Question. If a small town with a 100-year history of oil drilling is suddenly surrounded by wind turbine construction, will they like 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 think 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.
Through the ShorePower Project at the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College, I strive to understand how energy generation, energy efficiency, and the effects of climate change are affecting people in Maryland. I lead a team that helps cities and towns understand how much energy they are using, how much it is costing them, and assists them in projects to lower financial costs and environmental impact. We are particularly interested in working with smaller towns that are often overlooked, but have a strong desire to lead on climate action.
I also work to advance climate action through my writing, speaking, and work with regional and state climate change groups including the Maryland Commission on Climate Change and the Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership. Through these groups I work to engage residents through efforts like social media campaigns and direct outreach. I also help provide resources for community groups, like churches and schools, to spread the word about the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change.
I have had columns published in the Baltimore Sun, the Annapolis Capital Gazette, the Salisbury Daily Times, and the Oklahoma Observer. 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.
Separately, I’ve also helped spearhead efforts to increase electric car charging infrastructure on Washington College’s campus as well lead programs to teach students about common forms of energy waste.
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. I volunteer with the Boy Scouts to help youth develop an understanding of our environment and themselves. If I have any time left, you’ll see me crack the cover on a science or history book.