I research the anthropology of aging and disability through a biocultural framework in Alaska. I serve as the coordinator of Research and Development at Hope Community Resources, a service provider agency for Alaskans that experience disabilities. My work at Hope is 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 also teach Intro to Anthropology, World Cultures, and Medical Anthropology at Northern Kentucky University.
My work focuses on the interaction between human biology and cultural practices, with a focus on aging and disabilities. Utilizing a biocultural framework, I am interested in the relationship between humans and their environments and how this relationship affects biological outcomes. I research the multiple pathways that shape biological outcomes in complex environments experiencing resource constraints. These pathways include socioeconomic and environmental influences as well as individual strategies and priorities that people develop to cope with stressful environments. Because individuals experience resource constraints differently, both culturally and biologically, my work contributes to the literature on contemporary human variation. Specifically, I study how elderly, disabled, or other vulnerable populations articulate and navigate changing sociocultural environments as measured by such biological indicators as nutritional status, healthy aging, and well-being.
My other past research includes smoking cessation, cancer screening, and 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. I utilize the anthropology of aging, medical anthropology, healthy aging, and disability studies perspectives in my work to tell the stories of some of the country’s most vulnerable populations.