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About Me:

luch harbor

I grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana, but have always had an appetite to see and learn about as much of the world as possible, and often my quest for adventure involves nature and outdoor recreation. It was through informal education experiences that I developed the desire for exploration, critical thinking, and exposure to new cultures that ultimately led me to pursue a future in academia. An inquisitiveness about the world and the people around me drew me to human dimensions of natural resources research, with a focus on socio-ecological impacts of parks and protected areas and tourism.

After earning a Bachelor's degree in Event Planning from Indiana University, I moved to San Francisco, where I worked as a conference planner at a small nonprofit organization in the sustainable energy field. While refining my interests and looking for direction in my career, I continued to use my free time to travel, hike, and engage in outdoor activities throughout the beautiful Bay Area and the world. When I began exploring graduate programs in the fields of tourism and natural resources, I was particularly intrigued by the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and Environment (HDNRE) program here at Penn State. I am pursuing a dual-title Ph.D. in RPTM and HDNRE, under the advisement of Dr. Carter Hunt.

Research Interests:

My research follows two outcomes related to tourism and recreation. I am interested in studying the social and environmental impacts that tourism and protected areas have on destinations, particularly on local/community livelihoods. I am also interested in the lasting effects that ecotourism and inspirational travel experiences have on the tourists that engage in them. My current work has centered on studies in Guatemala and Costa Rica, but I hope to expand my line of research beyond Latin America to other global and national destinations in the future.

Professional Goals:

My long term goal is to be a faculty professor in a social science field, where I can mentor and educate while also continuing my own line of research. On my way to achieving this, I hope to both learn from and contribute to Penn State and the world through local, community-level efforts. Based on my international travel experiences, I am interested in studying the impacts that the tourism industry has on destination communities and environments, as well as the long-term effects that ecotourism experiences have on tourists that engage in them. I also have a deep-rooted love for National Parks and outdoor recreation.