One of the most pressing challenges that urban ecology is to face, yet uniquely equipped to tackle, is inclusivity: both access to, as well as participation in, cutting-edge science. However, many of us are not professionally trained in socio-cultural theory, and the lack of shared cultural experiences can sometimes act as an obstacle to community engagement. Deconstructing this barrier requires that we integrate diverse voices into the scientific narrative of cities, both in the broader community and within our own scientific community. In his talk, Dr. Christopher Schell will discuss how ecological and evolutionary processes are fundamentally intertwined with human societies, and how transdisciplinary integration of human and natural systems is an organic pathway to achieve inclusivity and sustainability in the natural sciences. Moreover, he will intentionally pinpoint the emergent synergies among socio-cultural principles and urban ecology to highlight the role of human structures in shaping nature. Through this interdisciplinary exercise, he hopes to highlight a framework in the service of bolstering authentic and inclusive community engagement.
About Dr. Chris Schell:
Dr. Chris Schell is an urban ecologist whose research integrates evolutionary theory with ecological application to disentangle the processes accentuating human-carnivore conflict. Specifically, Chris’ interests lie in understanding the physiological mechanisms and anthropogenic drivers that bolster may contribute to fearless behavior in urban carnivores. His research is uniquely tied to the community: urban ecology is inherently a synergy of anthropogenic forces and natural processes. Hence, he often works closely with nondominant communities (e.g. ethnic and racial minorities), wildlife managers, cultural institutions, and philanthropic organizations to help foster mutually enriching relationships among people and wildlife. Concurrently, he strives to increase representation and affect positive change in STEM.
Chris received his B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University (2009) and his masters and Ph.D in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago (2015). Since joining the faculty in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Tacoma (2018), Chris has launched the Grit City Carnivore Project, a research collaborative among the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Metro Parks Tacoma to uncovering the patterns and processes by which wildlife are adapting to cities. Together with his collaborators, Chris works to connect local and national communities with wildlife while simultaneously working to uncover the mechanisms that drive urban adaptation in wildlife.