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Michael Paolisso Ph.D.

Michael Paolisso, Ph.D.

Professor

Anthropology
0131 Woods Hall
College Park , Maryland 20742
Office Phone: 301-405-1433

Education:

  1. Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1985, Dissertation: “Subsistence and Coffee Cultivation among the Irapa-Yukpa of Venezuela: A Cultural Ecological Investigation.”
  2. Master of Arts in Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1978.
  3. Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1976.

Biography:

Recent Accomplishments

Over the past three years, Paolisso’s research has focused on applying a cognitive and cultural model approach to issues related to restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. His primary interest is to demonstrate that culture analysis is an essential research approach to our interdisciplinary efforts to study and manage the natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay, and by extension to other natural environments, urban and rural. Specifically, he has continued his work in applying theories and methods from cognitive anthropology to study cultural models of nature, environment and pollution among environmental professionals, farmers and commercial fishers in the Chesapeake Bay. The underlying models capture and organize implicit, assumed knowledge about environment issues, including scientific and regulatory responses to natural resource problems. The research has included a comparative study of the cultural models of the blue crab fishery, the cultural and socioeconomic risks and benefits of introducing a non-native oyster (Crassostrea ariakensis) into the Chesapeake Bay in order to restore the native oyster population, an ongoing study of the cultural models that different groups use to understand land conservation on Maryland’s Eastern Shore (of the Chesapeake), and a sabbatical study of how commercial watermen and marine scientists use similar and different cultural and scientific models to capture uncertainty in their assessments of the status of the blue crab population.

Funded Research

Paolisso is currently the principal investigator (P.I.) on two ongoing projects. The first is a USDA grant to study cultural models of land conservation. The second project is a contract with Maryland Department of Natural Resources to apply a cultural model approach to the risks and benefits of introducing a non-native oyster into the Chesapeake. He just completed, as P.I., an NSF grant where he studied (as part of a sabbatical) how scientists and commercial fishermen use cultural and scientific models to capture uncertainty in marine populations. In addition, over the past three years he has undertaken a number of small projects funded by Maryland state agencies on environmental issues linked to the Chesapeake.

Future Plans

Paolisso will continue his research with Chesapeake Bay populations. He will be returning to a focus on health and gender issues. He will also expand his research focus to include more and different types of rural communities, and include an expanded focus on demographic changes and health and socio-economic outcomes.

Departments:

Anthropology: