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I’ll be honest: these bios are mostly here for me, to easily access when I get asked for them, so that I don’t have to come up with one on the fly. No matter how often people ask me to write them, I hate them and I’d possibly rather wrestle a funnelweb (spider) than write one. They always appear under duress, which is likely part of the reason they’re always on the sarcastic and snarky side. Anyhow.
Kelly is an international woman of mystery with a bad habit of charging at large windmills and playing with napalm. Kelly has many long, professional sounding biosketches available to hand out to media professionals, conference and talk organizers. In these many longwinded documents, she’ll re-summarize her CV, make several wry quips about her cat, science fiction, or occasionally even spiders. She sounds very professional, and in a word, shiny. Kelly ran away to join the circus when she was 13, but a life of flexibility wasn’t for her. When she set the Bearded Lady’s hair on fire, she fled to academia, where her clumsiness would be viewed as a virtue.
Chances are, you’re here because you know me. Or you know enough about me from some other place – probably Twitter or the whisper net rumor mill – that you’re curious and looking for answers. Offhand, you’ll probably get more just asking me directly; I suggest an approach that involves either catching me late at night or when I haven’t slept for a few days, or bribery that involves a craft beer and/or good chocolate.
After a non-traditional education that ended in a mutual decision to part ways with high school after the third time I blew up the science lab, I found myself tripping in to a software career. Living in the Bay Area and having a pulse made that both possible and successful; I spent the next decade moving around the Left Coast and working for a succession of both small and large software companies. My area of specialty was networking, and bits of code I worked on are probably still floating around the operating system you’re using right now.
Unfortunately, the telemedicine company I was helping get off the ground in 2001 was adversely affected by the events of 11 September. After coming down from the shock, I took a look at my unemployment check and realized that if I was going to be averaging 95-hour work weeks, I wanted it to be something I loved. Determined to avoid blowing up science labs this time, no matter how bored I got, I went back to school as a “returning student” and fell in to an amazing program with teachers who, instead of trying to force me in to a single discipline, encouraged me to pursue interdisciplinary education. From there, I found my way in to the program on Comparative History of Ideas, as well as the Department of Medical History and Ethics, at the University of Washington, and I didn’t look back.
That forward momentum gave me a lot of great experiences: writing on a diverse yet oddly connected series of topics, like why we watch reality TV or the importance of pop culture to bioethics or why principlism needs to be ditched for an affect-centered ethic; the chance to teach; observations with the hospital clinical ethics committee.
Those great experiences helped me get into graduate school, in a program I was very excited about. And then the universe decided I’d had a good run, pulled me up short, and threw me into a story that wouldn’t be out of place as a Lifetime Movie of the Week. You can piece together what happened if you’re really curious (or, you know, ask), but the less dramatic and much sadder of the concurrent events is this: my mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer shortly after I moved across the country, and she passed away a little less than a year after her diagnosis. Because of my training and the fact that I write (and then write some more), I documented a lot of her illness and progression as narrative; you can use the category “Duct Tape and Prayers” to read through those eleven months. Bring tissue.
I’ve spent the last few years picking myself up and dusting myself off. After spending five years as a freelance fact-checker, editor, and writer, I eased back into academic writing and research, and co-founded a boutique bioethics consulting firm, Rogue Bioethics, with my husband, Nicholas G. Evans. We used live in an old Girl Scout Cookie factory with our cats and a clutter of outdoors-only spiders, all of whom were named Charlotte, but after suffering six months of repeated ceiling leaks, we made the jump to home ownership in 2021. And after far too many virologists asked me what a bioethicist was doing commenting on public health, I decided to get a Spite MPH, which I’m about halfway through – and considering options for further. If you have ideas, let me know!
Thank you for an interesting read. I was particularly enthralled by your piece related to the recent Nature apology that I ran across on retraction watch. Its always good to know someone is brave enough to speak up. Women have become too complacent, or perhaps they have always been. Anyway, keep up the good work.
Thanks for your kind words, Sue!