I’m a behavioral scientist working on applying social scientific insights to environmental dilemmas, working primarily with quantitative research methods. My research spans interdisciplinary and international boundaries, drawing on insights from psychology, political science, communications, geography, and experimental philosophy, among others, and utilizing data collected from the continental U.S., Alaska, Chile, Argentina, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

In addition to my primary research, I have served as a consultant and project evaluator for news organizations (e.g., PBS Newshour, KQED Science, The Guardian, Huffington Post), international organizations and advocacy groups (e.g., the International Energy Agency, The Nature Conservancy), and energy utilities (e.g., Pacific Gas & Electric), among others.

I hold a PhD in the Psychology of Peace and Violence from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where I studied primarily with Brian Lickel in Psychology and Ezra Markowitz in Environmental Conservation.

Currently, I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and a research fellow in the Yale Law School. I concurrently hold a position as a research scientist for the See Change Institute.

A pdf copy of my CV can be accessed here.

Current Focal Research Areas

Community Resilience to Environmental Hazards

Understanding how to enhance resilience in the face of pressing environmental hazards is an important component of promoting effective responses to such hazards. In collaboration with several research teams in the U.S. and Chile, I am working on developing theoretical frameworks and quantitative models of community resilience, drawing on theory from psychology, sociology, and geography, as well as research on indigenous and non-indigenous relations.

To date, this work has involved developing a theoretical approach to the study of resilience, investigating measurement models of resilience in Chile and the United States, and exploring how attachment to place influences life satisfaction and policy attitudes among indigenous and non-indigenous populations. Primary collaborators on this research include Brian Lickel, Roberto Gonzalez, Ezra Markowitz, Susan Clayton, Linda Silka, and Carlie Trott.

Measuring Climate Change Attitudes and Knowledge, and Exploring the Pervasive Influence of Ideology

There is much dispute over how to most effectively measure and understand public attitudes and knowledge about climate change. The pervasive influence of political ideology and other cultural worldviews has presented a dilemma not just for motivating public action on issues of climate and environment, but also for estimating the true underlying relationship between knowledge of such issues and support for policy action.

Work in this domain has include examining public reactions to natural disasters linked with climate change, visual imagery used to depict climate change, and the influence of worldviews on climate change attitudes and knowledge. Primary collaborators on past research in this domain have include Brian Lickel, Ezra Markowitz, and Adam Corner.

In an ongoing set of projects, I am collaborating with Dan Kahan on disentangling the relationship between political beliefs and knowledge in order to validate accurate measures of climate science literacy. In addition, Dan Kahan, Matt Motta, Kathryn Haglin, Dominic Stecula, and I are conducting research demonstrating how critical choices in the wording of climate change opinion measures can markedly influence public polling estimates of climate change belief in the United States.

Science Curiosity

The potential role of science curiosity as a motivator of increased science literacy and public support for scientific research and funding has received increased attention from scholars in psychology and science communication in recent years. While dating back at least as far as the philosophical developments of William James and John Dewey, empirical research on the subject often has suffered from shortcomings in measurement and interpretation. In collaboration with Dan Kahan, Matt Motta, and Kathryn Haglin, we are conducting research on validating measures of science curiosity, examining their functional relationship with other cognitive dimensions (e.g., cognitive reflection, science intelligence), and examining how to both foster and harness the positive benefits of a science curious population.