After two years, I am still excited to study in the Applied Biodiversity Science program at Texas A&M. It’s the confluence of interests and approaches—and the willingness to talk about them—that make the program what it is.
My own research interests in biodiversity conservation trend toward conservation social science and political ecology; I ask questions about definition, scale, power, access, use, and institutional and organizational arrangement in relation to conservation action. I believe that teasing apart the “answers” to these questions with a critical eye is essential if we are to connect the academic discussions of conservation scientists to the practical decisions made by conservation programmers.
After completing my B.S. In Foreign Service, I spent seven years working in international community development and conservation programming with the U.S. Peace Corps: two years as a volunteer in Ecuador and five years as a staff member working with countries in the agency’s Europe, the Mediterranean, and Asia regions. Following this work, I then completed my M.A. in Geography with focuses on environmental learning in exurbia and community development facilitation. My current research centers on environmental governance, the expansion of large-scale agriculture, and meso-scale institutions in the Chaco region of northwestern Argentina. In 2007, Argentina passed a National Forestry Law requiring a national land-use and planning policy to check increased levels of deforestation and the expansion of well-capitalized agriculture, particularly in the country’s northern regions. I explore the impact and meanings of this law at the provincial and micro-scales, particularly the role of mid-level institutions, and what it means for conserving biodiversity in Argentina’s Salta and Formosa provinces.