Future Research

Building on my existing research, I will continue working on topics related to different interpretations of “nature” in the context of environmental conservation, public and scientific understanding of environmental problems, expert-lay dynamics and the social impacts of GIS in community-based natural resource management, and social aspects of ecological restoration.  Specifically, I plan to pursue the following research projects in the near future:

  • Citizen Scientists and Participatory Natural Resource Management

The involvement of citizens in natural resource management has gained its popularity in the recent decades, especially in the realm of citizen-based monitoring projects.  Many projects, nevertheless, often treat citizens as data providers with little attention to citizens’ local knowledge and sense of stewardship.  Through intensive case studies, I aim to explore volunteer citizen scientists’ motivations for involvement, their participation experience, their knowledge of local ecology, and means to better integrate volunteers’ feedback into natural resource management projects.

  • Comparative Environmental Discourses and Practices between Experts and Laypeople

The discrepancy in environmental discourses between experts and laypeople creates tensions between the two groups.  Moreover, different interpretations of nature also have influences on how people interact with the environment in practice.  Expanding on my dissertation, I aim to survey a broader population of environmental management professionals and the general public to examine both commonalities and discrepancies in their environmental discourses and practices.  With understanding of different social groups’ perspectives on resource use and environmental management, better means for collaboration could be fostered.

  • Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and its Application to Natural Resource Management

With the advances in internet technology and the increasing number of users, spatial data is being produced and shared by the general public all the time.  Internet-based GIS becomes a new interface on which general citizens interact with professionals.  Many citizen scientist projects now incorporate VGI into their outreach programs.  I am interested in exploring the application of VGI to natural resource management and the role of technology in mediating the power dynamics between experts and laypeople.