Thursday, August 9, 2012

Department Members Publish on Hominin Evolution

Anthropology post-doc Erin Marie Williams, Professor Brian Richmond, and Dr. Adam Gordon of SUNY Albany published an article in the April issue of the Journal of Human Evolution. In the article, entitled “Hand pressure distribution during Oldowan stone tool production,” they dispute the hypothesis that the modern human thumb evolved in reaction to high pressure experienced during Oldowan stone tool production. The article can be found at:

Professor Bernard Wood has been featured in the August 8, 2012 International Herald Tribune discussing the three recent fossil finds made by Dr. Meave Leakey and her team in Koobi Fora, Kenya. Their discovery is published in the most recent issue of Nature. Dr. Wood wrote an article to accompany theirs, in which he argues that there were at least two parallel lineages in the evolution of the genus Homo. The full Herald Tribune article is at:, and the entire Nature article at:

News of Recent M.A. Alumni

Breanne Clifton (M.A. Anth 2011) is working on her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Connecticut. She studies lithic technology. 

Julia Friederich (M.A. Anth-Intl. Dev. & Medical Anth 2012) is working at the Pulmonary Hypertension Association in Silver Spring, MD, managing their international program.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hom Pal Student Wins SAA Award

We congratulate HomPal student Andrew Zipkin for winning the prestigious R. E. Taylor award for the best student poster at the 2012 Society for American Archaeology conference. The title of Andrew’s poster is “On the formation and distribution of ocherous minerals in northern Malawi.”

We're featured in the CCAS E-Magazine!

The most recent issue of the CCAS E-Magazine featured two anthropological projects. First, they write about the work of post-doc Erin Marie Williams (Ph.D. HomPal 2011) under the guidance of Prof. Brian Richmond. She, with her research assistant, senior Beccy Biermann, conducts experiments to investigate the connection between the anatomy of the hand and stone tool behaviors. In order to do this, they bring in academics and hobby knappers (stone tool makers) to make and use stone tools.
The article specifically draws attention to Michael Thacher (B.A. 1970) and his wife Rhonda, who generously donated $20,000 to allow Dr. Williams and Prof. Richmond to purchase a key piece of equipment.

The CCAS E-Magazine also spotlighted the research project of linguistic anthropology professor Joel Kuipers and the National Museum of Natural History’s curator Dr. Joshua Bell. They are researching the use of cell phones by different groups (such as Salvadorean immigrants, taxi cab drivers, and GW students) to create their communities and patterns of communication. Helping Prof. Kuipers and Dr. Bell are alumni Jacqueline Hazen (M.A. Anth 2012), Amanda Kemble (B.A. Anth 2012), Briel Kobak (B.A. Anth 2012), and international affairs master’s student Trung Le. Prof. Kuipers and his research assistants are gathering data through in-person interviews, observation, and online surveys. If you want to help them out, take the survey:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

News about our recent Alumni!

Helen Alesbury (B.S. Bio Anth & B.A. Arch 2010) is serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Los Cimientos, El Salvador, where she works specifically on health and sanitation issues.

Shweta Bansil (B.A. Anth 2012) is entering the GW Medical School program as the second step in her 7-year B.A./M.D. program.

Carla Blauvelt (M.A. Anth-Intl. Dev. 2009) is working as the Senior Research Program Coordinator for the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health (Johns Hopkins University). She is currently in Tanzania studying the care of newborns.

Geoffrey Cain (Intl. Affairs & Anth 2008) is working as a journalist and commentator across the world while also pursuing a Ph.D. in political anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Adam Chamy (B.A. Intl. Affairs 2009), a 2008 recipient of the Anthropology Department’s Cotlow award, will attend the University of Maryland’s dual master’s program in city planning and architecture this fall.

Heather Dingwall (B.A. Arch & B.S. Bio Anth 2012) will enter the Anthropology Ph.D. program at Harvard University this fall. Heather plans to continue her work on the evolution of bipedalism.

Andrea Farnan (B.A. Intl. Affairs & Anth 2011) works as a senior leadership consultant for the sorority Alpha Delta Pi.

Christine Foltz (B.A. Intl. Affairs & Anth 2011) is working on her M.S. in forensic anthropology at Boston University.

Jacqueline Hazen (M.A. Anth 2012), Amanda Kemble (B.A. Anth 2012), and Briel Kobak (B.A. Anth 2012) are working with Dr. Joel Kuipers and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History on a project investigating the cultural and communicative patterns made by cell phones.  Amanda has also joined the staff of Anthropological Quarterly, the journal edited by Dr. R. Richard Grinker.

Adrienne Lagman (M.A. Anth-Intl. Devel. 2011) will enter the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at the University of Michigan this fall.  Adrienne is interested in the performance of gender roles within the Chinese legal system and anticipates focusing on women at legal aid centers in China.

Candice Lanius (B.A. Anth 2012) will enter the Ph.D. program in Communication and Rhetoric this fall at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where she will be studying computer-mediated communication and social analysis.

Cheyenne Lewis (B.A. Arch & B.S Bio Anth 2012) will enter the M.A. program in Biological and Forensic Anthropology at Mercyhurst University this fall. Cheyenne has a particular interest in osteology and the excavation of human remains.

Jillian Mallis (B.S. Geology & B.A. Arch 2011) is working on her Ph.D. in Geology at Stanford University. She was fully funded for her studies.

Daniel Miller (M.A. Anth 2011) is working on a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Previously, he was doing molecular biology research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Hospital.

Huma Mohibullah (M.A. Anth 2011) is working on her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. She is interested in identity construction and imagined communities, among other subjects.

Lisa Nevell (Ph.D. Hom Paleo 2008) is working as a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant in the lab of Nobel laureate Mario Capecchi at the University of Utah. Lisa designs targeting vectors for cells and mice.

Alicia O’Brien (B.A. Intl. Affairs & Anth 2011) is working as the Staffing and Payroll Coordinator for Facilities and Operations at GW.

Sarah Ray (B.A. Anth 2008) is now working as an administrative assistant in the Office of Communications and External Relations at Columbia University after completing a 26 month stint teaching English in Macedonia.

LaMarie Reid (B.A. Archaeology 2009) is working in the Washington, DC Historic Preservation Office (DC HPO) as the Assistant Archaeologist of the city. LaMarie works with the City Archaeologist, Dr. Ruth Trocolli, to identify, record, and protect archaeological sites in the District of Columbia, as well as conduct Section 106 project reviews. She also works with collections manager Tara Tetrault to preserve the artifact collections.

Sean Reid (M.A. Anth-Int. Dev. 2010) is a research assistant for the Southern African Slave Wrecks and Heritage Route Project under GW’s Anthropology professor Stephen Lubkemann.

Rebecca Roberts (M.A. Anth 2012), along with Sarah K. Schmidt, wrote Images of America: Historic Congressional Cemetery on behalf of the Historic Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC.

Shanyn Ronis (B.A. Anth & Latin American Studies 2009) is working as a political accounts executive at Gumbinner & Davies Communications in Washington, DC.

Tanya Shpigel (B.A. Intl. Affairs & Anth 2011) is working on her M.A. in social science at the University of Chicago.

Taylor Tibbetts (B.A. Anth & English 2011) received a presidential scholarship from GW and is working on her M.A. in Strategic Public Relations while working in GW’s Office of Media Relations.

Kory Trott (B.S. Bio Anth 2011) is working on his M.P.H. at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Kristina Zarenko (B.A. Intl. Affairs & Anth 2011) is working on her M.A. in anthropology with a focus on biological anthropology at the University of California Chico. 

The accomplishments of our current and former faculty members

Patty Kelly, a former faculty member studying sex work, has edited Policing Pleasure: Sex Work, Policy, and the State in Global Perspective, a book concerning sex work and policy across the world, and contributed to Nevada Rose, the culmination of a multi-year photography project.

Jeffrey Blomster, archaeology professor, published an article in the May 7, 2012 Proceedings in the National Academies of Science (PNAS) about ballplayers and the ballgame in the Mixteca Alta region of Oaxaca, Mexico. The article, Early evidence of the ballgame in Oaxaca, Mexico, showcases Prof. Blomster’s research into an area not previously studied by archaeologists.

Stephen Lubkemann, a sociocultural anthropologist and maritime archaeologist, was featured in an article about his research in the GW Hatchet in January. He is working along with the Smithsonian Institution on a project focusing on wrecks that occurred during the 18th-century Atlantic slave trade. He hopes that finding and exploring these wrecks will reveal details previously unknown about the slave trade.

Chet Sherwood, a biological anthropology faculty member, recently published an article with GW Speech and Hearing Prof. Francys Subiaul, and Kimberley Phillips, a psychology professor at Trinity University. The article, Curious monkeys have increased gray matter density in the precuneus, was published in Neuroscience Letters. The researchers had capuchin monkeys play with infant toys; after determining the monkeys’ curiosity the researchers measured the monkeys’ gray matter. They found that curious capuchin monkeys have a higher density of gray matter in their brain than their less curious peers. For the entire article see

What are our graduates from the olden times doing?

Joanna Brugger (B.A. Anth 2007) is working on the Millennium Cities Initiative at Columbia University’s Earth Institute in New York City. The Millennium Cities Initiative focuses on urban development in various African metropolitan areas.

Zeb Eckert (B.A. Anth & Journalism 2003) is a reporter for Bloomberg Television based in Hong Kong. He has had reporting assignments in Japan, Thailand, South Korea and elsewhere.

Tricia Gabany-Guerrero (M.A. 1988 Anth-Int. Dev.) is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at California State University at Fullerton. She studies the Tarascan Empire in Mexico.

Chris Garces (M.A. Anth 1999) is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Cornell University. He has recently contributed an essay, People’s Mic and ‘Leaderful’ Charisma, to Cultural Anthropology’s “Occupy, Anthropology, and the 2011 Global Uprisings.”

Glenn Geelhoed, M.D. (M.A. Anth 1995) is an alumnus of four different GW schools and a professor in Surgery, International Medical Education, and Microbiology and Tropical Medicine at the GW Medical School. In addition to teaching, he works across the world to provide medical help, train doctors, and establish clinics. One of his current projects involves bringing together the warring peoples in Sudan through marathons. He does this by providing medical equipment and training as a reward.

Rachel Harvey (M.A. Anth 2003) is a doctoral student in Anthropology at the University of Florida, where she studies the impact of cultural tourism in post-apartheid countries. Her research in Cape Town was funded by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship.

Tracy Nasca (M.A. Anth 2001) is working in corporate accounts for Waterstones, a book retail store, in London, UK.

Diana Santill├ín (M.A. Anth 2006) is working as a Global Health Fellow at USAID. In her role as Gender Advisor for the Office of Population and Reproductive Health (PRH), she researches gender-related issues, including women’s rights and reproductive health.

Jen Schiller (M.A. Anth 2004) is working at the director of Shelter House’s Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter in Fairfax, Virginia.

Hope Williams (M.A. 2005) is working on her Ph.D. in Anthropology and Archaeology at Arizona State University. She is working on multiple publications concerning strontium isotopes in various materials.

Matthew Wolfgram (M.A. Anth 1999) is an assistant professor of linguistic anthropology at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Matthew studies Ayurveda medical practices and language in U.S. public schools.

2012 Cotlow Award Recipients

Since 1990, the Lewis N. Cotlow Field Research Fund has supported over 200 anthropological research projects by GW students in over 50 countries. The Fund was created by a $150,000 bequest from the estate of Lewis Cotlow (1898-1987), an explorer, author, and filmmaker who attended GW.

Kathryn Barca (M.A. Anth): The Meaning of Style: An Analysis of Tobacco Pipes from Mount Vernon, Virginia. Advisor: Jeffrey Blomster. Location: United Kingdom.

Rebecca Biermann (B.A. Anth): Methods for Investigating the Biomechanics of Stone Tool Production: Manual Pressure Sensor and Kinematics Motion Capture Techniques. Advisors: Brian G. Richmond and Erin Marie Williams. Location: Washington, DC.

Greyson Brooks (M.A. Anth): Gay Identity and Indigenous LGBT Rights NGOs as Sociopolitical Resistance to State-Sponsored Homophobia in Uganda. Advisors: R. Richard Grinker, Sean R. Roberts, Barbara D. Miller, Stephen C. Lubkemann. Location: Uganda.

Lucas Epp (B.A. Anth): Racism and Sexism in a Virtual World. Advisors: Barbara D. Miller and Alexander S. Dent. Location: Buffalo, NY, and Washington, DC.

Clare Kelley (M.P.H. Global Health, M.A. Intl Dev Studies): Hegemonic Femininity and the Embodied Culture of Alcohol in Tacna, Peru. Advisors: Elanah Uretsky and Barbara D. Miller. Location: Peru.

Michael Kern (M.A. Anth): Talus Morphology in Relation to Locomotor Behavior in Old World Monkey Species. Advisor: Matthew Tocheri. Location: Washington, DC.

Cecily Marroquin (M.A. Anth): Marketing Health: The Social Marketing of HIV/AIDS Prevention in the Caribbean. Advisors: Frances Norwood and Alain Touwaide. Location: Trinidad and Tobago and Washington, DC.

Christopher Payette (B.S. Bio Anth): The Effects of Locomotor Category and Sex on the Ontogeny of Skeletal Robusticity in Two Strepsirhine Species (Lemur catta and Propithecus verreauxi). Advisors: Robin Bernstein and Lynn Copes. Location: New Haven, CT.

Kathryn Ranhorn (Ph.D. Hom Paleo): The Archaeological Context of Early Homo sapiens in Southeastern Tanzania. Advisor: Alison S. Brooks. Location: Tanzania.

Evy Vourlides (M.A. Anth): Vernacularization of the Global Financial Crisis in Athens, Greece. Advisors: R. Richard Grinker and Michael Herzfeld. Location: Greece.