Research

I am an anthropological archaeologist interested in questions about how humans interact with the environments of which we are a part, especially the ways that we procure and produce food. Methodologically, the bulk of my work is archaeobotanical in nature — that is, I specialize in the study of plants from archaeological sites, especially macroremains and phytoliths. However, I have worked with a variety of archaeological materials, and have also begun to incorporate ethnoarchaeology (especially interviews and participant observation) into my work.

My Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Oregon (2015) focused on food production systems on the volcanic Temwen Island, Pohnpei in central-eastern Micronesia. Through the lens of historical ecology, I examined the relationship of food production systems to social and environmental change. My current main project is on Pingelap, a small coral atoll located 280 km southeast of Pohnpei. In this project, I am applying the theory of cultural niche construction to understand the feedback between food production-related ecological engineering and the social and physical environment in which people lived (and continue to live).

Additionally, I have collaborated on projects from Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic Chinese sites, focusing on tool usage and plant exploitation through the study of stone tool residues. Recently, I have also worked on materials from other regions across the Eastern Hemisphere.

My research has been funded by National Geographic, the National Science Foundation, the National Park Service, The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Dumbarton Oaks Garden and Landscape Studies, the University of Oregon, and Stanford University.