About Me

Hello and thank you for visiting my webpage!

I am an Associate Professor of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota and I study and teach topics related to Population Geography, Demography and Health.

I first started my college career at UC Berkeley as a theoretical mathematics major (with a minor in French). While at Berkeley I became actively involved in the Student Parent group on campus. This was an amazingly supportive campus resource for me as a mom who was trying to cope with the challenges of parenting a little baby and managing college demands. It also helped me develop a greater understanding of the challenges mothers face. I then built on my math background and interests in women’s health and finished my MSPH at Tulane’s School of Public Health, followed by my MA in statistics at UC Santa Barbara and finally my PhD in Geography at UC Santa Barbara. My dissertation focused on Guatemalan women’s reproductive health and fertility and merged my math/statistics background with my commitment to reproductive health.

Now my research fits squarely within the field of Population Geography. My research highlights the role of context in various aspects related to maternal and child health—primarily reproductive health and family planning decision-making. Using my geographic training and quantitative background I aim to build on past approaches and theories found in demography and public health. I strive to bring an alternative perspective to issues related to women’s health and development through the use of a quantitative, mixed-disciplinary approach to the examination of the way that individual, family, or household outcomes are conditioned by place; including both the culture and the natural environment. I spend considerable amount of time exploring underlying theories of development, resource use and access, building on my own personal experiences and observations from time spent in poor countries and communities.

I am (currently or recently) funded by the NSF, the NIH, the Gates Foundation, NASA, the Famine Early Warning System, and UCSB’s Climate Hazards Center. These organizations provide wonderful financial and creative support as I, along with some great collaborators and graduate students, investigate agriculture, food insecurity and health outcomes in some of the poorest countries in the world. In these projects we use remotely sensed data, qualitative interviews and survey data to examine how and why fertility, breastfeeding practices and contraceptive use are impacted by changes in food availability and land use.

Please feel free to contact me if you are trying to manage parenting small children as an undergraduate or graduate student (or beyond!). Check out this recent article in Nature about parenting and field work! Mixing research and field work with the demands of children (even very young or breastfeeding babies) has been delightful for me and my family.