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Cristy Watkins

Post Doctoral Researcher

Cristy is a social science post doctoral researcher with the Chicago Wilderness science team and the RESTORE project (Rethinking Ecological and Social Theories of Restoration Ecology).  RESTORE focuses on how decision making and planning processes influence biodiversity outcomes in Chicago's restored oak woodlands and savannas.  Cristy leads the social science research and collaborates heavily with researchers from the USDA Forest Service, UIC, DePaul University, and UIUC.

Additional Information


Ph.D Natural Resources and Environment (2009)                                                                          

Certificate in African Studies

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dissertation: Natural Resource Use in Uganda: Attitudes, Behavior and the Links in Between


M.S. Anthropology  (2002)                                                                                     

California State University, Fullerton.

Thesis: The Implications of Human Behavioral Ecology for Chimpanzee Conservation in Budongo Forest, Uganda


B.A. Anthropology, Nature and Culture (2000)                                                                                  

University of California, Davis.


Human components (experiences, values, behavior) of environmental conservation; human-nature relationship; institutional analysis and development framework; collective action, co-management; international development and poverty alleviatio.

Grants & awards

School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan

Charles Lathrop Pack Foundation Prize. Best essay on forestry-related topic  4/06,4/08

Professor Ernest A.H. Woodman Fellowship. For demonstrating an interest and ability in administration of natural resources and showing leadership in student activities 4/07

Samuel A. Graham Award. For outstanding scholarship and superior writing capability  4/07

Allen Shultz Memorial Award. Outstanding student in SNRE, in wildlife management  4/06

University of Michigan

Center for Comparative Studies Student Research Fellowship    2/08

Rackham Graduate School Graduate Student Research Grant  10/06

School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), Doctoral ResearchGrant  10/06

Rackham/Hewlett/International Institute, Research Travel Grant  11/05

SNRE, Conference Travel Grant  11/05

Rackham Graduate School, Pre-dissertation Discretionary Funds Award  1/05

SNRE, Block Need Grant 4/05

SNRE, Doctoral Pre-candidate Research Grant  9/04

Society for the Psychological Study of Social Problems Research Grant  10/06

Max Planck Institute for Human Development: LIFE Program Fellow  9/05-9/07

American Anthropology Association, Small Grant for Community-Based Environment Program, in collaboration with an organization in Uganda  11/08

City of La Habra, California

Innovative Award 6/03

Employee of the Quarter Honorable Mention 5/03

Director’s Award of Outstanding Achievement 9/02


Watkins, C., Massey, D., Brooks, J., Ross, K., and Zellner, M. (in press) Understanding the mechanisms of collective decision-making in ecological restoration: An iterative, ethnographic, agent-based approach. Ecology and Society.

Heneghan, L. et al. (2012). Lessons learned from Chicago Wilderness—Implementing and sustaining conservation management in an urban setting. Diversity 4: 74-93.

Lawrence, T. and Watkins, C. (2011). It takes more than a village: The challenges of co-management in Uganda’s fishery and forestry sectors. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology. Published Online.

Batterman, S. et al.  (2009). Sustainable Control of Water-Related Infectious Diseases:  A Review and Proposal for Interdisciplinary Health-Based Systems Research. Environmental Health Perspectives 117(7): 1023-1032.

Watkins, C. (2009). Natural Resource Use Strategies in a Forest-Adjacent Ugandan Village. Human Ecology 37(6): 723-731.

Nelson, F., et al. (2008). Preservation or Degradation? Communal Management and Ecological Change in a Southeast Michigan Forest Biodiversity and Conservation.17(11): 2757-2772

Watkins, C. (2007). Human-Chimpanzee Relationships: An Ethnoprimatological Perspective, In: Bekoff, Mark, ed. Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Interactions. London: Greenwood Press.

Watkins, C. (2006). Local Ecological Perceptions of Chimpanzees and Forest Resources: A Case Study Near Budongo Forest, Uganda. In: Nicholas E. Newton-Fisher, Hugh Notman, James D. Paterson and Vernon Reynolds, eds. Primates of the Forests of Western Uganda. London: Kluwer.



Watkins, C. and Westphal, L.M. (in progress) Applying the IAD framework and ADICO syntax to ethnographic data: A how-to guide.

Watkins, C. and Westphal, L.M. (in progress) Institutional statement diversity in ecological restoration in the Chicago Wilderness: An application of the IAD framework and ADICO syntax

Westphal, L.M. and Watkins, C. (in progress) Sanctions from the land.

Watkins, C. et al. (in progress) What a difference a dollar makes: The role of contact and monetary incentives in increasing survey response rates. To be submitted to Society and Natural Resources.

Westphal, L.M., et al. (in progress) The RESTORE Project: An interdisciplinary study of urban ecological restoration in the Chicago Wilderness. U.S. Forest Service General Technical Report.

Badiane, K., Watkins, C., and Agrawal, A. (in progress). Decoupling Discourse and Actions: A Case Study of Environmental Protection Agency Climate Leaders’ Participants. To be submitted to Business and Society.


Watkins C. and Gobster, P. (2011) RESTORE Project Resident Survey: Drop-Off/Pick-Up Method Implementation Manual


Work experience

Graduate Student Research Assistant (2006-2008) Ruthven Museum, University of Michigan, Herpetology Division and Ornithology Division; Tagged, catalogued, maintained collection specimens; updated collection catalogs using FoxPro, Filemaker Pro, andSpecify.

Outreach and Program Coordinator (1/02- 7/04) The Children’s Museum at La Habra, California; Coordinated and implemented science outreach program for low-income elementary schools in several counties. Responsibilities included creating teacher curriculum guide, conducting interactive classroom presentations, maintaining correspondence with schools, and keeping track of science-kit rentals; Developed and lead educational programs for the general museum public and at community events; Managed $180,000 program budget; Wrote program progress reports and donation solicitation letters; Event planning responsibilities included managing budget and supplies, organizing volunteers, publicizing events, and various A/V or other equipment logistics; Supervised 2-3 employees and 3-6 volunteers during weekend museum hours; Community liaison

Gallery Interpreter and Animal Care Technician  (1/01-1/02) Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California; Created and implemented education programs and museum tours; captive animal care.