Dr. Jessica Rudnick

Jessica Rudnick headshot

Position Title
Environmental Social Scientist, U.S. Forest Service


Jessica Rudnick is an environmental social scientist with the U.S. Forest Service in the Great Lakes Region. Her research is participatory and actionable, working to advance equitable and community-driven approaches to natural resource management challenges. She uses a variety of participatory, qualitative, and quantitative methods to collaborate with community partners to study how individuals, organizations, and communities perceive, respond to, and drive environmental and social change. Her research interests include understanding:

  • Drivers of land and water stewardship behaviors
  • Governance structures and processes that support equitable climate adaptation
  • Community mobilization for environmental justice
  • Measuring and monitoring human well-being in response to environmental changes
  • Connections and divides between urban and rural communities

Prior to her current role with the USDA Forest Service, Jessica worked as a Social Science Extension Specialist with California Sea Grant, where she was based in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and worked in partnership with the Delta Stewardship Council, a California state agency. As an Extension Specialist, Jessica led efforts to integrate interdisciplinary social science research to inform management and policy in the California Bay-Delta estuary. She co-founded the Bay-Delta Social Science Community of Practice, launched a representative household survey to monitor human well-being among residents in the Bay-Delta ("Delta Residents Survey"), and supported state agency staff in integrating participatory social science methods into climate and environmental justice planning efforts.

Jessica completed her BA in environmental science from Washington University in St. Louis, and her MS and PhD in Ecology, with an emphasis on human ecology and environmental policy, at UC Davis. Her dissertation research focused on agriculture-environmental-water governance and farmer decision-making around nutrient management.

More on current work: https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/about/people/jessica.rudnick

More on research at UC Davis: