As an environmental sociologist, I study and teach about how people make and respond to environmental change and how groups of people do or do not work out concerns about the material world. Much of my research focuses on the transformations that accompany efforts to change rural livelihoods and conserve natural resources in China. Drawing from scholarship in environmental sociology, political ecology, and coupled natural and human systems, I join social and biophysical data to understand how changing livelihoods and state-society relationships articulate with dynamic ecologies in the context of major environmental protection efforts. I am an assistant professor in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University.
In China, I have worked with ecologists to understand how people and landscapes respond to efforts at reforestation and biodiversity conservation. In a new project, our team is joining sociology, landscape ecology, and genetics to examine patterns of crop disease unfolding in smallholder, cooperative, and corporate apple orchards. I am also working with Cornell’s Community and Regional Development Institute to learn about community responses to flood risk in New York’s Hudson River estuary, and I am working with a group of conservation biologists to analyze relationships between biodiversity and socioeconomic status in urban areas.
Some recent publications: in World Development, Explaining Heterogeneous Afforestation Outcomes: How Community Officials and Households Mediate Tree Cover Change in China; in The China Quarterly, Stabilizing Forests and Communities: Accommodative Buffering within China’s Collective Forest Tenure Reform; and in Current Sociology, China’s Summons for Environmental Sociology, co-authored with Yifei Li and John Liu.