My dissertation examines expert-laypeople relationship in ecological restoration and discusses how interpretations of nature and science complicate the different imaginaries of restoration across actor groups. Adapting a comparative case-study approach to explore the dynamics of public participation in Madison, Wisconsin and Ann Arbor, Michigan, my case studies reveals some tensions between “experts” and “lay” volunteers, particularly on issues of the role of humans in restoration processes and the question of who has the legitimate knowledge with regard to restoration. Engaging perspectives from Political Ecology and Science and Technology Studies, my dissertation explores how ecological restoration is interpreted and practiced by different actor groups and examines the power dynamics manifested through these expert-lay encounters.
My thesis adapts a combined method of urban gradient analysis and landscape metrics to analyze the changes of landscape pattern in Dane County, Wisconsin, in response to urbanization from 1968 to 2000. Findings from metric analyses suggest that the degrees of land-use diversity and landscape fragmentation were positively related to the degree of urbanization. Furthermore, there were different patterns of residential development along the urban-rural transect. This study demonstrates the additional insights into landscape change by integrating the spatial and the temporal perspectives and by targeting the forms of residential developments.
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.