Student News


In my capacity as director of graduate studies, I am proud to announce that incoming graduate students, Nikita Das and Elias Plata Espino, are two of the three recipients in the College of Arts and Sciences of the CAS Climate Change Fellowship."

-Vasiliki Neofotistos, Director of Graduate Studies

Espino photo.

Elias Plata Espino plans to use Mexico’s Sierra Tarahumara as a case study to analyze in his dissertation, titled “The impact of violence on environmental conservation policies: insights from the Sierra Tarahumara case study,” factors, including community violence and drug trafficking, that compromise efforts geared toward environmental conservation. Elías’ dissertation will shed light on the social and political factors that need to be accounted for when it comes to the design and implementation of initiatives to combat climate change.

Das photo.

Nikita Das plans to analyze in her dissertation, titled “Valuation of Electricity in Rural India: An Ethnographic Study” how India’s rural community valuates electricity in the context of government efforts to further rural electrification and reduce carbon emissions. Nikita’s work has practical implications as it helps government officials and policy makers make decisions regarding the use of clean and green energy, and ensure energy access and energy security while combating climate change in India.

Cercone photo.
Ruhl photo.

Ashley Cercone and Erika Ruhl received Fulbright student grants. Cercone will travel to Turkey to analyze early Bronze Age ceramics from archaeological sites using technology such as laser ablation inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and portable X-ray fluorescence (p-XRF). Ruhl travelled to Finland to research the subject of children’s identity and agency in pre-modern Finnish burial textiles.

Eriksen getting Excellence in Teaching Award for Graduate Teaching Assistants.

Amandine Eriksen was honored at the 15th annual Celebration of Student Academic Excellence as a recipient of the 2018-19 Excellence in Teaching Award for Graduate Teaching Assistants.

Ariel Taivalkoski and Bobbi Hornbeck received National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grants. Both students are conducting dissertation research on the Rat Islands in Alaska. Hornbeck’s project is entitled, Exploring Monumental Mound Construction in the Rat Islands, Alaska. Taivalkoski’s project is entitled, Technological Choice and Human-Animal Relationships: A Bird’s Eye View from the Rat Islands, Alaska.

Taivalkoski analyzing bird assemblages using the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History collection.

Taivalkoski analyzing bird assemblages using the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History collection.

Hornbeck captured earth mounds along the outer rim of a raised terrace on Kiska Island using a drone.

Hornbeck captured earth mounds along the outer rim of a raised terrace on Kiska Island by drone.

Brittany Kenyon-Flatt.

Brittany Kenyon-Flatt was awarded a visiting scholar fellowship at the Field Museum of Natural History to support her dissertation research on taxonomic efficacy in the macaque skeleton.

Laura Labarge.

Laura Labarge received a dissertation research grant from The Leakey Foundation for her project, The ecology of fear in wild samango monkeys. The project focuses on the ecology of predator avoidance, including how humans might alter antipredator behaviors in wild samango monkeys inhabiting the Afromontane forests of northern South Africa.

Ashlee Hart was awarded a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship (DCF) for her dissertation, Convening Cultures in Thrace: Evaluating Interaction Through Ceramic Technological Choices

Mark Conaway.

Mark Conaway received a dissertation research grant from The Leakey Foundation for his project, Hominoid postcranial integration in relation to function and evolutionary history.

Patrick Willett was awarded the Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) Residential Fellowship in Istanbul for the 2018-19 academic year for his dissertation project, Transforming Landscapes of Southwestern Anatolia: Social and environmental change in the territory of Sagalassos during the Holocene.

Recent PhD Graduates

  • Amanda Buonopane
    Agency and Assistance in Indonesian Muslim Reproductive Quests
    Advisor: Phillips Stevens

  • Daniel Griswold
    The Elite Estate at Tel Ifshar: A New Perspective on Late 15th century B.C. Canaanite Socio-Political Organization
    Advisor: Peter Biehl

  • Ashlee Hart
    Convening Cultures in Ancient Thrace: An Evaluation of Interaction on Ceramic Technological Choice From Iron Age Bulgaria
    Advisor: Peter Biehl
  • Sarah Hoffman
    Place, Practice, and Pathology in Medieval Iceland: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of the Human Skeletal Remains from the Church Cemetery at Haffjarðarey (ca. 1200 – 1556)
    Advisor: Timothy Chevral

  • Laurel Root
    Community building through economic opportunity:  Entrepreneurship among female refugees in Buffalo, New York
    Advisor: Phillips Stevens

  • Eugen Ruzi
    Intercommunity Interaction in the Early Farming Communities in Albania
    Advisor: Peter Biehl

  • Samantha Wolff
    “Where is Everything?”: Museology from the Archaeological Perspective as Tested at the Sinking Ponds Site“ 
    Advisor: Timothy Chevral

Phyllis Hartrich Memorial Research Award

Ajla Avdic.

Ajla Avdic

Over the summer, I was able to study abroad in Seoul, South Korea. While there, I decided to conduct research on the high suicide rates within the country. What I found was that there were two primary groups affected by this and for very different reasons. The first group affected were young adults or teens. They had such an immense pressure placed onto them by society to be the best students. They would study all throughout the day with little or no time left over for leisure activities. Everyone was competing to get into the same colleges and for the same jobs. The second group affected were the elderly. Traditions have been changing amongst the younger generations due to modernization. Whereas the family would take care of the elderly in the past, this has been changing in recent times. On top of all of this, mental illnesses were not seen as treatable conditions but problems with the individuals that could reflect poorly on the family. It was very interesting being able to talk to locals about their viewpoints on suicide, and even more so seeing how many were affected by it in one way or another.

Funding for this award made possible by Jason Hartrich in memory of his mother, Phyllis Hartrich, who was a long-serving undergraduate coordinator in the department. 

Department Award Winners

Opler Scholarship for Dissertation Research

Kaitlin Ahern and Mark Conaway

Dr. Keith F. Otterbein Award for War and Peace

Nathan Dubinin and Nathaniel Durant

Lucia Maria Houpt Award for Outstanding Senior

Brytton Burnside

Phyllis Hartrich Memorial Research Award

Ajla Avdic

Anthropology Leadership Award

Addison Tobias

Opler Scholarship for Dissertation Writing

Brittany Kenyon

CAS Dean's Outstanding Senior and Highest Honors in Anthropology

Hanna Santanam

Klein Family Award in Honor of Viola Odenheimer

Alexa Schenk

Undergraduate Professional Activities Award

Christina Aviles

Marion and Dr. Stanley Dickson Award for Outstanding Junior

Emma Harty

Student Poster Competition

Kenneth Starr and Bailey Quinn.

Graduate Students

First Place:             Rebecca Biermann
Second Place:                  Erin Pinkston

Undergraduate Students

First Place:                           Kenneth Starr
Second Place:                       Bailey Quinn
Honorable Mention:      Deana Defranco