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Joan has lived in several major cities across the United States — she grew up in North Dakota, went to undergraduate school in Fargo (NDSU), then left for graduate school in southern Illinois,  followed by more graduate school in Boca Raton, Florida. She has lived in the Miami area,  the Milwaukee area, Dallas, and San Francisco, where she lived for 21-plus years until she moved to New York in 2009.

In college, Joan studied languages and literature, and in graduate school, she studied linguistics, specializing in phonetics—which means she's great at learning accents ... fast.

In her personal life, Joan is a space geek. She follows NASA, the ESA, and other space institutes and their work, goes to star-gazing events, and attends lectures about astrophysics. When she was a young girl, she wanted to be an astronaut, but the vertigo she experienced from carnival rides convinced her to follow a different path ...

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