I am a Geography professor and the Chairperson of the Department of History and Anthropology at Southeast Missouri State University. I grew up in the Central Valley in California -- about 70 miles east of San Francisco. The area there is largely agricultural with a focus on dairies and cattle ranching as well as fruit and nut trees. I was a first-generation college graduate and earned my bachelor's degree in geography at California State University, Stanislaus as a commuter student. I then headed off to graduate school at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge for my Master's and PhD degrees in geography as well. Since completing my degrees, I've spent two years teaching at Kansas State University and then nine at Auburn University in Alabama. I arrived here in 2014 and am very excited to be at such a student-centered institution.
I am a cultural geographer who is interested in migrants and minority groups in the United States and beyond. I've studied historical groups like the Chinese in a California Gold Rush community in the nineteenth century as well as domestic Okie migrants to California during the Great Depression and beyond. More recently, I've been interested in the growing Latino population in the U.S. South and issues of disability on university campuses. While those are my specialty areas, I also really like teaching more general geography of the world both human and physical. I learn more about our amazing world in those classes.
The world is such a dynamic place with new things happening all the time. That's probably why I'm a bit of a news junkie. Reading about what's happening around the world also substitutes for one of my other interests -- travel. I had never been out of the country (and only been on a plane twice before) when I left the country for a year to live abroad in Finland right after I completed my first year of undergraduate study. It was a scary prospect at first, but definitely changed my life for the better.
A few years ago, I was able to travel to Taiwan as a faculty member on a short-term study abroad course and since then Dr. Shu-Shuan Wang-McGrath and I have taken students to northern China to travel along the Silk Road. Travel will open your eyes, mind, and heart to the world!