My work is motivated by a desire to put a human face on development, illuminating how policies and regulations have uneven impacts on particular communities. By analyzing the relationships between state and non-state actors, such as firms, workers, and activist groups, in situations of unequal power, I uncover and theorize the diverse ways in which communities show resilience and agency. My research agenda brings together perspectives from the political economy of agriculture, environmental sociology, and community & international development to help us understand how the dynamic relationships between the state, transnational firms, civil society, and the biophysical environment shape development and environmental outcomes.
As a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, I am working on three main projects in the area of sustainable community development and environmental governance. First, as part of a multidisciplinary team, I am conducting case studies and interviews across the Midwest for a project designed to improve the adoption of and access to new agricultural technologies. This project will culminate in peer-reviewed publications that identify best practices in technology transfer in agricultural projects from Land Grant Universities to local farmers. Additional publications and policy briefs will identify some of the barriers that academics, extension agents, and farmers face throughout this process, offering suggestions for policy interventions to mediate those challenges.
Second, I am developing projects in collaboration with several of our partners in Midwest Land Grant Universities to conduct research and outreach on water quality issues in rural agricultural areas. Finally, I am working with academics and extension agents in places where fracking has changed the economic sustainability and social dynamics in local communities. Through community-based research, case studies, and policy analysis, we are developing strategies for communities to better manage the impacts of these boom and bust cycles with a focus on the long-term economic sustainability of the community. This work will be disseminated via peer-reviewed publications, but also through educational materials co-developed with extension educators to be used in workshops with local authorities and community leaders for community planning and development purposes.