Ruchi Patel is a PhD student in the Department of Geography at Penn State. Her research focuses broadly on conservation and development in Latin America, including how related policies interact with social processes such as conflict and migration to influence landscape change and management. She holds a MS in Geography from Penn State and a BS in Ecology and Natural Resources from Rutgers University. Prior to starting graduate school, she worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics in Washington, DC. She also served with the US Peace Corps in Paraguay, where she worked with local institutions and community groups to develop and implement projects for environmental education, reforestation, and community development.