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USU climate science program prepares students to blend management and policy

Nancy Huntly introduces the panel speakers to the SMPE conference attendees.
Emily Calhoun
Nancy Huntly introduces the panel speakers to the SMPE conference attendees.

Utah State University's climate adaptation science program prepares graduate students to integrate science with management and policy.

Nancy Huntly, who recently retired as USU's ecology center director, has been a central part of the program since the beginning.

“Twice a year, the CAS program holds a meeting that we call a Science Management Policy Exchange," Huntly said. "They’re venues for exchange of information and ideas that involve scientists, managers, policymakers, and bring people together to put science to work in the world. “

The spring conference is held each February in the Moab Arts Center, where students get to explore and network with professionals throughout the Southwest.

“Our featured speakers at the exchange had in common collaboration with indigenous people. The ideas about how you collaborate with people who often haven't been included at the table apply much more widely," Huntly said.

Kari Norgaard, a professor of sociology from University of Oregon, spoke about her work with the Karuk tribe in Northern California and why she chooses to collaborate with this program.

“In particular, it's important for there to be applied knowledge getting out in the community and thinking about those relationships between science and policy [and] recovering narratives about survival and possibility in the future, especially in the context of climate change," Norgaard said.

For Stacia Ryder, an assistant professor in the department of sociology at USU, inclusion is the most important part of interdisciplinary meetings like this one.

“The big takeaways for me are always being really intentional and thinking about who is in the room when decisions are being made, and who might be excluded, but should be included and who is involved changes, what decisions are made and how they're made," Ryder said. "And sometimes exclusion is very intentional and sometimes it's very unintentional, but it really requires a focused effort to get that right.”

Emily Calhoun is a biology PhD student studying mosquito population genetics in Utah. She has a radio show called Panmixia where she shares her love of music. She is so excited to practice her science communication skills here at UPR.