The first man who fenced a piece of land and claimed “it is mine,” is believed to be the true founder of civil society. Since then, history has extended the use of fencing vastly and variedly across the world. The dual purposes of this invention, to fence in desirable resources and/or to fence out intruders or disturbance, has been applied to land, animals, and our own species as humans. Although fences are usually constructed with a defined purpose, they are likely to bring about unintended consequences: people, animals, and land interact with each other in such profound ways that dividing one from another should inevitably induce impacts on the actors and the interactive processes among them. Recent humanitarian and environmental crises (e.g. the refugee crisis, rapid biodiversity and habitat loss) have further heated up the issue of borders and fences. People started to realize every fence-in has an equal fence-out orthogonal to it.
My experience growing up in China and working on the Tibetan plateau result in my interests in fences. My dissertation research attempts to connect fencing with land practices (the social aspect) and pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) movement (the ecological aspects) in Wyoming, USA. I utilize geospatial techniques and ecological modeling to integrate multi-scalar, multi-dimensional information from satellite and unmanned aerial images, GPS tracking data, and in situ surveys. My long-term goal is to offer evidence-based information on the social and ecological impacts of barriers (borders/fences), and to eventually inform and promote interdisciplinary and context-based conservation practices on marginal land and communities (e.g. pastoralists/ranchers on rangelands).
Science can break fences, so as storytelling. I try to display science narratives through a camera lens. I am currently working on a video series, the WONDERER Project, to showcase the diversity, fun, and beauty in science. This project is produced by graduate students and points spotlight on our own young scientists' community. More information can be found on my website.