Since earning a BS in biology from Central Washington University. I have worked on a variety of different research projects focused on wildlife management. This research spanned from non-profits to governmental agencies. Although my past research experience has most frequently involved birds and mammals, its focus has been on understanding the impacts of anthropogenic land-uses on wildlife populations and communities. Most recently my Master’s research conducted here at Texas A&M involved examining the effects of sugarcane production on small mammal communities of lowveld savanna in southern Africa.
While my past experiences helped me to hone my research interests, they also exposed me to conservation in a wide range of contexts. I have experienced first-hand the challenges of endangered species conservation and the conflicts that it could create. I have also been forced to articulate why biodiversity conservation is important to someone who is struggling to simply support his family. Although difficult at the time, situations such as these provided opportunities for introspection and evaluation of some of my basic philosophies. During these times I realized that effective conservation depends on integration across disciplines. The focus on integration is what most appeals to me about the Applied Biodiversity Science Program.
I am approaching my dissertation from a social ecological systems perspective. I will be focusing on incentive-based conservation. Through my dissertation research I will examine either payment for ecosystem services or predator compensation programs within production landscapes. I hope to examine the effectiveness of these programs in maintaining biodiversity, and how they interact with cultures and institutions to affect the attitudes and behavior of local actors.