Assistant Professor, English Department
Eastern Carolina University
Where do you currently work?
I am an assistant professor in the Department of English at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. I am also a Professional Associate with the Discipline of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Tell me a bit about your career?
My primary research is with folklore and medicine, specifically the anti-vaccination and vaccine safety movements. I spend most of my research time looking at how contemporary legends affect medical decision-making. My teaching duties involve teaching both Folklore and Multicultural and Transnational Literature courses at the graduate and undergraduate level. Since the nursing program at ECU encourages their students to take folklore classes, the majority of my students are in the health sciences. Additionally, I serve as a Faculty Advisor on the Entertainment Committee of the Student Activity Board, which brings various cultural activities to the campus. I have also recently sat on the North Carolina Arts Council Grants Board and on the committee that produces The Common Reader, the English Department's newsletter. I also occasionally travel to Newfoundland to give lectures for Faculty of Medicine.
How has folklore prepared you for your career?
My MA in Folk Studies at Western not only prepared me for my Ph.D. work in Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, but for so many of the other activities I've encountered in my career. When I sat on the grants board for the North Carolina Arts Council, I knew what to expect as we sat on mock granting boards in Dr. Evans' Public Folklore class. I was also able to argue for the inclusion of an outsider art application because of what I learned in Dr. Williams' Folk Art and Technology classes. The internship I completed with Community Health at WKU was crucial in understanding how large public health organizations function, which has enabled me to take into consideration how my research can be utilized by others. When attending the Canadian Immunization Conference, I was able to explain how folklore can be used and applied to current issues in immunization, which not only resulted in many of the participants asking how they could use folklore in their own research, but also resulted in several post-doctorate offers and being awarding the Bernard Duvall prize for best student paper.