I am an anthropologist, writer, and disability researcher based in Austin, Texas. I have extensive training and experience in qualitative methods, ethnographic writing, editing, and the social study of disability and health. As a scholar, I am committed to producing research that has a real-world impact.
My research and writing center on the social life of diagnosis, particularly in the case of disability. I am particularly interested in diagnoses that resist tidy categories or easy understandings. I was drawn to anthropology originally by its central question – the relationship of the individual to society – and my work explores the role of diagnosis and difference within that framework.
As an anthropologist, I use ethnographic methods and theories to study daily life, practices, and beliefs. My research focuses on disability, a universal yet curiously overlooked facet of the human experience. I have conducted research at various sites in the U.S. and Central America, and am currently leading two innovative projects on disability based in Austin. For my dissertation, I conducted over 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork on family experiences with rare and undiagnosed disabilities. I have worked, studied, and volunteered on four continents, plus a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I have an M.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Carleton College.
My interest in disability is intellectual, professional, and personal, and connects closely to my experiences having a younger sister with CHARGE syndrome, a rare genetic condition. CHARGE was discovered only a few years prior to my sister’s birth, and she was undiagnosed for most of our childhoods. I remain fascinated by such living experiments in diagnostic identity, and I believe that my personal experiences and academic work can help generate new understandings of the dynamic nature of disability.
My writing has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, Texas Monthly, Austin-American Statesman, San Antonio Express News, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Amarillo Globe News, Somatosphere, Nursing Clio, Disability Studies Quarterly, and more. I am currently a Project Manager at the Texas Center for Disability Studies.