Michael S. Amato
BA Northeastern University, 2004
MS University of Wisconsin, 2007
Psychology Advisor: Prof. Colleen F. Moore
Environment & Resources Advisor: Prof. Bret R. Shaw
Life Sciences Communications Department
My research area can be characterized as Environmental Risk Communication. I'm interested in understanding the relationship of people and their environment, and using that understanding to improve the health of both human populations and ecological systems. To slake that interdisciplinary thirst, I am pursuing a joint degree with the Psychology Department, and the Environment and Resources Program.
I've investigated the impact of childhood lead exposure on educational outcomes. Children who have been exposed to lead score lower on standardized tests, and have a greater risk of being suspended. Lead affects urban and rural children, and is a causal contributor to the achievement gap. Its effects occur in the future and are difficult to directly observe, decreasing perceived risk and presenting a barrier to action. Here's a link to a recent radio interview I gave talking about the research.
Many shared resource problems and their solutions are rooted in individuals' decisions and perceptions of risk. The challenge of protecting public lakes and waterways is an excellent example. My dissertation investigates how property owners perceive risk and make decisions about shoreline maintenance in this public goods dilemma. It also investigates the role of motivated cognition on residents' perceptions of their shoreline, the extent to which self-perception bias is a barrier to cooperation for lake health, and strategies that lake managers can use to overcome that barrier.
Lastly, I believe strongly in the principle of Shared Governance, and sit on the committee of the UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve. I'm excited about new initiatives in the upcoming year aimed at increasing use of the Preserve as an educational resource, including development of an interactive mobile map for visitors.
626 Brogden Hall
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