Oregon State University

Research Dr. Bryan Tilt

Research Interests: Sustainable development, environmental risk assessment, pollution, community participation, natural resources, fisheries management

Geographical Areas: China, North America

I am an environmental anthropologist whose research focuses on contemporary China. I am also increasingly getting involved in research projects here in Oregon and elsewhere in the United States. My work is guided by three central questions with both scholarly and practical significance: 

  • What role does culture play in shaping people’s interactions with the natural environment?
  • How do individuals and communities balance the need for economic development with the imperative for environmental protection?
  • How can anthropological theory and method be applied to help communities find sustainable solutions to the problems they face?

Many of my research projects have applied outcomes, and I am interested in working with community members to shape policies that promote both human welfare and environmental sustainability. I collaborate frequently with Chinese colleagues from Minzu University of China, Sichuan Nationalities Research Institute, Yunnan University, and Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences. Recently I have been working on several projects related to water resources and dam construction in China. One project called the Integrative Dam Assessment Model (IDAM) is a collaboration with several Oregon State University Colleagues and received financial support from the National Science Foundation. Another project involved interviews with policy makers and NGO staff members dealing with water management issues in China; this project was supported by a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar Fellowship.

Prior to joining the Anthropology Department at OSU, I worked for two years as a research contractor at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington, one of several major research facilities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I worked in the Economics and Social Science Research Program, primarily on a project called "Fishing Communities of the North Pacific". My role in that project included researching how coastal Alaskan communities manage and use fishery resources, assessing the state of community viability by using social and economic indicators, and writing reports for intra-agency policymakers. As a result of this experience, I maintain a strong side interest in natural resource management and fisheries.


Airborne: Pollution, Human Agency, and New Visions of Sustainability in Global China (In Collaboration with the University of Oslo, Norway and Zhejiang University, China)

The Moral Economy of Water Resources in China

Growers’ Perspectives on Adopting New Technologies in the Ornamental and Fruit Tree Sector

Tribal-University Collaboration to Address Tribal Exposure to PAHs and Improve Community Health

Interdisciplinary Research and Methods for Assessing Dams as Agents of Change in China

Community Impacts of Wave Energy Development on the Oregon Coast

Modeling the Ecological, Economic and Social Effects of Dams in China

Improving Community Profiles for Fishing Communities in Oregon, USA

Field Research on Industrialization and Community Development in Sichuan and Yunnan, China

Research on Community Profiles for the North Pacific, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Economics and Social Science Research Program





I am always interested in working with graduate students whose research interests coincide with my own. Over the past few years, graduate students working with me have been involved in projects in the United States and China, and have received research funding from the following sources:

National Science Foundation, Human and Social Dynamics Program

National Science Foundation, Risk Management Sciences Program

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Oregon Sea Grant

Oregon Wave Energy Trust

Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Oregon University System)

OSU Graduate School Internationalization Grant

U.S. Department of Agriculture

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