I am associate professor and coordinator for the Occupational Endorsement Certificate in Gerontology program in the Division of Population Health Sciences, co-director of the National Resource Center for Alaska Native Elders, and founding director of the Healthy aging Research Lab at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). I research the anthropology of aging with mixed-methodologies in the Circumpolar North. My work focuses on engaging older adults (aged 65+ years) in community-based participatory research projects to enhance healthy and positive aging. My research involves undergraduate and graduate student research assistants from the UAA Healthy Aging Research Lab to investigate the barriers and facilitators to healthy aging, and develop interventions to improve health outcomes in the Circumpolar North.  I teach a variety of gerontology and health promotion courses that utilize service-learning, community-engaged projects, and interprofessional education. I am also the associate editor of the Association of Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) quarterly newsletter.

I work with collaborators across UAA on a variety of health interventions, especially those focusing on increasing health behaviors among older adults. My dissertation research in Anchorage looked at the sociocultural influences on older adult nutritional status outcomes, such as the role of friends, family, cultural identity, and the media on diet and physical activity practices. This mixed-methods project collected data from 82 seniors in Anchorage including a Food Frequency Questionnaire, a physical activity assessment, a survey, participation observation, and semi-structured interviews. I am currently working on a project in Anchorage, Alaska that utilizes concept mapping methods to quantify how various stakeholders (older adults, senior advocates, service providers, local gerontologists) in Anchorage conceptualize “healthy aging” in the urban subarctic.

My other past research includes using concept mapping to identify barriers and opportunities to healthy aging and  improvisational comedy techniques among dementia caregivers. I have also worked on smoking cessation, cancer screening, physical activity measurement, and intergenerational health promotion programs. I have also served as the Research Analyst for the Alaska Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education and coordinator of Research and Development at Hope Community Resources, a service provider agency for Alaskans that experience disabilities. In addition to the gerontology and public health courses I currently teach, I have taught several anthropology courses including Intro to Anthropology, World Civilizations, Introduction to Archaeology, World Cultures, Cultural Diversity in the Modern World, and Medical Anthropology at Northern Kentucky University, Eastern Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, and Gateway Community and Technical College.