I research the anthropology of aging and disability with mixed-methodologies in the Circumpolar North. Utilizing biocultural, socioecological, and healthy aging frameworks, I research the relationship between humans and their environments and how this relationship affects health and wellness. These environments include the sociocultural, political-economic, and physical influences as well as individual strategies and priorities that people develop to cope with stressful environments or resource constraints. Because individuals experience such constraints differently, both culturally and biologically, my work contributes to the literature on resiliency and adaptation among older adults. Specifically, I study how vulnerable populations articulate and navigate changing sociocultural environments as measured by such biological indicators as nutritional status, healthy aging, and well-being.
My dissertation research in Alaska 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.
I am currently working on several projects related to older adult health and wellness in Alaska, including the use of “citizen science” techniques for LGBT older adults as well as concept mapping methods to define healthy aging for seniors in Anchorage. I am in the process of collaborating with Dr. Jen Petersen at University of Alaska Fairbanks on a mixed-methods, multi-sited project to measure objective and subjective experiences of healthy aging in urban Alaska. Lastly, I am working on a systematic meta-analysis of the literature on healthy aging in the Circumpolar North, to determine if there are unique features in this location that need to be considered in public health programming.
My past research includes smoking cessation, cancer screening, health promotion programs, and a federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to assess the accuracy, feasibility, and cultural acceptability of various physical activity measures among rural Appalachians, including self-report, pedometers, and accelerometers. I have also conducted survey research in Martin County, Kentucky on an environmental impact follow-up study to the coal sludge spill in 2000. Additionally, I’ve worked to understand smoking behaviors and other healthcare concerns for Kentucky’s LGBT community, and research into early detection of challenging child behaviors in primary care settings.
In the past, 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. My work at Hope was two-fold: to improve our agency’s service delivery through research and increased use of evidence-based practices, as well as increase available research data relevant to people with disabilities through collaborative projects and publications. I have also taught 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.