Nonfiction Essays


Silt and melt-water, Baird Glacier, Alaska

I have written nonfiction stories since childhood and I majored in journalism, but it wasn’t until I came to Utah that I devoted serious effort to narrative nonfiction about human relationships with the natural world, including my own. My writing is spurred by my academic research, the region’s rich natural environment, and by my unflagging desire to understand how we see ourselves in relation to the beyond-human world.

My writing blends my experiences and insights about the natural world with what I’ve learned from research of all kinds. Academic scholarship is inaccessible to many people, but it holds much wisdom and relevance and deserves to be communicated to a wide audience. I endeavor to stitch together these “ways of knowing” and present readers with compelling stories of how we communicate about the environment through word and practice and thus make sense of ourselves and our world.

My identity as a “public scholar” also informs my nonfiction. As a professor at a public institution, I have a responsibility not just to advance traditional academic scholarship, but also to communicate a large body of knowledge in a way that critically engages a broader citizen audience in the discussion of the real-world environmental crises we face.

Here are some essays I’ve published.

Breath was a 2021 collaboration among artists and scientists at the University of Utah about climate change. A year’s worth of carbon dioxide emissions data in the Salt Lake valley was “sonified” and transformed by a composer into a piece for oboe, natural sounds, and my words.

Between Bondurant and Pinedale, Wyoming (Orion)

Twisted Music (Camas)

Robotic Iguanas  (Orion magazine)

Teaching Whitney to Cook (High Country News)

A Finger of Owls (Camas)

Dirty Little Words (OnEarth magazine)

Fashion Stories

Talking With A Cougar

Mucking Around in Mammoth Proportions