Specializations: Cultural and Applied Anthropology, Southeast Asian cultures, Lao PDR, agricultural decision-making, subsistence adaptations, international development models including participatory action research, governance of natural resources, gender and medicine in tribal societies
PhD Dissertation Title: Traditional Beliefs and Farmer Decision-Making in the Uplands of Lao PDR, May 2011
MA thesis title: Assessing Participatory Action Research: A Case Study from the Lao PDR (June 2004 Ohio University)
BA thesis title: Health Through Nature (San Francisco State University 1998)
Academic interests: People's relationships with their natural environment, including both forest and agro-ecosystems, participatory development approaches, cultural change, decision-making theories, cultures of Southeast Asia and Africa
Research: Stemming from a long-line of agriculturalists, Michelle is passionate about understanding agricultural and natural resource development. Her most recent research looked at how farmers in Laos from different ethnic groups negotiate and adapt agricultural and foraging subsistence strategies in the midst of a government imposed agricultural transition. She has conducted research in Khmu, White Tai, and Hmong farming villages in Xieng Nguen, Pak Ou, and Vieng Kham districts in the Northern Province of Luang Prabang. She considers the governance of natural resources and gender tasks and strategies within the natural resource sector. Additionally, Michelle makes inquiries into traditional medicines and religious beliefs that are directly associated with healthcare. Her research topics are all connected to both the natural environment and international development agendas. She uses a variety of methods including anthropological, ethnoecological, and participatory ones. Michelle's research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (#0921900), Rotary International, The Center for International Forestry Research, The International Rice Research Institute and UNR’s graduate school.
Biography: Michelle (2009-2010) spent a year living with and researching farming villages in northern Laos (Lao PDR), as part of her dissertation fieldwork. For her research she collaborated with the Center for International Forestry Research and their Landscapes Mosaics project. In 2004 Michelle spent four months in Northern Laos conducting her M.A. research on Participatory Development Methodologies, for this research stint she was an graduate student intern with the International Rice Research Institute. In addition to formal research Michelle has experienced Southeast Asian cultures for many years.
Michelle was a Peace Corps Volunteer from Malawi, Africa where she did agro-forestry extension work. She has also volunteered with Americorps, and the Nevada Division of Wildlife and she is an alumni of Semester at Sea. She speaks the tribal language of Chiyao and is studying the Lao language on an on-going basis. Michelle combines her academic knowledge with her worldly experiences when teaching in the classroom; feedback from past students is overwhlemingly positive.
Academic interests: People's relationships with their natural environment, including both forest and agro-ecosystems, participatory development approaches, cultural change, decision-making theories, cultures of Southeast Asia and Africa, gender in natural resources and traditional healing practices.
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Peoples and Cultures of the World
Ethnic Groups in Contemporary Societies
Peoples and Cultures of Southeast Asia
Plants and People
Courses under development:
Ethnographic field Methods
Food, Agriculture and Globalization
Magic, Witchcraft and Religion