I’m a forest economist; it’s like doing economics work but in the forestry setting. When I was doing my dissertation, I was looking at investment behaviors of private forest landowners. We have a lot of those in the US, and actually the majority of the forest lands here are owned by family-type land owners. I’ve always been interested in studying them because they own the majority of the forest lands here. So their decisions in how they want to manage the land will have implications in the availability of timber products.
I guess I’m more of a social scientist because I’m more into studying private landowners. They’re not like a tree; social beings are a lot more difficult to study and predict. Most of my research has been trying to predict the behavior of these land owners, but it’s not that easy.
An interesting fact that I’ve found about landowners is they are not just interested in managing for wood. People think if you have a forest you’re going to harvest logs, but even in West Virginia that’s not really the main reason for owning a forest property. It’s more about the aesthetics or wanting to pass it on to the next generation.
If you weren’t working at WVU, what’s the most likely alternative?
I would probably still end up working at another university. Both of my parents are professors; most of my siblings are also in academia. It wasn’t forced on us, but it was the way we were brought up and the environment we grew up in. I always knew, even when I was little, that’s what I was going to do - I’m going to work in a university somewhere.
Moment you knew what you wanted to study:
Moment you knew your current role was right for you:
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Favorite part of social distancing:
Not having to commute everyday to work. I live in Bridgeport, so that’s a 45-minute drive one way. I think I was more productive because I didn’t have to spend 45 minutes one way just in my car.
We got a dog last year for my daughter. It was really hard when we first got the puppy because I had to go to work. After a year, we got another puppy. Suddenly we became dog people. So that was my favorite: spending time with my daughter and being with the dogs.
Least favorite part of social distancing:I missed the students. I hadn’t seen anyone since I left last March. I was teaching online, but it’s asynchronous, so I didn’t really get to see the students even on camera.
Just for Fun
Favorite movie/TV show: Dead Poets Society
Favorite Spotify playlist/band/song: 80's, Pop
Favorite local restaurant: Provence
Favorite local activity: Traveling West Virginia