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Arika Virapongse is a social ecologist whose research interests include social-ecological systems resilience, conservation and development, livelihood systems, and human dimensions of natural resource management. Overall, Arika seeks to produce useful frameworks and information for addressing critical local to global level environmental issues through integrated, systems-based social and environmental research. She believes that participatory approaches, knowledge sharing and co-development, and streamlining the information pathway (generation to application) are key to developing new approaches for improving human livelihoods and sustainable management of natural resources.
Current work Arika’s most recent research has focused on development of social-ecological and resilience frameworks for management of natural resources and place-based community development, and scientific data to knowledge pathways for socioeconomic benefit. As a practitioner, Arika is the principal consultant and founder of Middle Path EcoSolutions, a firm that helps businesses and organizations develop, engage, and activate their community. Arika currently co-leads the Community Resilience cluster of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP). She is also the Community Director of Ronin--helping to guide the development of the Ronin Institute community, and the Human Subjects Research Chair of the Ronin Institute.
Previous work In the U.S., Arika previously worked at the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and held a post doc at the Center for Resilient Communities at University of Idaho. Arika also has more than ten years of experience in community and household level natural resource management research in Latin America and Southeast Asia. In Thailand, she worked on research associated with homegardens, local food plants, ethnobotany, traditional medicine, and forest management by smallholders. In Brazil, Arika studied non-timber forest product market value chains, natural resource access, knowledge transmission, and livelihood strategies. In the Brazilian Amazon and Panama, Arika developed and taught coursework on field techniques for collecting socioeconomic data about direct use of natural resources.
Training Arika earned her doctoral degree in interdisciplinary ecology in 2013 from the University of Florida. She completed a master’s of science degree in pharmaceutical botany at Khon Kaen University in Thailand and bachelor’s of science degrees in zoology and interdisciplinary studies at the University of Florida. Arika holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, and has completed training in Sustainable Community Development – Political empowerment (Village Earth), Authentic Leadership (Naropa U), Tropical Conservation and Development (U of Florida), Science Communication (Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop), Facilitation skills (U of Florida), and User Experience (UX) research (U of Michigan).