Lauren Josephs was awarded the Provost’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors Award in December 2014.
In her application, Josephs wrote about, “Assessing stakeholder attitudes towards coastal landscape management.” Josephs’ mentors are Professors Steven Scyphers and Jonathan Grabowski.
Here is a portion of what she submitted for the award about her research:
“Healthy shorelines exist as one of our strongest defenses to coastal hazards and provide numerous ecosystem services for human societies. However, a combination of anthropogenic and environmental stressors continues to impact coastal ecosystems, and many of these services are attenuating as a result. Coastal degradation is particularly severe in heavily populated coastal communities where waterfront homeowners exhibit a disproportionate effect on the health of coastal ecosystems.
As an undergraduate at Northeastern, I am conducting research with Steven Scyphers and Jonathan Grabowski investigating how the beliefs and values of waterfront homeowners influence their environmental attitudes and actions. As a co-op student working at the Marine Science Center during the Fall 2014 semester, I analyzed survey data on homeowner definitions of coastal sustainability as well as values portrayed through memories of the coastal ecosystem, and conducted in-person follow-up interviews with survey respondents in coastal Rhode Island, Florida and Alabama. I also helped expand an existing network of engaged coastal homeowners to increase communication and encourage environmental stewardship.
Funding from the Provost’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors Award will take me to a new study system characterized by greater social and economic diversity to gain a better understanding of the perspectives of residents who may be most vulnerable to a changing climate and degraded coastline. Specifically, I will investigate how social connectedness or economic dependence on local ecosystems may contribute to differences among homeowner perspectives and their willingness to support policy measures and make property decisions that protect the coastal environment. Furthermore, I will connect in person with homeowners and other local stakeholders to develop the trust necessary to successfully conduct this research. The Provost’s Award will also afford me the opportunity to share the results from my current and past projects with the scientific community at a national conference, which will contribute greatly to my development as a scientist.”