I am a white, queer, non-binary (pronouns: they/them), disabled PhD student in Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and am also completing a Certificate in Gender Studies.
My current research lies at the intersection of disability studies, sexuality studies, and archival studies, centering on the history of natural history museums and their archives. I am interested in the history of colonialism, toxicity, and the politicization of biological collections to trace histories of the conflation of disability, race, and animality in natural history and that conflation’s link to colonialist ideals. Disability studies offers critical epistemologies that work in tandem with critical race theory, affect theory, queer theory and feminist theory to explore notions of "the normative". Through this work, I hope to expand feminist disability studies’ productive frameworks into archival studies and museum studies to open up new critical ways of understanding the collection, production, organization and display of biological information.
For the past 9 years, I have worked in various natural history museums managing projects for the curation of digital and physical collections. From individual specimen dissection and imaging to bulk data cleaning and uploading, I have worked along a spectrum of archival practices and explored how the digitization of historic collections can inform understandings of truth and objectivity, both for scientists and the general public. Through my archival work at large institutions such as the Field Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the Swedish Museum of Natural History as well as smaller museums like the Oregon State Arthropod Collection, I have digitized millions of specimens and have been exposed to institutional perspectives and pedagogies on the digital record.
This work heavily influenced my masters research at the University of California Berkeley, where I focused on digital archive infrastructure and accessibility as well as mediated experiences of digital artifacts and the assumed objectivity of institutional information. During my masters degree, as a Research Assistant for the Essig Museum of Entomology, I redesigned the digital archive interface for CalBug, with a focus on user experience and user centered design. I also competed research on constructs of objectivity in taxidermy under Dr. Mel Y. Chen.
In addition to my academic work, I am invested in disability justice, design justice, and social justice technologies. In collaboration with design studio And Also Too, I have worked on a number of design justice projects, such as It's a Matter of Time: Systemic Review of Secure Isolation in Ontario Youth Justice Facilities. With Lead Designer, Una Lee, I was awarded the Center for Technology, Society and Policy 2016 Fellowship to create a digital archive of social justice graphics rooted in collaboration and community. This project, The Vision Archive, leverages workshops that facilitate co-creation among artists, organizers, and activists to generate and utilize aspirational imagery for social movements.
Currently, I hold two Research Assistantships at UCLA. For the first, with Dr. Michelle Caswell, I conduct research to understand of the users of community archives and organize logistics, provide technical support, and implement accessibility foundations for community archive events. For the second, with the Center for the Study of Women, I conduct research about toxicity and gender, and provide logistical support for the Chemical Entanglements Symposium and Working Group.
AISC (American Indian Studies Center) at UCLA acknowledges the Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (Los Angeles basin, So. Channel Islands) and are grateful to have the opportunity to work for the taraaxatom (indigenous peoples) in this place. As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to Honuukvetam (Ancestors), 'Ahiihirom (Elders), and 'eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.