Karla is a feminist ethnographer of labor. She studies interaction and community in market exchanges. Her first book, The Hungry Cowboy, was about a Cheers-like restaurant, and her second single-authored book How We Die Now studies how residents and workers in a Midwestern elder community manage the challenges of longer lives and slower deaths. Erickson serves on the board of Grinnell Regional Medical Center and Grinnell Community Day Care and Preschool. Erickson received her Ph.D. in the Department of American with a minor in Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota in 2004, her M.A. in Liberal Studies from Hamline University in 1998 and her B.A. in English and Women's Studies at Illinois Wesleyan in 1995.