Michelle is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. Her doctoral research engages with the agency and animacy of trees, interrogating how we can rethink our relationships with forests to combat deforestation. By focusing on the mundane and spiritual ways people use the tree huayruro (Ormosia sunkei, Ormosia coccinea, Ormosia amazonica) in the Peruvian Andean Amazon region of San Martin, her research aims to inform strategies combating forest loss. While originally from Ottawa, Canada, Michelle was living and working in San Martin, Peru before moving to Vancouver for graduate studies.
Her MA research, also completed in the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, focused on American black bears in traditional Algonquin territory in Ontario. The research asked similar questions to her PhD work: Which knowledges matter in resource management policies? How are categorizations of a living being used to justify actions with, for, and to that being?
Michelle’s supervisor is Dr. Shaylih Muehlmann, Canada Research Chair in Language, Culture, and the Environment. Her supervisory committee includes Leslie Robertson, Department of Anthropology, Gastón Gordillio, Department of Anthroplogy, and Alejandra Bronfman, Latin American, Caribbean, and US Latino Studies, SUNY Albany.