While pursuing my undergraduate degree at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, I took a semester to study tropical ecology and issues of conservation and development in Panama. Inspired by this experience, I decided to pursue graduate studies after finishing my B.A. in 2006 with majors in environmental studies and geography. My interests in Latin America and human dimensions of environmental change then led me to the Michigan State University geography department, where I had the opportunity to develop my thesis on the contentious demands between forest conservation and development in agrarian reform settlements in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. I finished my M.S. in 2008, and after a brief stint as a biological field technician surveying tortoise populations in the Mojave Desert, I decided to return to school to pursue a doctoral degree.
As a social scientist, I see human welfare and environmental conditions inextricably linked together. Therefore, I have focused my research to generate understanding of human-environment relationships which may be then be applied both inside and outside academia. As such, the Applied Biodiversity Science program at Texas A&M University appealed to me as a fantastic opportunity to further pursue my interests and develop cross-disciplinary skills.
My dissertation research is centered in the páramo ecoregion in the Ecuadorean Andes, and focuses on management systems for ecosystem services. Of particular interest is the combination of conservation strategies for biodiversity and water.