Michelle holds a Doctoral degree in Anthropology and a Master’s degree in Geography. She currently teaches in the anthropology department at the University of Nevada, Reno and California State University, Sacramento. She conducts research in Southeast Asia, particularly the Lao PDR. She analyzes environmental development agendas by talking with local farmers, government officials, and Non-governmental Organizations. Michelle has worked with the International Rice Research Institute, the Center for International Forestry Research and she has been a research fellow with Rotary International. She has experience working with multi-disciplinary international research teams to try to understand the dynamics of development as holistically as possible. Michelle also looks at participatory research models, including participatory action research. In addition to environmental development issues she is interested in local perceptions and traditions about health and healing, healthcare development, and gender within the environmental and health sectors.
Michelle is committed to understanding human-environment relationships, decision-making processes, and listening and incorporating local voices and expertise into development efforts in order to find solutions to global problems wherein all stakeholder groups’ goals are considered. Consideration and incorporation of all stakeholder groups’ values promotes sustainability, which is one of the main goals of development protocols around the world today.
Michelle gained a working knowledge of environmental and agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa when she was stationed as an agro-forestry extension agent in Malawi with the Peace-Corps for two years. Michelle has facilitated Peace-Corps cross-cultural trainings, coordinated health and hygiene workshops in the Lao PDR, spoken on public radio shows in Malawi, and is an executive board member at large with the Southwestern Anthropological Association. Her interests and talents are diverse. She continually strives to apply her knowledge to solve modern world issues and to inspire students.