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2000-2004 Alumni


Eric Cunningham - Class of 2000

After I graduated from USU I took a short break and then in 2002 went to Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program). I taught at a junior high school in Nagano prefecture for two years. Then I met my wife and moved to Kyoto (hence the photo) where I lived for one more year, teaching English at various schools in that area. During my time in Japan I became very interested in Japanese agricultural landscapes, known as "satoyama" (mountains at the village). I wanted to combine this interest with my previous research concerning religious practices in Japan. This led me to the anthropology department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and particularly their ecological anthropology program. A subfield of that program, developed by Dr. Leslie Sponsel, is called Spiritual Ecology, which seeks to incorporate spiritual beliefs into ecological issues. I was lucky enough to receive a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship from the Center for Japanese Studies here and so I am continuing my research into "satoyama". Particularly I am looking at sacred groves associated with shrine and temple complexes and possible ways of rejuvenating rural areas using traditional agriculture and silviculture.

My anthropology degree has helped me throughout all of this, in both direct and indirect ways. I'm particularly thankful for the breadth of my education at USU. Because I am doing research within a multidisciplinary field, I've found my experience at USU invaluable.


Dan Call - Class of 2001

After earning my BA in Anthropology, I began working as a Spanish teacher in secondary and higher education with an eye for youth cultures and applied Anthropology in schools.  I completed an MEd in Education, Culture and Society through the University of Utah and settled into the Pacific Northwest where I began collaborating with a consortium of world languages teachers (Organic World Language) to transform our discipline.  The experiences and knowledge I gained in Anthropology continue to inform my practice on a daily basis: student-centered inductive methodology has replaced a predetermined curriculum; sociolinguistic theory is a much better guide for helping learners than anything else with which I've experimented; and my ethnographic studies on play have emboldened me to create a classroom where learning is effective, exciting and inquiry-based.  My success with this makeover has connected me with opportunities to present my work at several professional conferences.  Also, out of both personal and pedagogical interest, I maintain a blog that brings students closer to cultural phenomena and current events that affect the Spanish speaking world.  


Brian Beesley - Class of 2003

I graduated from with a B.S. in Anthropology in the spring of 2003. I then went to work in a hospital in my hometown in Idaho. While there I went ahead and got married and got a Master's in Public Health from Idaho State University. Because I never want to be finished with school, I decided to continue at the University of Utah, where I have just started (Fall 2007) at the School of Medicine. I have one child of 6 months and all is well.

I couldn't have picked a better major than Anthropology and couldn't have had more amazing professors while at USU than Drs. Lambert, Simms, and Moris, from each of whom I took multiple classes.

Field School 2002: a coyote, a van, and a brief ceremony by Arie. Purple clay, a hole in the ground, rasta music from a cowboy named Buck. Some of you know what I'm talking about.

All of you former collegues, keep in touch!


Kim Clawson - Class of 2003

I was recently appointed the Park Naturalist for Dead Horse Point State Park. My job entails a number of different roles and tasks. I work in the visitor center and entrance station. I also take care of visitation for the park and write newspaper articles for park events; I just finished renovating the Park's Junior Ranger book. I give an interpretive slide program, "Desert Survival: How did the Ancestral Puebloan survive out here?" and hope to have another one called "Movie History of Moab" soon. I am also in charge of the Park library and the museum, but haven't really had time to do anything with the museum yet, that's my project for this winter (2006).


Stephen Anderson - Class of 2004

After graduating from USU with a BS in Anthropology, I took one year off of school to relax and work in adaptive outdoor recreation. In the Fall of 2005, I began my graduate studies at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. While at NAU, I worked with Hopi Tribal elders on the Hopi Footprints and Footprints of the Ancestors projects with Dr. George (Wolf) Gumerman. These projects involved visiting archaeological sites with Hopi elders and Hopi youth in the attempt to reintegrate and redevelop a Hopi cultural curriculum for the Hopi Tribal school system. In the summer of 2006, I conducted my thesis research while working as a Rangeland Archaeologist for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (HTNF) in Nevada. The focus of my thesis was to assess cattle grazing impacts on archaeological sites in the Ely and Jarbidge Ranger Districts of the HTNF. I finished my Masters of Anthropology in May of 2007. I consider the guidance and instruction of the USU and NAU faculty to be an essential part of my academic success. Currently, I work as an archaeology project manager with Centennial Archaeology in Ft. Collins, Colorado.


Brian Munk - Class of 2004

I applied to the Japanese government through the JET programme to be an English teacher in the Jr. High/High school, and after some nail-biting months I was awarded a position and moved to Japan In August. I work with all three grades at my Junior High School. That comes to close to 600 students. They all have 3 days of regular English class (grammar, spelling, reading, writing) from a native Japanese English teacher. And then they have my class which is once a week and focuses on "conversation English.” We do a lot more role play and conversation games so the class is very upbeat and fast paced. I am a co-teacher with a native Japanese English teacher, who helps with explanations of new vocabulary and game rules. I am loving my time here in Japan and as a teacher.


Jill Jensen - Class of 2000

I received my degree in Anthropology at USU in 2000. While a student at USU I served as editorial assistant to Dr. Simms for the 1999 issue of Utah Archaeology, helped to re-open the Museum of Anthropology, got my first taste of funded research (URCO recipient 1998), co-authored and published my first article, and got more field and lab experience than you can shake a stick at. Clearly, I was having too much fun to graduate in just four years! After working in Nevada for some time, I felt inspired to return to academia and I am currently finishing up my master’s thesis at California State University at Sacramento under the direction of Dr. David Zeanah and Dr. Mark Basgall. My thesis focuses on variability in strategies for reproductive fitness with examples drawn from prehistoric pronghorn hunting in the Great Basin.

Update: The thesis is finished! Title: Sexual Division of Labor and Group-Effort Hunting: The archaeology of pronghorn traps and point accumulations in the Great Basin. I am now employed as an archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management, Elko Nevada Field Office.


Sylvia Smith - Class of 2002

After graduating from USU with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology, I became a graduate student in Biological Anthropology at the University of Utah, working under the guidance of Professors Henry Harpending, Dennis O'Rourke, and Alan Rogers. I received a Master of Science degree in Anthropology in 2005, after completing a study on ancient DNA from 50 prehistoric Aleut individuals. The goal of my MS research project was to infer information about past population migrations in the Aleutian Islands using mitochondrial DNA haplogroup data. I am currently a doctoral candidate in the same department and I am working on my dissertation project(s). My interests have shifted from ancient DNA studies to understanding the coevolutionary relationships between bacterial pathogens and their human host. More specifically, my dissertation work uses the genus /Mycobacterium/, to which the causative pathogens of tuberculosis and leprosy belong, to elucidate how an ancient human pathogen changes through time to adapt to the evolving genome of one of its host species, /H. sapiens/. My graduate studies have been consistently funded by graduate teaching assistant fellowships, research assistantships, and by teaching several courses in the departments of Languages and Philosophy and Anthropology at USU and at the U of U. The outstanding education I received as an undergraduate student in the Anthropology Dept. at USU has been essential to my academic development.

Update: Silvia is now a Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of Utah.


Stephanie Call - Class of 2003

I am currently an Army Officer working with a Civil Affairs unit. The road getting here was full of adventure. Immediately following graduation from USU, I participated in an internship at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command: Central ID Lab in Honolulu, HI. I worked with osteometrics to sort commingled remains of Korean war dead. After a year at the lab, I enlisted in the U.S. Army and, due to my degree, was granted the advanced rank of Specialist. After finishing my training for the Army I entered the Master's program for forensic anthropology at the University of Montana. My thesis involved the development of an independent method for siding foot phalanges with research I conducted with the Terry Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. While finishing my Master's I simultaneously commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army and I am currently serving at Ft. Lewis, WA. The lessons I learned in achieving both my degrees helps me everyday in advising my soldiers and military civil management operations around the world.


Katie Simon - Class of 2003

I have been doing cultural resource management work out of Moab, Utah since 2000 when I took a student position with the Bureau of Land Management. I worked there four seasons and then moved on to the world of private consulting as a staff archaeologist for a local firm. Over the past 6 years I have had fantastic experiences exploring (i.e. surveying and excavating) many spectacular landscapes and sites throughout Utah and western Colorado. In the process I've also gained an intimate view of the oil and gas industry which has left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. I am now applying to graduate school with renewed ideals and hope of making better contributions to the field through spatial technology based research. In the meantime I'm off to Southeast Asia with the intention of doing a little international shovel bumming.


Jenny Cummings - Class of 2004

After graduating in December of 2004, I started working at Sorenson Genomics, a genetic testing laboratory in Salt Lake City. As a technician in the lab, I primarily performed DNA extractions from various specimens, set-up PCR, and carried out analysis for mostly identity and relationship testing but for forensic work as well. After a year of work in the production lab, I began working in research and development. In this position, I investigate new processes and equipment for the lab, enhance existing processes, or help validate tests, chemistries and/or equipment. The skills I received from studying biological anthropology has provided an excellent foundation for my career and I find myself building on that foundation daily.


Melanie Dixon - Class of 2004

I went to an Arabic language institute here in Egypt for about five months, and then got a research job with the American University in Cairo studying American-style higher education in the Middle East. Now I'm just finishing up that project, and I'm working part-time as a research assistant for a USAID team, carrying out a survey of vocational preparatory schools throughout Egypt. We just visited our second school today. That's been a really fun project. I am on the project with two Egyptians-- one an education specialist and the other a development specialist. I've been in Egypt a little over a year now, and I'm planning on coming back to Utah in January to study some more Arabic at the University of Utah, and work on applying for grad school. We'll see what happens!