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Hi! I'm Hannah.

I'm a rural sociologist and ethnographer who studies human dimensions of natural resources and the environment and the sociology of food and agriculture.
I use qualitative, mixed methods, and community-based participatory action research to work in tandem with community needs and interests and pursue solutions to resource management, governance, and agricultural institution concerns. Community engagement and knowledge dissemination are at the heart of my research. As such, my Extension and outreach programs emphasize ways of collectively organizing and making power-informed decisions related to agricultural, natural resource, and environmental issues.

Having been raised on a cattle ranch on the banks of the Umpqua River in southwestern Oregon, my upbringing afforded me unique insight into the challenges and opportunities for rural areas.  My background as a first-generation college student has enhanced my desire to identify, investigate, and address the issues facing communities like the one in which I grew up.

Today, I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate of Collaborative Governance and Social Marketing at Virginia Tech's Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Lab. My research to date has contextualized collective action, public participation and community resilience strategies related to agriculture, natural resources, and the environment. I founded the Female Farmer Photovoice Project, the Ag in the Basin Photovoice Project, and am a former research assistant for the Water for Agriculture project.

My dissertation research, funded by a NIFA Pre-doctoral Fellowship, used a variety of qualitative research methods and analysis techniques to explore how critical components of collaborative governance processes, like trust, incentives, legitimacy, and power, are incorporated within water governance processes in the Klamath Basin.

I examined the effects of these factors on stakeholder engagement outcomes in order to make natural resource governance more collaborative, inclusive, and equitable. 

The Klamath River Watershed (& the West 2022)

As a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Virginia Tech's Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Lab (OWML), I advanced the National Science Foundation Growing Convergence Research-funded research project, “Catalyzing Stakeholder-Driven Solutions to Inland Freshwater Salinization.” Framing freshwater salinization as a common pool resource concern, this project utilized Elinor Ostrom’s socio-ecological systems framework to examine the causes of and potential management strategies for increasing freshwater salinity in the Occoquan Reservoir, a critical drinking water source for approximately one million residents in Northern Virginia.


During my time at the OWML, I led the collection and analysis of social science data for the project and advanced our transdisciplinary convergence agenda through partnerships with local water stakeholders and the faculty, staff, and graduate students affiliated with the OWML. I used qualitative and mixed methods to (1) evaluate local perceptions of freshwater salinization syndrome and potential avenues for the collaborative management of freshwater salinization in the absence of top-down regulatory controls, (2) gage the potential for hydrological models to aid stakeholders’ management decisions about such unregulated water contaminants, and (3) lead a social marketing program to test the efficacy of strategies to reduce non-point contributions of salt to the Occoquan system. 

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