Your contributions at work

Your contributions to the department are used to support activities that facilitate training, research, and teaching in anthropology. The most important of these are the awards that the department gives to undergraduate and graduate students.

Undergraduate Students

Each year we recognize the Best Undergraduate Honor's Thesis and Best Anthropology Essay with financial awards. A faculty committee selects the papers for each award. We give out three awards for Best Anthropology Essay - one each for archaeology, biocultural anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology.

Best Honors Theses in Anthropology 2012-2013

Winner: Faustine Dufka

Thesis Title: 
"The Memory You Are Left With: Photography's Role in the Process of Mourning Perinatal, Neonatal and Infant Dealth"

Advisor: Dr. Danny Hoffman

Best Anthropology Essay Awards 2012-2013

Sociocultural Winner

“Steampunk: a Polite Well-Dressed Revolution”
Ted Lee
Professor: Dr. Sasha Welland

Biocultural Anthropology Winner

“How Much do Archaic Homo Species Contribute to the Modern Human Genome"
Amy Budwill
Professor: Dr. Darryl Holman

Archaeology Winner

"Holocene Developments and their Relation to the Dingo"
Megan McCrea
Professor: Dr. Benjamin Marwick

Graduate Students

The department helps to support pre-dissertation pilot research projects and travel to national academic conferences for graduate students. The awards provide graduate students with critical support that is not typically available from any other source of funding.

Each year we fund as many graduate students as possible to conduct pre-dissertation pilot research. This research is used to identify a field site, make important connections at the field site, and undertake preliminary data collection. These awards were made in amounts ranging from $168 to $1,400 each. The students and projects funded for the 2013-2014 academic year are:


Baishakhi Basu

My area of research interest is focused on the effect of gestational under nutrition on reproductive aging. The aim of my pilot project (6th august - 3rd Sept, 2013) was to assess the feasibility of my subsequent PhD dissertation field work at rural Matlab of Bangladesh.

A sample (N=30) of Matlab women born before (1972-73), during (1974) and after (1975-76) the Bangladesh famine was contacted in order to inform the development of my future study on the effect of fetal nutrition on the age at perimenopause. A color-coded calendar, a survey instrument designed for illiterate women, was also pretested for seven days. Eligible women were identified through the continuous demographic surveillance system conducted by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDRB).

100% of the contacted women gave verbal consent for their participation both in my pilot as well as future PhD research. 100% of the women agreed to cooperate in pretesting the color-coded calendar and 90% used the calendar consistently. The level of cooperation among the subjects in this pilot work suggests a reliable amount of feasibility for conducting my PhD fieldwork in Matlab.


Hilary Bethancourt

My proposed dissertation research will examine the health effects of periodic dietary restrictions on animal products and other foods practiced by Eastern Orthodox Christians in the United States. Few studies have characterized the diet or health outcomes associated with the realization of this traditional spiritual practice (referred to as “fasting” within the Orthodox Christian Church) within a modern, industrialized context.  

The pilot funding awarded to me by the UW Anthropology Department for research in Medical Anthropology and Global Health will facilitate mixed-methods pilot work that will be conducted in two phases over the 2013-2014 academic year. The first phase will involve qualitative research (through interviews and focus groups with parish members and priests) aimed at building a foundational understanding of 1) the history, purpose, and incentives to fasting in the Orthodox Christian Church; 2) the perceived challenges and benefits of fasting; and 3) incentives and barriers to adhering to church fasting guidelines in a modern setting. The second phase will encompass a semi-quantitative survey to assess variation in the realization of Orthodox Christian fasting practices and a trial study to test instruments for measuring dietary intake, physiological and biochemical markers of health, and relevant covariates. Overall, this pilot work will be crucial for demonstrating feasibility of working with the Orthodox Christian community in the United States, gaining feedback from community leaders and members, and establishing the necessary background for framing my dissertation research and developing reliable and valid study instruments.


David Carlson

 Of all the early colonial endeavors in Island Southeast Asia, few were as brutal or disturbing as the Dutch conquest of the Banda Islands. Drawing upon prior research on landscapes of power and plantation archaeology, my research interests focus on the ways in which Dutch colonial authorities employed the built and natural environment as a means of controlling and directing slave labor. First, I am concerned with how plantation landscapes were organized to optimize owners’ ability to maintain social order, control their slave labor, and prevent escapes and smuggling. Second, I am interested in how slaves responded to these attempts, such as through alternative cultural practices or acts of resistance. In order to attain these goals, I need to have a thorough understanding of the historical archives, specifically those elements concerned with class and labor relations on the Bandas. I also need to assess their ability to support my research. I am applying for Department of Anthropology Pilot Funding to fund travel to the Netherlands during the Summer 2013 quarter, from July 6th, 2013 through September 15th, 2013, where I will engage in four weeks of archival research. To prepare me for this, I will also participate in a six-week intensive Dutch language course, prior to entering the archives. Studying Dutch will improve my ability to engage with Dutch academic literature and to work in the colonial archives. The archival research will contribute on multiple levels, from architectural survey to interpretation.


Jessica Lozano

My pilot study centers on communities linking the rural villages of Los Altos Sur de Jalisco, Mexico with the urban cities of Pittsburg and Los Angeles, California. These Alteño communities, emerging from and maintaining sustained ties to the region of Los Altos Sur, form a wider transnational migration network encompassing multiple sites and generations both in Mexico and the U.S. My research aims to identify the ways in which transnational networks are used as social capital by transborder migrants in order to transcend anti-immigrant policies and environments that compromise their access to health and how these same networks mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS in their communities.

My research is framed by three sets of questions: (1) How do transnational migrants configure and utilize transnational networks as social capital? What kinds of social capital are created and leveraged by transnational migrants and their communities? (2) How do different kinds of social capital account for the protective health conditions that have kept HIV/AIDS rates lower in these compared to other communities? (3) How are these communities using the transnational networks and different types of social capital to identify and implement binational care and treatment strategies?


Shanna Scherbinske

My project explores strategies that transnational Somali communities deploy in their quests to secure their own livelihoods, and the way(s) in which these connections shape their lives. In my personal experiences working with resettled Somalis in the United States, I am struck by the forces that geographically distant communities exert on life, and by the active roles Somalis play in managing these networks. Although “here” and “there” are separated by thousands of miles, these connections matter in intimate and everyday ways.  I am interested particularly in the texture of these transnational connections, in the practices through which they are managed, and in whether these connections vary—or change—across generations.  This summer research funding will enable me to trace some of these potential links from Seattle to Kenya.


Lily Shapiro

Worldwide an estimated 2.4 million people die each year due to work-related injuries and illnesses (International Labor Organization, 2012). The number of injuries, of course, is even greater than the number of fatalities. This same report estimates that, every year, more than 330 million accidents occur that cause the injured worker to lose at least four days of work. While occupational injuries are the twentieth leading contributor to the burden of disease globally, they rise to the twelfth in South Asia (Lim et. al. 2012). Given these sobering statistics, it seems puzzling that these accidents have received little scholarly attention or humanitarian intervention. The chronic problems of risky labor and the processes of recovery from such accidents offer a compelling focal point from which to explore trauma and healing, ideas of the ordinary, and constructions of the body in India today. Concentrating specifically on accidents in the textile industry in South India, this project uses reconstructive plastic surgery to amplify questions of labor and risk. Situating my work at the interstices between medicine and labor, I hope to place broad conversations about the body, trauma, and healing in dialogue with those on production, globalization, and technology.

My main goals for this pilot research are:

• To establish relationships with several professors at universities in Coimbatore, receiving their feedback on my project, and requesting letters of support and affiliation from their departments

• To meet with doctors, nurses, and administrators at the Ganga Hospital, and conduct some initial interviews with them

• To conduct initial observations at the Ganga Hospital

• To begin to establish relationships with injured workers

• To conduct initial archival research

• Using feedback generated from these activities, to refine and develop my dissertation research proposal.

This research process will be iterative and self-reflexive; as new questions or complications arise, I will adjust my questions and methodologies accordingly


Kalani Young

“Residing on Hawaii’s shorelines and in public parks, houseless Kanaka Maoli (indigenous people of Hawai’i) and non-Hawaiian locals (those who are not indigenous to Hawai’i but who call Hawai’i home) risk forced removal and arrest by state and county officials in order to assert and maintain epistemologically indigenous connections to the islands' natural resources and ways of life.  In defying the state’s active role in sweeping them off of public parks, beaches and roadways, these communities are asserting their rights to the land by invoking Kanaka Maoli laws that predate the State of Hawai'i.  Conducting pilot research this summer will allow me to re-connect with key activists and relatives within these communities as well as enable me to utilize archival resources located at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in order to better observe and understand the everyday experiences of houseless communities as mediums for conveying important critiques against current public land use laws.  As a once houseless Kanaka Maoli, myself, the MAGH Pilot Research grant will allow me to return home, this time, hopefully, as an asset for the most vulnerable among my people.  

This pilot research will serve as the first step in a more extensive anthropological research study to explore theoretical and methodological debates around homelessness, health and wellness as well as access to public lands in contemporary Hawai'i. “


Kate Zyskowski

Pilot Research funding this summer will enables me to visit archives and attend university events at the site of my research in Hyderabad, India. India is increasingly becoming a hot spot for international education and as of 2012 ranked second only to the United States in terms of the number of foreign students attending institutions of higher education. Osmania University in Hyderabad, the site of my research, currently has 3,000 international students, the majority of whom come from Middle Eastern countries. These new educational migratory paths towards India have received little scholarly attention though migration from India to the West for education, and to the Gulf Countries for labor, has been well documented. Since India’s Independence, the Muslim minority has been marginalized socially, economically, and culturally. This research focuses on the creative capacities of minority groups to negotiate and co-constitute identities with communities across national borders. What are the effects of a growing international Muslim student population at Indian universities, and of the attendant transnational flows of ideas, bodies, and objects?