About Me

Balancing the drone before takeoff in Madre de Dios, Peru (July 2015)

Manu-Tambopata Corridor (Peru). For the next project, I travel to Peru with Wild Forests & Fauna as a field assistant during two summers where we used a conservation drone to assess habitat type and quality as well as develop a monitoring plan. During my two summers in Peru, I gained a breadth of skills including field experience in remote frontier forests, a variety of remote sensing techniques and data analysis using several different platforms. During this experience, I began to see key gaps in conservation policy development and application. To further explore conservation social science, I began a research assistantship in the Asah Conservation Psychology Lab. Here I realized that while huge strides have been made in understanding nature, little has been done to understand human relationship with—and behaviors towards—nature.

 

In 2018, she completed a bi-national Master of Science in International Nature Conservation at the University of Göttingen (Germany) and Lincoln University (New Zealand). Through this program I have taken a courses in conservation, tropical ecology, non-timber forest products and wildlife monitoring to better understand the factors influencing neo-tropical deforestation. During my master's, I interned with the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C. where I developed a practitioners' handbook for designing and implementing behavior change interventions grounded in behavior change science. 

I conducted my thesis research at the University of Illinois with Dr. Carena van Riper. My master's thesis focused on park user's preferences in Denali National Park and Preserve. We explored how individual values influence people's preferences for different features of the park to improve park management. 

After taking a bridge year to apply to PhD programs, spend time with family and cycle 1500 miles through Mexico, I began my PhD at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Dr. Lisa Naughton. I received a federal grant (the Foreign Language Area Studies fellowship) to learn Maya Yucateca which will support my research in Mexico exploring deforestation drivers among small landholders. 

As a Pacific Northwest Native and the daughter of environmental enthusiasts, my childhood filled with environmental education and global exploration. As a six-year-old, I enthusiastically named every native Salal plant, Oregon grape, & Red Cedar that I saw. Plant identification felt like my own personal treasure hunt, and I loved sharing what I learned with my family. My love of nature inspired me to attend the Environmental and Adventure School where I further learned about native species and the Seattle watershed. Then, at 13 I traveled to Venezuela and Peru where I fell in love with the lush Amazon rainforest.  The life-changing two months I spent backpacking inspired me to take a gap year after graduating from the International Baccalaureate Program, and South America was my first stop.

 

Stunned by Latin America’s natural beauty, I was devastated about the great duress that climate change exerts on the Amazon rainforest, the El Calefate glacier and the coastal regions. The verdant rainforests and diverse marine ecosystems that are in danger are not only the resources that these populations rely on for survival, but are integral to their cultural identity.


Upon returning to the States, I enrolled in a dual-degree program for a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and Resource Management as well as a B.A. in Environmental Studies at the University of Washington. I felt it was important to bridge the gap between the natural and social sciences pertaining to nature conservation, therefore, I explored the interdisciplinary aspects of environmental studies. During my time at UW, I was a research assistant for Dr. Jason Scullion in the Vogt Ecosystems Management Lab where I headed the data analysis for a project exploring the causes and potential policy solutions for gold mining in the

© 2017 by Sophia Winkler-Schor.

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