SSWG Board Member Biographies
Below is information about the Social Science Working Group Board Members. This information was provided by the Board for use on this web page. For additional information please contact the Board Member or the Communications Chair.
Meredith L. Gore, President
Meredith Gore is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University (MSU). Her current research interests focus on public perceptions of wildlife and environmental risk, human-wildlife interactions, community-based natural resource management, conservation criminology, and program evaluation. Members of the Gore lab are currently working researching public perceptions of risk related to human-wildlife interactions in Caprivi, Namibia; risk information seeking and processing regarding wildlife disease in the Midwest; risk and conservation messaging about diving with white sharks; sourcing Hawksbill turtle products using mDNA extraction techniques; and the conservation ethics of post-recovery wolf management in Michigan. Dr. Gore is a member of MSU's Environmental Science and Policy Program (ESPP) and serves as core faculty with the Center for Advanced International Development (CASID) and the Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen). Dr Gore is member of the Conservation Ethics Group. In addition to leading an annual study abroad program to Madagascar to explore biodiversity conservation and livelihood preservation, she teaches courses on methods and research in human dimensions of fisheries and wildlife conservation; conservation criminology (online); and gender, justice and the environment. Dr. Gore received her PhD in Natural Resource Policy and Management from Cornell University, a MA in Environment and Resource Policy from The George Washington University, and a BA in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Brandeis University.
Tara Teel - Psychology Representative, Past-President
Dr. Tara Teel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at Colorado State University (CSU). She has been an active board member of the Society for Conservation Biology’s Social Science Working Group (SSWG), serving as the board’s psychology representative since 2007 and as SSWG President 2009-2014. Her research and outreach have been directed at improving conservation decision-making through understanding human thought and behavior and through building social science capacity among conservation professionals. Much of her work has been devoted to examining human-wildlife relationships in the U.S. and globally, with a particular focus on employing concepts and methodologies from social psychology to study human values toward wildlife, attitudes toward wildlife-related issues, and the social factors underlying human-wildlife conflict. She works closely with conservation agencies and organizations in the application of social science to inform their planning, management, and communication efforts. Dr. Teel teaches courses at CSU in human-wildlife conflict, theory in human dimensions of natural resources, and social science research methods and statistics. She has also organized a number of social science trainings for practitioners, including a human dimensions certification program for wildlife professionals in North America, SSWG-sponsored social science short courses for 2007-2013 SCB annual meetings, and a training program emphasizing best practices in protected area management and conservation social science for forest service officers in India. She received her Ph.D. in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from CSU, with emphasis in social psychology, and M.S. and B.S. degrees in Fisheries and Wildlife Management from Utah State University.
Douglas A. Clark - At-Large Representative
Douglas A. Clark holds the Centennial Chair in Human Dimensions of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan's School of Environment and Sustainability, where he is an Associate Professor. He is also a Research Affiliate with the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative in Jackson, Wyoming. Prior to his academic career he spent 11 years as a Canadian national park warden, serving in six different parks and twice receiving Parks Canada's Award of Excellence. His research program focuses on improving management practice and policy for wildlife and ecosystems, with a geographic focus on the circumpolar north that is now rapidly expanding regionally and internationally. His professional goal is to help others improve their ability to comprehensively tackle the multiple dimensions of conservation problems, particularly the human dimensions.
Ashwini Chhatre - At-Large Representative
Dr. Ashwini Chhatre is an Associate Professor of geography & Geographic Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. His research interests broadly center on the interactions between democratization, economic development, and environmental governance.
Kate Christen - Board of Governors Liaison
Kate Christen is an environmental historian whose research focuses on the intersecting histories of conservation science and natural resources development and management. As Graduate and Professional Training Manager at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC), she co-develops and implements a suite of training programs and courses in conservation science and related human dimensions topics. Kate’s scholarly research, professional service, and her work at SCBI and SMSC are informed by her convictions regarding the essential connections among conservation biology and conservation humanities/social sciences.
Rebecca Garvoille - At-Large Representative
I hold a Ph.D. in environmental anthropology, and I have over eight years of conservation social science experience with the human dimensions of protected area management in the Florida Everglades and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. My research examining the sociocultural complexities of Everglades restoration was supported by the National Science Foundation. Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Denver Zoo’s (DZ) Department of Conservation and Research where I focus on the human dimensions of wildlife conservation in the Rocky Mountain West, and I support integrative field conservation programs in Botswana, Mongolia and Peru. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums - like Denver Zoo - play an increasingly significant role in field conservation. In 2013, zoos and aquariums dedicated approximately $160 million to about 2,450 conservation initiatives in 127 countries (AZA 2013). I help strengthen conservation social science through applied anthropology. I was primary author on the Yellowstone National Park Social Science Strategy, a roadmap for social science capacity-building at America’s first national park. At Denver Zoo, I spearhead its conservation planning and evaluation program, which systematically assesses the socio-ecological efficacy of its field-based conservation programs worldwide. I also oversee a social science research program focused on documenting and developing more complete understandings of the social contexts for plains bison conservation and reintroduction in the Rocky Mountain West.
Kathy Halvorsen - Sociology Representative
Kathy Halvorsen is a Professor of Natural Resource Policy at Michigan Technological University. She holds a joint appointment to the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and to the Environmental and Energy Policy Graduate Program in the Social Sciences Department. Her research focuses on policy issues related to biodiversity and to climate change. Specifically, she has current projects focused on Mexico's payment for hydrologic services program and its impacts on forests and landowners in the cloud forests of Veracruz funded by the National Science Foundation's Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) program. She also leads a large research team of social, natural, and engineering scientists and students from Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, and the USA. This team is studying the socioecological impacts of bioenergy development, including impacts on biodiversity and carbon sequestration. The goal is to recommend policy changes that can better protect human and ecological communities while maximizing the ability of bioenergy projects to help mitigate climate change. This project has funding from the National Science Foundation's Partnerships in International Research and Education (PIRE) program, USAID's PEER program, and the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) Coordinated Research Network (CRN3) program.
Christie Lam - Anthropology Representative
Christie Lam (Anthropology Representative), a new member joining the SSWG Board, is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology in Osaka University, Japan. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Adelaide in Australia and her research focuses on the social and cultural aspects of park-people conflicts in South Asia, specifically Nepal. Dr. Lam’s current projects focus on the welfare impacts of conservation-induced displacement and on the cultural values of land.
Daniel Miller – Political Science Representative, Secretary
Daniel C. Miller is Assistant Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dan’s research and teaching focus on international environmental politics and policy. He is especially interested in understanding the conservation and development impacts of international aid in tropical countries and the political factors that shape those impacts. He works in a variety of settings around the world, but has a strong geographic interest in Africa and on forests more generally. Prior to joining the faculty at Illinois, Dan was Senior Forestry Specialist at the Program on Forests at the World Bank. Before that he was Program Associate for Conservation and Sustainable Development at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Rural Community Development Advisor for Yayasan Dian Tama, a local NGO in West Kalimanatan, Indonesia. Dan holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan and undergraduate and Master's degrees in Political Science from the University of Illinois.
Jessica Musengezi- Economics Representative
Jessica is a governance economist with the Human Dimensions Program at the Nature Conservancy. Her work involves developing and piloting approaches to integrate human-wellbeing considerations into planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of conservation projects. Currently Jessica leads a project to design a devolved social monitoring system to track the impacts of conservation on the indigenous peoples living within the community conservancies of northern Kenya. Prior to joining the Nature Conservancy, Jessica was an Economics of Ecosystems fellow with Defenders of Wildlife working on on valuing grassland ecosystem services, and developing payments for ecosystem services accessible to ranchers. Jessica has also conducted research natural resource and development issues in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and the USA on topics including sustainable wildlife use, smallholder agriculture, community-based natural resource management and fisheries management. Jessica was born and raised in Zimbabwe where she developed a love for nature and a deep appreciation for the intricate relationship between people and nature. She holds a PhD and MSc in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida, and a BSc in Agricultural Economics from the University of Zimbabwe.
Robin Roth - Geography Representative
Robin Roth is an Associate Professor of Geography at York University in Toronto, Canada where she has served as undergraduate program director and the editor of the York Center of Asian Studies Working Paper Series. Most of her research has focused on the conservation of inhabited landscapes and conservation conflict in Northern Thailand with her most recent project aimed at understanding the factors influencing different livelihood decisions of farmers living inside national parks and measuring the associated social and ecological outcomes. Dr. Roth has a strong interest in indigenous knowledge and mapping and is currently developing research on the production and circulation of different kinds of knowledge in conservation governance. Dr. Roth holds a BA hons in Geography from University of Victoria, Canada and a PhD in Geography from Clark University, USA.
Rebecca Thomas - At-Large Student Representative