Kimberly Kirner

Kimberly Kirner
Full-Time Faculty
(818) 677-5839
Office location:
Sierra Hall, Room 240G



  • Ph.D., 2007 University of California, Riverside
  • M.A., 2003 University of California, Riverside
  • B.A., 2001 University of California, Riverside

Courses Taught

Selected Publications and Presentations

2010 Case Study: Eastern Sierras Corridor Ranchers. In An Introduction to Cultural Ecology, 2nd edition by Mark Sutton and E.N. Anderson.

2008 Chapter 13- Illustrative Examples: Cultural Models (primary contributor). In Culture, Society, and Cognition: Collective Goals, Values, Action, and Knowledge by David Kronenfeld.  Mouton Series in Pragmatics. 

2005 Culture, Cultural Models, and the Division of Labor. By David Kronenfeld and Kimberly Hedrick. Cybernetics and Systems 36(8): 817-845.

Research and Interests

5 keywords that describe your topical areas of specialization:
Environmental anthropology; ethnoecology; applied cognitive anthropology; anthropology of religion; medical anthropology

Geographic areas of specialization:
United States; minority religious traditions; urban-wildlands interface; rural agricultural communities; Pagan Studies

PowerPoint Overview of Current Research Projects 

Current Projects:
As an applied anthropologist, my research primarily focuses on using anthropological approaches, theories, and methods to work toward solving health care and environmental problems. More specifically, my research is in the application of cognitive anthropology (decision-making studies, cultural model theory, ethnoscience) to critical policy and systems studies. I am interested in the relationships between cultural knowledge systems, identity and community, and behavior. I have two research programs and occasional smaller projects.

Health and Healing among Religious Minorities
This program studies how persons of minority religious traditions navigate health care systems: their experiences of stigma, care-seeking behaviors, healing practices, and health disparities (in both physical and mental health). The research focus began in 2010 with the Pagan Health Survey project, a mixed methods study of Pagan models of health and healing, care-seeking behavior, and disparities in experiences. This project is currently under expansion to investigate health disparities and care-seeking among minority religious groups in the Los Angeles Valley region, developing methodologies to better understand cultural patterns in healing practices, increase practitioner cultural competency, and improve linkages between stigmatized populations and the health care system.

Range Lands in the American West
This program focuses on the management of open space in the American West and sustainability of family agricultural enterprises. Following ten years of intermittent ethnographic field research in the Eastern Sierras corridor (Owens Valley) of California, I am currently working on an ethnoecological mapping project. As part of the program’s expansion, I am currently working with an interdisciplinary team (geography and botany) to investigate the environment-human relationships in arid lands, particularly developing methods to better understand changes in water availability over time, effects on plant communities, and human perceptions of and responses to climate change.

Personal Bio Statement

I grew up fascinated with other cultures and nature so I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually become a cultural anthropologist. Yet, I initially began my B.S. in Biomedical Sciences, intending to become a surgeon. During volunteering in a hospice program for terminally ill women with no surviving family, I realized I was much more interested in my patients' stories and the impact of social systems on the human experience than I was in my patients as medical cases. I found anthropology to offer the most compelling union of social and natural sciences, and eventually received my doctorate from University of California Riverside in 2007.

I am a cultural anthropologist specializing in applied cognitive anthropology, working on issues in political ecology and ethnoecology, medical anthropology, and the anthropology of religion. I am interested in understanding the relationships between cognition, emotion, and decision-making; the construction of identity, place, and community; and the way cultural knowledge systems interact with policy and large-scale systems to impact human behavior. My research has focused on the political ecology of the American West and the medical anthropology of minority religious traditions in the United States. In addition to my academic work, I have worked as an applied anthropologist in program design, evaluation, and fund development. When not working, I can be found riding my horses, hiking, and creating visual art.