Grad Student Profile: Madison McKenzie Investigates Wildfire Impacts

University of Montana sociology graduate student Madison McKenzie

Madison McKenzie is a second-year master’s student pursuing environmental sociology (and getting out into nature whenever she can!)

While studying sociology as an undergrad in California, Madison was also a respite caregiver for people with disabilities. After graduation, she was working as a behavior interventionist for the same population when the Thomas Fire forced many in the Ventura area, including Madison, to evacuate. This fire severely affected the folks with disabilities with whom she worked.

Madison came to the University of Montana in part to return to her home state. In addtion to the excellent location, however, at UM she has found the educational rigor she hoped for. She says that the professors here challenge her to succeed, and the small cohort provides a sense of connection while they research and study together.

Today, Madison plans to study the environmental impacts of climate change, specifically wildfires, on people with cognitive disabilities for her master’s thesis. In the future, she will continue to advocate for people with disabilities, whether it be as a policy-maker, teacher, or researcher.