Research on Academic communities
As a socio-cultural anthropologist, I studied how transnational academic and scientific communities are organized.
My main focus was on inequalities that arise when field-scientists from the Global North go to work in the Global South.
My academic career has taken a few twists and turns over the years!
I started out as a dedicated archaeologist, going on my first excavation (an Anglo-Saxon/Roman site in Suffolk, UK) when I was 16 years old. That same summer I got my first 'academic job' washing artifacts for the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU).
I went on to get a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge, specializing in European Prehistory and Archaeological Sciences. All the while I continued work on commercial and research excavations in the UK.
In 2003 I traveled to South America for the first time. I had been invited to work with a British-Peruvian team in Peru and a US team in Bolivia.
For the first time, I was working with archaeologists who were not trained in the UK. I was struck by how different it felt to work with US archaeologists, even though we all spoke the same language and were presumably doing similar work.
In 2005 I moved to the USA to begin a PhD in Socio-cultural anthropology, at the University of Chicago. My aim was to study the implications of these contrasting 'cultures' of archaeologists.
I was interested both in the epistemological implications, and the social and cultural implications of their being different nationality-based ways of being an archaeologist.
The result was a long-term ethnography of transnational collaborations between North American archaeologists who work in the Bolivian Andes, and Chilean archaeologists who work in the Tarapacá desert of Chile.
Several publications came from this work, including a 2020 article that focused on 'performative informality' as a driver of class and gender inequalities in the community of US archaeology.
After graduating I worked for several years in university administration.
First at the University of Illinois, Chicago, where I was the project manager of an initiative that sought to increase the college graduation and retention rates of low-income students from Chicago Public Schools.
Later I then moved to Northwestern University, where I was the Assistant Director of the Undergraduate Research Office.
My last academic position was as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Michigan University.
I was part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the US and Mexico, studying the intersection of health, inequality, and water access among working class families in Mexico City.
As part of the “Neighborhood Environments as Socio-Techno-bio Systems: Water Quality, Public Trust, and Health in Mexico City" (NESTSMX) project, I was responsible for the initial design of the project fieldwork, the analysis of the ethnographic data, and co-teaching an undergraduate ethnography lab using the NESTSMX material.
Designing the project's fieldwork methodology involved balancing the needs of three very different academic disciplines, collecting three very different kinds of data: Water quality data from samples and water sensors (engineering), biological samples of hair for measuring cortisol levels (environmental health), and ethnographic data from home visits and interviews (socio-cultural anthropology).
Additionally, given my prior research on inequalities that can arise when US researchers work in the Global South, I aimed to ensure that NESTSMX balanced the needs of both the US and Mexican researchers.