IPhD Student, Communication and Journalism
Graduate Research Assistant, SSI
University of Maine
What problem/s are you working to solve?
On the Knowledge-to-Action Collaborative, we are primarily concerned with how people work together to identify and solve linked social and ecological problems. I am involved in multiple research projects that examine communication and collaboration across disciplines and community-university boundaries. In my research on knowledge action theories and practices across SSI, I am interested in knowing how faculty and graduate students work together on these interdisciplinary teams, and how these teams work with partners outside the university in their efforts to link knowledge and action.
I am also interested in the problem of how to communicate academic research to multiple audiences. In my research on science communication, I study how participatory science processes, like those used in SSI when non-scientist stakeholders become involved in science research, change knowledge, behavior, and science-related skill development. This is important because access to science information is critical for informed, democratic decision making.
What progress are you making toward solutions?
Our team has interviewed approximately 40 faculty, graduate students, and staff associated with SSI in the Knowledge-to-Action (K-A) research project. We are using these interviews to construct a questionnaire that will allow us to deepen our understanding of the approaches to team decision making, stakeholder engagement, and K-A research needs. We are also planning a K-A workshop to help SSI team members at the University of Maine and SSI partner institutions improve communication on their teams and in their work with stakeholders.
How could your findings contribute to a more sustainable future in Maine and beyond?
Our ability to work together and confront some of the most pressing problems Maine faces is critical to our ability to find solutions. We as researchers and stakeholders need to be adept at crossing multiple kinds of boundaries, including individual, interdisciplinary, and institutional.
Why did you decide to join SSI?
I worked at Lakes Environmental Association, a nonprofit watershed organization in Bridgton, Maine, for ten years prior to joining SSI. Through that experience, I learned how much a single group can contribute to sustainability. I also recognized the need for a coordinated statewide effort to link different kinds of knowledge, including place and research-based, with different kinds of action to improve our collective ability to solve problems related to forestry, water, urbanization, and climate/energy.
What’s the best part about collaborating on SSI research projects?
The best part about collaborating on SSI research projects is the opportunity to explore the world through different perspectives.
Where’s your favorite place in Maine?
My favorite place in Maine is on the edge of the White Mountain National Forest in Stow, in the far western part of the state. There is an oxbow adjacent to the Cold River and a narrow strip of forest that connects this drainage with the Bradley Brook. The oxbow, with its silty, sandy bottom and high banks, serves as a corridor between the two drainages and is a perfect place to read stories in animal tracks.
What’s your ultimate Maine experience?
My ultimate Maine experience is going to the Farmer’s Market, the library, or the transfer station on a Saturday morning and spending twice the time I expected. Moving through a community and stopping to chat with people who really care when they ask, “How are you?” always takes more time than you might expect. That’s Maine.
Mud season survival strategy
Celebrate—because it’s not yet black fly season.
What sustains you?
Walking, cooking, biking, breathing, reading, writing, tracking, skiing, laughing, being.
More information about Bridie and her SSI Team: The Knowledge-to-Action Collaborative
Advisors: Laura Lindenfeld, Linda Silka