About Me

I'm a postdoc researcher at the University of Northern Colorado in the Department of Geography, GIS, and Sustainability. I recently graduated from the University of Maine (2020) with a PhD in Ecology and Environmental Sciences. I also received my MS in Forest Resources from the University of Maine (2017). In 2013, I graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BS in Conservation Biology.

 

I have a background in conservation science with experience in pollination ecology. I made the switch to social science as a graduate student where I studied how tourism stakeholders think about and react to climate change impacts. Understanding stakeholders' perceptions and behaviors is critical for building and maintaining economic, environmental, and social resilience in tourism destinations.

 

As a postdoc researcher, I'm delving into education research where I combine my knowledge of biophysical and social science, as well as my research and teaching expertise, to develop as assessment tool to measure student learning in environmental programs. I am particularly interested in trying out new social science methods to better understand how people learn about and interact with the natural world. 

In my spare time (COVID-19 permitting), I like to jet set around the world to experience new places, read a good book, and loaf around at my family's camp in Millinocket, Maine.

For more information about my work, check out the attached CV:

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Research Projects

Developing a Next Generation Concept Inventory

Concept inventories are validated assessments designed to evaluate student understanding of concepts and learning. No valid and reliable concept inventory currently exists for interdisciplinary environmental programs. The overall objective of this research is to develop and test a Next Generation Concept Inventory (NGCI) assessment tool that includes interdisciplinary, systems-level concepts related to the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus using constructed response items. 

Community-Based Climate Change Planning

Adaptation planning is critical for developing solutions to deal with the impacts of climate change. It is important to consider that adaptation occurs in a local context and is truly not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Working closely with community partners, we developed a participatory climate change planning framework to increase the climate planning capacity of tourism-dependent communities on MDI.

Coastal Destination Resilience to Climate Change

Tourism destinations are already being impacted by climate change
Trends in visitation are expected to shift under changing climate conditions. Tourism suppliers’ behaviors have the potential to alleviate negative shifts in visitation and respond to negative climate change impacts, while also enabling suppliers to take advantage of emerging
opportunities. Using theories of risk perceptions and resilience, we examined how tourism stakeholders (suppliers and consumers) perceives their risk to climate change and how that impacted their behavioral responses. 

Risk Perceptions of Climate Change in Western Maine

Climate change create many challenges for winter nature-based tourism destinations. Assessing tourism suppliers' climate change risk perceptions is crucial for understanding motivations or barriers to engage in climate change mitigation and adaptation behaviors. Using interviews with an embedded pile sort activity, we sought to understand climate change risk perceptions and likely behavioral responses amongst nature-based tourism stakeholders in Western Maine.

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At the NRT Annual Meeting at Northwestern University, fall 2019. The last trip before COVID-19 hit!

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On-site visitor intercept survey team in Acadia National Park, summer 2018 (from left to right: Nathaniel Burke, Asha DiMatteo-LePape, Hope Kohtala, Ashley Cooper, Lydia Horne)