Faculty Spotlight: Heather Truelove, Ph.D.
Title: Assistant professor
Where did you attend graduate school and what did you study? I earned a master's degree in psychology in the Master of Arts in General Psychology program here at UNF. It was in that program that I realized that you could combine interests in psychology and the natural environment. I later earned a doctorate in Experimental Psychology from Washington State University. All of my research focused on the psychology of pro-environmental behavior. It has been very rewarding to come back to UNF and mentor students in the master's program I graduated from.
When did you start working at UNF? I came to UNF in 2012 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University's Institute for Energy and the Environment.
What is your favorite thing about working at UNF? I really love interacting with students at UNF. I enjoy getting to know my students in my classes and learning about their passions and plans for the future. I have also had the privilege of working closely with many talented undergraduate and graduate students in my research lab. I am in awe about how much my students are able to accomplish as undergraduate students. When one of my former students gets a great job or gets into a graduate school of their choice, I feel such pride and pleasure at being involved in their journey.
How are you involved with the Environmental Center? I made connections with the Environmental Center soon after arriving at UNF. I have been a Seed Grant recipient twice and have also served as a Seed Grant reviewer. I also assist as needed with projects the Environmental Center is doing related to better understanding human behavior and serve as a member of the UNF Sustainability Committee.
What does your research focus on? Overall, my research investigates when and why people perform pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs) and how their beliefs, attitudes and prior behavior influence their actions. My research program covers two major areas that focus on the psychological dimensions of PEB: (1) examining the extent to which PEBs "spill over" to other PEBs and (2) understanding the variables that facilitate and constrain climate change adaptation.
Pro-environmental behavior spillover: Performance of one PEB is often assumed to increase the likelihood of additional PEBs (positive spillover), though some have argued that performing a PEB licenses people to refuse requests for additional PEBs (negative spillover). It is easy to imagine someone who justifies driving an SUV by recycling their water bottles (negative spillover) or someone who began buying organic food and then subsequently became a full vegetarian (positive spillover). Clearly both positive and negative spillover occurs. However, little is known about when and why they occur and what factors increase their likelihood. A great deal of my research effort since arriving at UNF has centered on developing a line of research investigating open questions related to PEB spillover.
Climate change adaptation: My second line of research investigates the ability of Sri Lankan paddy farmers to cope with water shortages and the strategies they take to adapt to climate change impacts. I collaborate on this project with engineers, geologists, sociologists and climate scientists to take a multidisciplinary, holistic approach to understanding influences on farmer behavior. In this project, we have conducted surveys on 1,350 Sri Lankan farmers and their spouses both before a growing season (when they answer questions about their plans for the season) and also after the growing season (when they answer questions about their harvests, profits and barriers faced during the season). We test the ability of psychological factors such as self-efficacy, risk perceptions, social norms, community cohesion and demographics to predict farmers' adoption of agricultural adaptation behaviors.
Have you been a recipient of a Seed Grant? If so, what was the project? I received my first Seed Grant in 2012 for a project related to PEB spillover. The project tested the effect of recycling a plastic water bottle (vs. putting the bottle in the trash, or a control condition) on subsequent support for establishing a green fund on campus. Major results from this project, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, showed that, contrary to hypotheses, Democrats were more likely to exhibit negative spillover, which occurred because recycling lowered feelings of environmental identity among Democrats leading to less support for environmental policies.
I received another Seed Grant in 2015 in collaboration with Drs. Curtis Phills and Paul Fuglestad, my colleagues in the Department of Psychology. We investigated the effect of message framing on environmental policy support, and preliminary evidence suggests that certain types of messages may be most effective among those who are low in environmental identity.
What is your favorite class to teach? In summer 2015, I won a UNF Academic Affairs Faculty Development Teaching Grant to develop a course on Conservation Psychology. Teaching a course that focuses on my area of research interest is incredibly rewarding. My students are extremely passionate about changing human behavior to improve environmental conditions and as a result are extremely motivated to work hard in the course. As a result, I can teach the class almost like a graduate course. We spend most of the course in seminar mode where we discuss cutting-edge research on the psychology of PEBs. We also work in groups to conduct mini research projects on behaviors on campus we want to improve such as carpooling, recycling and food waste. We hold class outside as the weather allows and have field trips to the UNF Ogier Garden and nature trails. I love teaching this course and hope to continue to be able to offer it once per year.
Where is your favorite place to enjoy nature? My favorite place to enjoy nature is at the beach. I have been to beaches in St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, St. Thomas, Bahamas, Mexico, Australia, Italy, Dubai and Sri Lanka as well as many across the U.S. coasts. I have dipped my toes in the Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, Persian Gulf and Coral Sea. Some of my most favorite beaches are in Florida, which is another reason I love working at UNF.
What are your favorite outdoor activities? I love doing anything and everything outdoors. Research in psychology has shown that spending time in nature is restorative, makes people happier and makes them more cooperative. I feel the restorative benefits of whenever I am outside and try to spend time outdoors whenever possible.
What would you like to do when you retire? Spend time at the beach, of course!
26-in-26 Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign
The 26-in-26 Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign for the University of North Florida is an annual fundraising initiative that gives employees of UNF an opportunity to make a gift to an area on campus that is close to your heart. By making a gift through payroll deduction, donors have the ability to give 26 gifts throughout the year, which quickly add up to an even larger gift.
The Environmental Center relies on the support of donors to continue offering high quality programs for students, faculty, staff and the community. In fact, community donors support the vast majority of our program expenses. If you are interested in supporting the Environmental Center's mission, we encourage making a gift to our Foundation through payroll deductions.
Make a gift to the Environmental Center.
Seed Grant Applications Now Open
Applications for the 2017 Environmental Center Seed Grants are now open! Seed Grants are intended to stimulate the creation of multidisciplinary research projects related to the environment and subsequently result in the preparation and submission of a proposal to an external funding agency.
Two awards up to $6,000 each will be awarded to faculty or teams of faculty that include at least one tenure track faculty member. Funds may be used for faculty stipends, OPS student wages, expenses directly related to the proposed project and travel associated with the project. All funds must be spent by Aug. 31, 2017.
Applications for the Environmental Center Seed Grants are now available on the Environmental Center's website. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m., Monday, Oct. 31. Please contact Environmental Center Coordinator James Taylor if you have any questions.
More information of Environmental Center Seed Grants.
St. Johns River Experience Applications Now Open
The St. Johns River Experience is a unique interdisciplinary course that utilizes the St. Johns River, one of only 14 American Heritage Rivers in the U.S., to build connections between diverse disciplines. The course combines guest speakers, field trips, lab work and outdoor recreation. The highlight of the St. Johns River Experience is the full-immersion spring break trip, where students have an opportunity to explore the St. Johns River and its watershed first hand!
This transformational learning opportunity is open to all undergraduate students in good academic standing. There are no prerequisites to enroll in this course and all majors are encouraged to apply. Applicants do not need prior outdoor experience, nor do they need specialized outdoor equipment; however, they must understand a significant portion of time will be spent outdoors where conditions are unpredictable.
All students who participate in the St. Johns River Experience are required to enroll in a three-credit upper level course that meets Wednesdays from noon to 2:45 p.m. This course can satisfy free elective requirements, or in many cases a major elective. The deadline for applications is Friday, Nov. 4. After submitting an application, each applicant will be required to participate in an interview. All decisions will be made by Friday, Nov. 18. In addition to enrolling in a three-credit course, students must pay $350 to participate. Students will receive a scholarship to cover the remaining costs.
Learn more about the St. Johns River Experience.
Campus Sustainability Month
October is Campus Sustainability Month at UNF! The purpose of Campus Sustainability Month is to celebrate our accomplishments and educate students, faculty and staff about the importance of sustainability.
The theme for the 2016 Campus Sustainability Month is the Sawmill Slough Preserve. In 2006, President John A. Delaney signed the documents establishing a 382-acre protected area on the UNF campus. The Sawmill Slough Preserve has played a significant role in the development of campus, and the designation will preserve its future.
Join us as we celebrate UNF's most beautiful asset, the Sawmill Slough Preserve! Campus Sustainability Month is made possible with support from the Sustainability Committee, Physical Facilities, Health Promotions, Ogier Gardens and Volunteer Services.
Monday, Oct. 17, from 8-10 p.m. — Nighttime Insect Collection
Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 4:30-7 p.m. — Pres[serve] Art Exhibition
Friday, Oct. 21, from 6-9 p.m. — Screening of "Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret"
Thursday, Oct. 27, from 5-8 p.m. — Scary Sustainability on the Green
More information about Campus Sustainability Month.
Environmental Leadership Program Fall Retreat
O'Leno State Park in High Springs, Florida, was the site of this year's Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) fall retreat, which was held Sept. 16-18. Student project leaders participated in early morning hikes and team-building activities, which included canoeing the Santa Fe River. They also visited the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute in downtown High Springs, where they learned firsthand the perils our springs are facing.
One of the highlights from the retreat was a visit with the Environmental Center's founding director, Dr. Ray Bowman, and having an old-fashioned campfire cookout on his 30-plus acre homestead. To complete the long weekend, students were treated at a local ice cream shop, Krazzy Kow, which to the delight of many, served vegan ice cream! It was a great weekend filled with camaraderie and lifelong memories.
Learn more about the Environmental Leadership Program.
Student Coalition Update
The Student Coalition brought in 25 students to their last meeting to discuss new events and upcoming trips. The students' passion for adventure, nature and conservation is in action this semester!
The Student Coalition is preparing for an adventure-filled weekend exploring North Carolina, driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The students are especially excited to see the leaves changing, something Floridians do not get to enjoy seasonally! The trip to the Great Smoky Mountains takes place Oct. 21-23!
Looking to get involved? You can follow upcoming events and activities through the Student Coalition Facebook group and website.
Outdoor Nation Update and Upcoming Events
The first Outdoor Nation event was a smashing success! Project Leader and Campus Ambassador Nikki Adams led 19 students on a trip to Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park and a paddle trip along the historic Suwannee River. Check out photos from the event on the Environmental Center's Facebook page.
Preserve Adventure Fest was scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 13, but had to be postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. We will be rescheduling this event soon, so keep an eye out!
The last Outdoor Nation event for the semester will be a tour of Fort Matanzas National Monument and Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. This event will feature guided tours of both national monuments, as well as fun activities. Transportation will be provided. This event will take place Saturday, Nov. 5. More details will be released soon.
Maritime Management Plan Public Open House Meetings
Partners: Northeast Florida Regional Council and Jacksonville University
Help improve access to your waterways! The Duval County Maritime Management Plan team is hosting a series of public open house meetings. The events give the community an opportunity to learn about the plan, share what they think about our waterways and make recommendations for the plan. The meeting will be an open house format, with maps and information about waterways and facilities available for review. Participants are encouraged to take a survey at JAXBOATPLAN.com before they attend.
Tuesday, Nov. 1, from 6-8 p.m. — Jacksonville University Marine Science Research Institute
Tuesday, Dec. 6, from 6-8 p.m. — South Beach Park Community Center in Jacksonville Beach
McCoys Creek Cleanup and Paddle
Sponsors: Rising Tides of St. Johns Riverkeeper
When: Sunday, Oct. 23, from 10 a.m. to noon
For this month's McCoys Creak clean, Rising Tides will be hitting the creek in kayaks! While this portion of the creek requires water access to really get the items that can't be reached from land, it is also a tough put-in spot. You should have a sturdy kayak or canoe for this area. There will still be plenty of work for volunteers to help out on land too. No registration required. Wear closed-toe shoes, waterproof boots preferred. For more details, check out the St. Johns Riverkeeper's website.
Explore Jacksonville: Hogans Creek Biodiversity Festival
Sponsor: Groundwork Jacksonville
When: Saturday, Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Henry J. Klutho Park
Join the celebration of the diverse living things found in Jacksonville's urban core. It'll be a fun day of science, food trucks, healthy activities, games and more on the Emerald Necklace along the banks of Hogans Creek. Volunteers are needed for the event. For more details, check out the Groundwork Jacksonville website.
View more upcoming events.