While obtaining his bachelor’s degree in conservation biology, Ryan took multiple trips to South America, where he stayed with rural communities in the Amazon region. Working with those communities on sustainable development projects, he came to realize that he loved working with people and understanding their diverse cultures and perspectives. Continuously trying to tie these interests in with conservation, things clicked when he discovered social science.
Ryan’s master’s program in Conservation Leadership at Colorado State University (CSU) trained social scientists to work collaboratively with professionals and the public in addressing complex conservation issues. Receiving a PhD in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at CSU, his dissertation fieldwork focused on assessing the role of scientific evidence in collaborative approaches to water and wildfire management throughout the Intermountain West. For Ryan, understanding stakeholder beliefs around phenomena occurring in the natural world is critical to ensuring successful conservation work. He says that having that human element helps us to better understand the issues holistically and ensure the success of these programs in the long run.
Prior to joining PLJV, Ryan worked as a social science project manager in the Human Dimensions Branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) overseeing the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Survey. When he’s not collecting data to understand what drives action, Ryan can be found working on writing his first fiction novel.