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Biography

I trace my roots to the Midwest, where I lived until age 8 and where most of my extended family lives today.  Before retiring, my dad was a sociology professor at DePauw University, a small liberal arts college in Indiana.  When I was in 2nd grade, I moved with my mom and older sister to Washington DC, where my mom pursued a career in communications, marketing and government contracting.  My sister and I were thrust into a completely different world than the one we had known - one in which almost every race, ethnicity and nationality was represented.  At the same time, we became part of a single mother-headed household, which transformed my understanding of women's capabilities and responsibilities.  I suspect that these circumstances sparked my interest in gender, globalization and inequality. 

As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, I majored in Anthropology and African Studies.  I also studied in Costa Rica and Kenya.  I was fascinated by all things international and cultural and set my sights quite early on pursuing a Ph.D. and becoming a professor.  My graduate training at the University of Wisconsin focused on the sociology of economic change, or how individuals, communities and countries experience "modernization" and "development."  For my dissertation, I studied a city in Costa Rica where economic restructuring had transformed work and family life over the course of two decades.  As such, I speak Spanish with a Costa Rican accent and have much affection for Tico life and culture.    

In 2003, I gathered my newly-bound doctoral thesis, my second-hand furniture, and my ten-year old cat and moved to Logan, Utah, where I took my first job as an Assistant Professor at Utah State University.  There, I had five wonderful years of teaching and doing research.  Somewhere during those five years, I decided I wanted to find a life partner and start a family.  In a town that was almost 90 percent Mormon, there were few options for a 30-something single professor with no Mormon background.  So I thought that looking for love online would be a great idea.  And it worked!  Through Match.com, I met my husband, a wildlife biologist working in Wyoming for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  We married in 2007 and have gone on to have two beautiful daughters, Rose and Liberty.

In 2009, my husband was offered a job managing Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Elk Grove.  Given this career opportunity and the needs of our growing family, I resigned from Utah State and moved out to sunny California.  I taught part-time at Sacramento City College for a few years before becoming a full-time faculty member at University of the Pacific in 2013.  Today, my family lives on a 5-acre ranch in a rural community called Herald, about 35 minutes north of Stockton.  One day, we want goats and chickens.  But for right now, we have our hands full with three cats and two daughters.  As a working mother, I have precious little time to do anything but work, laundry and dishes.  But when I find those rare moments, I am writing, traveling, and photographing everything in sight.