Dr. Abby J. Kinchy (principal investigator) is a sociologist working in the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS). She received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007 and is an associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her publications include Seeds, Science, and Struggle: The Global Politics of Transgenic Crops (MIT, 2012) and a variety of articles on science, technology, the environment, and social protest. She was drawn to the topic of Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling in 2008 when industry activity began to rapidly increase in Bradford County, PA, the place where she grew up. Prior to working on the topic of natural gas development, Kinchy’s research addressed a variety of topics, including global conflicts over genetically engineered foods, the participation of ecologists in political controversies, and the history of the atomic bomb in American politics.

Kirk Jalbert (research assistant) has a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He received his MFA in new media and his BS in computer science. Prior to this project, Jalbert led a team of RPI students in developing educational environmental sensing devices in 2010, and hosted a series of workshops on the Navajo Nation. In 2011, Jalbert accompanied a research team to conduct interviews at the EPA’s Office of Research and Development to better understand federal government research for environmental science. In addition to his work on this project, Jalbert’s current research examines social and political tensions that arise when civil society groups strive to use bigger and more complex data to support local needs for knowledge about polluting industries. He is currently the Manager of Community-Based Research & Engagement at FracTracker and a Visiting Research Professor at the Center for Science, Technology and Society at Drexel University. In January, 2016, he was appointed to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board.

Simona L. Perry (research scientist) is a social and environmental scientist actively working to document, analyze, and develop alternative dispute mechanisms addressing social and environmental conflicts emerging from economic development projects across North America.  In her work, Perry uses multiple methods to conduct case study research on environmental conflicts, including surveys, several types of interviews, participant observations, archival research, community-integrated and researcher-directed geographic information systems, and focus groups.  Her broad theoretical and practical focus is on understanding the everyday lives of individuals and communities in a rapidly changing world, sense of place phenomena in the face of globalized markets and identities, and conducting locally-informed and relevant policy analyses for a broad public audience. In 2009 Perry started a long-term ethnographic study of the social and environmental consequences of unconventional energy development in North America. More information about this project is available here.

Sarah ParksSarah Parks (GIS consultant, Amala Consulting) specializes in GIS analysis, ecosystem services valuation, grant writing, project management, capacity building and report writing for various audiences. Parks has been working as a consultant for over 7 years. Her clients have included: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Thailand,  Rensselaer Plateau Alliance (RPA), Rensselaer Land Trust (RLT),  Tech Valley Center of Gravity (TVCOG), ThinkQubator, and research groups at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). She received her PhD in Ecological Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2012, and her M.S. in Ecological Economics, Values and Policy in 2007.  In the past, she has worked for the U.S. Forest Service, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Environmental Advocates of New York, and the Vineyard Conservation Society.


Science and Technology Studies at RPI
The field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) asks fundamental questions about the role of science and technology in social and environmental change. It integrates insights from the humanities and social sciences into a coherent body of knowledge that provides a basis for action.

Founded in 1982, the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer is one of the oldest and most highly recognized programs of its sort. Our internationally recognized faculty members have backgrounds in anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, social psychology, and sociology. More information about STS at RPI can be found here.