Melissa A. Checker

2002 Spicer Winner

spicer_checker.jpgMelissa Checker is a doctoral candidate in cultural anthropology at New York University. She conducted her dissertation fieldwork with a group of African American environmental justice activists in Augusta, Georgia. Her areas of interest are environmental justice, race, ethnicity and class in the U.S., social movements, and urban anthropology. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida where she is finishing her dissertation.

 

Sarah M. Otterstrom

2002 Spicer Winner

spicer_sarahotterstrom.jpgSarah M. Otterstrom is a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology at the University of California, Davis. Her dissertation research focuses on the cultural and ecological role of fire in the tropical dry forest ecosystems of Nicaragua. In part, her research investigates the knowledge and perception of fire within rural communities and fire use in subsistence activities. As part of her fieldwork, she carried out training workshops with local people to increase fire safety and reduce wildfire risk. Currently, she is very active with conservation initiatives at her field site in the Chococente Wildlife Refuge, Nicaragua. She is working with private landowners to establish a non-profit organization whose role will be to manage and protect forests, while allowing local people to have sustainable access to biodiversity resources (i.e. firewood, medicinal plants). The protected land will form part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. She also supports regional conservation actions through her leadership within the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, an organization composed primarily of students from Central American nations. Sarah has nearly 10 years of experience in Central America where she hopes to continue working in conservation and rural development.