I have been involved in biodiversity conservation in the USA and Latin America. My undergraduate and masters theses focused on macroinvertebrate diversity and ecology of non-perennial streams in Massachusetts to demonstrate the significance of these streams and their fauna as components of river ecosystems. During this time I also participated in projects in central and South America. In Costa Rica I worked as part of a team to develop an electronic field guide to facilitate the identification of stream invertebrates for conservation and educational purposes. In Brazil’s Pantanal I assisted with research on keystone frugivore species. Most recently I worked for The Nature Conservancy’s land protection team in Maryland and subsequently for Conservation International’s former protected areas program.
My professional work experience motivated my pursuit in interdisciplinary research involving human-environment relationships and social aspects of biodiversity conservation. The Applied Biodiversity Science (ABS) Program is a platform for advancing interdisciplinary research as it bridges social and ecological processes and provides a holistic approach to biodiversity conservation. I am happy and fortunate to be part of the program.
My current research interests include human-environment relationships, protected area governance and effectiveness, and the relationship between governance and livelihoods, particularly surrounding community-based conservation initiatives. My research aims to determine how governance of extractive reserves in Brazil affects resource-user livelihoods and to explore the relationship between these processes. I will focus on an extractive reserve in Northeast Brazil that encompasses terrestrial and marine systems. Extractive reserves in Brazil attempt to protect traditional communities, their livelihoods and biodiversity, and are increasingly being established in the country. However, the extractive reserve model, in conservation and development initiatives, has been questioned by scholars, and the livelihood impacts resulting from their establishment remain unclear. I hope to contribute to advancements in this arena utilizing the interdisciplinary doctoral training received from the ABS Program.