FRS graduate students Kevin Jablonski and Thomas Timberlake join 18 other Ph.D. students around Colorado State University as 2018-2019 Sustainability Leadership Fellows. This select group of academic researchers was chosen to further develop their interest in communicating science to media and the public.
My dissertation research focuses on larkspur, a group of native perennial plants that are toxic to cattle and present numerous challenges to sustainable grazing management in the western US. Using a complex systems based approach, we are incorporating experimental research, plant surveys, agent-based modeling, and producer knowledge to generate an adaptable new framework for grazing management in larkspur habitat. The aim of this new framework is to allow cattle to graze in larkspur habitat at any time with no deaths, thereby greatly improving producers’ ability to meet economic and ecological objectives while enabling them to move away from destructive herbicides. Additionally, I am leading a collaboration with Lion Guardians, an NGO working in the Amboseli ecosystem of Kenya, to improve understanding of lost livestock, a key driver of conflict between Maasai pastoralists and large carnivores.
Climate change compels societies to rethink their relationships with natural environments. I research how the U.S. Forest Service plans and manages for climate change adaptation. Adaptation, in this context, requires scientific information to inform management actions that are more flexible than traditional approaches. However, implementing these new approaches must also comport with existing policy requirements. Successful adaptation proves necessary for forestlands to continue to provide key resources that underpin human wellbeing, including drinking water for downstream communities and recreational opportunities. I intend for my research to support on-the-ground practices, while also contributing to an enhanced theoretical understanding of adaptation.
This annual fellowship program is sponsored by CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability, and provides specialized training in environmental communication and professional development skills over the course of a year.