Department Newsletter, March 2018

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Announcements
Alumni Updates/Class Notes
Donor Recognition

Message from the Chair

Amsterdam House
The Anthropology Department buildings on G Street got a fresh coat of paint and other updates

I am very pleased to share the latest news from the GW Anthropology Department with you. Our students and faculty continue to make important advances in research, studying topics spanning the full breath of our discipline—Halal tourism, gorilla bones and teeth, drone warfare, hominin fossils and much more. As proud as we are of our current students and faculty, I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the versatile career pathways pursued by our alumni. Many people who have studied anthropology do not get jobs with the title “anthropologist.” Rather, they find that their anthropological training can be applied in many different career settings. After all, anthropology is an intellectually exciting discipline dealing with all aspects of human behavior—social and biological, past and present—a broad focus well suited to today's globally integrated world. GW Anthropology alumni are having an impact by working in community development, public health, heritage management, marketing research, museums, social justice, historical preservation, forensics, international affairs and the list goes on. The “Class Notes” section of this newsletter will give you a sampling of the wonderful ways in which GW Anthropology alumni are thriving in their professions.

We invite you to stay connected with us by following the department’s various social media feeds for announcements about our events, research activities and projects. GW Anthropology and the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology (CASHP) are on Facebook and Twitter. Also, please let us know about your personal and professional milestones. And visit us when you’re in town. You’ll see that our department’s buildings on G Street have gotten a fresh coat of paint and other updates. We are always delighted to hear from you. You are part of our GW Anthropology tribe!

Chet C. Sherwood

Professor and Chair of Anthropology

GW Anthropology Facebook
CASHP Facebook
CASHP Twitter

Back to Top 

 Department Spotlights

MIA: Chronicling the Long Journey Home


Professor Sarah Wagner with members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8239 in Bayfield, Wisconsin.
Professor Sarah Wagner with members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8239 in Bayfield, Wisconsin.





Professor Sarah Wagner’s research on the recovery and identification of MIA service members has taken her from Vietnam battlefields to forensic science labs to the living rooms of reunited families. She was recently awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and an NEH Public Scholar award to complete her third book, Bringing Them Home: Identifying and Remembering Vietnam War MIAs. She was profiled in the CCAS Spotlight newsmagazine.

Finding Evidence of Early Public Space in Oaxaca


Starting excavations in Operation C, the location of early public space.
Starting excavations in Operation C, the location of early public space.




Professor Jeffrey Blomster finished the third and final year of the Formative Etlatongo Project, an archaeological project that focuses on the emergence of early socio-political complexity in Oaxaca, Mexico, with funding from the National Science Foundation. The excavations have exposed important new evidence on Early Formative society, dating to about 1000 BC, at Etlatongo. The project documented evidence for early public architecture as well as fragments of a series of contemporaneous houses. Additional laboratory seasons will be conducted over the next few years. GW anthropology and archaeology students have participated in the fieldwork, at the BA, MA and PhD levels: Sarah Breault, Alexis Clark, Diogo Oliveira, Isabella Pelegero, Karleen Ronsairo and Victor Salazar.

Bonobos May Resemble Humans More Than You Think


Bonobos (shown here) and chimpanzees shared a last common ancestor with humans 6-8 million years ago
Bonobos (shown here) and chimpanzees shared a last common ancestor with humans 6-8 million years ago





Bernard Wood, university professor of human origins at the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, and colleagues examined the great ape species’ muscles and found that they are similar to humans in surprising ways. Their work was featured in GW Today.

 Back to Top


Department Announcements

Faculty Kudos

The 2017 Palmer Civil Liberties Prize was awarded to Hugh Gusterson, professor of anthropology and international affairs, for his book Drone: Remote Control Warfare (MIT Press 2016, paperback 2017). In his book, Professor Gusterson examines drone warfare from multiple perspectives, drawing on accounts from drone operators, victims of drone attacks, human rights activists, international attorneys, journalists and academics.

David Braun, associate professor of anthropology and director of the Koobi Fora Field School, won GW’s Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for teaching excellence in 2017.

Ilana Feldman, professor of anthropology, history and international affairs, was the recipient of GW’s 2017 Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) Distinguished Scholar Award. Professor Feldman’s research has focused on the Palestinian experience, examining practices of government, humanitarianism, policing, displacement, and citizenship. 

New research awards for faculty: Attiya Ahmad was awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for her project, “Halal tourism and the spoils of war in the Middle East.” David Braun also received NSF support for “Hominin footprints, fossils, and their context in the early Pleistocene of Koobi Fora, Kenya.” Ashley Hammond’s project, “Hominoid-like fossils from the late Oligocene of Kenya,” received funding from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Shannon McFarlin was awarded a Leakey Foundation grant for the project “Skeletal recovery and research of mountain gorillas from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda.” 

Current Students

New research awards for anthropology graduate studentsLara Rodriguez-Delgado was awarded funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for her dissertation, “The social life of 'Frackquakes': geology, activism, and governance in Oklahoma's earthquakes controversy.” Chloe Ahmann won a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship to support her work, “Cumulative effects: reckoning risk on Baltimore's toxic periphery.” Görkem Aydemir and Chloe Ahmann were honored with student paper prizes for their presentations at the American Anthropological Association conference.

New research awards for human paleobiology graduate students: Sean Lee was awarded funding from the Leakey Foundation and Wenner-Gren Foundation for his dissertation, “The ontogeny of social behavior and facial form in Pan.” Meagan Vakiener’s dissertation, “Weaned age in gorillas using trace element distributions in teeth,” was supported by the Leakey Foundation and NSF. Cassandra Turcotte was awarded funding from NSF for her dissertation, “Behavioral reconstruction and the bone-muscle interface.” Enquye Negash’s dissertation research, “Modelling vegetation structure in modern ecosystems,” was supported by the Leakey Foundation. Jonathan Reeves’ dissertation research, “Movement ecology and Pleistocene hominin land-use,” was awarded funding by the Leakey Foundation and NSF. Kate McGrath was awarded a Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship for postdoctoral research at the Université de Bordeaux, France.

Lauren Sutherland was granted a Sigelman Undergraduate Research Award for her senior thesis research, “Dental Development of Wild Chimpanzees from Gombe National Park, Tanzania.” Undergraduate Alisha Anaya won a Pollitzer Essay award to attend the American Association of Physical Anthropologists conference.

Department Events

Kes Schroer, who earned her doctoral degree in human paleobiology from GW, has been hired as the program associate for the new STEMworks center in Gelman Library. The STEMworks center opened in September 2017 and it will provide support for GW faculty and students in quantitative analysis, processing data and spatial reasoning across disciplines.

Back to Top

Alumni Updates/Class Notes

Stephen Beckerman, BA ’66, published Marriage in Lowland South America, co-edited by Paul Valentine, Stephen Beckerman and Catherine Ales, with the University of Texas Press.

Rebecca Biermann, BA ’13, MA ’14, is a PhD candidate in physical anthropology at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, working with Dr. Stephen Lycett. Her dissertation research involves applying experimental archaeology to questions relating to evolutionary anthropology.

Megan Davison, BA ’12, is currently working as a senior consultant for Lipman Hearne in Chicago. She is training for her third Chicago marathon and is excited for the travel to come in 2018!

Lauren Deal, BA ’09, is a PhD candidate in anthropology at Brown University. She is currently conducting dissertation fieldwork in Argentina.

Susan (Gilwood) Dineen, BA ’69, is getting close to retiring nearly 50 years after receiving her degree in anthropology from GW. Susan went on to graduate school in English and has been teaching literature in a New Jersey private school.

Andrew Du, PhD ’17, is currently a postdoctoral scholar at The University of Chicago, where he is continuing his research on human evolution. He has recently published a paper on hominin brain size evolution in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Deirdre Fowler, BA ’71, went on to get a degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She worked as a women's health nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood for 24 years and retired in 2012.

Elliot Greiner, BS ’17, is currently in his first year of graduate school at the University of Michigan. He is pursuing a PhD in biological anthropology, specializing in the evolution of Miocene apes in East Africa.

Corey Heyward, MA ’13, is starting her third year in a curatorial fellowship at Drayton Hall in Charleston, S.C. She is cataloging a legacy collection into the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery and running the department's photography studio.

Philip Karash, MA ’09, and Savannah Fetterolf, BA ’08, welcomed their first child, Bjorn Edward Alexander Karash, on Christmas Day 2017.

Ian Kerrigan, MA ’05, lives in New York City and serves as the senior vice president of exhibitions for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Robert McCarthy, MA ’00, PhD ’04, an assistant professor at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., was awarded the 2017-2020 Dr. Scholl Endowed Professorship in Health Sciences. This award will allow him to complete research on vocal abilities in fossil hominins.

John McClelland, MA ’94, is the NAGPRA coordinator at the Arizona State Museum and assistant professor in the School of Anthropology, University of Arizona.

Sarah Mezzino, BA ’04, is the curator of decorative art and design for The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. Sarah is currently involved with the renovation of their 5th Form dining hall which is attached to one of the school's National Landmark buildings.

Daniel Miller, MA ’11, recently completed his PhD at Vanderbilt, and is now a postdoctoral fellow in the NIMH-sponsored Biological Sciences Training Program in Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Beth Moretzsky, MA ’17, is currently working as a health care analyst at the National Committee for Quality Assurance, where she conducts qualitative health care research in the areas of cancer, chronic disease, and primary care quality improvement.

Smiti Nathan, BA ’08, completed her PhD in anthropology from New York University in September 2017. She is now the co-director of the Archaeological Water Histories of Oman (ARWHO) Project and a visiting scholar at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.

Jennifer Nichols, BA ’12, is a primate keeper at Birmingham Zoo in Alabama.

Roma Padalkar, BS ’14, is currently in medical school in New Jersey.

Kourtney Pompi, MA ’08, launched KP Global Consulting in 2013, after more than 18 years in the development field, to support clients in the design, implementation and evaluation of international development programming focused on democracy and human rights.

Tim Quinn, BA ’12, is currently a PhD student in the Anthropology Department at Rice University. He is currently conducting research on prophylactic antiretroviral drugs and sexual rights activism in Thailand.

Chloe Raub, MA ’11, is head of Archives and Special Collections at Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University in New Orleans. The Newcomb Archives collects, preserves and makes available records that document the history of women and gender in the Gulf South.

Susan Scheungrab, BA ’01, spends her days doing business analysis work for the Food and Drug Administration and moonlights on weekends at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum managing children's programming.

Tristan Scholl, BA ’16, is currently ensconced as an administrative assistant with the GW Department of Physics (read: employed!) while he searches for job opportunities in D.C.'s heritage sector and explores funded graduate program options in maritime archaeology.

Douglas Smit, BA ’08, will receive his PhD in anthropology in 2018 from the University of Illinois-Chicago. He is currently a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Angela Spidalette, BA ’16, has been working at GW Libraries and Academic Innovation for the past year and a half. She has recently accepted a job at New America and will be working in events.

Jennifer Stringfellow, MA ’04, has been working at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, as a museum specialist since 2008. She lives with her husband, Stephen Bing, in Northern Virginia.

Roy Wilensky, BA ’82, is a clinical psychologist at Virginia's Sterling Behavioral Health Services, where he recently helped the internship program join an APA accredited consortium. Also a forensic psychologist, he conducts pro-bono evaluations of asylum seekers.

Back to Top

Donor Recognition


The Department of Anthropology would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the department from January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2017. 

+ Faculty/Staff | # Parent | ~ Student | * Friend

Dr. Alison Spence Brooks +

Lauren N. Buscato, BS ’17

Margaret E. Clark, BA ’74

Jardine C. Gallucci, BA ’65

David J. Green, PhD, PhD ’10

Crystal Sujeung Hahn, BA ’07, MA ’09

Susan Carol Heald, BA ’85

Jonathan A. Higman, BA ’74, MA ’83

Victoria A. Higman, Esq., BA ’73, MA ’78

Lucia B. Hwang ~

Sarah J. Koclar, BA ’15

Marilyn R. London, BA ’77

Dr. Kathleen E. Maley, BA ’74

Rosalie E. Mattiola ~

Diogo M. Oliveira, BA ’17

Marie I. Reely, BA ’73

Dr. Gary Duane Shaffer, BA ’77

Christine Sonnabend, MA ’96

Robert G. Stephens, MD, BA ’66w

Anna Nielsen Taylor, MA ’98

Beatrice Anna Taylor, BA ’66

Brewer K. Thompson, BA ’01

Capt. Lawrence J. Wilner, BA ’69

Sarah D. Zakaria, BA ’99

Back to Top