Gilbert, David


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Grad Status: 
Third Year Cohort

Sumatra is one of the world's richest homes of cultural and ecological diversity. Nomadic hunter-gatherers, Malay farmers and fisherman, along with a mix of migrants from all over the world, now live and work on the island, more than 65 percent of whom live in rural areas. Despite the social and environmental diversity of the island, many rural Sumatrans live below the national poverty line. My research proposes to study the many ways rural Sumatran earn their livelihood, from collecting Non-Timber Forest products in the rainforests, using traditional forms of swidden agriculture, and family farmers producing many different agricultural products for sale. The purpose of the research is to use a broad comparative approach to identify rural livelihood activites capable of aleiviating poverty.

I am developing a mix of ethnographic and quantitative skills sets to address these multi-fasceted questions. I have lived in the tropical forests of the Amazon and Indonesia, and have worked on ecological surveys, conservation initiatives, and documentary film projects. I have spent time living with remote hunter gatherers and muslim agriculturalists, studying the impacts of current hunting practices and land rights conflicts. In support of this work, I have been selected as a National Geographic Young Explorer, Henry Luce Scholar, Fulbright Scholar, and a SEVEN Fund for Global Poverty Alleviation Co-Grantee. I graduated Cum Laude from Claremont McKenna College in 2005 with a BA in Biology.