Julia is a human geographer working to understand the interactions between natural resource use and the social and economic well being of rural communities. Her primary research interest is in rural institutions and their evolution. In her research approach, she prioritizes collaborative and constructive projects as well as graduate training. She is a faculty member in Montana State University's Earth Science Department where she hold a joint appointment with the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. Geographically, she has expertise in the U.S. West, including the Intermountain West and Northern Great Plains, and New Zealand. Prior to joining the Earth Sciences Department in the fall of 2013, she worked for five years as a policy analyst for the regional non-profit research group Headwaters Economics. A native of Boston, MA, she is a graduate of Colorado College. She holds a PhD in History from the University of Colorado-Boulder and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Otago (New Zealand) from 2005-2007.