Introducing the 2015 Cohort of SoA Graduate Students


Rebecca Bedwell is a first year student in the Ph.D.-track M.A. program in Sociocultural Anthropology, with a concentration in Medical Anthropology. She is from Greenwood, Indiana. She received her B.A. in Anthropology and Spanish at Indiana University–Bloomington in 2014. Rebecca’s research interests include medical anthropology, feminist anthropology, women’s health, indigenous peoples’ health, migrant health, health disparities, and gender. Research for her senior thesis project, “The Impact of Federal Breastfeeding Policy Initiatives on Women’s Breastfeeding Practices and Attitudes in Southern Indiana,” was funded by an undergraduate research grant from Indiana University’s Hutton Honors College. She received the Hilde Spielvogel Award for Outstanding Presentation by an Undergraduate Student at the 2014 Human Biology Association Annual Scientific Meeting in Calgary, AB for presenting her senior thesis.
Rebecca’s hobbies include doing salsa and contra dance, hiking, knitting, quilting, and baking. She has a little black cat named Stella, and two zebra finches, Hazel and Buckbeak. Rebecca is looking forward to exploring Tucson and Southern Arizona during her time here.
Brittany Franck is pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology with a concentration in Medical Anthropology. She holds an M.A. in International Development with a graduate certificate in Global Health Affairs from the University of Denver, and a dual B.A. in English and American Studies from California State University, Fullerton. Brittany served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia from 2011 to 2013, training primary school English teachers and working to improve health care access and awareness for people with disabilities. She returned to Ethiopia in 2014 as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer to establish a federally funded health clinic at a boarding school for vision-impaired children and conduct field research on educational provision for students with disabilities in the Tigray region. Her research interests include disability, stigma, mental health, and culturally appropriate health care.
Anna Jansson is an incoming Applied Archaeology M.A. student. She grew up in Washington state and got her B.A. in Anthropology (Archaeology focus and Geology minor) from Western Washington University (class of 2012). Since then, Anna has worked in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) Archaeology throughout six different states for various CRM firms, a non-profit museum, the Forest Service, and the Burns Paiute Tribe. She came to the University of Arizona to learn about a specific subfield of archaeology: geoarchaeology. Anna was first exposed to this field during her undergraduate studies, but her experiences in the professional archaeological world have proved to her that this is where her passion truly lies. Anna will be working with Dr. Holliday on her thesis, through which she will be applying the methods of stratigraphy and soil science to make interpretations on the geomorphic chronology of an archaeological site.




Danielle Johnson grew up in rural England and went on to study for her M.A. (Hons) in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. In her senior years at St Andrews, she became interested in the applications of anthropology in environmental issues and conducted her thesis on the social importance of biodiversity in Ireland. Upon graduating in 2009, Danielle sought to deepen her understanding of sustainable lifeways and food systems in action, which led her spend several years in Aotearoa, New Zealand, where she became involved with a series of permaculture projects. In 2013, she interned with the conservation non-profit Native Seeds/SEARCH here in Tucson and more recently she worked as part of the Earthquake Recovery team at Canterbury Museum back in New Zealand. These experiences have greatly influenced Danielle’s research interests, and in future years, she hopes to focus her inquiry in the areas of plant conservation, resource management, ethnobotany, habitat restoration, and food and seed sovereignty within Native American communities in the Southwest, and to further understand how anthropology can be of relevance in the environmental sphere. Danielle’s other anthropological interests include material cultures of the American Southwest, North West Coast and Polynesian societies, visual narratives and ethnographic film making and issues of empowerment, resistance, gender and “the Other.” She currently holds an RA position with BARA’s Internship scheme, where she will contribute to the Tucson Community Food Bank project. Outside of anthropology, Danielle enjoys the outdoors life: she likes to grow some of my own food and go hiking, biking, kayaking, and camping. Photography, yoga, and cooking are also major fixtures in her life, and she currently writes for the agri:Culture Journal, a bi-annual publication put together by Seed Broadcast, an organization based in New Mexico that highlights the interconnections between seeds, cultures, art, and literature worldwide.
Caitlin McPherson is a Biological Anthropology Ph.D. student and is pursuing a concentration in bioarchaeology. Her research interests include: soft tissue development, the effects of dietary and nutritional deficiencies on juvenile skeletal development, plant domestication and the evolution of the human diet, and the ethical and legal aspects of repatriation. Cait completed her undergraduate degree in anthropology at George Mason University in 2010, and worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation before returning to academia. Regrettably, she was never permitted access to the X Files and does not know where D.B. Cooper is.
“Añi ‘ap cegig Lisa Jo Starlight Palacios-Rivas ‘añ ba amjed South Komelik, Waw Giwulk District, Tohono O’odham Nation,” writes Lisa Palacios. Lisa serves as an archaeological monitor for her tribe (TON) and has deep interests in cultural landscapes, Tohono O’odham place names, tribal members as experts, and both American Indian and collaborative archaeology. She also works with Tohono O’odham elders in the interpretation and discussion of historical documents written by the Spanish during their initial exploration of the Papaguerìa-Pimerìa Alta. Lisa received her B.A. in Anthropology in 2010 UA and her M.A. in American Indian Studies in 2014, both from the UA. She is thankful for the opportunity to continue her education on my peoples’ ancestral land here at the University of Arizona.


Sydney Pullen is an applied cultural anthropology graduate student interested in education reform in both the U.S. and Mexico. She plans to examine the role of private funds in these policy changes and popular understandings of these reforms, as well as reactions to them manifested either as large social movements or small, everyday acts of resistance. More broadly, her academic interests are: Mexican migration to the US, education, globalization, neoliberalism, gender and sexuality, social movements, feminism; Latin America, Southeastern US.
Originally from South Carolina, Sydney completed her undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina, majoring in anthropology and minoring in music. After graduating, she worked at EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia, SC first as an educator and later as the coordinator of a federal grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) geared to improve accessibility of the museum and its programs for Latin@ community members. During her time there, Sydney also presented sessions on LGBTQ accessibility in the museum setting at national and international conferences. Anecdotally, she plays the cello sometimes and has a great dog named Jonsi.
Rebecca Renteria was born and grew up in Tucson, AZ. She holds certificates from Pima Community College Centre for Archaeological Field Training and a B.S. in Anthropology with a focus on Archaeological Sciences, minor in geosciences from the UA. Rebecca focuses on endrochronology in archaeology; she is interested in wood use behaviors among groups in the southwestern United States. Rebecca received the Alsie French and Edmund Schulman Memorial Scholarship from the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research in recognition of scholarship and as a student with high potential for making future contributions to the field of dendrochronology. She has a lovely pup, Katalina, who loves doing fieldwork with her, but mostly loves the opportunity to chase rabbits and catch her own lunches.
Stacy Ryan (Applied Archaeology) grew up in Buffalo, New York and received a B.A. in Anthropology at SUNY Buffalo State. She began her work in archaeology as a field technician investigating Buffalo’s historic Erie Canal district. Her interest in the history and the landscape of the Sonoran Desert led her to Tucson in 2001, and she has since gained valuable experience working as a field archaeologist and flaked stone analyst for Desert Archaeology, Inc. For the past two years, Stacy has served as the lithics lab director for the joint Archaeology Southwest–University of Arizona Upper Gila Preservation Archaeology Field School. Her research interests involve studying changes that occurred between A.D. 1150 and 1450 in the U.S. Southwest through projectile point styles and obsidian source studies. She is also looking forward to exploring issues relevant to cultural resource management, including site protection, preservation methods, and collaborative efforts. Her free time is spent with her family, connecting with friends, and enjoying the beauty of the desert.
Michael Spears is an incoming archaeology student in the Applied Archaeology MA program. He moved here from Albuquerque, New Mexico where he was working as a CRM archaeologist since 2012. Mike’s work took him all over the state working on a variety of projects including a 4000 year old bison-butchering site and an agricultural pithouse village with some of the earliest corn found in New Mexico. He has broad interests in the North American Southwest, especially the Northern Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. Mike is particularly interested in investigating issues related to collaborative archaeology, landscape archaeology, and agriculture. He grew up in Pennsylvania and Maryland and received his undergraduate degree in anthropology at Ithaca College in New York. When not doing archaeology, Mike loves to cook and talk about anything food related, especially fermentation! He also likes to spend his time outside hiking, biking, foraging, and gardening.
Ashleigh Thompson hails from Minnesota and Utah and is a member of Miskwaagamiiwi-zaaga’igan (Red Lake Anishinaabe Nation). She earned her B.A. degrees in American Indian Studies, Anthropology, and English at the University of Minnesota Morris. Ashleigh is a first year graduate student in the Ph.D.-track program. Her interests include collaborative archaeology, particularly of the Great Lakes and Plains region. During her ever-decreasing spare time, Ashleigh enjoys distance running, nature photography, and eating Taco Bell. She says, “Miigwech (thank you).”


Alena Wigodner is a new student in the Mediterranean Archaeology concentration. She grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and earned my B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in 2014 with a major in Anthropology, a minor in History, and a second concentration in Environmental Studies. In the year between receiving her B.A. and beginning her graduate studies, Alena served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, working to build capacity through strengthening the volunteer and internship program at an incredible nonprofit organization in Billings, Montana.
Alena’s field experience includes work in Roman and Medieval archaeology in England as well as excavation at a Mississippian mound site in Indiana culminating in a funded undergraduate research project in which she studied mound construction techniques. In addition, Alena has conducted research on ethnic identity and individual agency in a military setting on England’s Roman frontier (near Hadrian’s Wall). She is particularly interested in the sociocultural aspects of culture contact in the Mediterranean region, especially in the context of colonialism and frontier communities. Outside of academics, Alena’s hobbies include gardening, listening to podcasts, and playing sports that require no hand-eye coordination (kickball and soccer are favorites).
No biographies are available for Joseph DuprisJordan Andrea KrummerJin LiJessica Ray, or Margaret Katherine Sayre.

Published Date: 

01/14/2016 - 11:16

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