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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.

Ashley Dayer, President

Ashley Dayer is an Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech.  Dr. Dayer's research program focuses on understanding people’s and organizations’ conservation behavior, especially related to private lands habitat conservation, human-wildlife conflict, endangered species management, citizen science, and conservation funding. As part of this research, she explores the role that policy tools, communications, and educational interventions can play in influencing behavior. Dr. Dayer is also an Affiliate Faculty Member in the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech. In relation to global change, she is particularly interested in landowners’ willingness to take action to minimize the impacts of sea level rise on wildlife habitat and the implementation gap between climate adaptation science and resource managers’ decision-making. Dr. Dayer is actively engaged with the wildlife conservation community. She serves as the Co-Chair of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative’s Human Dimensions Subcommittee and as a member of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan’s Human Dimensions Working Group, among other roles. Her Lab is also the home to the National Bird Conservation Social Science Coordinator — a partner – sponsored position to serve the bird conservation community in meaningful integration of social science.

Meredith L. Gore, Past 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.

Chris Sandbrook, Secretary

Chris Sandbrook is a political ecologist with diverse research interests around a central theme of biodiversity conservation and its relationship with society. He works as a Senior Lecturer in Geography for the University of Cambridge. His current research activities can be divided into three areas: (i) investigating trade-offs between ecosystem services at the landscape scale in developing countries, (ii) investigating the role of values and evidence in shaping the decisions of conservationists and their organizations, and (iii) investigating the social and political implications of new technologies for conservation. Chris writes a blog at

Shonil Anil Bhagwat - At-Large Representative

Shonil is an environmental geographer with a particular interest in environment and development. His work engages critically with discussions on a variety of key environmental concerns: agriculture and food security, biodiversity conservation, climate change, ecosystem services, and sustainability. It addresses the perceived grand challenges in environment and development within the context of the growing discussion on the Anthropocene, the age of humans. He has over 20 years of experience in conservation in developing countries and the challenges posed by the need to reconcile conservation with human development in these settings. His interest in conservation and development engages closely with cultural and spiritual values of conservation, and one of his foci is on sacred spaces such as sacred natural sites and sacred forest groves that form a meeting point between culture and nature. He has written widely about the culture-conservation-development nexus and his work has been published in leading conservation journals. Shonil recently co-authored a book titled ‘Conservation and Development,’ which was published by Routledge in 2016.

Jenny Anne Glikman - At-Large Representative

Jenny Anne Glikman is a social scientist within the Conservation Education Division of the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research (ICR) where her primary role is to develop human dimensions research in Community-Based Conservation Programs worldwide. Dr. Glikman also serves as an instructor in the Advanced Inquiry Program, a master’s program offered through Miami University, Ohio. She two Master's of Science degrees: the first in Animal Behavior and Animal Welfare from Edinburgh University (UK), and the second in Conservation of Biodiversity at La Sapienza University of Rome (Italy). She earned a Ph.D. in Human Dimensions of Wildlife from Memorial University (Canada).  Before joining the ICR, Dr. Glikman worked as a professor and researcher in the Human Ecology department at the Cinvestav-Merida University (Mexico).

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.

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.

Rina Hauptfeld - At-Large Student Representative

Rina Hauptfeld is a doctoral student of interdisciplinary ecology at Colorado State University, with broad interests in social-ecological systems and the influence of collaborative research on conservation outcomes, especially in locally managed systems. As a Fulbright Fellow, her current research investigates the role that participatory biophysical monitoring has on ecological, management, and community outcomes in small coral marine protected areas in the central Philippines. Rina currently serves as a Center for Collaborative Conservation Fellow and works with the Center for Protected Area Management at CSU in cooperation with the National Park Service. Prior to returning to doctoral studies, Rina worked in the U.S., Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and the wider Caribbean, primarily on issues of protected area management, including climate change adaptation planning with EcoAdapt and Fundación Natura, and as a NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Fellow, where she worked with partners to protect the federally listed coral species, and founded a non-profit to facilitate local co-management of the marine reserve. Rina began her career in conservation as a backcountry ranger with the US National Park Service, but developed a love for the marine system at her family's home in Croatia as a child. She holds a Master’s from University of Washington where she investigated the role of a non-native aquaculture oyster in de-coupling resilience of the social-ecological system, and has BS in Environment & Development from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. 

Yuta Masuda

Yuta Masuda is a Policy Scientist in the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Nature Conservancy. His work at the Conservancy investigates the impacts of conservation programs on human well-being, and he has a particular interest in gender, development, institutions, and human health. Yuta’s current work looks at integrating human well-being considerations into conservation programs to better understand their risks and benefits to people. In addition, he is working on research on sustainable development, gender and conservation, technology-assisted data collection, and developing new indicators for human well-being. Before joining the Conservancy in 2013, Yuta was a graduate student at the University of Washington where he did research on water infrastructure, time use, and gender in Ethiopia. Prior to that, he was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia and also worked at RTI International as a Health Economics Research Assistant. Yuta has experience working on projects with a range of stakeholders in Africa, Asia, and Central Europe. He has published in a number of economic and policy journals. He holds a B.B.A. in Economics from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management from the University of Washington.

Seline Meijer

Seline is a conservation scientist with a background in environmental sciences, conservation ecology, forestry and social science. She currently works as a Programme Officer Social Science with IUCN’s Global Programme for Governance and Rights, supporting different projects focused on gender, natural resource governance, indigenous people and human rights. As part of her role she provides programmatic support to, and works closely with, IUCN’s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP). Prior to joining IUCN, Seline worked as a Post-Doctoral researcher and temporary Lecturer at University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland. Seline holds a Ph.D. in Forestry from UCD, carried out in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), for which she spent three years conducting research in Malawi. Her research focused on smallholder farmers’ perceptions and attitudes towards farm-level tree planting and forest degradation as well as the gender dynamics of household decision-making.

R. Patrick Bixler

R. Patrick Bixler is a Research Fellow at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas, Austin. His work focuses on environmental governance, resilience, and the ways that cross-sector networks influence policy and on-the-ground outcomes. His work is theoretically informed and he work closely with practitioners on conservation policy and strategy. A sociologist by training (PhD, Colorado State University, 2014), his research program emphasizes a variety of ways to better understand dimensions of “social” in social-ecological systems from local to regional to continental scales. One thread of research focuses on interorganizational networks and measuring social capital using a mixed-method approach that includes social network analysis. Policy applications from this work include designing collaboration metrics for the Department of Interior Landscape Conservation Cooperative program and building a strategic nonprofit partner assessment tool for the US Forest Service. More recently, his work has focused on urban environments and he leads a community indicator initiative in Central Texas where he works closely with public officials, nonprofits, and philanthropic foundations in the region to design, measure, and track collective impact efforts to solve some of the region’s most pressing challenges.