I work on issues related to conservation, rural livelihood, and poverty among resource-reliant rain forest peoples of the Neotropics, particularly in the Peruvian Amazon.
I was born and raised in British Columbia. I did my BSc in Geography at the University of Victoria, mostly in physical geography (though my Honours thesis was actually on urban recreation!). I then took up a fellowship at the University of Toronto where I completed an MA in Geography which focussed on environmental management and policy - my thesis examined regulatory, judicial and administrative strategies to reduce the acid rain problem between Canada and the US. At that point I decided to 'shift gears' and went to work in the private sector for a large Canadian engineering firm as an environmental consultant. For six years I worked on a variety of environmental problems in Canada and overseas for private firms, government ministries and multilateral agencies. One of the projects took me to West Africa where I conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment for the World Bank on a dam proposed for the Niger River; the work required lots of interviewing with peasant farmers along the river and I was fascinated.
I decided to return to school so that I could learn more about the lives and livelihoods of the resource- reliant peoples in the developing world. I quit my job and went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I did my PhD in Geography (major area: cultural ecology; minors: development economics and water resources engineering). It was at Madison that I decided to focus on the Amazon basin and peasant economic livelihood among riverine peasants (ribereños) of northeastern Peru. When I finished my dissertation I took up a professorship at McGill where I have been since 1992.