FEATURE SERIES IV: Field Research on climate change adaptation in coastal communities: An Interview with Miriah Russo-Kelly, Oregon State University (OSU) PhD student
Miriah was recently interviewed by OSU's Marketing online publication, Terra about her involvement in the UN's Climate Change Meetings in Cancun in 2010. This interview is about her current research in US coastal communities. She also works for Oregon Sea Grant on education, outreach and engagement projects. She is a trained mediator and facilitator, as well as an educator who enjoys working with local community members, non-profit and governmental organizations, as well as undergraduate and graduate students.
With her field work recently completed, she is now working toward completing her degree requirements. I asked if she'd take a minute to share her experiences in the field with me.
JCV: Your work is climate change adaptation in the Coos Bay region of Oregon and the Saco Bay region of Maine. Some of what you look at relates to water resources. Can you please tell me a bit about what you are researching and what aspect of water resources you are working with?
JCV: The fieldwork component of your research has taken you to different field destinations. Can you please share a bit about the logistics of how you reach and stay in your field site?
I would say that the biggest challenge “getting” to these places physically really arose out of my inability to secure consistent funding for my project. I ended up piecing together funds and self-funding to be able to get to the places I needed to go to investigate my research interests. The other challenge was “getting there” mentally. I first had to identify case studies that fit my criteria and then get them to agree to let me research them. This was very time consuming and required a long-term commitment to building relationships with participants.
JCV: Has anything interesting come up with your equipment or support team?
JCV: That is timely, and pretty typical of field work - things either go remarkably well, or horribly wrong... What have been the biggest challenges with your fieldwork?
JCV: What is the best thing that happened?
JCV: What is the funniest thing that happened?
I am not sure how the fact that I am a younger female affected my study. If anything I would say that I have been called "affable" by some and I think having a warm and open demeanor helped me, which may be a result of my femininity. Otherwise I think it didn't really affect the project overall. I think my being a social scientist affected the project more than my being a woman.
Did being a woman have any impact on your research in these rural communities in Oregon and Maine?
JCV: Have you experienced a moment of enlightenment or realization while in the field? How did that happen and did it lead to changes in your research design?
Miriah, thanks so much for taking the time to share your field work & research experience. I wish you heaps of luck with the next phase of analyzing and writing. I look forward to hearing more about your next plans with your work timely and relevant work. Great practical application - something highlighted in OSU-based research.