I was born in England, although I remember little. I was raised for the most part in Texas, but lived in Florida and Colorado as a child, and in Denton Texas, Honolulu Hawai‘i, Samarinda Indonesia, and Long San Sarawak as an adult.

Before linguistics I was a musician, and music remains an important part of my life.

My interest in linguistics began in grade school, when, after noticing the major discrepancies between English pronunciation and spelling I decided, much to the horror of my teachers, that I would write words how they sounded rather than how they are spelled. I studied Latin in high school, and learned Hangul, a system of writing that I found much more palatable than English. I began creating my own languages during my sophomore year. It wasn't until my final semesters as a college undergraduate that I decided to take a course on linguistics, and soon discovered that the things I had been interested in were nothing new, and that there was an entire field dedicated to issues of language. I decided to give it a go.

My interest in Austronesian languages also began in grade school. While working as a student assistant in my high school library I was able to keep myself busy perusing the shelves and reading through interesting books. I often found myself in sections dealing with language and culture, and eventually found a book on the people of Madagascar and their cultures. After reading through the book I learned that the Malagasy had originally come from modern day Indonesia and that they had sailed across the Indian ocean hundreds of years earlier. I was blown away by the sea-faring abilities of the original Malagasy, and the more I learned about the Austronesian expansion, the more amazed I became at their mastery of ocean navigation. Years later, when I had to write a typological report of any language in the world in my Master's level Typology course at the University of North Texas, the choice was obvious. I wrote about Malagasy. I quickly decided to get a Ph.D. with a focus on Austronesian languages, applied to the University of Hawai‘i, and the rest is history.