I was born and raised in Oakland, California, and grew up in the shadow -- or, perhaps more correctly, the light -- of UC Berkeley. My parents, who were the first in their respective families to attend college, both graduated from Cal. Growing up, I never questioned where I would attend college, because the University of California was so significant to my family and such an exceptional place to study. I entered Cal my senior year of high school in the Accelerated High School Student program, taking introductory calculus. When I started attending Cal full time the following year, I intended to major in the biological sciences. By my sophomore year, however, I gave into my long-held interest in archaeology and ended up pursuing a degree in Anthropology instead. Still, I continued with my studies in the natural sciences during my undergraduate years, including taking classes in chemistry, physics, biology, ecology, and botany. That breadth of knowledge has served me well over the years.
I went on to receive my Master's degree in Archaeology from the University of Calgary shortly thereafter, but was anxious to apply all of my new-found knowledge outside of the classroom. So, over the next 13 years, I worked first as an archaeologist for the National Park Service in Yosemite National Park and, later, for an international engineering firm that also provided environmental compliance services. These were great experiences that truly put my knowledge to the test. By the mid 1990s, I began to feel that it was time to move on to other things, and that required going back to school. And where better to continue my education than at UC Berkeley? I returned to Cal in 1995, and received my Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2002. After a few more years of teaching and working in the private sector as an archaeologist, I joined UC Merced in 2006 as one of two founding faculty members in Anthropology.
I'm thrilled to be part of the University of California system and building this new campus so close to many of the places that I have lived and worked during my career. I was living in El Portal in the late 1980s when UC Merced was just a glimmer in planner's eyes, and I tracked the progress here since that time, hoping that my dream of serving at UC Merced would finally come true. I'm so glad it did!
Want to know more about my professional work? See my CV