Friday, December 18, 2009

Former Visiting Professor Ellen Messer Named 2009 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Anthropologist Ellen Messer has been awarded the distinction of Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as a Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

Now a visiting professor at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, Dr. Messer had a full-time visiting appointment at the GW Anthropology Department in 2003-005 and has since taught regularly during summer sessions for the Elliott School of International Affairs, where she is a professorial lecturer.

Prof. Messer was elected as an AAAS Fellow for distinguished contributions to the field of anthropology analyzing the relations of human rights to policies concerning poverty and hunger, and food aid and security. The honor was announced Dec. 18.

“I’m terrifically pleased to receive this honor, which recognizes my life-long efforts to connect research to action,” said Messer. “As a scholar-activist, I always hope that my research on the evolution of food systems and human-rights sensibilities will help improve communications among scholars, policy makers, and field practitioners.”

Messer is conducting research and teaching this year within the Sustainable International Development (SID) program at the Heller School. She was a core faculty member and director at the Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Program at Brown University, where interdisciplinary teams sought to break the links between hunger and conflict.

Her current research continues to explore the “right to food” especially in the U.S. She also teaches rights-based development courses and directs field-based practicum placements in the SID program. She has participated in multiple task forces and committees of the American Anthropological Association, addressing world food crisis and human rights concerns.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chris Garces (MA 1999) receives Mellon fellowship and completes doctorate

Chris Garces (M.A. Anthropology, 1999) has received a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell. He also finished his doctorate at Princeton University last May while teaching several courses at Sarah Lawrence College. Dr. Garces's dissertation tracks the use of charity as a modern political instrument in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hom Pal student Tyler Faith published in "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences"

J. Tyler Faith (Hominid Paleobiology doctoral candidate) co-wrote an article in the November 23 Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesItalic exploring the mass mammalian extinction of the late Pleistocene. He and Todd Surovell, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming, examined "Synchronous extinction of North America's Pleistocene mammals" explores the mass extinction during the late Pleistocene. Faith and Surovell's findings indicate the mass extinction took place between 13.8 and 11.4 thousand years ago, a geological instant. Furthermore, the findings support the idea that human overkill, comet impact, or other rapid events caused this massive extinction, instead of a slow attrition.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Alumni Charlene Kannankeril and Stephen Voss welcome a son, Luke

Charlene Kannankeril (BA, Anthropology, 2000) and Stephen Voss (BS, Computer Sciences, 2001) welcomed their son Luke Paul Kannankeril Voss into the world on September 15th, 2009. Charlene was a Cotlow Award recipient in 1999 and now works as a naturopathic physician, while Stephen was a Cotlow Award recipient in 2000 and now works as a photojournalist.

Congratulations Charlene and Stephen on your new son.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cotlow Recipient Abigail Greenleaf finishing Peace Corps Service in Cameroon

Abigail Greenleaf, (B.S. Public Health 2007, Anthropology Minor, Cotlow Award Recipient, 2006) will be finishing her Peace Corps service in Cameroon this December. Abigail's main project in Cameroon involved managing a group of women quilters; however, she also participated in an HIV testing project, several camps instructing young men and woman on topics such as environmental education, sexual health, and HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, Abigail gave a speech on the importance of education to obtaining leadership positions in Cameroon to the minority Umbororo tribe. She has since been asked to give several other speeches. Following the end of her service, Abigail plans to travel East Africa, before joining the job hunt in March.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Former Faculty Marta Camps Publishes Books

Marta Camps, former Anthropology faculty member and research fellow, recently had two edited books published. One, entitled Sourcebook of Paleolithic Transitions, explores past, present, and future research on Paleolithic transitions from an anthropological and theoretical perspective using cases from around the world. The other, The Mediterranean from 50,000 to 25,000 BP: Turning Points and New Directions, details the transition to modern behaviors, art, population size, and economic patterns in the Mediterranean during the Middle to Upper Paleolithic era.

Paleolithic Transitions can be purchased at:

The Mediterranean from 50,000 to 25,000 BP can be purchased at:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Faculty Lecture: "The Hands that Built Gunston Hall" given by Professor Vlach at Gunston Hall on September 27, 2009

The Hands that Built Gunston Hall
Sunday, September 27, 2009
1 P.M. to 5 P.M.
Lecture to begin at 2 P.M. at Gunston Hall (10709 Gunston Road, Mason Neck, VA 22079)

Essential to the construction of George Mason's home 250 years ago were the "hands that built it." Many of the hands belonged to Mason's slaves. Some slaves were highly skilled sawyers, carpenters, and blacksmiths, while others provided pure labor.

The Hands that Built Gunston Hall will acknowledge their efforts.
- Dr. John Michael Vlach, noted scholar of African American tradition and Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at GWU, will give an illustrated talk on 18th-century housing and the Gunston Hall plantation enslaved labor force.
- Robert M. Watson of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will demonstrate period woodworking techniques.
- Shiloh Baptist Church of Mason Neck will perform spiritual music dedicated to the enslaved builders of Gunston Hall of Mason Neck.
- Hearth cooks will demonstrate African American foodways.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Alexandra de Sousa (PhD 2008) to run in The Great Gorilla Run

Alexandra Allison de Sousa (Ph.D Hominid Paleobiology, 2008) will be running in The Great Gorilla Run in London on September 26th. Participants don full-body gorilla suits and race through the streets of London in order to raise awareness and funds for the endangered wild mountain gorilla population. Currently there are fewer than 700 wild mountain gorillas left. To support Alexandra's cause or view a video of the race, follow the link below:

We wish Alexandra luck in her race.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Natalie Mueller (BA 2009) finishes archaeological field school

Natalie Mueller (BA Anth and IAFF 2009) just finished archaeological field school through the University of Oregon. She was assisting on research in the Salmon River Valley, which is controversially dated to 12,000BP. The aim of the research goal was to clarify the chronology of the river valley. She is now applying to graduate schools.

Nisha Ramachandran (BA 2009) working for NGO in New Delhi

Nisha Ramachandran (BA Anth 2009) is working as an intern for Jagori, an NGO in New Delhi. She is focusing on an action research project regarding water and sanitation, with an emphasis on women's safety.

She reports:

"A lot of things that I learned in Barbara Miller's Anth 002 and Anth 154 classes are things that I am seeing everyday in my job here. I realize how much I know about our work and how to go about addressing these issues because of her classes."

We wish Nisha continued success in her endeavors.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Claire Twomey (BA 2008) working with the Open Society Institute

Claire Twomey (BA Anth and IAFF 2008) celebrated her one-year anniversary as a program associate at the Open Society Institute, a non-profit organization in New York City

She reports:

"I can't believe the year has passed so quickly. It's a little scary to tell you the truth. The organization is great, has great benefits, and really wonderful people working for them. I really consider myself lucky to have landed this job. I have traveled twice for work this year, and I might be going to Hong Kong in the winter."

Nicholas Lembo (MA 2009) joins US Chamber of Commerce, runs blog

Nicholas Lembo (MA Anth/ID 2009) works at the US-India Business Council, a wing of the Chamber of Commerce, where he handles business intelligence research and run our programming calendar.

Nick recently finished a consultancy at the World Bank working to maintain the organization's blog on youth and development. This blog can be accessed at:

In addition, Nicholas's personal blog Zzzeitgeist can be accessed at According to the site description, this is a blog that "seeks to identify, explain, and link the many disparate strands of international politics and economics. How does China’s internet firewall affect its trade obligations? What's the best way to regulate international credit markets? Do mosquito nets really promote development? How can the international community address climate change without disrupting global commerce? And, most importantly, why does all of this matter?"

Emma Parkerson (BA 2009) working for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Emma Parkerson (BA Anth and Psychology 2009) has a new position with the National Board for Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

"She reports: "[NBPTS's] mission is to maintain rigorous standards and provide a voluntary certification system for what accomplished teachers know and do. I work in the Standards, Assessment, Operations, and Research Department to organize committees for continued revision of the standards. It is a very interesting time to be a part of the education community, that's for sure!

"I'm glad to report that I find myself accessing my anthropological knowledge each day, especially since we just completed the revision of our Social Studies-History and English as a New Language standards! I am thankful to have a strong foundational knowledge of culture, language, and human interaction and hope that it continues to help me move toward a more international- and policy-focused career in education."

Nadia Rahman (MA 2008) married, continues studies at Oxford

Congratulations to Nadia Rahman (MA Anth/ID 2008) on her continued studies at Oxford University and recent marriage.

Regarding her studies, she reports "This will be my second year! I'm doing my D.Phil in (medical) anthropology [my research topic is still in the making, will send you more details once I have it all tweeked!]"

As for her recent marriage, she says "Josh Connelly and I did our civil ceremony here in the States this summer. Nothing fancy. No family and friends present...I'm planning on having my wedding ceremony next summer, July 2010. The wedding will be in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I expect to see many friendly and familiar GW anthro faces!"

Katie Reid (BA 2009) working with Spectrum for Living, Accepted at Seton Hall's MA Program

Congratulations to Katie Reid (BA Arch and Art History 2009) on her new position as Lead Recreation Aide with Spectrum for Living, an organization which works with developmentally and physically disabled adults.

She says "I love working with this population! I also get to use my ASL knowledge since there's several adults who are deaf and disabled."

Katie will be leaving her current job to attend the Museum Professions MA Program at Seton Hall University, New Jersey.

"Living in DC and going to school at GW has given me the knowledge and experience that I need to be successful at Seton Hall University's Museum Professions Masters Program. I made valuable connections with professors and fellow Museum employees at museums such as the NGA and Alexandria Archaeology Museum. I am looking forward to beginning the next chapter of my academic career as a grad student and fulfilling a dream of working at a museum."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Faculty News: Barbara Miller blogging about Anthropology and Connected on Twitter

Barbara Miller, Professor of Anthropology & International Affairs and Associate Dean for Faculty in the Elliott School, launched her new blog, AnthropologyWorks, this week.

It is devoted to promoting anthropological knowledge about important world issues and making connections within and beyond anthropology.

Babs is also using Twitter to promote discussion on issues of anthropology.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alison Maassen (BA 2009) teaching English at Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Alison Maassen (BA Anth and IAFF 2009) is living at Isla Mujeres, about eight miles off the coast of Cancun, teaching English in a low-income majority Maya community this year.

She reports:

"As the island is a popular tourist destination, the ability to speak English is a huge economic advantage for the community.

"As for plans beyond this year, I wish to refocus my studies in public health/medical anthropology, and will eventually be going to grad school for a Masters in Public Health... if anyone is coming down to the Mayan Riviera in the next year, feel free to contact me!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teresa Uczekaj (BS 2009) returns from working with HIV/AIDS hospital in India

Teresa Uczekaj (BS Bio Anth 2009) recently returned from a five-week posting at the Asha Kirana Hospital in Mysore, India.

She reports:

"[The work] was coordinated through a non-profit organization called Pro World Service Corps, the same organization I worked with in Mexico when I led International Alternative Spring Break at GW.

"While I was there I worked on two main projects and several little ones every day. One of the main projects was to collect baseline data on anemia and the progression of HIV/AIDS using in-patient records, and for the other I was asked to write a case study on the challenges facing women living with HIV/AIDS in India. Smaller projects included daily health related activities, demonstrations, and skits for the patients.

"It was an incredible experience on so many levels and I got to meet a lot of extraordinary people!"

Adam Prins (BA 2009) at Egyptian Museum in Cairo

Adam Prins (BA Anth and Arch 2009) is at Cairo's Egyptian Museum working to update their database and cataloging system. This position comes subsequent to his employment at an archaeological excavation in Cyprus earlier this summer, where he worked to create digital maps for future publications of the project's findings.

Adam reports:
"In January I will be traveling to the Dakhleh Oasis in Egypt to dig at a Roman city called Amheida (known in the ancient world as Trimithis). All the while, I'll be applying to graduate school and hopefully starting my Master's degree next fall."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Alumni Lauren Deal and Phil Karash to present in panel on performance and identity construction

GW Alumni Lauren Deal (BA Anth with Honors 2009) and Phil Karash (MA Anth 2008) will be participating in a panel entitled:

"Staging the Self: Examinations of Performance and the Construction of Identity" hosted by the National Association of Student Anthropologists.

The panel will take place on Wednesday, December 2 in Philadelphia.

Lauren Deal, who will be chairing the panel, says:

"Both Phil and I are very excited because it's our first presentation at the AAA's. Also, both of our papers are based on research done at GW, supervised by Alex Dent.

My paper is titled: "From the Larynx to La Traviata: Ideologies of Science and Construction of Voice in Bel Canto Pedagogy", which is based on my undergraduate thesis research.

Phil's paper is titled: "Going to see a man about a Horse: Examining Masculinity in Public Space in Restrooms", which is based on research done for his Master's thesis here at GW."

For more information, visit the website

Graduate Student Erin Marie Williams featured on NPR

Hominid Paleobiology Ph.D candidate Erin Marie Williams was featured on NPR for her work as part of a team of researchers exhuming the remains of gorillas in Rwanda descended from those studied by Diane Fossey. Williams sent a series of dispatches during her work in the field, the full texts of which can be read in the NPR article "Why Dig Up Mountain Gorillas?"

Although her focus is mainly on the evolution of the human hand and wrist, Erin Marie has now turned her attention to tracking and recording the history of these Rwandan mountain gorillas.

Before entering the Hominid Paleobiology program, Erin Marie received a GW M.A. in Anthropology (2005).

Faculty News: Barbara Miller is guest editor for special edition of journal Heritage Management

Barbara Miller, Professor of Anthropology & International Affairs and Associate Dean for Faculty in the Elliott School, was the guest editor of a special edition of the journal Heritage Management that was published in spring 2009.

The theme of the issue is "Heritage Management Inside Out and Upside Down." It includes three articles by cultural anthropologists, by an archaeologist, and an introduction by Miller entitled "Heritage Management Inside Out and Upside Down: Questioning Top-Down and Outsider Approaches."

Featured articles:

"We Have Always Had the Bible” Christianity and the Composition of White Mountain Apache Heritage Thomas J. Nevins and M. Eleanor Nevins

The Q’eqchi Healers' Association of Belize An Endogenous Movement in Heritage Preservation and Management James B. Waldram, Victor Cal, and Pedro Maquin

Cultural Heritage, UNESCO, and the Chinese State: Whose Heritage and for Whom? by Robert Shepherd

The Terror of Culture Long-term History, Heritage Preservation, and the Specificities of Place by Alexander A. Bauer

Thinking about Oral History: Theories and Applications
, edited by Thomas L. Charlton, Lois Myers, and Rebecca Sharpless, reviewed by Lauren E. Jelinek

Plains Apache Ethnobotany, by Julia A. Jordan, reviewed by William C. Meadows

The papers were originally presented on a panel Miller organized at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association.

Faculty News: Robert Shepherd publishes article on UNESCO and Cultural Heritage in China

Robert Shepherd, Assistant Professor in the University Honors Program and the Department of Anthropology, published an article entitled, "Cultural Heritage, UNESCO, and the Chinese State" in the spring 2009 issue of Heritage Management.

In the past two decades, the government of the People's Republic of China has become a strong supporter of UNESCO material culture preservation efforts within China, including ethnic minority areas such as the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). This article uses a range of materials including fieldwork findings, museum research, and anthropological studies of ethnicity and development in China to examine this shift in state policy from the "modernization" of minority peoples through state-directed development to cultural preservation. Major findings are that these policies serve development in a different way, by supporting political claims to regions such as Tibet through the promotion of historical and cultural ties between China and Tibet, and by fostering a rapidly expanding domestic tourism industry in minority regions.

Joanne Brucker (BA 2007) receives Harvard MA in International Educational Policy

Joanne Brucker (BA Anthropology 2007), graduated from Harvard University in June with an MA in International Educational Policy.

She says that it was “a long and hard period, but so rewarding — I still am processing how much I learned.”

She is currently involved in a wide variety of activities. Along with some colleagues from Harvard, she is finishing up a project with UNICEF on inclusive education; they are writing a report for the CEE/CIS region about all the children left out of school, and she is writing the section on Roma-inclusive education in Macedonia. This summer she completed a project for SIT on their youth programs. In this role, she was part of the summer Governor's Institute Staff working on current Issues and Youth Activism. One of the programs involved a group from Iraq who came on a State Department program joint with a group of Americans. Most exciting of all for her was the final program: a joint project with Danish People's Aid and the U.S. Embassy in Denmark which brought a group of multicultural Danes to SIT for two weeks of intense leadership and active citizenship training. The program was especially rewarding and challenging for her because of her cultural background.

Joanne spent the last two weeks teaching in Danish and learning a lot about the current immigrant situation in Denmark. Joanna comments, “As I look forward I hope to continue to work in the area of youth leadership and inclusive education, particularly in Europe.”

She is also involved with another group of Harvard students working on a moral-based TV project. She is looking for a full-time job in Washington, DC, or Europe.

Congratulations Joanne!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sarah Peacock (BS 2009) to attend Boston University forensic anthropology program

Congratulations to Sarah Peacock (BS Bio Anth 2009), who will be attending the Master's Program in Forensic Anthropology at Boston University.

She says: "Thank you for everything you did to help me get here; I couldn't have done it without you guys!"

Cotlow awardee Abigail Greenleaf with Peace Corps in Cameroon

Abigail Greenleaf (BS Public Health 2007), awarded a Cotlow Research Grant in 2006 for her project "The Journey of a Culture: The Sudanese Immigrant Community in Iowa City, Iowa," is in Cameroon as a health extension worker with the Peace Corps.

She reports:

"I am really enjoying my time here in Cameroon. It is an anthropological heaven! I am living in a compound with a muslim family. There are three wives and over thirty kids so someone is always explaining something to me. The wives are great and are always inviting me to go to naming ceremonies, funerals, etc. I am learning Fulfulde, the local language and hopefully will be able to speak really well by the end of my two years."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lissa Cruzado (MA 2007) working with El Hogar de Mi Hermana to help Victims of Abuse

Lissa Cruzado (MA Anth 2007) is working with the DC organization El Hogar de Mi Hermana (My Sister's Home) to help shelter and educate women who have been victims of domestic violence as well as social, economic, physical, and sexual abuse.

Cruzado is serving as Coordinator of Education and has given several interviews conducted in Spanish regarding the organization's mission and upcoming events. These interviews can be read at:

El Tiempo Latino

El Pregonero

Debra Prince (MA 1999) receives teaching position at Boston University School of Medicine

Alumna Debra A. Prince (MA Anth 1999) is working as Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the Boston University School of Medicine.

According to the School of Medicine's Website, Prince "will be teaching courses in forensic anthropology and journal club studies. Dr. Prince joins the Forensic Anthropology program after serving as a forensic anthropologist at the Joint/POW MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii for the past four and a half years."

Debra is a member of The American Academy of Forensic Sciences: Physical Anthropology Section, the Society of Forensic Anthropologists, the International Association for Identification, and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

Her research interests include age changes in the human skeleton, skeletal biology, bone trauma, soft tissue decomposition, bioarchaeology, paleodemography, and dental anthropology."

Graduate Student Jessica Grebeldinger to marry

Jessica Grebeldinger, incoming MA/IA candidate, is getting married on the weekend of August 15th. She reports:

"We're holding an intimate family wedding ceremony followed by brunch in MD and then an evening cocktail reception for friends. Unfortunately we never got around to making a website or I would definitely share. We've decided to spend a few days in the Shenandoah - not exactly sure where since we're going with my brother & his wife and they've organized everything!"

Best Wishes, Jessica.

Faculty Update: Shelly Habecker Gives Birth to Baby Girl

Congratulations to Shelly Habecker, who co-taught Development and Diaspora among other courses with Steve Lubkemann in 2008-09. She and her husband, David, welcomed Lucy Claire Habecker into the family on April 27, 2009. Lucy was born 7lb. 13 oz., 19.5 inches.

Shelly reports:

"She looks just like her dad and is getting cuter by the day. Next week she'll take her first transantlantic flight to the UK to attend my PhD graduation ceremony at Oxford University."

Welcome, Lucy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Prof. Grinker speaks at the Autism Science Foundation

As part of a series of lectures entitled "Science and Sandwiches" Professor Grinker gave a July 29 lecture on the science of autism as a cultural system.

According to the Autism Science Foundation website Dr. Grinker:

"emphasized the importance of culture in understanding how societies view illnesses, and discussed how in a variety of different historical contexts, radical shifts in how illnesses are identified, treated, and counted resulted not from new scientific discoveries but from cultural changes. Grinker then noted that a number of factors produced the global rise in autism awareness, with some being more salient than others depending upon cultural context.

"Despite the increase in awareness, Grinker noted that there is little scientific knowledge about ASD outside of North America and Western Europe. Indeed, there are insufficient data to estimate the prevalence of autism in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and the entire continent of Africa. Although, he said, most researchers expect that the onset and core symptoms of ASD are consistent across cultures, this remains an assumption. He stated that ASD experts to date know little about how genetic heterogeneity and cultural differences interact to influence the kind and range of impairments that are associated with ASD, its prevalence, course, or familial patterns. He concluded by praising advocates – including his own autistic daughter – for showing that autism can be reconfigured as possibility rather than limitation."

Trinh Tran (BA 2006) returns from Vietnam, will attend law school

Trinh Tran (BA IAFF 2006) recently returned from Vietnam where she worked to help poor young women learn to be professional cooks.

She says:

"Vietnam was the best experience of my life in many ways it was a homecoming and a chance to connect with my culture and faith. I feel very blessed for the opportunity. I have decided to attend Hofstra Law School in the fall. I am happy about this new journey and am excited to get back to school again. I will put forth my best effort and seek opportunities that allow me to advocate for the poor. That's all that really matters right? Plus I am excited to be close to NYC where many opportunities are available."

Susan Bishai (MA 2008) interning at Amnesty International

Congratulations to Susan Bishai (MA Anth 2008) on her internship at Amnesty International's Refugee and Migrant Rights Program. This fall, Susan, who attends GW's law school, will also be working as a student attorney in their Immigration Clinic.

Remembering her studies at GW, Susan says:

" I miss the Anthropology department at GW quite a bit, and fondly reminisce about it with the fellow anthro students with whom I'm still in touch. The program of study (especially the development track) has come in handy many times in relation to law school (human rights; cultural property; etc) and many other aspects of my life. [Barbara Miller's] courses in particular (especially the 'Risk' course) were amongst my favorite. Of course, I've always maintained that anthropology is the THE most relevant and wide-ranging academic discipline!"

Alene Kennedy Hendricks (BA 2006) in Georgia with the Peace Corps.

Alene Kennedy Hendricks (BA Anth 2006), and her husband Peter are in Georgia with the Peace Corps.

She reports: "We're almost finished with pre-service training and will be sworn in as volunteers next Friday. Our permanent site is New Rustavi, a Soviet-era city in the south of Georgia near the Azerbaijan border. Despite being pretty unappealing visually, I think it'll be an interesting place to work and live the next two years. Our host family's neighborhood (soon-to-be our neighborhood!), contains a mix of Russians, Azeris, Armenians, Turks, Abhkazian IDPs and, of course, Georgians.

[Speaking of medical anthropology...] We've already had some exposure to Georgians' attitudes to illness as both Peter and I have been sick multiple times. Our host grandmother attributed the first stomach ailment I experienced to the cold bucket bath I had taken earlier in the morning. And the cause of Peter's fever was the fact that we left the windows open the night before. I'm anxious to learn more Georgian so I can get a better handle on these concepts."

Peter and I with our host family relatives, Mamuka and Salome.

We wish Alene the best of luck in Georgia!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Prof. Cline Wins Best Popular Book on Archaeology Award

From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible by Prof. Eric Cline has been chosen to receive the Best Popular Book on Archaeology 2009 Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) Publication Award for books published in 2007-2008. The formal announcement will appear in the upcoming 200th anniversary issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

The book analyzes from an archaeological and historical perspective various "mysteries" in the Hebrew scriptures -- stories such as Noah's ark and Joshua's destruction of Jericho -- and proposes solutions that reconcile science, historical method, and traditional text.

For more on this book, visit National Geographic Books.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Barbara Miller Appointed Associate Dean

On July 1st, Professor Barbara Miller joined the Elliott School administration as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs. Her new office is room 401e, 1957 E St., NW. She will continue to teach Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Anth 2) in the fall semester, a graduate seminar on Medical Anthropology in the spring (Anth 254), and a distance education version of freshmen cultural anthropology (Anth 2 DE) in the summer. To replace the two classes Professor Miller is no longer teaching, the Elliott School has hired a medical anthropologist in a postdoctoral position (see next entry under Faculty News).

Medical anthropologist Catherine Timura joins the Department

Catherine Timura comes to GW through a post-doctoral research and teaching appointment in the Elliott School of International Affairs. Professor Timura is a medical anthropologist who focuses on cultural change and continuity in Latin America. Her dissertation research at Yale University examined therapeutic decision-making in children's illnesses in highland Ecuador and how communities reflect upon their socioeconomic and political marginality in their explanatory models of illness. Her post-doctoral work at Vanderbilt University examined the distribution of illness beliefs and practices in western and southern Mexico and in Mexican migrant commu­nities in Nashville, Tennessee. She has consulted for Poverty Action and the Ford Foundation on a qualitative assessment of development and microfinance projects in Honduras and Peru and has served as a consultant at the World Health Organization. She will teach a graduate seminar on Health, Healing and Change in the Andes (Anth 222) in the fall semester and the undergraduate course on Health, Illness, and Healing (Anth 154) in the spring semester. Her office will be in 1957 E St., NW.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Douglas Post Park (BA 2005) on the Timbuktu Expedition Project

Congratulations to Douglas Post Park (BA Arch and Anth 2005) on his continuing adventures serving as director for the Timbuktu Expedition Project, which can be found at:

According to its website, this project aims to:

"generate a pluralistic dialogue between the numerous ethnic and corporate groups inhabiting the area surrounding the Niger Bend region. TEP endeavors to increase awareness of 1) the importance of preserving, researching, and understanding the region’s archaeology and cultural patrimony, 2) the long-term effects of local anthropogenic environmental change and 3) how to create a sustainable tourism that beneficially affects the latter two points."

Douglas is a Ph.D candidate in Anthropological Archaeology at Yale and over more than eight seasons has carried out excavations in countries ranging from China to Greece.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Faculty Update: Robin Bernstein and Jared Kaufman Welcome Baby Vivian

Congratulations to Professor Robin Bernstein and Jared Kaufman on the birth of their baby girl Vivian Margaret.

She was born on June 30, 2009 measuring 21 inches long and weighing 8lbs.

Congratulations to the happy parents.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

M.A. student Amanda Leonard to marry

Congratulations to master's candidate Amanda Leonard (MA Anth/Museum Training) who is engaged after a three-year relationship. Her fiance, Paul Gibson, is a PhD candidate at UMD focusing on late 20th century American History.

They are planning to have the wedding after her graduation.

Concerning her engagement, Amanda is frightened of the Stanley Cup wedding cake that Paul threatened her with.

Nicole Griffin (PhD 2009) to work as research associate at Duke

Congratulations to recent graduate Nicole Griffin (PhD Hominid Paleobiology 2009) on her new post-doctoral position with Duke University.

She will be working in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology beginning August 1, 2009.

Nicole co-authored a paper with Professor Richmond entitled "Joint Orientation and Function in Great Ape and Human Proximal Pedal Phalanges" and served as a teaching assistant during her GW career.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Katie Rhine (BA 2002) takes post as assistant professor at Kansas

Congratulations to Kathryn (Katie) Rhine (BA Anth 2002), who will be working as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kansas at Lawrence in August, following completion of her Ph.D. program at Brown University.

Katie was awarded a Fulbright in 2002 to spend a year in Nigeria collaborating with a study on HIV/AIDS hosted by Harvard University. She graduated from GW with special honors for her thesis on reproductive health issues among Congolese immigrants in the Washington area under the supervision of Barbara Miller, then went on to earn her Master's in the Anthropology-Population Program at Brown.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Alumni Update: Lauren Deal takes job with the Southeast Children's Fund

Congratulations to recent graduate Lauren Deal (BA Anthropology with special honors 2009) for her new position as Administrative Assistant with the Southeast Children's Fund. She will be assisting with curriculum development and other matters for a new school to be set up in a DC suburb with funding from the Salvation Army. This is more related to anthropology than the job she just left, which was working in a museum gift shop.

Alumni Update: Laura Myford Takes Two New Positions

Congratulations to recent graduate Laura Myford (MA in Anthropology, 2009) on her two new jobs.

She will be working as a Curriculum Development Assistant at the Fairfax-based Falmouth Institute, which collaborates with American Indian Tribes to help them become better informed on issues of law and governance, finance, and gaming.

In addition, Laura is taking a post as Instructor of Anthropology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County, where she will be teaching two introductory anthropology courses.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alumni Update: Eight Recent Graduates Accepted for Continuing Education

Congratulations to our recent graduates, several of whom have notified us of their plans to continue their college careers in anthropology or related fields.

Sarah Belkin (BA Archaeology) will pursue a Master's in Historical Archaeology at Boston University.

Estelle Charlu (BA Anthropology): a Master's in Public Health at GW.

Kim Cotterman (MA Anthropology-Intl. Devel.) will continue her studies here at GW as she pursues a second Master's in Public Health.

Rachel Navarro (BA Archaeology): a Master's in Archaeology at the University of Missouri.

Caitlyn Nordehn (BA Anthropology and Intl. Affairs): a Master's in Anthropology at GW with a concentration in International Development.

Shanyn Ronis (BA Anth and Latin American & Hemispheric Studies): a Master's in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago with partial funding.

Lyra Spang (MA Anthropology): a Ph.D in anthropology at Indiana University with four years of full funding.

Ashley Stinespring
(MA Anthropology): a Ph.D in anthropology at the University of Illinois-Champaign with partial financial assistance.

We wish these students much success with their diverse and ongoing studies, and ask that other graduates keep us updated on their own endeavors.

New Hall Renamed Philip Amsterdam Hall

Philip Amsterdam, the GW alumnus for whom the main Anthropology Department building is named, has had an additional building re-named in his honor. The University's Board of Trustees approved a measure early last May to rename New Hall to Philip Amsterdam Hall based on a request made by his son.

Amsterdam, who passed away in 2008, left a $5 million bequest to the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration in addition to renovating and renaming the department's Hortense Amsterdam House, which until then was Building WW.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Alumni Update: Bonnie (Richard) Dixon completes her first year in UCLA doctoral program in anthropology

Bonnie Dixon, who earned her MA in Anthropology and Museum Training in 2007, has completed her first year in the Anthropology doctoral program at UCLA.

She reports:

"I am really enjoying everything here so far. It's a great department and good environment. It is a 4-field department, and even if you enter with a Master's in anthropology, they make students take core courses like the proseminars at GW. Thankfully, they waived ALL of them (except sociocultural, which can't be waived) for me after seeing my GW syllabi. ... that says something positive about the GW program."

Alumni Update: Geoffrey Cain publishes articles in the Economist and Far Eastern Economic Review

Geoffrey Cain (BA Anthropology and International Affairs 2008) reports on his recent publication:

"For eight months, I've been working on a story about Cambodia's fight against sex trafficking, which many times has faced criticism for its brutality against sex workers. This article details one government 'rehabilitation' center, where detained sex workers are supposed to learn cooking and sewing, but have been beaten and raped, and at least eight people have died.

Published in The Economist:

"I also encourage you to buy the June issues of the Far Eastern Economic Review and support a phenomenal magazine. I've written an article in it titled "An Oil Curse Looms for Cambodia," after six months of research into Cambodia's secret oil concessions -- and China's race for the oil without regard for its ill social effects. This article is not available online."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Alumni Update: Kathryn Rhine publishes article in AQ, will teach at University of Kansas

Kathryn (Katie) Rhine published an article in the Anthropological Quarterly (volume 82, no. 2, spring 2009) on "Support Groups, Marriage, and the Management of Ambiguity among HIV-Positive Women in Northern Nigeria." The article relates to the anthropology doctoral dissertation she is completing at Brown.

In August, she will join the Anthropology Department at the University of Kansas at Lawrence as an assistant professor.

Katie earned her BA in anthropology, graduating in 2002 with honors for her thesis "Francophone African Immigrants and Maternal Health: A Cultural Analysis" directed by Barbara Miller.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Alumni Update: Lindsey Massoud takes job at Center for Applied Linguistics

Lindsey Massoud has left GW for a new job at the Center for Applied Linguistics in the Tenleytown neighborhood of DC.

Lindsey earned her Master's in Anthropology in 2007 (no concentration). While studying, she was a research assistant in the department's discourse lab and co-authored the 2009 paper “Interdiscursivity as “transfer”: Language and learning in a Middle School Science Classroom" with professor Joel Kuipers.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Alumni Update: Letizia Alto MD takes job with the Seattle Indian Health Board

Letizia Alto, MD, is working with the Seattle Indian Health Board.

Letizia received an MA in anthropology (no concentration) in 2004, received her medical training at the University of Vermont Medical School, and is able to combine these two fields in her new job as she works to support culturally sensitive medical practices. She believes that health care is a human right and that a patient's cultural background is an important part of providing complete care. She is attracted to the broad range of opportunities in family medicine and the ability of the family medicine practitioner to handle a large variety of disease pathology and patient population diversity.

Her special medical interests include international medicine, tropical disease, OB/GYN women’s health, the health of immigrant communities and under-served populations.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Alumni Update: Kaarli Sundsmo takes job at USAID

After months of waiting for her security clearance to be processed, former TA Kaarli Sundsmo (MA with a Development concentration, 2006) was able to start her new job at the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID is the US government agency that is responsible for providing international aid to developing countries. Kaarli's new job is East Africa Regional Coordinator and Knowledge Management Focal Point for the President's Global Food Security Response. This position will help to coordinate efforts among the different U.S. government offices that deal with food security issues.

Congratulations to Kaarli on her professional success.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Alumni Update: Nicholas Bluhm takes position with Cooley, Godward and Kronish

Nicholas Bluhm has taken a position with the local agency Cooley, Godward and Kronish, working as a Litigation Case Assistant. He earned a BS in Biological Anthropology in 2007, as well an MA in Anthropology (no concentration) in 2008.

Nick reports:

"Barbara Miller’s high standards for compositions have most certainly helped in preparing me for this job, which frequently requires me to write 2-page summaries (no passive constructions, obviously!) for my boss, Roel Campos. He's a great guy with a strong moral compass and an example of how good people can effect change in government. In November, then President-elect Obama invited Roel to serve on the Economic Transition Team. I have been working with Roel on strategies for the economic recovery. Roel and I both agree that the government needs to focus on the foreclosures and defaults on home loans. We culled the think tanks for ideas and worked together on a memo that Roel presented to Obama, in person, in Chicago, on November 7! I am really excited about this job and being able to contribute to and learn about some of the great things that are possible through law and government regulation."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Faculty Update: Peter Lucas and Paul Constantino for their recent publication

The Anthropology Department wishes to congratulate Peter Lucas and Paul Constantino on the publication entitled "Remarkable Resilience of Teeth" in the April 2009 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their research evolved through an interdisciplinary collaboration between anthropologists from The George Washington University and physical scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD.

This research resulted in the discovery of several features in enamel--the outermost tooth tissue--that contribute to the resiliency of human teeth over a lifetime of chewing and biting. The research team found that the major reason why teeth do not break apart is due to the presence of tufts--small, crack-like defects found deep in the enamel. Tufts suppress the growth of these cracks in teeth by distributing the stress amongst themselves.

"This is the first time that enigmatic developmental features, such as enamel tufts, have been shown to have any significance in tooth function," said Constantino. "Crack growth is also hampered by the "basket weave" microstructure of enamel, and by a 'self-healing' process whereby organic material fills cracks extended from the tufts, which themselves also become closed by organic matter. This type of infilling bonds the opposing crack walls, which increases the amount of force required to extend the crack later on."

The team also studied tooth enamel in sea otters, mammals with teeth showing remarkable resemblances to those of humans.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Undergraduate Spotlight: Two Students Win Fulbright Awards

Rachel Snyder(BA Anth candidate 2009) has been awarded a Fulbright Student Research Grant for her project entitled "The Oral Tradition of the Zapara Nationality of Ecuador."

She will be working with NAZAE, an organization of the Zapara Nationality in Puyo, Ecuador. There she will be investigating the oral tradition of Zapara families in and around the urban setting of Puyo in comparison to the oral tradition of Zapara families in rainforest communities. As part of this research, she will relate the group's myths to their daily experiences, identity, and political participation in the Ecuadorian state. Furthermore, as the Zapara language is disappearing, she will be creating a collection of myths in collaboration with the Zapara that will be translated into Zapara, Spanish, and English to be used as a didactic tool in the future. The research will be conducted over a 10 month span.

Lauren Deal (BA Anth w/ Honors 2009)has been awarded a Fulbright Student Research Grant for her project entitled "Singing Self and State: Language, Thought and Politics of Opera Pedagogy in Argentina."

She will be investigating the relationship between Argentina and Italy via the institution of Opera and the participants in opera pedagogy. Lauren will conduct the majority of her research over the course of 9 months in Buenos Aires, splitting her time between the Carlos Lopez Buchardo National Conservatory and the University of Buenos Aires. This research will be a continuation of a 2007 study Lauren conducted through Cotlow Research Funding.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department, and was established in 1946 by the U.S. Congress and continues to receive its primary funding annually via Congressional appropriation to the Department of State. The Fulbright Program awarded approximate six thousand grants in 2008, funding U.S. students, teachers, professionals, and scholars to study, teach, lecture, and conduct research in more than 155 countries.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Alumni Update: Chris Wong teaching in China

Chris Wong (BA Intl Aff/Anth 2007) is teaching English for a second year in Hunan Province, China, and is enjoying his job and his life very much. The photo below shows Chris with his students.

Free Image Hosting at

Monday, March 30, 2009

Alumni Update: Trinh Tran teaching in Vietnam

Trinh Tran (BA International Affairs 2006) sends an update from Phouc Loc, Vietnam, a town about 2 hours from Saigon, where she has been teaching English for the past few weeks at a school run by the Catholic Order of the Daughters of Charity. The school trains young women from rural and poor areas of Vietnam in the skills necessary to obtain positions in the hospitality industry.

While Trinh remains busy teaching English, she also mentions that she is learning a lot from her students, calling them "full of spirit and kindness." She most enjoys teaching new words and phrases and testing her students on them throughout the day.

Trinh sends her best wishes from Vietnam and would like to let everyone know that, if they wish to help the school, English-language cookbooks are greatly needed. Cookbooks can be sent to the address provided below.

Di An Binh-Co Trinh
Trung Tau Day Nghe Phuoc Loc
Tan Thanh Ba Ria, Vung Tau

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Professor Brian Richmond Recently Featured by NPR, Science

Professor Brian Richmond was featured on the February 26 edition of NPR’s (National Public Radio) “All Things Considered” discussing an article he co-wrote in the February 27 Science reporting the discovery of a set of 1.5 million-year-old human ancestor footprints in Kenya. These footprints show the earliest direct evidence of modern human bipedalism.

Ancient hominin footprints are extremely rare and the new prints fromthe site of Koobi Fora are the second oldest in the world after the 3.7-million year-old prints in Laetoli, Tanzania, making them one of the most important discoveries regarding the evolution of human walking.

The international team determined that the shapes of these prints significantly are more like those formed by modern humans compared to the prints from Laetoli, Tanzania, which are dated to 3.75 million years and are believed to have been formed by Australopithecus afarensis.

The article, "Early Hominin Foot Morphology Based on 1.5-Million-Year-Old Footprints from Ileret, Kenya", is available online here

"All Things Considered" is available for listening via the National Public Radio website here and iTunes.

Associate Professor of Anthropology Brian Richmond is the graduate advisor for the Hominid Paleobiology Doctoral Program and associate editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Alumni Update: Tyler Brown

The Anthropology Department has been receiving email updates from Alumnus Tyler Brown (BA Anth 2008) who is currently in Peru with the Peace Corps.

He is living in Chucos, Peru in the peaks of the Andes north of Lima. Tyler writes that the small town has a rich traditional culture and that he is learning Quechua, the primary language of the people.

Tyler is the first volunteer the Peace Corps has sent to Chucos and he says that his "counterparts are very interested and excited to have [him] in the village" and "want to make sure that they are doing everything right as far as making [him] feel like an integrated member of the community."

Tyler publishes a video blog at Check it out and keep up to date with Tyler and his adventures in Peru.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Another Alumni Update: Meg Weaver

Meg Weaver (MA Anth/ID 2005) is approaching her one year anniversary working for National Geographic (, doing research for their magazine Traveler as well as some editing and blogging. Since graduating from GW, she has also been volunteer teaching at Language, Etc (, a non-profit school working with immigrants. She is enjoying teaching ESL to adult immigrants.

Additionally, Meg was married this past June.

Congratulations, Meg!

Alumni Update: Caitlyn Bertsch

Caitlyn Bertsch (MA Anth/ID 2008) is finishing up a short-term position as a program assistant for Partners for Development (, an organization working with local communities to improve the standard of living and build the skills of underserved populations in developing countries. For the past five months she has been living in Abuja, Nigeria, and is looking for another position there.