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When Michele Clark began looking into doctoral programs, she found a National Science Foundation grant that focused not only on the ecology of an area, but the human dimension of the community members living within it, as well. She found at ASU an interdisciplinary team of demographers, soil ecologists, and governance scholars, focused on invasive species research in Nepal, which inspired her to pursue a PhD in Environmental Life Sciences.
Developing nations have fewer resources to counteract invasive species, but for whom the invasion can have devastating impacts on their quality of life. Invasive plants are non-native species that are either intentionally or unintentionally introduced to an ecology, and can cause detrimental impacts to the health of people living in the area, the economy, and the surrounding environment. Invasive species are like a plant-based horror movie: nearly indestructible aliens marching across the land, causing irreparable harm. Named by the Nepali people “tree killer”, the invasive vine, mikania micrantha, has done a shocking amount of damage to jungle in the study area. From the very beginning, the research team innovated by not chasing the most statistically significant technique, but instead searching for the ones that would be most impactful for the community. They did so by involving the Nepali people in building a toolkit to help reduce this invasion. As Michele describes it, it’s more of a “technique kit”, which allows the local community members to know what to do, and how to do it…long after the research team has left.
Listen in to hear how Michele found a shared passion for community-based innovation at ASU, and how those innovations can not only inspire and support local communities, but also how research teams can, in turn, be inspired by communities, as well.
Recommended if you're interested in: Community-based research and innovation, invasive plant species, Nepal and Nepali culture, community-infused techniques and outcomes
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