions of natural resources issues. I spent five and half years studying cross-jurisdictional collaboration on public lands and obtained my doctorate degree in human dimensions of ecosystem science and management from Utah State University. Here, too, I spent a good chunk of time recreating – mainly skiing and rock climbing.
After my doctorate degree, I went to the University of Idaho for a post doctorate position working with the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research network on studying the human dimensions of grazing land systems. Of course, my time in Idaho was also replete with mushroom hunting forays. This summer I moved to Lincoln and I’m currently working on recruiting graduate students and getting my lab up and running. On weekends I like to explore the nearby tallgrass prairies or go further afield and camp in the Sandhills.
What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I am a social-ecological rangeland scientist working within the Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes. I have a split appointment between the School of Natural Resources and Agronomy and Horticulture Department and do both research (60%) and teaching (40%).
What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
The opportunity to span social and ecological research fields and collaborate with faculty in each area is really what drew me to UNL. My research is in human dimensions of natural resources, so being located here at UNL where there’s a strong natural resources and agronomy focus is great for forming partnerships.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
There are several things that attract me to working in an educational setting. Firstly, I love that universities focus on life-long learning and cultivating creativity. There is support for getting outside of your comfort zone and starting collaborations with faculty and students in very different fields from your own. I appreciate learning new things and incorporating that in the next research project. Secondly, I enjoy the multicultural landscape of universities. I guess that also goes back to learning, but learning about new cultures and traditions.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That’s a hard one. On one hand, obtaining a doctorate degree and publishing my dissertation chapters was quite an achievement. On the other hand, buying a house in this competitive housing market was quite a task too. Hopefully, my greatest achievements are ahead of me still.
What is something that most people don't know about you?
Most people don’t know that I actually studied animal behavior in undergrad, so I researched brown-headed cowbird and meerkat behavior before ever studying human behavior and decision-making.
What is your life like outside of work?
When the weather is good, I enjoy going camping and hiking with my three dogs. When the weather is less than stellar, I appreciate a nice evening inside knitting with my two cats. Either way, I get to spend time with my amazing menagerie of animals.