Cynthiann Heckelsmiller

Cynthiann HeckelsmillerResearch Associate

Cynthiann Heckelsmiller is a PhD. candidate in Anthropology (Washington State University), holds an MSc. in Ethnobotany (University of Kent 2015), and a BS. in Botany (Weber State University 2014). Her research focuses on how people develop and adapt cultural knowledge systems in changing environmental conditions. For her central fieldwork, Cynthiann works with a Maasai community in Tanzania experiencing massive environmental and societal changes related to the transition from pastoralism to agricultural subsistence. In this context, she investigates how children and adults develop ethnobiological knowledge, and balance maintaining their cultural identity with ecological risk management. She also uses cross-cultural data to test evolutionary theories about why people seek out and/or become experts in ethnoscientific domains. As a Research Associate with the HRAF Advanced Research Centers at Yale University, Cynthiann investigates how societies respond to different types of environmental shocks so that we can better understand the cultural dimensions of ecological resilience.