Melanie McDermott is a research assistant professor in the Human Ecology department and the associate director of the Rutgers Initiative on Climate and Society. With degrees in interdisciplinary social science (B.A., Harvard; Ph.D., Berkeley) and forestry (M.Sc. Oxford), she has over 20 years’ experience in the U.S., Asia, Southern Africa, and the Caribbean in research, policy analysis, and consulting. Her work has pursued a number of related themes:the social impacts of climate change mitigation and adaptation;the political ecology of natural resource management, with an emphasis on community forestry; indigenous land rights; gender; non-timber forest products and agroforestry; sprawl, green spaces, and urban forestry;and environmental risk communication. A focus on social equity crosscuts this diverse field. At a more theoretical level, she investigates how the causes and consequences of peoples’ resource-use practices are shaped by environmental factors and social relations of power, difference and identity operating across multiple scales.
Much of McDermott’s work has been conducted using participatory methods and in close collaboration with NGOs and community-based organizations. Results have been geared at and disseminated to audiences not only in academia,but also including policy-makers, NGOs, community-based partners, and the general public.
Her current grant-funded research includes:Safeguarding local equity as global values of ecosystem services rise (Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation programme, UK) and Economic Vulnerability to Climate Change on the Jersey Shore: Promoting Adaptation, Resilience and Sustainability in Coastal New Jersey (New Jersey Sea Grant).