I am an interdisciplinary scientist broadly interested in human-environment interactions. I combine collaborative, place-based research with global-scale studies of cross-cultural variation in human subsistence, kinship, settlement, and governance systems. My past work has emphasized participatory methodologies (e.g., community-led documentation and mapping of culturally important plant species, landscapes and knowledge); the digitization, linking and open-access publication of historic cross-cultural, linguistic and environmental datasets (e.g., d-place.org); and the application of analytical approaches from macroecology and evolutionary biology to these datasets, with the ultimate goal of gaining insights into human history, behaviour, and cultural change.

Current interests:

Individual psychological change: How do we, as individuals, negotiate our identities in relation to the systems in which we are embedded – social, cultural, familial? How do life events and experience shift those identities? I am currently pursuing a clinical mental health degree based on these interests, and am enjoying delving into different psychotherapeutic paradigms and understandings of wellbeing.

Climate change, climate migration, and mental health: What will be the impacts of increasingly unpredictable climate conditions and natural disasters on health and well-being? How is widespread climate anxiety impacting mental health? What specific challenges will be faced by populations forced to migrate because of climate-related events or conditions? How might greater attention to peoples’ linguistic, cultural, and emotional connections to nature contribute to sustainability efforts?

Cross-cultural research: How can we best reconcile some of the problematic aspects of past cross-cultural research (essentialism, determinism) with its potential positive contributions to our understanding of human diversity, history, and societal change? I helped create The Database of Places, Language, Culture and Environment, and remain excited by its potential as a research and teaching tool.

Cultural ‘regime shifts’: Could a better understanding of historic shifts and tipping points in societal attitudes and behaviours inform our approaches to contemporary challenges, from climate change to social inequality? How is broad social change related to culturally transmitted norms, values, institutions, and practices; regional interaction networks and power imbalances; socio-ecological shocks; and natural resource availability and reliability?

Group boundaries: How can we best model the establishment, permeability and breakdown of boundaries among human social groups? Might more mechanistic boundary models provide new insights into broad-scale patterns of human linguistic and cultural diversity?