Thursday, April 5, 2012

Grad student Tanvi Avasthi Wins Social Sciences Poster Award

Tanvi Avasthi, B.A./M.A. in anthropology (concentration in Medical Anthropology) won first place award for best Graduate Student Poster in the Social Sciences at GW's Research Day 2 (Arts, Engineering, Humanities, Sciences and Other Topics) on April 2. Prof. Barbara D. Miller was her advisor.

Tanvi's research in India during the summer of 2012 was supported by an award from the Anthropology Department's Lewis N. Cotlow Fund. She studied the construction of the modern Indian identity within the discourse of economic progress and traditional revivalism at a hospital in Bangalore, India. Tanvi looked at individual doctors' representations of modernity, tradition, and personal beliefs concerning the validity of non-Western medicine that is deeply integrated into Indian culture.

For more information, see her website:

Senior Heather Dingwall Chosen as a CCAS Distinguished Scholar

Heather Dingwall, a double major in Biological Anthropology and Archaeology, has been selected as a 2012 Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Scholar. (Two students are chosen each year.) This is the highest academic honor that the CCAS accord our graduating students, and she will now be delivering an address at the graduation ceremony.

Heather’s research as a Gamow Fellow (2010-11), Vice President for Research Fellow (2011-12), and Lewis N. Cotlow Award recipient (2011), all excavating and analyzing ancient human footprints in Kenya under the direction of Prof. Brian Richmond. This work led to her being co-author of articles in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and PaleoAnthropology.

Heather will be entering a doctoral program next year but is still weighing her options.

Hom Pal student Kes Schroer wins Amsterdam GTA Award

Hominid Paleobiology Ph.D. candidate Kes (Katherine) Schroer has been selected as one of three winners of the 2012 Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Award.

In its announcement, the GW Teaching and Learning Collaborative commented: "Katherine brings initiative, scholarship, and professionalism to her work as a graduate teaching assistant. Students and faculty alike appreciate her ability to combine intellectual excellence and approachability in the classroom. In helping the faculty revise the lab manual for Introduction to Biological Anthropology, Kes took the lead in redesigning lab activities. Her work as a GTA thus has a lasting effect on the GW curriculum. She also reveals a nuanced approach to innovation, blending traditional materials and multimedia in her teaching."

Kes has served as a GTA for the Anthropology Department (Biological Anthropology and Primatology), Anatomy (Gross Anatomy), and the Honors Program (Scientific Reasoning and Discovery). She is the second Anthropology GTA to win an Amsterdam Award; Alice McKeown (M.A. 2002) was honored in 2002, the first year it existed.

The award was established by the late Philip Amsterdam (B.A. Anthropology 1962), who also provided much financial support to the Anthropology Department.

Prof. Cline receives Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching

Prof. Eric H. Cline of the Classics, Anthropology, and History Departments is the winner of this year's Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence.

As a man with appointments in three departments, Eric teaches a wide variety of courses and gets sterling evaluations for them all. He is also very active in involving students in field work, especially in the excavations in Israel that the co-directs, and in arranging for funding. As the advisor for the Archaeology Major he has overseen its six-fold growth; the program now has 50 currently enrolled students.

Eric is a former winner of the Trachtenberg Prize for Scholarship, so he is a testament to the fact that faculty can excel at both research and teaching. He is the first person to receive both awards. He also received a Bender Teaching Award in 2008.

Prof. Sherwood receives Trachtenberg Scholarship Prize

Prof. Chet Sherwood has been awarded the 2012 Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Faculty Prize for Scholarship in recognition of his extraordinary record of research and publication.

Chet directs the Laboratory for Evolutionary Neuroanatomy, which is dedicated to research on the evolution of brain structure in primates and other mammals. One of only a small number of laboratories in the world to directly investigate brain evolution in mammals, the laboratory uses high-powered tools to collect information on the variations in the brain architecture in mammals.

Work in the laboratory has resulted in many publications. "Aging of the cerebral cortex differs between humans and chimpanzees," a recent article co-written by Chet in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, described how human brains deteriorate with age in ways chimp brains do not.

Chet's publication record is impressive -- 57 journal articles, proceedings papers, and book chapters since he received his Ph.D. from Columbia in 2003. They are also frequently cited by other scholars. Chet does a lot of interdisciplinary research with GW colleagues such as Tadeusz Zawidzki (Philosophy), Francys Subiaul (Speech and Hearing Science), and Lawrence Rothblat (Psychology), and with both graduate and undergraduate students.

Chet is the fourth member of the Anthropology Department to be honored with the Trachtenberg Scholarship Prize: Alison Brooks in 1994, Eric Cline in 2011, and Bernard Wood in 2003. Former GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg created the prizes in the early 1990s in memory of his parents. Each of the awards comes with a cash prize and the recipients are honored at the university-wide Commencement.

Article by Sara Ray (B.A. 2008) on "Marketing Macedonia"

Sara Ray (B.A. Anthropology 2008) has published an article in a Columbia University journal on how the government of the Republic of Macedonia represents the country as Westernized and Christian, hardly mentioning Muslims, Turks, or Roma, and annoying the Greeks by overusing references to Hellenic culture.

Sara's piece, "Marketing Macedonia," appears in the January 2012 issue of SIPA News, a publication of the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. To read it, click on the headline above.

After graduation, Sara spent 26 months as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in a small city in Macedonia. She is now an administrative assistant in the Office of Communications and External Relations at Columbia University.