I am a cultural anthropologist working as a qualitative UX researcher with Indeed in Austin, Texas. As research practitioner, I conduct cultural anthropology research for business. As a scholar, I conduct anthropology research of business. What distinguishes both my applied and academic research is that I use a cultural anthropological lens to study BUSINESS—advertising, consumers, brands, consumption, users, products, digital experiences and organizations.
I embrace the idea that consumer and user experience insights informed by a cultural analysis can serve as the muse and inspiration for all aspects of product and brand strategy. The magic of cultural analysis is the theory of interpretive and symbolic cultural anthropology (Clifford Geertz and Victor Turner).
I was smitten with the discipline of anthropology when I met my first applied consumer anthropologist. I was a new account planner/brand strategist in San Francisco at Publicis & Hal Riney Advertising. The advertising agency had just hired two applied anthropologists (Patricia Sunderland and Rita Denny) to conduct foundational research for creative development. Up until this point, I had approached consumption using a psychological frame. My PhD in Advertising from the University of Texas taught me to think in terms of consumer relationships, emotions, information processing, needs, cognition and attitude to the brand. In contrast, the applied anthropologists introduced me to a cultural frame that illuminated the interwoven meaning of consumption practices. I was hooked.
I was an Assistant Professor of Advertising in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University. I introduced Account Planning (strategic planning) into the advertising curriculum in addition to teaching media planning and graduate level strategy courses. Prior joining the faculty at Texas State, I was a partner with Practica Group, a consumer anthropology research consultancy where I conducted ethnographies, focus groups, interviews, diary studies and observations. I started my research strategy career as an Account Planner at Publics & Hal Riney Advertising in San Francisco. I have owned Luminosity Research, a qualitative research consultancy since 2006.
I have a PhD and MA in Advertising from the University of Texas and an MA in Applied Anthropology from University of North Texas. My published academic research has appeared in both advertising and anthropological journals.