I am a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Rochester. Previously, I have studied history at the University of Utah and Central Michigan University. I have benefited from living among diverse cultures and in beautiful places. From Utah’s Wasatch Valley, to rural Michigan, to a post-industrial city in Western New York I am continuously inspired by the ways in which humans interact with their local environments. These human landscapes are a lens to understand how local cultures interact with the natural world. As such, my research questions begin with a simple premise: humans shape nature and nature shapes humans. This outlook asserts that the relationship between man and nature is far more reciprocal than hegemonic. Environmental realities are a result of human ideologies, culture, and unintended consequences in an ecological system. In turn, human perceptions of the natural world are a result of human and non-human actors. This theoretical premise makes up the bedrock of my past work, current research, and teaching emphasis.
Broadly speaking, my research explores the interaction of nature, business, and culture in nineteenth-century America. My current project examines the role of plant nurserymen in nineteenth-century America. Nurserymen were naturalists, city planners, reformers, scientists, and businessmen. Their vision for the American landscape blended agribusiness with a deep reverence for the natural world. My research places nurserymen at the center of American expansion and ecological imperialism. Alternatively, nurserymen promoted a romantic vision towards the natural world — a vision that asked Americans to slow down, tend their gardens, and bask in the splendor of nature’s beauty. A history of plant nurserymen is a a story of lofty dreams, unforeseen ecological consequences, and the heartache associated with business of beauty.
I am also interested in the ways in which new digital technologies reveal nuanced understandings of the lived experience. It is my belief that the use of web design, coding, data collection/visualization, and digital mark-up can improve both historical research and the visibility of the humanities in a broader context. As an Andrew W. Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow I have had the opportunity to analyze a myriad of ways in which digital tools can expand the historical record as well as amplify the historian’s voice in a world thirsty for thoughtful and informed perspectives. Additionally, I believe students must be equipped to enter an increasingly technological world. In addition to lecture, discussion, and research, I have exposed undergraduate students to XML Coding and GIS Mapping to strengthen their digital literacy in the humanities.