Jennifer Spinney

PhD Candidate at University of Western Ontario

Jen Spinney ( is a PhD candidate (April 2018 completion) in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. Her doctoral research “Understanding the interpretation, communication and response to weather and urban flood information in Toronto” uses field methods such as participant observation and one-on-one interviewing, and discourse analysis of interactional language use to examine:

1. the institutional processes influencing the creation of official Environment Canada (EC) and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) flood information for the Ontario, Canada public;

2. the communication and transformation of weather and flood information from official to non-official sources, including public news agencies and private weather enterprises;

3. the impact of language in EC and TRCA weather and flood products on public interpretation and sense-making; and

4. how Ontario publics affected by urban flash flooding perceive their risk during warned events and come to take protective action.

Previous field, work and academic experience includes:

– a social science researcher with EC’s Angus, Ontario tornado Damage Survey team.- 2014

– a research associate with Social Science Woven into Meteorology (SSWIM) to learn the institutional needs and uses of National Weather Service weather information for the development of a web-based interface for improving two-way communication between NWS, Emergency Managers and other partner groups in Flash Flood and Tornado Alleys.- 2010-2012

– a social science researcher with both the NWS Joplin Tornado Regional Service Assessment team and with Dakota Consulting Inc. for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s comprehensive study of the May 22, 2011 event to learn survivors’ uses of warning information.- 2011

– masters research project in socio-cultural Anthropology from the University of Western Ontario on the importance of incorporating local interpretations of ‘flood’ events and ‘severe’ when developing determinants of Inuit and non-Inuit social vulnerability to extreme weather.- 2008-2010

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