At university, I was fascinated by how the social environment impacts our mental health, so I became a medical sociologist. My main research interests are how stress influences mental health and how people cope. My current research is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the influence of stress, social support, and depression on Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias in the United States. 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 enjoy being a member of the UH Department of Sociology, teaching here, and studying 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) Hawai‘i create a presentation to visit workplaces and I have given presentations about coping with stress (Chamber of Commerce, Bank of Hawai‘i, University Health Alliance Health Insurance). I have served as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Hawai‘i and supported the NAMI on Campus initiative to raise awareness among university students. Since 2019, I have been Co-Leader of the Hawai‘i Chapter of Scholars Strategy Network (SSN). SSN connects America’s top scholars with policymakers, journalists, and civic leaders. The mission is to address the nation’s toughest social issues and public health problems by regularly informing policy at every level of government.