Office: 541-737-3896

Waldo Hall

Waldo Hall 209

2250 SW Jefferson Way

2250 SW Jefferson Way
Corvallis, OR 97331
Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Washington 2004
M.A. Anthropology, University of Washington 2001
B.A. Asian Studies, Utah State University 1998
B.A. Technical Writing, Utah State University 1998
Curriculum Vitae: 

Profile Field Tabs

Affiliated with: 
Sch Lang, Culture & Soc
OSU Main Campus
Research/Career Interests: 


East Asia / China, United States


Environmental anthropology, international development, applied anthropology, energy, demography and migration, human dimensions of natural resources

I am an environmental anthropologist who specializes in natural resources and energy development in contemporary China. I also engage in interdisciplinary projects related to natural resource issues in the United States, including sustainable agriculture, water resources, fisheries, energy production, and coastal development. My work is guided by three central questions with both scholarly and practical significance: 

  • What role does culture play in shaping people’s interactions with the natural environment?
  • How do individuals and communities balance economic development and environmental protection?
  • How can anthropological theory and method be applied to help communities find sustainable solutions to the problems they face?

Many of my research projects have applied outcomes, and I am interested in working with community members to shape policies that promote both human welfare and environmental sustainability.  I have focused most of my research efforts on contemporary China, where serious environmental problems have taken on global importance. My research is grounded in ethnography, although I often use a mixed-methods approach and collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines. For example, I recently collaborated with colleagues in Europe and China on a project entitled "Airborne: Pollution, Human Agency, and New Visions of Sustainability in Global China," hosted at the University of Oslo, Norway.

Prior to joining the Anthropology Department at OSU, I worked for two years as a research contractor at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington, one of several major research facilities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I worked in the Economics and Social Science Research Program, primarily on a project called "Fishing Communities of the North Pacific". My role in that project included researching how coastal Alaskan communities manage and use fishery resources, assessing the state of community viability by using social and economic indicators, and writing reports for interagency policymakers. As a result of this experience, I maintain a strong interest in natural resource management and fisheries in the United States.


Resilience of Klamath River Ecosystem and Coastal Communities Prior to, During, and After Dam Removal

OSU Dam Impacts Database (Compilation of more than 500 dams around the world, with information on population displacement, social impacts and ecological impacts. Project site:

Airborne: Pollution, Human Agency, and New Visions of Sustainability in Global China (In collaboration with the University of Oslo, Norway and Zhejiang University, China)

The Moral Economy of Water Resources in China

Growers’ Perspectives on Adopting New Technologies in the Ornamental and Fruit Tree Sector

Tribal-University Collaboration to Address Tribal Exposure to PAHs and Improve Community Health

Interdisciplinary Research and Methods for Assessing Dams as Agents of Change in China

Community Impacts of Wave Energy Development on the Oregon Coast



I am always interested in working with graduate students whose research interests align with mine. I primarily advise students in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Applied Anthropology, but I also regularly work with students in other programs at OSU, including Environmental Sciences; Water Resources Policy and Management; Marine Resource Management; and Public Policy. Over the past few years, graduate students working with me have been involved in projects in the United States and China, and have received research funding from the following sources:

National Science Foundation, Human and Social Dynamics Program

National Science Foundation, Risk Management Sciences Program

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Oregon Sea Grant

Oregon Wave Energy Trust

Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Oregon University System)

OSU Graduate School Internationalization Grant

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Intel Labs / Oregon Smart Labs

Internal Displacement Monitoring Center / Norwegian Refugee Council



  • 2021   Tilt, Bryan and Zhuo Chen. "Population Resettlement for Hydropower Development in the Lancang River Basin: An Evolving Policy Framework and its Implications for Local People." in J.F. Rousseau and S. Habich-Sobiegalla, eds. The Political Economy of Hydropower in Southwest China and Beyond. Palgrave.
  • 2020   Fostvedt, Mattias P., Desiree D. Tullos, and Bryan Tilt. "Institutional Analysis of Small Dam Removals: A Comparison of Non-Federal Dam Removals in Washington and Oregon." Water Alternatives 13(2): 369-392.
  • 2019   Tilt, Bryan, Xiaoyue Li, and Edwin A. Schmitt. "Fertility Trends, Sex Ratios, and Son Preference among Han and Minority Households in Rural China." Asian Anthropology 18(2): 110-128.
  • 2019  Tilt, Bryan. "China's Air Pollution Crisis: Science and Policy Perspectives." Environmental Science and Policy 92: 275-280.
  • 2019  Li, Xiaoyue and Bryan Tilt. "Public engagements with Smog in Urban China: Knowledge, Trust, and Action." Environmental Science and Policy 92: 220-227.
  • 2019  Burleson, Grace, Bryan Tilt, Kendra Sharp, and Nordica MacCarty. "Reinventing Boiling: A Rapid Ethnographic and Engineering Evaluation of a High-Efficiency Thermal Water Treatment Technology in Uganda." Energy Research and Social Science 52: 68-77.
  • 2018  Tilt, Bryan. “空气污染与人类世 [Air Pollution and the Anthropocene],” in Zhaohui Liu and Mette Halskov Hansen, eds. 仰望窗外的天空:中外科学家对话空气环境与治理 [A Window on the Sky: Chinese and Foreign Scholars Discuss the Atmospheric Environment and its Governance]. Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press. P. 185-193. (In Chinese).
  • 2017  Li, Xiaoyue and Bryan Tilt. "Perceptions of Quality of Life and Pollution among China's Urban Middle Class: The Case of Tangshan." The China Quarterly. Open Access: 1-17.
  • 2017   Ferguson, Laura, Samuel Chan, Mary Santelmann, and Bryan Tilt. "Exploring Participant Motivations and Expectations in a Researcher-Stakeholder Engagement Process." Landscape and Urban Planning 157: 447-456.
  • 2017  Consulting Report: Walicki, Nadine, Michael J. Ioannides, and Bryan Tilt. “Dams and Internal Displacement: An Introduction.” Case Study Series on Dam Displacement. Internal Displacement Monitoring Center: Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 2017  Consulting Report: Ioannides, Michael J. and Bryan Tilt. “China: Lessons Learned from the Manwan Dam.” Case Study Series on Dam Displacement. Internal Displacement Monitoring Center: Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 2016  Tilt, Bryan. "Dams, Displacement, and the Moral Economy in Southwest China." In Carlos Rojas and Ralph Litzinger, eds. Ghost Protocol: Development and Displacement in Global China. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  • 2016  Tilt, Bryan and Drew Gerkey. “Dams and Population Displacement on China’s Upper Mekong River: Implications for Social Capital and Social-ecological Resilience.” Global Environmental Change 36: 153-162.
  • 2015  Rodriguez-Nikl, Tonatiuh, Jason Kelley, Qing Xiao, Katherine Hammer, and Bryan Tilt. “Structural Engineers and Sustainability: An Opinion Survey.” Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice 141(1): 1-11.
  • 2015  Ingman, Mark, Mary V. Santelmann, and Bryan Tilt. “Agricultural Water Conservation in China: Plastic Mulch and Traditional Irrigation.” Ecosystem Health and Sustainability. 1(4): 1-12.
  • 2014  Conte, Thomas J. and Bryan Tilt. "The Effects of China’s Grassland Contract Policy on Pastoralists’ Attitudes towards Cooperation in an Inner Mongolian Banner." Human Ecology 42(6): 837-846.
  • 2014  Caplan, Shannon, Bryan Tilt, Gwen Hoheisel, and Tara A. Baugher. "Specialty Crop Growers' Perspectives on Adopting New Technologies."  HortTechnology 24(1): 81-87.
  • 2013  Tilt, Bryan. "The Politics of Industrial Pollution in China." The Journal of Peasant Studies 40(6): 1147-1164.
  • 2013  Tullos, Desiree D., Eric Foster-Moore, Darrin Magee, Bryan Tilt, Aaron T. Wolf, Edwin Schmitt, Francis Gassert, and Kelley Kipler. "Biophysical, Socioeconomic, and Geopolitical Vulnerabilities to Hydropower Development on the Nu River, China." Ecology and Society 18(3): 16.
  • 2013  Tilt, Bryan and Edwin Schmitt.  "The Integrative Dam Assessment Model: Reflections from an Anthropological Perspective." Practicing Anthropology 35(1): 4-7.
  • 2013  Tilt, Bryan.  "Industrial Pollution and Environmental Health in Rural China: Risk, Uncertainty and Individualization." The China Quarterly 214:283-301.
  • 2013  Galipeau, Brendan A., Mark Ingman, and Bryan Tilt.  "Dam-Induced Displacement and Agricultural Livelihoods in China's Mekong Basin."  Human Ecology 41(3): 437-446.
  • 2012  Tilt, Bryan. “Damming China’s Angry River: Vulnerability in a Culturally and Biologically Diverse Watershed.” In B.R. Johnston, L. Hiwasaki, I.J. Klaver, A. Ramos Castillo, and V. Strang, eds., Water, Cultural Diversity, and Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures? New York: UNESCO International Hydrological Program. Pp. 367-386.
  • 2011 Tilt, Bryan. “Local Perceptions of ‘Quality of Life’ in Rural China: Implications for Anthropology and Participatory Development.” Journal of Anthropological Research67(1): 27-46. [pdf]
  • 2011 Tilt, Bryan. “View from the 21st Century: Civil Society and Environment in China.” In Barbara Rose Johnston, ed., Life and Death Matters: Human Rights, Environment, and Social Justice. Second Edition. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Pp. 62-76.
  • 2010 Tullos, Desiree, Philip H. Brown, Kelly Kibler, Darrin Magee, Bryan Tilt and Aaron T. Wolf. “Perspectives on the Salience and Magnitude of Dam Impacts for Hydro-development Scenarios in China.” Water Alternatives 3(2): 71-90. [pdf]
  • 2010, Bryan and Qing Xiao. “Media Coverage of Environmental Pollution in the People’s Republic of China: Responsibility, Cover-up and State Control.” Media, Culture and Society. 32(2):225-245. [pdf]
  • 2010, Tilt, Bryan. "Civil Society and the Environment in China." In Barbara Rose Johnston, ed., Life and Death Matters: Human Rights, Environment, and Social Justice. Second Edition. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  • 2009 Tilt, Bryan, Yvonne A. Braun and Daming He. “Social Impact Assessment of Large Dams: A Comparison of International Case Studies and Implications for Best Practice.” Journal of Environmental Management 90(Supplement 3): S249-257. [pdf]
  • 2009 Brown, Philip H., Darrin Magee, Bryan Tilt, Desiree Tullos and Aaron T. Wolf. “Modeling the Costs and Benefits of Dam Construction from a Multidisciplinary Perspective.” Journal of Environmental Management 90 (Supplement 3): S303-311.
  • 2009 Tullos, Desiree, Bryan Tilt and Katherine Reidy-Lierman. “Introduction to the Special Issue: Understanding and Linking the Biophysical, Socioeconomic and Geopolitical Effects of Dams.” Journal of Environmental Management 90 (Supplement 3): S203-207. [pdf]
  • 2009 Risien, Julie M. and Bryan Tilt. “A Comparative Study of Community-based Sea Turtle Management in Palau: Key Factors for Successful Implementation.”Conservation and Society 6(3): 225-237.
  • 2008 Tilt, Bryan. "Smallholders and the ‘Household Responsibility system': Adapting to Institutional Change in Chinese Agriculture." Human Ecology 36(2): 189-199. [pdf]
  • 2007 Tilt, Bryan. "The Political Ecology of Pollution Enforcement in China: A Case from Sichuan's Rural Industrial Sector" The China Quarterly 192: 915-932. [pdf]
  • 2007 Tilt, Bryan and Pichu Xiao. "Industry, Pollution, and Environmental Enforcement in Rural China: Implications for Sustainable Development." Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development 36(1-2): 115-143. [pdf]
  • 2007 Tilt, Bryan and John A. Young. "Introductory Essay: Development in Contemporary China." Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development 36(1-2): 1-8. [pdf]
  • 2007 Li, Yongxiang and Bryan Tilt. "In Search of Solvency: Changing Agricultural Governance in an Ethnic Minority Autonomous Region of Southwest China."International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance, and Ecology 6(6):626-641.
  • 2006 Tilt, Bryan. "Perceptions of Risk from Industrial Pollution in China: A Comparison of Occupational Groups." Human Organization 65(2):115-127. [pdf]
  • 2006 Sepez, Jennifer, Karma Norman, Amanda Poole and Bryan Tilt. "Fish Scales: Scope, Scale, and Method in Social Science Research on North Pacific and West Coast Fishing Communities." Human Organization 65(3):283-296.



Beyond OSU