Ashley Gramza

National Bird Conservation Social Science Coordinator

Originally hailing from NW Ohio, Gramza is a conservation social scientist who is interested in understanding why and how people make decisions that affect wildlife and natural resources. Ashley has a unique blend of experience in both wildlife biology and social science. She holds a B.S. in wildlife ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a M.S. in human dimensions of natural resources from Colorado State University. Gramza is currently finishing her Ph.D. in wildlife biology at Colorado State, where she studied the human and biological factors related to interactions between outdoor domestic cats and wildlife. Gramza’s interest in conservation social science started when she was an undergraduate studying reptile biodiversity in Costa Rica. When community members continued to bring her dead snakes, Ashley knew that conserving reptiles in this system relied on changing human behavior, not reptile population monitoring. After this, she has gone on to work on a variety of projects including conserving timber rattlesnakes and wildlife habitat on private lands in Iowa and Minnesota to understanding the motivations for negative human-wildlife interactions of visitors to parks across the National Park Service. At Virginia Tech, Gramza serves as the National Bird Conservation Social Science Coordinator where her job is to build social science capacity within the bird conservation community through research, partnerships, and outreach. In this position, Gramza studies various aspects of the human dimensions of bird conservation. Her current research examines why landowners in the Great Plains choose to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and what they do on their property after the program ends. In a human-dominated world, conserving wildlife relies just as much on human behaviors as it does on factors associated with the animals themselves. Therefore, understanding how and why people choose to support conservation causes or engage in pro-conservation behaviors is essential to conserving wildlife.