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CV and Publications

Why do you write like you're running out of time?

—Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Non-Stop," Hamilton

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The Wake of the Whale: Hunter Societies in the Caribbean and North Atlantic

Harvard University Press, 2018

This book compares the traditional whaling cultures of the Faroe Islands and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, with special focus on the implications for human health and sustainability, based on long-term fieldwork in both locations.

Erratum: The values for two columns were transposed in the St. Vincent whaling records, included on p.294 of the Appendix. The corrected table, which will be included in future printings of the book, can be downloaded here (PDF). 

Purchase/preview options: 

Publisher's website, independent bookstores, Amazon, Google Books

 Voltaire’s Breadfruit: Thoughts on the Inspiration for an Eighteenth-Century Colonial Botanical Transfer

Plant Perspectives, 2024

The British Government-facilitated introduction of breadfruit trees (Artocarpus altilis) from the Pacific to the Caribbean during the late eighteenth century was a notable feat of economic botany, but the identities of the earliest originators of the idea remain unclear. Previous historical scholarship has focused mainly upon the role of Joseph Banks as the prime mover behind the scheme, while more investigative scholarship has identified one of Banks’s correspondents, Valentine Morris, as having made an early suggestion of the idea in writing. This focus on Banks and Morris, however, may have overlooked or understudied even earlier origins of the idea. After discussing several key individuals involved in the inception of the breadfruit project, this article then considers a series of passages on breadfruit in the writings of Voltaire and presents a hypothetical pathway by which those involved in the actual transfer of breadfruit from the Pacific to the Caribbean, including Banks via Morris, may have been influenced by the French philosopher. 


“A Change of Name during Sickness”: Surveying the Widespread Practice of Renaming in Response to Physical Illness

Names: A Journal of Onomastics, 2023

This paper describes and reviews the practice of renaming a person who is physically ill in order to effect their recovery. The analysis reveals patterns and similarities related to the reasoning behind such a practice and the special relationship between personal names and physical health in a wide variety of world cultures. (Winner of "Best Article of the Year" award from the journal Names)


"The correct name for the breadfruit": on interdisciplinarity and the artist Sydney Parkinson's contested contributions to the botanical sciences

Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, 2022

This paper considers the centuries-long controversy among botanists surrounding the contributions of Sydney Parkinson, a young artist who sailed with Captain Cook and who published, posthumously, the first formal description and scientific name of breadfruit. Parkinson's work was largely dismissed, I argue, owing to his role as an artist and to an inability of some early, influential botanists to see the value of interdisciplinary environmental research. Parkinson's name has been rehabilitated, to a degree, but the uncomfortable relationship between the arts and the sciences continues to hamper our understanding of the natural world. 


No Longer "Confined to the Lower Keys of Florida": Mainland United States Cultivation of Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) in a Changing Climate

Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 2022
(with Jorge J. Zaldivar)

This paper investigates efforts to grow breadfruit in Florida, both past and present. Dating back to before breadfruit had even been transplanted to the Caribbean, notable Americans including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson wanted to see it growing in the United States. During the 19th century, some growers were able to establish breadfruit in the Florida Keys and the far southern mainland. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, breadfruit's range has expanded northward and inland, likely due to climate change and the "tropicalization" of those landscapes. In this study, we identified more than 40 Florida-based breadfruit farmers and discussed with them the environmental challenges still faced by their crop. 


Social Equity is Key to Sustainable Ocean Governance

npj Ocean Sustainability, 2022
(with Kate Crosman, et al.)

This paper argues that social equity is an important and intrinsic part of sustainable ocean governance. It presents a framework for assessing the sustainable management of, and equitable access to, the ocean's resources. 


Whalers in “A Post-Whaling World”: Sustainable Conservation of Marine Mammals and Sustainable Development of Whaling Communities—With a Case Study from the Eastern Caribbean

Sustainability, 2022

This paper considers some of the difficulties encountered when working simultaneously to practice conservation for whales and sustainable development for whaling societies. It concludes with recommendations for future research and policy. 


An Introduction to a Breadfruit Grove in Big Pine Key, Florida

Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society, 2022
(with Michelle Leonard-Mularz and Patrick Garvey)

This brief "scientific note" introduces readers to Grimal Grove, a breadfruit grove in the Florida Keys that was restored following its abandonment and subsequent destruction by a hurricane. Coauthored with a Monroe County extension agent and the grove's owner.


Teaching The Tragedy of the Commons through an Iterative, Performance-based, Embodied Cognition Pedagogy

Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 2022

Applying theories of embodied cognition and performance pedagogies, this paper presents a classroom-based activity that can be used to teach the concepts of Garrett Hardin’s The Tragedy of the Commons in a way that will likely intersect with students’ own lived experiences more contemporarily meaningfully than Hardin’s central example of a group of livestock owners making use of a shared field for grazing. 


Salting Reduces Mercury Concentrations in Odontocete Muscle Tissue

Caribbean Journal of Science, 2022
(with Kelsie Schiavone and Jessica Dutton)

This experiment investigated whether salting reduces the mercury concentration in muscle tissue from whales and dolphins taken for human consumption in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Muscle tissue was coated in table salt or sea salt and dried alongside unsalted controls. After drying, every salted sample was found to have a lower mercury concentration than the unsalted control (average decrease = 29%). This method may also be applicable to tissues from other marine species and may be effective at rendering those tissues safer for human consumption.


Feeding Ecology of Elusive Caribbean Killer Whales Inferred From Bayesian Stable Isotope Mixing Models and Whalers’ Ecological Knowledge

Frontiers in Marine Science, 2021
(with Jeremy Kiszka, Michelle Caputo, and Paula Méndez-Fernandez)

This study investigated the feeding ecology of Caribbean killer whales using a combination of stable isotope analysis and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) data from whalers operating from St. Vincent. We found that killer whales in the Caribbean feed mainly on other toothed whales and dolphins, as well as oceanic sharks. This analysis confirms whalers' perceptions that killer whales prey on some of the same species they hunt. This study highlights the value of combining independent data sources and methodologies to investigate the ecological roles of marine predators in data-poor regions.


Circular DNA viruses identified in short-finned pilot whale and orca tissue samples

Virology, 2021
(with Kendal Smith, Kelsie Schiavone, Katharine Hall, Vincent Reid, Diallo Boyea, Emma Smith, Kara Schmidlin, Rafaela Fontenele, Simona Kraberger, and Arvind Varsani)

We used a viral meta-genomic approach to identify viruses in orca and short-finned pilot whale tissue samples and identified a novel polyomavirus, three cressdnaviruses, and two genomoviruses. The orca polyomavirus identified here is the first of its species and is not closely related to the only other dolphin polyomavirus previously discovered. The identification and verification of these viruses expands the current knowledge of viruses that are associated with the Delphinidae family. None of these viruses are thought to be transmissable to humans.


Artisanal and Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Eastern Caribbean): History, Catch Characteristics, and Needs for Research and Management

Frontiers in Marine Science, 2021
(with Jeremy Kiszka)

This paper reviews the hunting methods, catch records, management efforts, and future needs for both research and policy related to the two distinct, yet related, whaling operations in St. Vincent & the Grenadines: the Barrouallie-based hunt for "blackfish" (short-finned pilot whales) and other small cetaceans, and the Bequia-based, IWC-sanctioned "aboriginal subsistence" hunt for humpback whales.


History of whaling in Annobón, Equatorial Guinea, and new evidence of its continued occurrence

Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 2021
(with Christian Barrientos)

A regular, though infrequent, whaling operation targeting humpback whales has been known to occur from the West African island of Annobón, Equatorial Guinea, since the late 18th century. Little has been known outside of Equatorial Guinea about this whaling operation since the mid‐1970s. This paper presents a brief history of Annobonés whaling and describes recently surfaced video‐recorded evidence of its continuation into the 21st century. The paper concludes with a consideration of the future of the Annobonés whaling operation and an urgent call for more research.


Contemporary Whaling in the Faroe Islands: Its History, Challenges, and Outlook

Senri Ethnological Studies, 2021

Presented at the World Whaling symposium in Osaka, Japan, this paper reviews the history and present status of whaling in the Faroe Islands, paying special attention to issues of cross-cultural conflict and environmental contamination. 


Demographic and geographic patterns of cetacean-based food product consumption and potential mercury exposure within a Caribbean whaling community

Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 2021
(with Jeremy Kiszka, Catherine Macdonald, Meaghan McCormack, Jessica Dutton, Aly Ollivierre, Jay Arnett, Molly Elkins, Niko Darby, Hannah-Marie Garcia, Suzanne Skinner, Haley Tucker, and Vincent Reid)

The objective of this study was to determine the role of food products derived from whales in the diet of people living in St. Vincent & the Grenadines as a proxy for exposure to mercury using interview surveys. We interviewed 921 Vincentian adults and found that cetacean-based food products were included in more than two-thirds of respondents. This indicates that many people may be at risk of exposure to mercury beyond levels deemed safe by the World Health Organization.


Mercury and selenium concentrations, and selenium:mercury molar ratios in small cetaceans taken off St. Vincent, West Indies

Environmental Research, 2020
(with Meaghan McCormack, Jeremy Kiszka, Valeria Paz, Brian Jackson, Don Bergfelt, and Jessica Dutton)

This study measured the concentrations of mercury and selenium in 122 blubber, kidney, liver, and muscle tissues taken from toothed whales and dolphins caught for food by whalers in St. Vincent. We found levels of mercury that far exceeded the World Health Organization's recommended maximum for human consumption. Selenium:mercury molar ratios were not high enough in any tissue except blubber to offer protection against mercury toxicity. We concluded that the consumption of whale-based food products in St. Vincent & the Grenadines is a possible human health risk. 


Oceanographic barriers, divergence, and admixture: Phylogeography and taxonomy of two putative subspecies of short-finned pilot whale

Molecular Ecology, 2019
(with Amy Van Cise, Robin Baird, Scott Baker, Salvatore Cerchio, Diane Claridge, Brittany Hancock-Hanser, Jacobo Marrero, Karen Martien, Antonio Mignucci-Giannoni, Erin Oleson, Marc Oremus, Michael Poole, Patricia Rosel, Barbara Taylor, and Phillip Morin)

Short-finned pilot whales are currently recognized as a single global species (Globicephala macrorhynchus). Based on morphological data and genetic analysis, this paper proposes that three types of short-finned pilot whale exist and, among these, two subspecies should be recognized: the Shiho short-finned pilot whale in the Eastern Pacific and Northern Japan, and the Naisa short-finned pilot whale throughout the rest of the species's range. Further, the Naisa short-finned pilot whale appears to be undergoing divergence between its Atlantic Ocean and Indian/Western Pacific Ocean populations and may someday need to be reclassified as two subspecies.


Motivating Sustainable Behavior: A Case Study in Waste Management and Freshwater Production on the Caribbean Island of Saint Barthélemy

Island Studies Journal, 2019
(with Lillie Howell)

In this study, we interviewed residents of the small island of St. Barth in the Caribbean to determine the factors that motivate their participation in various sustainability initiatives, including composting, recycling, and sorting waste properly for use in the island's waste-to-energy-powered seawater desalination plant. We found that the main motivating factors were a sense of civic duty, the simplicity of environmental regulations, rapid communication and implementation, socioeconomic stability and affluence, and economic incentives.


Inclusive Hunting: Examining Faroese Whaling Using the Theory of Socio-Cultural Viability

Maritime Studies, 2017
(with Ben Singleton)

Applying the theory of socio-cultural viability, this analysis reveals how the institution of Faroese pilot-whaling (grindadráp) has maintained its place in Faroese society through the enforcement of a largely egalitarian conceptualization. In meeting various challenges around the distribution of meat, sustainability, and killing methods, however, the institution has accepted frequently been reimagined when necessary. This adaptability has allowed grindadráp to remain a popular part of Faroese society, even as dependence on pilot whale meat has declined.


Mutual Aid, Environmental Policy, and the Regulation of Faroese Pilot Whaling

Human Geography, 2015
(with John Davis and Ben Singleton)

Informed by theories of anarchist geography, this paper examines the evolution of unwritten regulations and formal government policies in the control of the Faroese pilot whale drive, or grindadráp. We discuss specific policies, both formal and informal, regulating when and where whales may be pursued, actions of whalers in boats and onshore, equipment permitted for use, and the distribution of meat and blubber from the hunt that have developed over the centuries in response to internal or external pressures and calls for change.


Mercury in Caribbean Dolphins (Stenella longirostris and Stenella frontalis) Caught for Human Consumption off St. Vincent, West Indies

Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2014
(with David Evans)

This paper presents data on measured mercury and methylmercury concentrations in 77 tissue samples (muscle and blubber) collected from dolphins that had been caught for food by whalers in St. Vincent. We found high concentrations of these contaminants and advised caution in consumption of these food products.


The Liminal Coastline in the Life of a Whale: Transition, Identity, and Food-Production in the Eastern Caribbean

Geoforum, 2014

This paper examines ways in which a coastline, specifically the swash zone on a particular Caribbean beach, serves to inform our understanding of liminal spaces. At the precise place where the landscape transitions from sea to land with each wave’s ebb and flow, artisanal whalers from the island of St. Vincent unload their day’s catch and begin the process of turning animals into food products. The shoreline can be seen as a space to which the marine mammals are brought for the purpose of a multifaceted transition, in which their identities, physical forms, and even status as living organisms are changed. By examining the specific transitions that occur in this space, and by questioning why these transitions do not occur elsewhere, this paper sheds light on concepts of land and sea, life and death, and the gendering of space—all of which undergo a defined transition at the water’s edge on this particular coastline.


“The Good Garbage”: Waste to Water in the Small Island Environment of St. Barthélemy

Focus on Geography, 2014

This paper describes the waste-to-energy-powered seawater desalination plant on the Caribbean island of St. Barth and considers issues of sustainability unique to small islands that are economically wealthy but resource-poor.


Whaling Futures: A Survey of Faroese and Vincentian Youth on the Topic of Artisanal Whaling

Society and Natural Resources, 2013

This paper reports the results of a survey conducted among more than 400 youths (average age 18) in the Faroe Islands and St. Vincent & the Grenadines on the topic of whaling. Contrary to prevailing predictions found both in the popular media and in formal environmental policy, whaling and the food products derived from whaling remain popular among Faroese and Vincentian youth. If whaling were to come to an end, this would likely occur due to factors other than lack of interest among the youth.


Coastal Geomorphology and Culture in the Spatiality of Whaling in the Faroe Islands

Area, 2013

Using methods of physical geography, including coastal topographic surveys, this study sought to test the assertion that beaches designated for whaling in the Faroe Islands share similar morphological features. My findings indicate so such shared geography, except for the possible influence of a particular offshore feature known in Faroese as a marbakki, which can disqualify a beach from being used for whaling. Instead of the suitability of a beach for whaling being determined solely by its physical geography, I propose that a beach's human geography likely plays an important, and possibly larger, role. 


Queen of the Caribbees: Farming and Fishing Foci on the Island of Nevis

Focus on Geography, 2012
(with Kent Mathewson)

This paper summarizes a summer's research into the food-production systems on the Caribbean island of Nevis (part of St. Kitts & Nevis). During the fieldwork, we mapped every farm on the island (or very nearly so!) and investigated the myriad ways Nevisians produce food from both land and sea. We also discuss challenges to food production including environmental degradation and acts of praedial larceny committed by the invasive green vervet monkey (Chlorocebus sabaeus).


Environmental Change as a Threat to the Pilot Whale Hunt in the Faroe Islands

Polar Research, 2010

This paper presents evidence that environmental contamination is the main threat to the continuation of whaling for food in the Faroe Islands. This assertion is in contrast to prevailing claims that unsustainable levels of whaling or the direct actions of anti-whaling environmental organizations were more likely to bring about the end of Faroese whaling.


The Whale Drivers of Newfoundland

Focus on Geography, 2007

This paper presents information and stories gleaned from interviews with elderly members of several small communities in Newfoundland where, until 1972, a drive-style whaling operation similar to the Faroese grindadráp occurred. 


A Comparison of Pilot Whale Drives in Newfoundland and the Faroe Islands

The Scottish Geographical Journal, 2007

In this, my first peer-reviewed publication, I compare two North Atlantic drive-style whaling operations: the ongoing grindadráp in the Faroe Islands and a similar, but ceased, whaling operation in Newfoundland. I found that the main differences between the two operations were the purpose and the economics. Whaling is conducted primarily for food in the Faroe Islands but was mainly for oil in Newfoundland; food products in the Faroes are distributed mainly for free and oil, of course, is a cash commodity. These differences led to vastly different catch numbers, and have kept Faroese whaling sustainable.


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