Tess originally hails from the Pacific Northwest and calls Nanaimo, British Columbia her hometown. Before coming to Yale, Tess earned a BA in History and an MA in the History of Medicine from McGill University. Her Master’s research focused on the role of concepts of gender in shaping the development of the disease paradigm of alcoholism.
Her current research focuses broadly on the ways that contemporary interactions between biomedical researchers and indigenous populations are shaped by their historical antecedents. Tess’s dissertation explores the history of the circumpolar health movement in Cold War Alaska, which brought together biomedical research and public health in an effort to address health issues particular to Arctic regions and populations. Her work also considers how circumpolar health came to serve as a site from which Alaska Native peoples fought for involvement in determining the priorities and agendas for health research in Alaska.