PhD Candidate, Biocultural Medical Anthropology, University of Alabama
Master of Arts, Psychological Anthropology, Colorado State University
Bachelor of Arts , Counseling Psychology, Colorado Mesa University
I consider myself a psychological anthropologist. My doctoral work in the Biocultural Medical Anthropology department at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide) involves examining a cultural model of what constitutes a successful lifestyle in the indigenous Bribri community of Yorkín, Costa Rica. The community is experiencing rapid culture change. This model will be used to compare reported stress and depression levels with individuals’ competence (knowledge) of and consonance (approximation) to the model. I hypothesize (as previous research has shown) that those who have a higher degree of competence and consonance to the model will report less stress and depression. This research will illustrate how what individuals value in a rapidly changing world, and their ability to obtain those ideals, effects biopsychological health. It may also reveal that retaining certain traditional values in this changing environment can buffer the detrimental mental health effects of rapid culture change. It has already illustrated agreed upon needs in the community- things people say are important but they do not have sufficient access to. We have identified the need for equipping more houses with running water and solar lighting, as well as more financial resources for students who want to attend college. We are looking for support in supplying the materials for water and electricity. I have created a college fund which is providing financial assistance with travel, clothing, food, and book costs for students who get accepted to college. Recipients are required to return to the community for a defined space of time to use their expertise to help the community. Info at
I received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in counseling at Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University), a small liberal arts college in Colorado. I became interested in treatment paradigms as a result of my time working in residential and adventure based mental health programs. While there I met many individuals who were dissatisfied with their treatment options, psychotropic medication side effects, and costs. My Master’s research at Colorado State University involved working with a group of people who had various diagnoses of bipolar disorder. I employed cultural consensus and cultural consonance theory and methodology to illustrate a cognitive, shared model within the group of how best to “manage the disorder.” I found that not only did the group members share a model, but I also found that those members whose behaviors most closely approximated the model reported less frequent and severe stress, mania, and depressive states. While attending Colorado State I also worked in the lab of Dr. Jeff Snodgrass, who has published extensively on the mental health impacts of engaging in online gaming such as World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. In my time working in the lab, we published three papers on our findings. I also presented, on behalf of the research team, a poster at the 2014 American Anthropological Association’s Annual Meeting illustrating our data which showed that players who could balance their time and efforts between the online and offline worlds received stress relieving benefits. Those players who neglected their offline lives in favor of the online worlds reported more stress and overall dissatisfaction with their social relationships offline. My family settled in South Dakota along the banks of the Missouri River in the 1840’s. They made friends with the local Lakota people. I value and advocate for the preservation of indigenous knowledge and lifeways, in particular how ancient healing knowledge and plant use can be used to address mental health issues. I have had the opportunity to study with both an Apache and a Cheyenne medicine man. I have spent time in Peru with an ayahuasca shaman and am interested in the possible healing potential of its use. I believe that cultural variability makes us a more diverse, vibrant species and am concerned with the homogenization that capitalism and globalization has thrust upon the world’s cultures. I value human rights over corporate profits. I grew up in a small town in the mountains of Colorado. I find solace and regeneration in nature. For many years I worked as a backcountry guide throughout the mountain west and still enjoy attempting to lose myself deep in the wilderness. Because of this, it is important to me to have a fieldsite like Yorkín where I can hike and fish and exist far from the maddening crowds. Students and professors interested in conducting projects or helping with research in Yorkín can contact me at the University of Alabama: firstname.lastname@example.org.