When I tell people I study Russian environmental history, I inevitably receive a two-part response: first an incredulous stare ("Russia has nature?") and then the three words—"sounds pretty depressing." But actually it isn’t. While it’s true that there is plenty of bad news to report about the Russian environment, there are a lot of bright spots as well. There are people who have worked to make sure that Russia still has old-growth forests, virgin steppe, Siberian tigers, and pristine mountain lakes. Theirs is a story that caught my interest while I was still an undergraduate student.
After graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in Russian Area Studies in 2000, I moved to Moscow and began working for an environmental journal. Over the course of the next four years, my work often sent me to nature reserves and national parks – little-known but beautiful places – where I met some fascinating rangers and on-staff scientists. Did they ever have stories to tell! So during my Fulbright year I’m hoping to gather some of these oral histories to compile a composite picture of ordinary life in Soviet nature reserves.
In my free time I can often be found indulging my love of Russian literature, drinking coffee (or stronger) with friends, or playing ultimate frisbee. After returning from Russia, I hope to pursue a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures.