In college, in Aaron Ellison's lab, I rather inadvertently became a spider taxonomy expert. In the decade that followed, I conducted several studies and advised many students in their own studies of arthropod food-web dynamics and biodiversity. Today I still advise students in spider research, and I ogle spiders wherever I go, but my primary scholarly interest is in science communication and social justice.
With colleagues Tim Rademacher, Taylor Jones, Flossie Chua, and Tina Grotzer, I co-manage the Witness Tree Social Media research and outreach project. This work has benefitted from a grant from the Harvard Climate Change Solutions Fund (2020-2023), vital contributions by students Shawna Greyeyes (2019) and Kyle Wyche (2018), and 2022 curriculum advisor Elisa Margarita.
With colleagues Rick Harper, Eric Griffith, and Jay Dampier, I launched a social science research project (2016 to present), analyzing the role of firewood banks in supporting fuel-poor households around the US. We also now advise a larger, policy-focused initiative with Sean Mahoney, Jessica Leahy, John Ackerly, Caroline Solomon, and leaders from the US Forest Service, to build a peer network of wood bank leaders across the private and public sector, and to ensure equitable and effective distribution of federal grants for wood bank support. Anisa Prasad (Harvard '23) has been a key collaborator in this effort, providing a much-needed update to the only known map of US wood banks.
With colleagues Danielle Ignace, Nia Holley, Meghan Graham MacLean, Rafael Viana Furer, Lehua Blalock, and Jennifer Albertine; and students Langa Siziba (Harvard '25) and Jaidyn Probst (Harvard '23), I am working to help amplify Indigenous voices in STEM and specifically to create new mechanisms for land sovereignty and rematriation, restoration of cultural lifeways, and legal self-determination for the Nipmuc here in their ancestral territory. This includes using my education and outreach platform to 1) interrupt the pervasive "extinction" narrative of Native peoples in the region; 2) re-interpret land-based research and conservation narratives in New England, which tend to center an unproblematized view of colonialism, and 3) work collaboratively with tribal leaders, land trusts, non-profits, and state agencies to create and amplify new policies and practices for tribal land access and conservation.