I am an transdisciplinary medical humanities scholar who is fascinated by historical and contemporary intersections between Buddhism, medicine, and crosscultural exchange. I have a Ph.D. in History of Medicine from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (2010), and teach Asian history, medicine, and religion at Penn State University’s Abington College, located near Philadelphia.
The major theme in my scholarship is discovering the role of Buddhism in the global transmission and local reception of knowledge about health, disease, and the body. I approach this topic using methodologies from history, religious studies, translation studies, and anthropology, among other fields.
I am continually seeking opportunities to cross disciplinary lines in publishing and presenting my work. I regularly publish writing for non-scholarly audiences, and am passionate about connecting my scholarship and teaching with contemporary issues and events.
I come from a bilingual and transnational Latino family with roots in Colombia, Uruguay, Spain, England, and the US. I spent my early childhood in Paraguay, and moved to the US in second grade. All of this is to say that my interests in crosscultural exchange, translation, and global movements of ideas come to me quite naturally!
I began my interest in Asian religion and medicine as an undergraduate majoring in Anthropology and Cognitive Science and minoring in East Asian Studies 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 spent time learning 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 as a book Traditional Thai Medicine) 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 completed fields in the global history of medicine with emphasis on Asia. My dissertation (2010) focused on the relationship between Buddhism and medicine in medieval China.
I joined the faculty at Abington College in 2010, where my research and writing has continued to focus on the history and contemporary relationship between Buddhism and medicine. 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, most notably my involvement with the International Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine and the association’s journal, Asian Medicine. I have maintained an active publication schedule, focused on my own writings as well as major collaborative works that are intended to foster the nascent field of the study of “Buddhist medicine.”
Throughout, I have also remained interested in innovative teaching, as well as public engagement. I regularly am a guest lecturer at Asian medicine schools, and frequently give public lectures in the Philadelphia area.