I am an Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology in Mississippi State University’s Department of Anthropology of Middle Eastern Cultures (AMEC) with a specialty in Environmental Anthropology. My research focuses on resource management, biodiversity conservation, coastal resources and the interaction of parks and protected areas with development and livelihood needs. My dissertation work (2001-2006) focused on the implementation of co-management and livelihood impacts a marine protected area in Quintana Roo, Mexico, which was partially funded by a Fulbright grant. From 2009-2017 I researched the movement of Costa Rican migrants to the buffer zones of Costa Rican national parks partially funded by a three-year NSF grant. From 2015-2019, I was the PI on an interdisciplinary research team funded by NOAA investigating communication issues between fisheries agencies and Vietnamese-American fishing communities in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
After two years teaching in Costa Rica at the United Nations-Mandated University for Peace, I was hired into the AMEC department in the fall of 2008. Our department houses a medium-sized MA program in Applied Anthropology, which started in 2000. I served as the Graduate Coordinator for the program from 2014 until the summer of 2020. This past year, I was also named the Interim Director of the Office of Prestigious External Scholarships in the Shackouls Honors College at MSU. I have been working in the office since the fall of 2016, advising for Fulbright, Boren, and the Critical Language Scholarship.
I am interested in serving on the Board of Directors for the SfAA for a number of reasons. First, I owe much of my own success to the relationships I developed as a SfAA member and annual meeting attendee since 2000. As a young scholar, I appreciated the SfAA for its accessibility and focus on nurturing the careers of its youngest members. Second, I appreciate the ways that the SfAA welcomes participants from outside academia and the narrow confines of anthropology. Considering the trend that few of our students will head to academia, it is important we maintain space for practicing anthropologists’ contributions. Third, as a former graduate coordinator from a fairly small MA program, I was able to see how the SfAA supported us and our students in ways that larger organizations simply cannot. Lastly, I appreciate the concerted effort the SfAA makes to foster international participation.
As a board member, I am particularly interested in helping the SfAA navigate the new avenues for participation and inclusion that COVID-19 has produced. These past few months have shown everyone the possibilities (and pitfalls) created by video-conferencing platforms. These platforms reduce barriers to entry and open up the possibility of participation from international, student and non-professional members, which is an exciting opportunity. However, this necessarily threatens traditional conferences and the bonds created by face-to-face interaction. Finding the right balance will be critical for the future of the SfAA. I am particularly interested in helping the SfAA develop strategies that reaffirm the characteristics mentioned above and that have made my own experience with the organizational exceptional.