I grew up in Swanton, Vermont and after high school attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota where I studied English and French. Following graduation I worked in Washington, DC for a few years at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, then served three years in the Peace Corps in the West African country of Mali. (See an online article featuring some of my reflections on this service.) My experience in Mali sparked my interest in the diversity of human societies and the inter-relations between global forces and culture at the local level.

In 2001 I began doctoral studies in the Department of Anthropology at Brown University, where my advisory committee was chaired by Professor Daniel Jordan Smith. My studies and research have concentrated on postcolonial sub-Saharan Africa, anthropological demography, development, and especially transnational migration. From 2005 to 2006 I conducted dissertation field research on West African migrants in the city of Brazzaville, Congo. I completed my dissertation and received a PhD in the spring of 2007.

Immediately after graduate school I began work as a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University’s Population Studies and Training Center, working closely with the late Professor Marida Hollos on a project examining the impact of infertility on the lives of women in southern Nigeria. In the spring of 2008 I also served as a visiting assistant professor of anthropology at Brown.

In August 2008 I began a tenure-track appointment as assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where I am also affiliated with the Globalization and Social Change Initiative, the Africana Studies Program and the Center for Global Islamic Studies. I teach undergraduate-level courses about Africa, medical anthropology, globalization, development, and global capitalism.

Since coming to Lehigh I have initiated a research project on marriage and polygyny in Bamako, Mali. Grant funding enabled me to bring two Lehigh students to Bamako as research assistants, and we spent July 2010 there gathering preliminary ethnographic data. In the fall of 2011 I took a year-long sabbatical from Lehigh to undertake a stint as a researcher and visiting lecturer affiliated with the University of Bamako, funded by the Fulbright Program. During this period I brought two more Lehigh students to work with me. My status as a Fulbright Scholar ended in May 2012, I left Mali the following month and resumed teaching at Lehigh in August 2012.

In 2014 I was promoted to associate professor and became director of Lehigh’s interdisciplinary Global Studies program.