Department of Environmental Studies, Huxley College of the Environment at WWU
I received my Ph.D. from Cornell University where I combined structural engineering and anthropology. With a Fulbright scholarship to Turkey, I documented how residents in Istanbul’s sprawling squatter settlements dealt with frequent and deadly earthquakes.
I found the discomfort of adjusting to the Turkish language and culture so fascinating, I stayed a second year. I devoted the year to working with a local non-profit organization teaching earthquake risk and disaster preparedness. My understanding of residents’ misconceptions and dangerous building practices helped our team develop culturally appropriate teaching tools.
I returned to the United States, starting a post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University just as Hurricane Katrina struck the Louisiana coast. I continued to work with communities facing environmental hazards, this time New Orleans residents fighting for a chance to participate in their city’s recovery process.
In 2007, I finally found my way back to where I grew up - the Pacific Northwest. I have been working at Huxley College’s Resilience Institute, as a grant writer and later as an associate director, since then. At the institute, I have engaged in a wide range of exciting community resilience and disaster recovery research projects. These projects have been in partnership with local community organizations and state agencies; most have given undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to engage in research alongside Institute staff and faculty. See my research tab for more information.
I also teach several courses at Huxley College, including the Disaster Risk Reduction Planning Studio, Risk Perception, and Human Ecology and Sustainability. More recently, I have begun advising The Planet Magazine, an award-winning, student-led environmental magazine. For the 2011-2013 academic year, I am also co-teaching a series of courses with Dr. Ruth Sofield on contaminated soils cleanup. Each of the courses I teach is a fascinating journey as students from multiple backgrounds learn to engage with and learn from each other. See my teaching tab for more information on these courses and links to some of the student work.