I am currently completing my dissertation, “Remaking the Pilot: Unmanned Aviation and the Transformation of Work in Postagrarian North Dakota,” which draws on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork with drone pilot trainees and instructors at two key training programs. This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The project takes up the drone not (only) as a vector of state violence, but as a site at which practices and cultural logics of work are being reimagined. It connects these processes to regionally specific ambitions for economic diversification and anxieties about population loss, even as it emphasizes their wider analytical purchase.
More broadly, I am interested in forms of mediation that aim to coordinate action rather than convey meaning, a line of inquiry that I trace back to classic debates in semiotics and forward to contemporary scholarship on autonomous systems, logistics, and machine readability.
I also serve as managing editor for Cultural Anthropology, the open-access journal of the Society for Cultural Anthropology. Before coming to Rice, I earned a Master’s in library and information science at Simmons College and held the position of library director at Independence Community College in rural southeast Kansas.