OSU environmental social scientist receives EPA early career award

November 15, 2017
Kelly Biedenweg
Kelly Biedenweg

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An Oregon State University environmental social scientist has received a prestigious Environmental Protection Agency early career award to study how to plan for ecosystem restoration while simultaneously considering human well-being.

Kelly Biedenweg, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, will use her nearly $400,000 grant to work with local watershed groups in the Puget Sound ecosystem to develop restoration plans that consider both human and ecological outcomes. She was one of a handful of scientists across the country to receive the EPA grant.

“I’ve spent the last five years working with communities throughout Puget Sound to identify metrics of well-being that are associated with the ecological restoration of the sound and are important to them,” Biedenweg said.

Puget Sound is the second-largest estuary in the United States. Its water and habitat have become degraded from more than a century of human use. Biedenweg will work with the Puget Sound Partnership, a state-based agency, on its five ecosystem recovery goals for creating a resilient Puget Sound: healthy human population, vibrant quality of life, thriving species and food web, protect and restored habitat and healthy water quality.

Biedenweg’s research promises to help achieve the goals of healthy human population and vibrant quality of life. She will work with community groups to develop conceptual models and impact assessments to create healthier and more equitable livable communities in the sound.

“The watersheds in Puget Sound are so diverse,” she said. “They range from relatively pristine to Seattle and Tacoma. We can work with the people living in these watersheds to think about how they can plan for improving human well-being and ecosystem health at the same time. We’re going to be able to ask critical questions that haven’t been asked before.”

Biedenweg directs the Human Dimensions Lab in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. She holds a doctorate in human dimensions of natural resource management in addition to a master’s degree in conservation biology.

Biedenweg is also a principal investigator on a separate grant through EPA’s National Estuaries Program. As the lead social scientist for the Puget Sound Institute at the University of Washington Tacoma, she will help expand the role of social science and communications within the Puget Sound Partnership’s science program.

Author: Chris Branam
Source: Kelly Biedenweg