Member since: May 2, 2012
I am a graduate of Stanford University (B.A. Philosophy, B.S. Biology) and U Hawaii-Hilo (M.S. Biology) and I am currently pursuing a PhD at U California-Santa Cruz studying the ecological processes that underlie the regeneration of soil fertility during the fallow period in tropical agricultural ecosystems. By looking across a gradient of human induced stress, which correlates with reduced fallow lengths, and along a "chronosequence" of fallow ages I am hoping to identify 1) how these agricultural ecosystems function at a sustainable level, particularly the processes by which soil fertility is restored, and 2) how they ecologically break down under intensification. The upshot of this research will be to inform the development of improved fallow techniques to address the specific ecological shortcomings of the stressed systems. This research should also prove useful for restoration and conservation efforts in the tropics by identifying the ecological processes underlying the reforestation of cleared and degraded areas.
In the winter of 2011, prior to beginning my PhD program and after five years of studying tropical agriculture and ecology in rural Hawaii, I spent several months exploring the SW Pacific Ocean in search of islands that contain a full gradient of intensification from low and sustainable (proven by long continuous inhabitation) to high and unsustainable (proven by rapidly deteriorating conditions). During this time I also worked to make connections with local researchers, NGOs, and farmers, which is how I met Silas. I funded that trip myself by working multiple summers as a concrete finisher in Alaska but that funding option that is no longer available given the constraints of graduate school. If we can get this experimental school farm established I should be able to incorporate it in the funding of my PhD research due to the experimental and extension components of the design. I am also looking into starting an NGO to help independently support this and similar projects in the region.