As an undergraduate attending Colorado State University, I learned a very important lesson that has helped to shape my professional and personal goals. It is often the will of the people or citizens of the United States that dictate what we, as natural resource professionals, are able to do with regard to managing our natural resources. This seemingly simple phrase has served as both the impetus and catalyst in steering my research interests toward the human dimension of resource management. This passion led me to the University of New Brunswick in 2008, where I began my Master’s degree and conducted a qualitative study involving forest landowners in New Brunswick and Maine. This study emphasized landowner attitudes and behaviors regarding such topics as: private property rights, ethical responsibilities, stewardship, and policy tools. Over the course of this project I interviewed family forest owners in each jurisdiction and found many similarities and differences in the way(s) in which they viewed their land and their responsibility toward the “greater good”, the “biotic community” and “themselves and their families”.
In August of 2010, I received a research assistantship as part of the Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) and began my PhD in Forest Resources at the University of Maine. The SSI is funded by the National Science Foundation and Maine EPSCoR and is an interdisciplinary approach to finding tangible solutions to various problems that Mainers are facing (with emphasis given to the social, ecological, and economic components).
As part of my SSI responsibilities, I will be conducting stakeholder driven research and examining various aspects/issues as identified by family forest owners across the state of Maine. Because the SSI is interdisciplinary in nature I am also working with the “Knowledge to Action” (K-A) team where we are discussing alternative paradigms to not only conducting stakeholder/problem driven research, but also ways to disseminate new knowledge that is both practical and applicable to our stakeholders.
Outside of academia I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, hiking, snowboarding, and watching various sporting events. My long term professional goal is to become a professor and one day offer advice to incoming graduate students of my own.