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A Closer Look at Resiliency of Missouri State Parks

November 18, 2014

Two University of Missouri (MU) researchers on the Missouri Transect Community Team, Dr. Sonja Wilhelm Stanis and Dr. Mark Morgan, are using their expertise in the human dimensions of natural resource management to study the impacts of climate change and natural disasters in Missouri state parks. The research group also includes two Ph.D. students and an M.S. student in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources graduate program, Lisa Groshong, Ojetunde Ojewola, and Yun Ho and one M.S. student in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism graduate program, Hongchao Zhang.

Dr. Wilhelm Stanis graduated with her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and is an Associate Professor in the School of Natural Resources’ Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Her research focuses on the social-psychological aspects of outdoor recreation and resource management. In particular, her work examines factors that facilitate and constrain outdoor recreation.

Dr. Morgan received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M and is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. In 2010, he was selected to be a Fulbright scholar and spent a semester of teaching and research at Vietnam National University – Hanoi. His research focuses on natural resources, specifically “policy, visitor behavior, and communications.” He has expertise in outdoor recreation management.

This research group aims to assess the resiliency of Missouri state parks in relation to the impacts of climate change on visitation and management. Initially their team will use historical data to map the frequency of events linked to climate change (e.g., floods, droughts, extreme temperatures, insect-borne diseases, fires) that may impact visitation and management priorities. Additionally, they will conduct interviews and surveys with park visitors, park managers and employees to gain a better understanding of preparation for and recovery from natural disasters and climate change impacts.