I grew up in a small town in rural Illinois. I came of age in the United States at the beginning of the Post-911 era – I was just in my first year of high school on that day. Immediately thereafter, religion’s impact on violence coloured much of the discussion about terrorism, which fuelled my curiosity about how broad social systems like religion motivate individuals toward both helping and harming others. By my final year in high school, the Iraq War and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal turned me on to the social psychological research that could begin to answer these deep questions about why good people would treat each other so horribly. I was hooked.
I moved to the big city of St. Louis, Missouri for university, and I never looked back. I eventually settled on a double major of anthropology and psychology in an effort to expand the sometimes narrow focus in psychology while applying a more rigorous, individual-level analytical approach to cultural anthropology. I got my first taste of fieldwork and adventure when I travelled to Rabat, Morocco to work as a volunteer English instructor with Projects Abroad while gathering data for my B.A. honours thesis in Anthropology.
After finishing my B.A., I spent a year managing the Yale Infant Cognition Center under the supervision of Karen Wynn. There, I gained valuable insights into both infant cognition research methodology and the broader world of questions these methods might help answer.
I then decided to pack up and move across the continent to beautiful Vancouver, BC to pursue my MA and PhD in psychology. When I wasn’t not busy conducting field studies in Fiji or writing up the mountains of data I’ve collected so far, I have enjoyed exploring the more intuitive side of human experience through theater. While living as a resident member of UBC’s Green College, I was an active member of their community theater committee, the Green College Players. I performed in both minor and major roles; lead workshops on acting and improvisational skills; helped write and adapt scripts; and took on the role of director for the 2014-2015 season. I find acting and directing to be a beautiful complement to the more methodical, rational approaches to understanding the human condition I get from research. Theater gives actors and audiences a place to sandbox our deepest, darkest impulses and our highest, noblest virtuous; we can then explore these extremes of experience without danger of ruining our real lives. This exploration space is a conduit for the stories that form the fabric of our lives – the stories that teach us who we are and how we might be. They give us space to see ourselves in a different light and maybe, just maybe, imagine a different future.
I then packed up again – this time, to the other side of the world – to take up a post as Lecturer in Cross-cultural psychology at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand/ Aotearoa. Here, I look forward to the opportunity to bring together anthropological perspective and psychological rigour, with a special interest in promoting Indigenous, Maori, and Pasifika perspectives in psychology.