Researcher Spotlight – Kathryn Jewell

2020-21 Global Change Fellow

Masters Student, Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology – Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources
Advisor:
Dr. Nils Peterson

Every year the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center funds a multi-disciplinary cohort of Global Change Fellows representing colleges across NC State University. Here are some highlights about 2020-21 Fellow, Kathryn Jewell, and the applied research she’s conducting.

What do you study?
At a broad scale, I study human dimensions. Specifically, I am interested in what others’ perspectives are in terms of wildlife conservation and climate change. My thesis is focused around these perspectives, specifically from wildlife agency decision makers. They are in a unique position because they accomplish wildlife conservation goals through maintaining their agencies.

What is your dream job?
I’ve had a lot of dream jobs in my life, and I still bounce around between two. I do enjoy research, so being a professor and being a researcher as well as sharing my love of the human dimensions field would be very fulfilling. However, I also find working for a state or federal agency as a social scientist would be wonderful, as well. I’m graduating in May – so the prospect of what’s coming next is very exciting!

What results are you finding?
I’m still working through some data analysis, but my research is showing that in the last thirty years and into today, decision makers are focused on a decline of agency relevancy and a lack of funding. This might seem odd at first glance, but when you think about it, by having fully-funded and staffed wildlife agencies, biologists and managers have an easier job at working towards wildlife conservation. It’s also no surprise that historical numbers of hunters and anglers is declining, but by boosting the sport, the agency is selling more licenses, thus generating more revenue.

Who will benefit from your research?
Selfishly, everyone involved in wildlife conservation! Decision makers are a population of people involved in conservation who are not studied very often. Understanding what they think will allow for more multi-stakeholder collaboration on numerous fronts, such as imperiled and invasive species. Collaboration is an excellent way to manage for wildlife conservation, as wildlife do not respect property, political, or geographic boundaries.

How do you expect the SE CASC Global Change Fellows Program to impact you and your work?
I’ve been a Fellow for a few months now, and the program has already opened so many doors. The platform we are given to learn more about climate research and share our own research is very unique. I’m meeting and interacting with people from NC State’s campus and beyond that I would not have otherwise.

What advice would you give to an incoming Global Change Fellow to get the most out of their experience?
Say yes to everything! This experience really is what you make it – you can meet and be involved as much as you want to be. The more engaged and involved you are, the more you’ll get out of the experience. In being a Fellow, you are given so many potential opportunities, and it really does help advance your career.