About Me

I’m originally from Rhode Island but now living in good old Blacksburg, Virginia! I am currently in my third year as a full-time PhD student in the Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation Department at VT. So how did I end up here? I began my journey at Boston University, where I graduated with a BA in Behavioral Biology. Prior to a few years ago, my professional experience focused on primate behavior and ecology. I was fortunate to have a professor during my undergrad that had an orangutan research site in Indonesian Borneo, and she offered me the opportunity to assist with the orangutan behavioral research there. While most of the two years I spent working there was spent living in an isolated (but gorgeous!!!), tropical forest, I ventured out of this bubble enough to begin to understand the challenges to conservation in this area of the world. While I will always love orangutans, my early experiences there shifted my focus from primate behavior to broader conservation initiatives by illustrating the importance of understanding the relationships between humans and the environment and community engagement in conservation efforts.

After these experiences in Indonesia, I returned to school to complete an MSc in Conservation Project Management from the University of Kent in the UK. This degree prepared me to return to Indonesia to work for an environmental NGO, where I began again managing their orangutan research but soon realized I really enjoyed environmental education. I spent a few years there coordinating and leading university field courses, high school visits and volunteer programs for a mixture of Indonesian and international students. Working with groups of teens and college-age students, I witnessed learning in action through these informal settings but never had the time to track participants’ learning throughout their experiences or the influence of learning within their lives post-experience. I became interested in understanding how learning or other factors influence decision making and behaviors related to the environment, so I decided to return to academia. I began my PhD last year working with Dr. Marc Stern on a project evaluating how climate adaptation workshops influence learning and adaptive action in different communities across the US.

In addition to the allure of research, I also returned to academia to improve my understanding of pedagogy, develop my own teaching philosophy and use those skills to teach and mentor students in an interdisciplinary environmental/conservation program one day.

I also couldn’t finish this page without expressing my love for elephants, dragonflies and my cats, who are just celebrating their first birthday!