Question. If a small town with a 100-year history of oil drilling is suddenly surrounded by wind turbine construction, will they welcome wind energy or resent it? Every day, I work on those types of problems. I’m an environmental sociologist who studies the social and environmental implications of energy production and consumption.
Most people enter a room and flick the light switch without thinking much of it. But behind that simple action stands a mountain range of workers, infrastructure, laws, and public opinion. To add to it, all of those things are shifting and changing at an unprecedented rate. Climate change. Social justice. Renewable subsidization. Public health questions. Land policy. Taxation issues.
It’s a lot to keep straight. But it’s also important to grapple with these questions. Our future will look very different than it does now. I’m working to ensure that difference is a positive one.
Though my work as an analyst in the energy transition and urban innovations space, I research the technological and innovative changes that are occurring in our communities. I examine how these changes are expected to develop into the future and how these technologies can be used to build a stronger, healthier, more engaged public. Through market research, report publication, and writing, I am helping municipal and industry partners build cleaner, smarter cities.
Previously, I lead research and outreach efforts for the Rural Energy Project at Washington College’s Center for the Environment and Society. I directed a team of student researchers in a variety of initiatives to achieve energy resilience, sustainability, and democratization in rural spaces. We helped towns understand how much energy they were consuming, how much it was costing them, and assisted with the logistics of projects that lowered both their financial costs and environmental impact. My team also researched barriers to the adoption of renewable energy technologies in rural spaces to better understand how clean energy projects can be developed equitably. Further, we worked with our GIS lab to quantify the vulnerability of communities to energy disruption and guide the building of more resilient communities.
I have had columns published in the Baltimore Sun and the Annapolis Capital Gazette. The writing in my blog has also been featured and shared by groups like the World Wildlife Fund and climate scientists like Michael E. Mann.
In 2014, I earned my Bachelors of Science in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from Kansas State University. During that time, I worked on a number of conservation biology projects that examined how human management of rangelands influences plant and animal life as well as commercial ranching operations. It allowed me a first hand look at the intimate connections we share with the natural world. I was able to see how dependent we are on the environment and how we affect it.
In 2016, I earned my Masters of Science in Environmental Sociology from Oklahoma State University. While serving as the lead researcher for the OSU Social Research Observatory’s efforts in Woodward, Oklahoma, I observed first hand how our social surroundings and emotional connections to the environment influence how we impact it. My research focused on how history and social identity influenced how the people of Woodward felt about the booming wind energy industry in their area.
When I’m not grappling with the tough issues posed by climate change, I’m actually a competitive grappler. I compete year around in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and mixed style grappling tournaments. If I’m not on the mat, I’m usually in the weight room, swimming, or out for a run.
I also enjoy the ecosphere that I help to preserve. Fishing, hiking, and camping are all favorite pastimes of mine. If I have any time left, you’ll see me crack the cover on a science or history book.