Elise Otto

Elise Otto

Ph.D. Student

I am a PhD student in the school of Geography, Development and Environment working with Dr. Mark Kear. My current research examines how federal and state policies shape climate hazard exposure for manufactured housing residents.

I completed my Masters at Montana State University with Dr. Julia Haggerty at the Resources and Communities Research Group. My research examined the commuting experiences of laborers working in Big Sky, Montana with the context of regional gentrification driven by the resort political economy. In this research I used a “ride along” interview methodology where I joined workers on their commutes. If you are embarking on a similar project or are interested in mobile methodologies, please reach out– I’m interested in what folks are up to in this space. 

In my wayward path to a graduate geography education I worked as  Princeton in Asia Fellow in Vietnam teaching English and in Timor Leste working on environmental and community mapping for a coast aquaculture development project. I have worked as a river guide in Idaho and on the Grand Canyon, as a Forest Service river ranger on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, a project manager for a small CRM consulting firm, and for 8 years in Big Sky Montana as a ski instructor, caterer, caregiver, and shuttle driver.  

I study to better understand and address how wealth consolidation and environmental change are shaping the daily lives of the working class through experiences with housing, transportation and work. To that end I try to perform research that is both critical and speaks to the prevalent discussions of our time so that it may influence public policy and perception. 

When not in school, I love being outside with friends and family and near water whenever possible. 


Writing and other work

Review of Gray to Green communities: a call to action on the housing and climate crises. Journal of Urban Design, 27:3, 392-394, DOI: 10.1080/13574809.2022.2051298

Guest editorial on land exchanges in the Bozeman Chronicle 

Poetry and painting in the Thalweg and the Boatman’s Quarterly Review