Department of Geography and the Environment

Kaitlin Tasker

B.S. Environmental Biology, Tulane University

Graduate Student, University of Texas at Austin
Kaitlin Tasker



human-environment interactions, human dimensions of natural resources, land use change, GIS, applied quantitative methods, conservation incentives, ecosystem services, visual representation of complex information


Current Advisers: Eugenio Y. Arima (1st) & Kenneth R. Young (2nd)

Kaitlin is a graduate student in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas at Austin. Before attending graduate school, Kaitlin received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology at Tulane University. Her undergraduate thesis examined the impacts of land use on a culturally-significant indicator species in Bocas del Toro, Panama. After graduating from Tulane, Kaitlin worked with The Green Project, a New Orleans non-profit, to found the organization’s first ever city-wide environmental education program. She also spent a year conducting research in Cordillera Azul National Park as a Fulbright U.S. Student Research Fellow.  While this work focused on analyzing the biodiversity and conservation status of the park and buffer zone, Kaitlin also provided support for the park’s emerging REDD+ program, led capacity-building workshops with park personnel and buffer zone community members, and documented community-park conflicts through written reports and photo surveys.

Kaitlin’s Master's thesis builds on her experience in Cordillera Azul to examine three different allocation schemes for assigning conservation priority in the park’s buffer zone. During the 20th Conferences of the Parties (COP20) held in Peru in December 2014, the Peruvian NGO CIMA (Centro de Conservación, Investigación y Manejo de Áreas Naturales) was awarded over nine million (USD) carbon bonds for their work at this site. In line with this recent award, Kaitlin’s research aims to use economic principles as well as landscape ecology to inform conservation priority schemes for improved social, economic and environmental outcomes. This work is designed with direct conservation applications in mind and is being conducted in collaboration with CIMA.  

In addition to this research, Kaitlin also served as Graduate Research Assistant to Dr. Eugenio Arima, her adviser, on a project examining fire in the Brazilian Amazon. This work was funded by a research grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In 2009, Brazil made deforestation reduction a central piece of its climate change policy. However, while previous research had found that this policy led to decreases in deforestation, decreases in fire—another indicator of agricultural expansion and an important factor for carbon emissions—were not observed. With this project, Kaitlin and Dr. Arima were able to revisit Amazonia, the target of Brazil’s 2009 policy, to determine how precipitation may be affecting forest fires in the area, while controlling for other potential biophysical, economic and institutional correlates. Kaitlin presented this work at the 2015 AAG Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, and has submitted the findings for publication (currently undergoing review).

Kaitlin is the recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in Geography, serves as the Vice President for the Graduate Association of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas, and has spent multiple field seasons in Panama, Peru, Louisiana and Arizona. She is well versed in both qualitative and quantitative methods, and is fluent in Spanish. 

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  • Department of Geography and the Environment

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E. 23rd Street, A3100
    RLP 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712