Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Methods (page 1 of 10)

SSHRC team meetings all week

John Parkins, Carolyn Mann and Wes Tourangeau celebrate #Dal200 this week

John Parkins, Carolyn Mann and Wes Tourangeau celebrate #Dal200 this week in the Dalhousie ‘quad’

A real pleasure to have collaborators in town this week for meetings on several SSHRC-funded projects. Wednesday and Thursday we’ve been talking about what’s been achieved in the HM/sustainable grazing project 2.5 years in, and what we’ll do from here on in. John Parkins, co-applicant on that grant, has come from the University of Alberta, and Carolyn Mann, RA, from Ottawa. We’ve had collaborators Marney Isaac and Ed Bork skype in from Toronto and Edmonton, respectively. The whiteboard is no longer white, but laden with scrawled insight. Tomorrow we switch gears and talk energy.

Rangeland social science meeting

Lynn Huntsinger and Tracy Hruska at a cafe in Reno, the biggest little city in the world

Lynn Huntsinger and Tracy Hruska at a cafe in Reno, the biggest little city in the world

I am in Sparks, Nevada, at an invited meeting of rangeland social scientists (RSS) organized by Hailey Wilmer and Mark Brunson before the Society for Range Management meeting. I arrived in San Francisco late Friday to visit with Berkeley professor Lynn Huntsinger and her UNevada Geography professor husband Paul Starrs. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the harbour was stunning as the sun set, and Paul’s posole a delight. The next morning Lynn and I transected California’s many landscapes and production systems up across the snowy Sierra Nevada (and the notorious Donner Pass), with two of her Berkeley lab PhD students, Tracy Hruska and Sheila Barry.

DRI research professor Tamara Wall prepares to chair us in our RSS unconference

DRI research professor Tamara Wall prepares to chair us in our RSS unconference

Both Sheila and Tracy have led papers or chapters I really like, so it was the beginning of a day full of happy name recognition. Awaiting us at the lovely Desert Research Institute where the RSS meeting was being held: thirty more people  whose work I have enjoyed and cited since my Australian post-doc. Simply meeting them has made the trip worthwhile, and hearing kind words of appreciation in turn a bonus, particularly for my new commentary on standalone social science in rangelands. The meeting is following an un-conference format, which is new to me, but allowed for a very egalitarian agenda design, and productive discussions in small groups and together. I joined a group on community-building and integration, where those from a mix of career stages discussed the importance of an attractive career script for RSS practitioners, and how this nascent community could help. We’ll pick up some of the threads later today for day two of the un-meeting.


Culturomics on the horizon

Conservation culturomics is one of this year's emerging issues.

Conservation culturomics is one of this year’s emerging issues.

I drove in this slippery morning listening to the Smiths, turning off my car during Some Girls are Bigger Than Others. It’s still in my head, but now I’m hearing “some cites are better than others”. Earlier this week I saw that our Mactaquac ‘flocus group’ work was cited in an interesting new article by Susana Batel engaging critically with social acceptance of energy literature. Bummer, then, to see our paper reported as case work from Nevada, USA, instead of New Brunswick, Canada! Improving my mood, this morning, our culturomics commentary in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on the potential of images in culturomics was one of five cited in the ninth annual ‘horizon scan’ of emerging issues for global conservation and biological diversity in Trends in Ecology & Evolution to support the growing importance of conservation culturomics. Some citations are truly better than others.

Caitlin’s first paper

See the difference?

See the difference?

I’ve been enjoying peripheral involvement with Peter Tyedmer’s students working on pollination ecosystem services. First, Andony Melathopoulos showed how tenuous ecosystem service valuations are, using pollination services as an example. Now, Caitlin Cunningham has shown how critical it is to get local field data. The first paper out of her MES thesis uses the InVEST model to explore the carrying capacity of several Nova Scotia counties for honeybees, and shows how important it is to get boots on the ground rather than rely on proxies such as ecological land classifications and other such base spatial data infrastructure. The good news for the bee industry is coming in the next paper. Congratulations, Caitlin.

Funded MES projects for fall 2018

Students who are interested in starting a thesis-based MES in my lab starting fall 2018 should start getting in touch now. Early applicants, if high quality, can be put forward for important scholarships like the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship program: its first round closes in late November.  I am looking particularly for students interested in the social perceptions and implications of energy installations such as wind and hydroelectricity. Backgrounds in sociology, art history, cultural studies, human geography, anthropology are particularly valuable for these roles, but the most important variables are interest and motivation:

  • One project will collaborate with me on a project led by John Parkins out of the University of Alberta, exploring wind energy transitions in Alberta. This research will include engagement with social media as a research tool (e.g. this), as well as quantitative surveys and possibly landscape visualization.
  • Another project is expected to be funded from a grant proposal currently under consideration, to explore the ways that images in social media and digital archives (e.g. newspapers) can help us understand the social impacts of hydroelectricity development over time, and if such insights differ significantly from those provided by conventional social science methods like surveys and interviews. Read this paper for more information.

If you think you have a good alignment with these topics, skills and backgrounds, please get in touch.

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