Kathleen is a French and U.S. citizen with a Dutch last name, who speaks Spanish with a Chilean accent while living and working in Catalunya. Throughout her career she’s been a perpetual agroecology student, from her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley to her master’s degree in Andalucía, and also as a farm laborer. She has acted as an environmental educator in California and Barcelona, working with participatory methods and youth empowerment. She’s been an agroecology research assistant in Chile and focused her Master’s thesis on climate resilience in California: Narratives from agroecological and indigenous landscapes. Mixing these ingredients of life experience and interests, this creates a person and a project inspired by “transdisciplinarity” and addressing challenges from a systems approach.
In the PyroLife project, she will focus on how trandisciplinary research and approaches can stimulate fire resilient landscapes. To do this, she will assess the relationships between water and fire, applying lessons from Wageningen University’s “Water Apps” integrative and adaptive water management approach. This toolkit may be tailored to involve local communities in wildfire adaptation, reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience in the face of fire.
Meanwhile, interactive workshops and focus group discussions will take place in rural communities with committed and older citizens, mapping vulnerability as a function of socioeconomic and environmental perspectives. In suburban settings, she will test more modern and interactive communication tools (such as the “Water Apps”), assessing their potential to inform people of fire risk and motivate various adaptation strategies.
This project requires much explorative teamwork. First, she is delighted to work with the Pau Costa Foundation in Catalunya, while collaborating closely with ESRs at the Open University of Catalonia. Further research will take place at Wageningen University, along with the SCION research group in New Zealand, focusing on community and indigenous resilience to wildfire.
Working with Pyrolife is an exciting opportunity to grow with 14 ESRs as we create a new network of fire researchers. We are receiving exceptional guidance from fire practitioners, community advocates and international academics, forming long lasting relationships. We will undergo professional development and support the goal of Living With Fire at an international level in science, communication and policy.
Kathleen looks forward to an increased agility and legitimacy in participatory research, while advocating for the communities and landscapes around her. Urgently needed change on the ground and in research is needed right away to confront the climate crisis, and PyroLife is working to fulfill that role through a needed lens that centers diversity and transdisciplinarity.
Aside from this project, you’ll find Kathleen deep in the mountains backpacking, whistling, rejoicing in simple food and the abundance of our (socio)ecosystems.