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- Cultural and political geography, international migration and forced displacement, refugee studies, refuge, home and belonging
- Qualitative research methodologies, feminist geographic methodologies, participatory research, visual methods
I’m a broadly trained human geographer and migration scholar with particular interests in forced displacement, refugee resettlement, and how people create a sense of home and belonging. My work can be understood in conversation with two primary interdisciplinary areas of inquiry, organized around questions like:
What does it mean to belong to a nation, a place, or a community of people? How do people (especially migrants) create home, or develop a sense of (un)belonging?
How can social scientists implement ethical, effective and empowering ways of “knowing with” research participants? How can research methodologies be more participatory, ethical, transparent, and equitable?
My doctoral research (successfully defended August 2019) considers these broad questions through an examination of refugee resettlement in the southeastern U.S. Amid a period of unprecedented global displacement and growing unease surrounding immigration, many refugees are left without sufficient support for integration in their new homes and communities. My project analyzes refugees’ experiences in this context, and explores the role of third-sector resettlement volunteers to understand how integration works for resettled refugees. Through the project, I address methodological challenges that arise in qualitative fieldwork with marginalized populations, and reflect on the ethical implications of fieldwork research. I am interested in building on this research through (a) a domestic project on longitudinal resettlement outcomes, (b) a study of refugee secondary migration to understand resettlement experience and migrant decision-making, and (c) a comparative study of refuge among top resettlement countries to explore divergent trajectories of refugee/asylee integration.
Drawing on my doctoral research, my chapter on using visual methods in fieldwork with vulnerable populations has been published in the Geographical Review, and I have presented at regional and national conferences, including the biennial Race, Ethnicity and Place, as well as the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers. Two manuscripts from my doctoral research are currently in revision for resubmission (to Social and Cultural Geography) and under review (with the Journal of Refugee Studies). Please see my profile here for more information about my work.
I am originally from Arkansas, and received my B.A. in International Studies and Cultural Affairs from Arkansas Tech University (ATU) in 2015. Seeking a path to advocate for and support immigrants and first-generation Americans, I entered the M.A. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program at ATU. However, I soon realized that the challenges of immigrant integration manifest not only in education but across multiple aspects of the settlement process. In 2016, I arrived at the University of Tennessee to study immigration and settlement from a geographic perspective. Over the course of my studies, I have conducted extensive field research with three different refugee resettlement organizations in the southeastern U.S., and have worked as a volunteer coordination intern at a local refugee resettlement agency.
In my five years of university-level teaching experience, I have most served as the Instructor of Record in for World Regional and senior-level geography seminar courses at both the University of Tennessee and Arkansas Tech University. Through my teaching, I target three interrelated pedagogical commitments: (a) to advance geographic literacy, (b) to facilitate student-centered educational experiences, and (c) to promote the development of locally engaged and globally minded citizens. I have broad experience across physical, human and sustainability-oriented geography courses, and consistently emphasize connections between human activities and physical processes throughout my teaching. I enjoy incorporating innovative, experiential learning activities in my courses, and have earned the CIRTL Network’s Practitioner Level pedagogical certification as well as the Teaching Certificate in Game-based Learning at UTK. I have also been invited to guest lecture on my research and general expertise in a variety of courses at UTK and ATU.
I would love to continue to teach, mentor students, and conduct research in a tenure-track academic position.