Matt is interested in how the human and the biophysical worlds interact to form complex socio-environmental systems, especially as they relate to agriculture, natural resource management, and environmental history in the Atlantic world. Ultimately, his research seeks a better understanding of how humans impact the natural environment and how, in turn, the natural world affects human thinking and behavior.
At the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), funded by an NSF grant to the University of Maryland, Matt's work examines the socio-environmental trends, drivers, and impacts of changes in agricultural terracing practices around the word. He is synthesizing data from case studies of terrace abandonment, maintenance, and new construction during the last 60 years of academic, gray, and white literature. The project expands on his dissertation work to look more globally at this important anthropogenic change to the environment and how it impacts soil and water conservation, food security, and the production of ecosystem services. He is collaborating on this project with Alexandra Ponette-González of the University of North Texas.
(right) Pressing sugarcane as part of guarapo synthesis near Trinidad, Cuba.