My dissertation title is "Affecting Risk: Improving Hazard Communication in the Wildland-Urban Interface."
After spending the summers of 2010 and 2011 in Truckee, California interviewing local residents and community managers about their experiences with landscape, forest, and fire management, I am currently completing the analysis and writeup for my dissertation. I was fortunate to receive an American Fellowship for the 2011-2012 academic year from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and I plan to defend in December 2012.
I chose Truckee as my study community for a number of reasons. Firstly, the town is located in a beautiful part of the country. Truckee's aesthetic qualities and recreational opportunities draw thousands of visitors every year (many of whom are seasonal residents). The local economy is largely based on the attraction of this forested landscape. Secondly, according to CalFire, Truckee is located in a High or Very High Fire Severity Zone. This means that residents and community leaders in Truckee are tasked with reducing community vulnerability to wildfire hazard, while balancing strong resident and visitor preferences for the look and feel of the land. This process requires a great deal of communication between neighbors, organizations, and community managers. For my work on how people's relationship with the land affects their hazard mitigation choices, Truckee was a perfect location. Lastly, I chose Truckee because I grew up in the North Bay (in Sonoma County, CA). My family visited the Lake Tahoe area throughout my childhood, and I understand that this region holds a special place in the hearts of many. Thus, for my dissertation I chose to return to Truckee to learn more about what makes this area special, and how people's experiences with and feelings about a place influence their views and choices vis-à-vis natural hazards.
I received a Graduate Research Innovation (GRIN) award from the Joint Fire Sciences Program to complete my dissertation research, and I am now residing in the DC Metro Area.
At Penn State I have taught Intro to Physical Geography (GEOG 010), Intro to Human Geography (GEOG 020), Mapping Our Changing World (GEOG 160), and Human Dimensions of Natural Hazards (GEOG 333).
In 2010 I received the James T. Meyer Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from the Department of Geography, and the George H.K. Schenk Teaching Assistant Award from the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.
From 2010-2012 I worked as a Graduate Consultant for the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence (SITE) at Penn State where I specialized in teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses; diversity and fostering inclusive excellence in the classroom; and effective presentation design (PowerPoint and Prezi). You can visit my SITE page here.
My time at Penn State has given me ample opportunity to participate in service activities. For the duration of my graduate career I have been a member of the Supporting Women In Geography (SWIG) organization at Penn State. For two of those years (2008-2010) I served as an elected SWIG Officer, during which time the organization was honored with the Outstanding Student Organization of the Year Award from Penn State, and the Jan Monk Service Award from the Geographic Perspectives On Women (GPOW) specialty group of the Association of American Geographers (AAG).
In addition to my work with SWIG, I have served with several other organizations and committees:
• AAG Diversity Ambassador - 2009 & 2012 Annual Meetings
• Penn State LGBTQA Support Network - Member 2009–present
• Geographic Perspectives On Women (GPOW) specialty group of the AAG - Student Representative 2009–2011
• Penn State Geography Graduate Program Committee - Student Representative 2009–2010
• Penn State Geography Colloquium Committee - Student Representative 2009–2010
• Penn State Geography Graduate Mentor - 2008–2010
- human-environment geography
- feminist and queer geography
- human dimensions of natural hazards(perception/communication/mitigation)
- scholarship of teaching and learning (especially related to diversity and STEM)
- A.A. Ethnic Studies, Santa Rosa Junior College
- B.A. Geography, Sonoma State University
- M.S. Geography, Penn State