“If I gain knowledge I have everything.  If a friend gives me knowledge, he gives riches.  The friend who gives you wisdom is the one that loves you.”

Muchinda Madzoke (Mr. Magwisanye), as translated by Adnomore Chirindira

Melissa_tree

As a data scientist, I employ a variety of ecoinformatic tools to understand and improve the sustainability of complex social-ecological systems, primarily using multi-decadal legacy data.  I am also working to apply Science and Technology Studies to my modeling processes in order to make social-ecological system management more just.  I prefer to work collaboratively with communities on modeling, both teaching mapping and modeling skills as well as analyzing and synthesizing community-held data as appropriate. At the same time, I look for ways to create space for qualitative and other forms of knowledge to reside alongside quantitative analysis.

I care passionately about the use of knowledge to empower people, especially people who typically don’t have a voice in science or in environmental management.  The quote from Mr. Magwisanye beautifully sums up the way I feel about teaching and outreach: knowledge should be a gift, something that helps someone, and something that is given freely.

My scholarship sits at the intersection of data science, participatory action research, and critical social science. This combination is relevant and timely as data science becomes an increasingly dominant way to know about both society and the environment we depend on. Allowing this trend to continue without critical evaluation, especially in conservation and natural resources science, could very easily lead to reinforcing structural injustice and environmental degradation. Interdisciplinary study is essential in these situations, and only becoming more so.

My background is highly interdisciplinary: I hold a Bachelor of Science in Physics (with a minor in Psychology), a Master of Science in Geological Sciences (Geophysics – Seismology), and a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (Statistical Ecology). And I continue to seek out interdisciplinary projects and affiliations wherever I go: I am currently a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability Fellow, affiliated with the Science and Justice Center at UC Santa Cruz and with The Muonde Trust in Zimbabwe.

You can find out more here about my professional work. For the condensed version, see my list of publications; for a little more detail, you can find narratives describing most of those projects under Research, Outreach, and Teaching.

I also have profiles on Google Scholar, GitHub, CoMSES.netAcademia.edu, ResearchGate, and LinkedIn.