2023 Anthropology Newsletter

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Kudos
Alumni Class Notes

Message from the Chair

Alexander Dent

We have had another busy year with four main priorities: 1) establishing procedures for graduate students to participate in faculty meetings and departmental governance; 2) transforming the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force into a committee to continue this important work; 3) establishing procedures for mentoring associate professors to full professor status; and 4) assisting the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology (CASHP) as it transitions to a new governance structure.

For the first item, we now have one representative from each of our graduate programs: sociocultural-linguistic-archaeological PhD and MA, and human paleobiology PhD and MA. The four representatives have begun attending faculty meetings and interfacing with their constituencies. A procedure is now in place for new representatives to rotate through these positions. We’re hopeful these new voices will strengthen our sense of community.

The new DEI committee will have a smaller membership, and a more specific focus. Each fall the committee will gather feedback from the community and will use this information to establish a “core focus” for committee work for that year. At the end of the year, the committee will make a presentation to faculty and students with action items to incorporate into departmental practice. In addition to this, DEI work has been incorporated into every single faculty meeting. But there is much left to be done!

In an effort to support the promotion of our associate faculty to full professor, we polled associates to learn more about their needs, and began to offer teaching evaluations and package preparation support—crucial components of the promotional process.

Since Dr. Bernard Wood has stepped down from directing CASHP, the group has been working to establish new governance procedures. They have hired a consulting group to finalize the process next year, and are working toward establishing their governance next year.

We have also been fortunate to welcome a new faculty member. Dr. Leniqueca Welcome joined us this year, and her teaching on race, violence, visual culture and sovereignty has received rave reviews.

This coming September we will welcome Dr. Oluseyi Agbelusi. Dr. Agbelusi’s arrival contributes to burgeoning interests in the Black Atlantic, strengthening our two-year-old relationship with the Mt. Vernon Estate (where we hope to host our second summer field school this year), and the Slave Wrecks Project.

I have reached the end of my term as chair this July and will be succeeded by Dr. Brenda Bradley, who will lead the department into its next phase. It has been a pleasure working with all of you to make crucial changes while preserving critical aspects of our discipline. Thank you!


Alexander Dent
Chair, Department of Anthropology

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Department Spotlights 


Sherwood Selected as AAAS Fellow

Professor of Anthropology Chet Sherwood
Professor of Anthropology Chet Sherwood

In February of 2023, Dr. Chet Sherwood from CASHP and the GW Mind- Brain Institute was elected to the American Association of the Advancement of Science, a prestigious organization in the scientific community that honors the achievements of innovators across the disciplines. He was recognized for his contributions to evolutionary neuroscience and his work with primate and other mammalian brains. His election was covered in the CCAS Spotlight newsmagazine.

Rituals in the Making Enters Final Phase of Research

A masked person outside lighting tea lights and placing them in paper bags

The Rituals in the Making Project—which was responsible for the 2020-2021 In America: Remember public flag installation in Washington, D.C., honoring those who died from COVID-19 and the Culture Keepers Oral History Project—entered its third and final phase of research, titled “Memorialization, Contested Knowledge, and the Sociopsychological Impacts of Disinformation in the Context of Covid-19.” Dr. Sarah Wagner serves as principal investigator with co-PIs Dr. Richard Grinker and Dr. Joel Kuipers.

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Department Kudos

Parker Blackwell, BA ’23, was chosen as a Gates Cambridge Scholar and will begin her studies at the University of Cambridge this fall.

Paige Gavin, BA ’23/MA ’24 and Sarah Frieman, BA ’23, won second place for their paper, “Failed Liminality and Disenfranchised Grief: COVID-19 Deaths in Nursing Homes,” in the 2022 COVID Information Commons Student Paper Challenge. Paige and Sarah serve as research assistants with the Rituals in the Making COVID-19 research project. 

Irina Carlota (Lotti) Silber, BA ’91, published the book After Stories: Transnational Intimacies of Postwar El Salvador (Stanford University Press, 2022).

Dr. Sarah Richardson, PhD ’23, was awarded a writing prize from the Society of Humanistic Anthropology (SHA). Her essay “Can [Camouflage] Be Fixed?” won first place in the graduate division for SHA's 2022 President's Award for Student Scholarship.

The department saw many of its doctoral students defend and pass their dissertation defenses this year. We wish to extend congratulations to these newly-minted alumni: Dr. Dana Burton, Dr. Shweta Krishnan, Dr. Victoria Lockwood, Dr. Sylvain Nyandwi, Dr. Sarah Richardson, Dr. Victor Salazar- Chavez and Dr. Courtney Sexton.

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Alumni Class Notes

Gorkem Aydemir Kundakci, MA ’16, PhD ’22, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology at University of Calgary.

Hailee Bilimoria, BS ’22, is earning a master's of science degree in human paleobiology from the Center of the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology at GW and will graduate in 2023. Her research focuses on the intersection between mathematics, public health and biology.

Lynn Bostain, BA ’79, retired to Tuscany, Italy (Torrita di Siena) in 2017 and loves every minute! She tries to visit the Washington area every year and remembers all her time there very fondly.

Graciela Catasus, BA ’77, lives in Florida, after residing in several U.S. states. Her latest accomplishment and lifetime wish was to write and publish The Revolution that Wasn't: My Candid Observations About the Shared Cuba and United States Histories.

David Green, PhD ’10, is an associate professor of anatomy and chair of the Anatomy Department at the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Buies Creek, N.C.

Marianne Hedrick, MA ’06, joined the Executive Doctoral Program in Health Leadership program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Mark Kruszczynski, BA ’92, after his years in Building X, has earned a PhD at the University of Pittsburgh where he studied the origins of complex society in the Olmec heartland. He is a research scientist in adult mental health for the State of New Jersey.

Francine Margolis, MA ’20, presented her research at the American Research Center in Egypt conference. Her research stems from the thesis she completed at GW on female pelvic anatomy and is about a Coptic Egyptian mummy who died during childbirth.

Cecily Marroquin, MA ’13, is a software engineer at GoodRx where she combines her tech skills with her background in medical anthropology to help make healthcare more affordable. She adores life in her new city, Cleveland, Ohio, with her fiance Jon, dog Luna and cat Mikey.

Robert McCarthy, MA ’00, PhD ’04, is associate professor of biology at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., just outside Chicago. His research focuses on how body size and shape changed during human evolution.

Jane Meiter, BA ’21, is a collections manager and curator at the Dubois Museum in Dubois, Wyoming, managing and exhibiting a collection of historical artifacts.

Elizabeth Monsen, BS ’17, MA ’20, is a digital archivist in the Chicagoland area.

Mark Nelson, MA ’15, is starting his fourth year as collections manager for History Colorado in Denver.

Megan Norden, BA ’09, teaches 6th grade history in Cleveland

Kourtney Pompi, MA ’08, is director of civic engagement at Counterpart International. This follows a five-and-a-half year assignment as a contractor working on human rights and democracy issues at the U.S. Department of State.

Lisa Marie Mooney, MA ’07, (née Burkoski) became the proud mom of her son, Cayde, in 2021. In 2022, she departed the Smithsonian after 14 years and began a new remote position as the volunteer management specialist for FIRST, a global robotics community.

Dr. Georgeanne Reynolds, BA ’73, MA ’76, published a memoir of her first summer as an archaeologist on the North Slope of Alaska, titled Tundra. She credits Dr. Robert Humphrey for inspiring her career as an Alaskan archaeologist.

Rebecca Roberts, MA ’12, published the book Untold Power: the Fascinating Rise and Complex Legacy of First Lady Edith Wilson (Viking, 2023), which The Wall Street Journal called a “fast-paced and sure-footed biography” and “a delightful read.”

Dr. Katherine Spilde, MA ’93, professor and endowed chair at San Diego State University, was presented with the Chairman's Award from the Indian Gaming Association at their annual conference.

Maureen Taft-Morales, BA ’79, (née Maureen Morales) retired happily in 2022 after serving Congress for 35 years. As a specialist in Latin American affairs in the Congressional Research Service of  the Library of Congress, she published over 300 reports.

Anna Taylor, BA ’98, lives in Jacksonville, Fla., with her husband and two teenagers. She directs The Greater Sum Foundation, a nonprofit capacity building organization that operates nationwide.

Johanna Twersky, BA ’06, associate produced the documentary REFUGE, which made its debut in North America in select theaters and on demand.

Marielle Velander, BA ’14, took a sabbatical from her career in product operations to travel around the world for the whole of 2023, starting in Chile and ending in the Philippines. Next stop: Colombia!

Cathleen Weigley, BA ’67, earned a master’s in anthropology at Northwestern University, spent a year in Western Kenya, worked for a while in the NU library and then spent 40 years as a technician for the NU fencing team. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Deerfield, Ill.

Ronald Wohl, BA ’65, a certified management consultant, led a management consulting firm, passed the Home-Based Business law in Maryland, consulted with many politicians, led several associations and managed an international business. Now he is retired and a published poet.


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