Associate Professor of Asian History & Religious Studies
The Abington College of Penn State University
406 Sutherland Bldg., 1600 Woodland Rd., Abington, PA 19001
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I am an interdisciplinary humanities scholar interested in the role of Buddhism in the crosscultural exchange of medical ideas. I have a Ph.D. in History of Medicine from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and teach Asian history, religion, and culture at Penn State University’s Abington College, located near Philadelphia. The major theme in my scholarship is the interplay between the global transmission and local reception of Buddhist knowledge about health, disease, and the body. I am fascinated by the study of the intersection of religion and medicine in crosscultural perspective, and approach this topic using methodologies from history, religious studies, translation studies, literary studies, and anthropology, among other fields. I am continually seeking opportunities to cross disciplinary lines in publishing and presenting my work, and it is important to me to create opportunities for dialogue with non-scholarly audiences, particularly practitioners of Buddhism and Asian medicine.
I began my interest in Asian religion and medicine as an undergraduate Anthropology and Cognitive Science major at the University of Virginia. After graduating in 1996, I lived in Asia for four years — over two years in Thailand, with extended stays in India, China, and Indonesia as well. During this time, I trained as a practitioner of Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM), and explored interests in hatha-yoga and other Asian healing modalities. I also participated in extended stays at Buddhist meditation centers and monasteries in Northeast Thailand and India, including a summer as ananāgārika (white-robed monastic resident) in a Thai Forest-tradition monastery. I returned to the University of Virginia in 2002 to pursue a Master’s Degree in East Asian Studies. My thesis (defended in 2005, and published in 2007 as a trade book) explored the cultural influences that led to the creation of modern TTM. In 2005, I entered the Ph.D. program in the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins, where I focused on the relationship between Buddhism and medicine in medieval China. Since the completion of my doctorate in 2010, my research and writing has continued to focus on the history and contemporary relationship between Buddhism and medicine. I joined the faculty at Abington College in 2010, and I have been a humanities fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University. I am active in various Asian Studies organizations in the Philadelphia area and internationally.