Matthew Cutler '07 '09G '15G

Sociology Ph.D., Justice Studies M.A. | Social Scientist

Describe what you are currently doing for work and your path.

I am a sociologist with the Social Sciences Branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and an agency fellow with the JPB Environmental Health Fellowship Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. I provide analytical support to both the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Councils and conduct research on the social impacts of fisheries management, the vulnerability of coastal and fishing dependent communities to management and environmental change, and the health and well-being of fishing and coastal communities. Prior to joining the NEFSC, I completed a postdoctoral appointment at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 2018 where I studied public attitudes and beliefs about climate change as a member of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. I received a Ph.D. in Sociology from UNH in 2015.

How did your education in your major(s) and COLA prepare you for life after college?

Each of my degrees from COLA had a unique role in shaping my perspectives and approaches to the work I conduct as a professional sociologist and social scientist. My education as a Ph.D. student in sociology provided me with an exceptional base of knowledge about social facts and problems and a powerful set of tools in the form of research skills to investigate some of the most critical questions about human social organization and our relationship to the environment, or the physical and natural world.

What person or course most influenced you while at UNH?

While every person and course undoubtedly had a meaningful role shaping me both as an individual and a professional, my Ph.D. specialization in Communities and Environment, and the wonderful faculty and student peers engaged in that specialization, had perhaps the greatest influence on my work while at UNH and beyond. I gained a unique perspective on the relationship between society and nature, particularly (and perhaps most importantly) through deep investigation of the social causes and consequences of our impact on ecosystems and the climate.

What advice do you have for students interested in your field?

The best advice I can give to students interested in this field would be to focus on what you can do to affect change and not to become overwhelmed by what often seem like enormous and intractable social and environmental problems. The key is to find what you are passionate about within the field and do your best to communicate your work and make it practically meaningful for those whose well-being might be improved by it.