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Eight Questions with GE3LS Researchers – Dr. Shannon Hagerman


Shannon Hagerman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia

  1. Where did you grow up?
    • My parents lived on opposite ends of the country, so I spent my summers canoeing in Eastern Canada and the school year on the West Coast in Vancouver, BC.
  2. Apart from your present one, what’s the best job you ever had?
    • Any job outdoors. I planted trees for three seasons during my undergrad. Despite the mozzies, the mud, and the snow in June, I loved it.
  3. What’s your academic/research background? How did it lead you to GE3LS research?
    • I’ve always loved being in the forest and thinking in terms of connected systems. I did my BSc in environmental science (with a mid-degree hiatus to travel across Africa) and then a MSc in forest ecology. My MSc fieldwork was in the beautiful Monashee range and when the opportunity arose to continue to work in the region after my degree—at what is now UBC-Okanagan—I jumped at it. I enjoyed this work (including as a Registered Professional Biologist) for a few years, but ultimately craved answers to different questions. I wanted to better understand not only connections within forest ecology, but the broader science-policy-management interactions relating to forests. Among other things, my PhD and current work addresses policy and management issues relating to the perception and governance of risks associated with novel management interventions in conservation and resource management—including genomic interventions in forests. I guess my path to GE3LS research is best described as a winding one but looking back, it makes sense. Side-note to aspiring student researchers: embrace your unique journey, especially each winding offshoot. There are as many pathways to research as there are aspiring researchers!
  4. How would you describe your research to a group of Canadian students? Why is your work important to them?
    • All members of society have a stake in new technological innovations that may alter ecological and social systems. The work we do in our GE3LS team (which I co-lead Dr. Rob Kozak) investigates how different interventions for managing public forests in light of climate change are perceived by different groups including the types of actions supported or rejected and why. Ultimately, our work aims to enhance the governance of novel risks (how decisions are made and the types of knowledge considered) by providing opportunities for the exchange of ideas and knowledge between publics, stakeholders and scientists.
  5. What kind of response has there been to your research? What impact have you seen?
    • There are so many ways to think about impact. I think about the incredibly talented undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral trainees who are supported by and contribute to our GE3LS research. I think about the insights into public and stakeholder perceptions of risk and support that we have been able to generate and share with our forestry end-users. And I think about the new corners of knowledge about how people make decisions about novel risks in a rapidly changing world that our work is shedding light on.
  6. What’s the most unusual or unexpected thing about your work as a GE3LS researcher?
    • Not sure if it is unusual or unexpected exactly, but one of the most rewarding aspects of being a GE3LS researcher is the opportunity for strong interdisciplinary collaboration that it has enabled. In my experience within the CoAdapTree project (led by Dr. Sally Aitken), this collaboration has been multi-sited. By this I mean that interdisciplinary knowledge exchange occurs within our GE3LS team, between the GE3LS and the genomics researchers, and between the GE3LS team and end-users. These collaborations have generated new and sometimes unexpected insights for understanding the potential social-ecological transformations implicated by genomic technologies.
  7. What do you think is the biggest issue facing genomics in the next decade?
    • Speaking as an interdisciplinary social scientist, two issues come to mind. The first boils down to the need to continue to expand the range of social science and humanities insights applied to genomics to better understand plural values, contested knowledge, equity and the trade-offs that flow from emerging technologies. A second issue revolves around the ongoing need to deepen respectful engagement with Indigenous communities in ways that foster reciprocity and respond to community-driven questions and issues of concern. In a nutshell, both issues revolve around the question of how best can we continue to bring more voices, worldviews and types of knowledge to the table?
  8. Finally, we’re all going out later for karaoke. What song do you sing and why?
    • I grew up in the 70 and 80’s. So, Blondie, Heart of Glass.

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