Vileisis loves to explore and share history that helps to illuminate pressing modern-day issues. She became interested in environmental history while earning her B.A. at Yale University, went on to garner a M.A. from Utah State University, and has continued to pursue her research and writing as an independent scholar.
Vileisis has been a short-term fellow at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History and a writer-in-residence at Mesa Refuge in Point Reyes, California. She has spoken about her books at conferences, campuses, and a variety of other venues all across America.
Together with her husband author and photographer Tim Palmer, Vileisis lived for twelve years as a nomad, traveling in a Ford van as they did their research, writing, and photography. In 2002, while researching Kitchen Literacy, they settled in the small town on Oregon's coast, where she says she "recapitulated a transition from nomad to agriculturist" and became an avid gardener.
Vileisis now balances a life of research and writing with activism and engagement in a variety of local issues concerning the environment.