I was born, raised, and educated in the American Midwest. Trained as a political scientist and Sinologist, I now research and teach social policy in London.
I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota where, at age 13, I began studying Mandarin. This marked the start of a life-long interest in China: as a high school junior I studied in Beijing; as an undergraduate at St. Olaf College, I majored in Asian studies and political science; and after university, I taught English for a year in Shanghai.
Upon returning to the US, I spent nearly three years at the Woodrow Wilson Center—a non-partisan think tank in Washington, DC—where I planned programs, researched, and wrote on Asian politics, environmental protection, and NGO development in China. I also served as managing editor of the China Environment Series.
Working in the policy world provided me with the empirical knowledge that was foundational for my PhD research. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I was trained as a political scientist, specialising in comparative politics and international relations.
For my dissertation, I conducted a year of field research in China. With my research supported by an interdisciplinary grant from the National Science Foundation, I worked alongside scholars from across the social and natural sciences—an experience that solidified my appreciation for, and devotion to interdisciplinary research and teaching.
After receiving my PhD in 2009, I held postdoctoral fellowships first at the Center for Asian Democracy at University of Louisville, and then the US-China Institute at University of Southern California (USC). For the 2011-2012 academic year I was a lecturer in the School of International Relations at USC.
I moved to the UK in 2012 to join King's College London as Lecturer in Chinese Politics. And in 2013, I had the opportunity to move across the street to the LSE where I've continued to draw upon my expertise in Chinese politics, while also expanding my research both topically and regionally. As associate professor in the Department of Social Policy, I endeavour to ask the big questions relevant worldwide in pursuit of 'understanding the causes of the things.'
I always advise that my students work to maintain a healthy work/life balance—and try my best to practice what I preach. Outside of work, I enjoy travelling to new destinations and old favourites, watching theatre on the West End (especially musicals), hiking, running, binge-watching Netflix, and spending as much time as possible in the sun (as infrequent as it might be in Britain). I am incredibly lucky to have a wonderfully supportive husband, Sam, join me on these adventures and stand by my side in life. With families on both sides of the Atlantic, I am proud to be both a British and American citizen.