At university, I was fascinated by how our social environment influences our well-being, so I became a medical sociologist. My main research interests are how stress influences mental health and how people cope. Before joining UH, I was an Assistant Professor at the University of Miami in Florida. I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and I dreamed of living in Hawaiʻi. I am happy to be a member of the UH sociology department, teach here, and study this culturally diverse place.
- PhD, Sociology, Indiana University – Bloomington, 2005
- MA, Sociology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 1999
- BA, Sociology with Honors, First Class, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 1996
- SOC 354: Survey of Medical Sociology
- SOC 441: Social Structure and the Individual
- SOC 454: Analysis in Medical Sociology
- SOC 491: Discussion Group Leader–Freshman Seminar
- SOC 616: Seminar in Stress and Health
- SOC 617: Sociology of Mental Health and Illness
- SOC 715: Seminar in Current Issues in Sociology
As a medical sociologist, I examine the social determinants of health and psychological well-being. My research has examined: (1) the harmful consequences of chronic stress during different life stages; and (2) coping with stress to protect mental health. I have studied the stress-buffering effects of a strong ethnic identity and social support, and the chronic stress of discrimination, unfulfilled expectations, job insecurity, long durations of unemployment, poverty, and caregiving. Many of my studies have highlighted the long-term effects of these chronic stressors using national longitudinal data. Some of my new research uses survey data that I collected on young adults in Hawai‘i to better understand how culture, identity, and place intersect to make us who we are today.
In line with my research on stress and mental health, I have helped the Director of Mental Health America (MHA) of Hawai‘i, Marya Grambs, to create a presentation to visit workplaces to lecture about coping with stress and I have given presentations (Chamber of Commerce, Bank of Hawai‘i, University Health Alliance Health Insurance). From 2015-2016, I served as a Member of the Board of Directors for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Hawai‘i. From 2016 to the present, I am an advisor to the Board of Directors for NAMI, Hawai‘i.