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My work asks how research into the human microbiome, the teeming collection of microorganisms living in and on the human body, is driving dramatic reassessments of microbial life in contemporary American science and culture. In my dissertation, Ruptures: Life without Germs in the Microbiome Era, I argue that the idea of the microbiome has been conceptually structured by historical assessments of life without microbes — both in the material bodies of germfree laboratory animals, and in the nightmarish prospect of humans in germfree spaces. I study historical and contemporary texts in microbiology, science fiction, and popular science writing to show how the germfree body represents ruptures of both ecological and social cohesion: rifts that must be repaired through living deliberately with microbes.
I hold a BS in Microbiology with a minor in Biology from Penn State and have worked on research projects in a variety of areas: virology (Kaposi’s scarcoma-associated herpesvirus), bacteriology (Bordetella pertussis, i.e., whooping cough), tissue culture (stem cells and other models, including HeLa cells), and reproductive endocrinology. I also hold an MA in English from North Carolina State.
I am affiliated with UC Davis ModLab.
My CV is available here.
PhD candidate in English, University of California, Davis (summer 2019). Dissertation: Ruptures: Life Without Germs in the Microbiome Era.
MA in English, North Carolina State University (2011). Thesis: “The Embodied Sublime in Joseph Priestley’s The History and Present State of Electricity.”
BS in Microbiology and Minor in Biology, The Pennsylvania State University and Schreyer Honors College (2007). Thesis: “Construction and phenotypic characterization of an alternative sigma factor E mutant in Bordetella bronchiseptica strain RB50.”
“‘La vie Impossible”: Germfree Life in the Microbiome Era.” Forthcoming in Practices of Speculation: Modeling, Embodiment, Figuration, ed. Jeanne Cortiel, Christine Hanke, Jan Hutta, and Colin Milburn. Transcript Verlag, forthcoming in 2019.
"Are Clusters Races? A Discussion of the Rhetorical Appropriation of Rosenberg et al.'s “Genetic Structure of Human Populations." Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9.12 (2017).
"Corporate Agriculture and the Exploitation of Life in Portal 2." Games and Culture 2016.
“Ordinary Extremophiles: Materializing Domain Archaea in Human Microbiome Research.” Society for Literature, Science and the Arts: November 2019, Toronto ON.
“Originating the microbiome: Joshua Lederberg and Microbiology’s Self-Narration at the Advent of the Human Microbiome Project.” History of Science Society: November 2018, Seattle, WA.
Panelist, “Science Fiction and Cultures of Science.” World Convention of Science Fiction: August 2018, San Jose, CA.
"'La vie impossible': Germ-free Life in the Microbiome Era." Viral Culture Symposium: April 2018, Claremont CA.
"Circular Logic: Tree of Life Diagrams and the Visual Proliferation of Microbial Life." Society for Literature, Science and the Arts: November 2017, Phoenix AZ.
“Talking, Hearing, Voting: Quorum Sensing as Bacterial Chatter.” Society for Literature, Science and the Arts: November 2016, Atlanta GA.
“Missing Microbes: Ecocatastrophe Fiction and the Microbiome Era.” Ecomaterialisms Collective Graduate Conference: May 2016, University of California, Davis.
“Envisioning Amphibiosis: Theodor Rosebury and Redemptive Microbiology at the Advent of the Human Microbiome Project.” Society for Literature, Science and the Arts: November 2015, Rice University
“Physiological Aesthetics and the Reasoning Mind in Joseph Priestley’s The History and Present State of Electricity.” Western Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies: February 14, University of California, Davis.
“The Somatic Sublimity of Joseph Priestley’s The History and Present State of Electricity.” The Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies: February 2011, Wake Forest University.
- English 10C, "Literatures in English, 1900-present: Conspiracy & Alternative History," winter 2017
- English 3, “Introduction to Literature: Science, Rhetoric, & Invisible Things,” fall 2016
- English 3, “Introduction to Literature: Science, Literature, & Education,” 3 terms
- UWP 1, “Expository Writing,” 3 terms
- UWP 1, “Expository Writing” (hybrid online/face-to-face format), 3 terms
- English Department – “Eighteenth-Century British Novel,” “Medieval and Early Modern Women Writers in England and the Americas,” “The Canterbury Tales”
- Engineering: Computer Science Department – “Ethics in an Age of Technology”
American Society for Microbiology; History of Science Society; Modern Language Association; Society for Literature, Science and the Arts