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 a Professor of Anthropology at Portland State University (PSU). I am also an affiliate faculty at PSU in the School of the Environment, Indigenous Nations Studies, and the Institute for Asian Studies.
I have 25 years of experience collaborating with Indigenous and rural peoples and government agencies on applied research related to local knowledge, environmental conservation, development, disaster recovery, social equity, and public education in Nepal, the western United States, Kenya, and Hawai‘i. My collaborative research has been funded by multiple grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation and contracts from the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and Departments of Energy and Defense. I have authored or co-authored 20 academic articles and book chapters in prominent peer-reviewed international journals and presses and several technical reports utilized directly by land managers for consultation and collaborative stewardship with Indigenous peoples. I have also co-developed content and co-designed seven visitor centers and multiple interpretive trails and other visitor experiences in western U.S. and Nepal protected areas. These projects include participatory research methods and engaged application of findings.
At PSU, I served as the founding Director of the Emergency Management and Community Resilience graduate program. In 2021, I was awarded the prestigious Early Career Research Award, which is given to one Assistant or Associate Professor across the university for their achievements. I am also very proud to have been voted by students to receive the Outstanding Teacher Award in Anthropology four times and to have mentored 13 applied master’s projects. In 2019, my collaborators and I received the prestigious Hackenberg Award from the Society for Applied Anthropology for their sustained and meaningful collaboration between Tribal Nations and U.S. federal agencies.