Staff Profile

Staff Profile: Sarah Inman

Sarah Inman

We are excited to welcome Sarah Inman to our team!

Sarah is a PhD Candidate in the Human Centered Design and Engineering Department here at the University of Washington. Sarah’s work at COASST is focused on what COASSTers get out of participating in our program, and what the process of participation looks like. She is picking up the social science torch from Yurong He, who recently began work at Microsoft. Sarah is interested in understanding the relationship between attachment to place (for example, a beach) and critical thinking. Her PhD work is centered on the State of Alaska’s Salmon and People project where she has explored how scientists involve local citizens in research, how long-term monitoring impacts ecological science, and how the issues of scale challenge the design of data infrastructure.

Long-time COASSTers may remember a project led by then-graduate student Ben Haywood where he interviewed many of you about your experiences in the program. Ben found a few themes among your experiences, including a strong attachment to your beaches, personal meaning and value in participating in a program connected to many other people, as well as evidence of learning. Ben is now faculty at Furman University, and collaborating on this new project with Sarah and the rest of the COASST team. 

Sarah Inman in Alaska

These studies help us do something that not all citizen science organizations are able to do: use social science research to better understand ourselves. There are a lot of good reasons to do this (including contributing to the body of academic knowledge about the practice of citizen science) but our primary driving force is always to figure out how to be the best program we can be – for the experience of participants and science outcomes. We also want what we learn about COASST to provide insights to other projects with similar goals.

As part of this effort, Sarah will eventually conduct ‘think-aloud’ and ‘task walk-through’ interviews (remotely) with additional teams of COASSTers. Look for more announcements about her project! We will be reaching out with more information soon to find folks who are interested in participating.

2 thoughts on “Staff Profile: Sarah Inman

    1. Great questions Sherrill! He did publish in the academic journal Conservation Biology in an article titled Place‐based and data‐rich citizen science as a precursor for conservation action. Thanks for participating!
      Here’s an excerpt of findings from the abstract:
      “We found that participation in rigorous citizen science was associated with significant increases in participant knowledge and skills; a greater connection to place and, secondarily, to community; and an increasing awareness of the relative impact of anthropogenic activities on local ecosystems specifically through increasing scientific understanding of the ecosystem and factors affecting it. Our results suggest that a place‐based, data‐rich experience linked explicitly to local, regional, and global issues can lead to measurable change in individual and collective action, expressed in our case study principally through participation in citizen science and community action and communication of program results to personal acquaintances and elected officials. We propose the following tenets of conservation literacy based on emergent themes and the connections between them explicit in our data: place‐based learning creates personal meaning making; individual experience nested within collective (i.e., program‐wide) experience facilitates an understanding of the ecosystem process and function at local and regional scales; and science‐based meaning making creates informed concern (i.e., the ability to discern both natural and anthropogenic forcing), which allows individuals to develop a personalized prioritization schema and engage in conservation action.”

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