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.
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