Natural Hazards Center
Mason Mathews is a postdoctoral research associate at the Natural Hazards Center. He is a graduate of the University of Florida Interdisciplinary Ecology doctoral program (Human Geography) and worked extensively with its Center for Latin American Studies. Mathews has spent more than ten years working and conducting research in Latin America. His experiences include working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and conducting doctoral field research in the Brazilian Amazon. He has worked on community conservation and development projects designed to blend income generation with sustainable resource use, as well as projects designed to inform policy makers and the public about social justice issues facing vulnerable and traditional peoples in the Amazon. Much of Mathews' work emphasizes participatory methods in which the communities he works with co-design and co-implement projects. Mathews uses social network analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in his research.
Recently Mathews has used social network analysis theories and methods to monitor team science projects. He worked with colleagues at the Amazon Dams Network (ADN), an NSF-funded Research Coordination Network designed to bring scientists, researchers, government agency personnel, NGOs, and community members together to formulate transdisciplinary approaches to understanding the social and biophysical impacts of hydroelectric development in the Amazon. On this project, Mathews created survey instruments to monitor the evolution of the interactions between ADN participants. He also conducted a co-authorship analysis of publications related hydroelectric development in Brazil to categorize current research themes and identify the authors' areas of expertise, co-author partnerships, and research sites. Mathews is interested in identifying appropriate methodologies to foster transdisciplinary collaboration among social and biophysical scientists.
Additionally, Mathews has used social network analysis methods to monitor the interactions between scientists working on the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture-funded Pine Integrated Network: Education, Mitigation, and Adaptation project (PINEMAP). PINEMAP was designed to develop and evaluate mitigation and adaptation activities to reduce potential risks associated with changes in climate variability and educate landowners to ensure the sustainability of southern pine management. This project involved more than 100 scientists, researchers, students, government personnel, and forestry cooperative members involved in the management of pine plantations from Texas to Florida. Mathews conducted an analysis of participant survey and qualitative data to determine how levels of collaboration among participants from different academic and professional backgrounds changed over time as a result of activities designed to foster interdisciplinary research.