Born two blocks from the beach in Belmar, New Jersey, most of my childhood and adolescence was spent living in Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, where my parents have worked as Protestant missionaries. These early experiences in post-Soviet Ukraine, which included immersion in rapid social change and involvement in Ukraine's Orange Revolution in 2004-2005, brought me to the discipline of sociology.
I studied sociology and urban studies first at Wheaton College (IL), where I earned a BA in 2009. I then lived on the Southwest side of Chicago, in the Little Village neighborhood with my wife, Rebekah. Around that time, my attention, at once personal and intellectual, focused on issues of environmental injustice in Chicago. This focus was especially facilitated by a research internship working with People for Community Recovery, supervised by Cheryl Johnson and the late "Mother of Environmental Justice," Hazel Johnson.
I moved to Sonoma County, California in 2010, where I worked for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. My orientation to California was strongly shaped by a native point of view, a source of dissonance and agitation that has reverberated through my work on the power dynamics at play in the politics of environmental knowledge.
I began graduate training at the University of California, Davis, in 2011, where my work centered around the fraught relationship between climate, science, and society. My dissertation research was a large-scale historical project that provides an explanation for major transformations in how scientists understand and evaluate climate. Other work has focused on informing climate change adaptation efforts in California. This latter work has been a collaboration with Dr. Julia Ekstrom (CA Dept. of Water Resources) and funded by the US EPA. My project as a postdoctoral research associate with the National Weather Service asked how different social groups use and interpret marine weather forecasts over the Bering Sea region. I continue to study decision-making, weather risk, and environmental change in the Bering Sea.
Outside of my primary research projects, I am a surfer, rock climber and lover of mountain and coastal environments. Beginning in 2018, this passion has intersected with my research, and I recently published a study on how climbers interact with fragile environments and contentious politics regarding public lands in the U.S. West. This work got off to ground thanks to support from the American Alpine Club and is an ongoing collaboration with ecologist (and rope partner), Dr. Stephen Fick.
I am a proud partner to a Certified Cheese Professional, Rebekah M. Todd Baker, and parent to three beautiful and energetic young children, Sebastian, Raven, and Jasper. We live in Santa Rosa, California.