I was born in Detroit, Michigan to Jewish parents and attended Jewish day and public schools in the suburbs. I received a BA in American Culture-Ethnic Studies from the University of Michigan in 1999 and an MA and PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa in 2005 and 2008. I am currently an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Portland State University (PSU) and a Senior Fellow at The Mountain Institute. I am also an affiliate faculty at PSU in The School of the Environment, Indigenous Nations Studies and the Institute for Asian Studies.

Spoon CV (Dec 2017)
Selected Works
Google Scholar

Projects | Publications | Teaching


My research focuses on how political, economic, and ecological forces influence ecological knowledge inside and around mountainous protected and secured areas. I am interested in how power relations shape perceptions and knowledge of place and whether or not the local decisions of these actors are socially, environmentally, and/or economically sustainable at certain points in time and in different contexts. I recently initiated a new focus on social-ecological transitions after natural disasters. In all my projects, I strive to apply research findings to projects created in participatory ways.

Research interests: Environmental and applied anthropology, ethnoecology, mountainous protected areas, natural hazards and disasters, place-based spirituality, public education, diversity and inclusion; Nepalese Himalaya, Great Basin, Hawaiian Islands, Kenyan Rift Valley, Pacific Northwest

Current Projects
Nepalese Himalaya | Great Basin | Pacific Northwest

Past Projects
Hawaiian Islands | Kenyan Rift Valley