I earned my bachelor's degree in psychology and individualised Japanese from Valparaiso University, in Valparaiso, Indiana. At the time my research focus was on deception, and the cultural aspects of what it meant to lie. My honors thesis was a cross cultural study of deception in the United States and Japan.

While in Japan, I studied at Kansai Gaidai university in their Asian Studies program. My stay in Japan helped me find what topics were most interesting to me, deception and the performative nature of honesty being among them. During this time, the framing of my questions also grew in scale to match my new experiences.

Moving into graduate studies, I decided these topics were more readily studied from a sociological perspective, and changed my program to suit my interests. At the University of California, Davis, I have continued to look at larger scale issues, now exploring clandestine organizations, and the way they are stuctured and operate.