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 2000-2004 Alumni

Class of 2000

Eric Cunningham

Four people lined up. On the left is a caucasian woman with gray hair in a light blue sweater and black pants. Next to her is Eric's wife in traditional Japanese wedding attire (it is red, silk, and she has a white covering on her head). Eric Cunningham is next in Japenese wedding clothes (gray bottoms and a black kimono). A caucasian man with gray, slightly balding hair, is to the right of Eric in a gray suit and blue tie..

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.

Jill Jensen

smiling woman in brown tank top and watch on right wrist, with long hair over her left shoulder. She is set in front of a background of bright green trees.

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 the journal 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. I received my Master's degree in Anthropology from California State University at Sacramento in 2007.  Since then, I've served as an archaeologist for the BLM, as the Regional Preservation Officer for Western Area Power Administration (Desert Southwest Region), and presently as lead compliance archaeologist for the National Trails Intermountain Region, National Park Service.  My undergraduate education at USU provided me with a solid foundation upon which I have built a very satisfying career.

 Class of 2001

Dan Call


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.  

 Class of 2002

Diana Azevedo

Smiling woman in a forest green shirt with a brown background behind her. She has light to medium skin and dark brown, straight hair.

Class of 2002 B.A. and 2015 M.S.

Upon completing my master's thesis in 2015 titled "Late Taino Occupation of Jamaica: A Zooarchaeological Analysis of Faunal Materials from the Bluefields Bay Site," I worked for Bighorn Archaeological Consultants. In the fall of 2016 I accepted the Executive Director position for the DinosaurAH!torium Foundation who operates the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, a small natural history museum. My responsibilities include managing the site, its employees and volunteers, while developing and implementing a yearly budget, a marketing plan, an interpretive plan, plus overseeing the gift shop and building projects. Although I may not directly use my archaeological knowledge, my experiences at USU provided me with a solid foundation for learning about geology and paleontology, while also helping improve my soft skills such as writing and time management. Furthermore, I now have a network of professors and students that has helped me in my professional career.

Sylvia Smith

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.

 Class of 2003

Brian Beesley

Man with light skin and light brown hair in a blue coat and black pants. He is standing in front of stone henge.

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!
brianbeesley20@yahoo.com

Stephanie Call

Smiling woman with light skin and light brown hair pulled back. She is in green military dress uniform.

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.

Kim Clawson

Smiling woman with light skin and long red hair. She is wearing a khaki button up uniform shirt and black pants. She is waving in front of the desert background.

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).

Arie Leeflang

Male sitting along the edge of the Grand Canyon. He has light skin, and is wearing a gray jacket, a blue backpack, and a bright blue climbing helmet.

My time at Utah State was formative and foundational to my career as an archaeologist working in the State of Utah. I was raised with a great appreciation for the deep cultural history and the fantastic geography of the West. The Anthropology program at Utah State only deepened and enriched those appreciations. Since my graduation in 2003 from Utah State I received a Master’s degree from the University of Utah in Anthropology. Over the years I have worked in archaeology for the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the State of Utah. For the past decade I have worked as the Archaeology Records Manager for the Utah State Historic Preservation Office where I manage the State’s master archaeological datasets and records collections. These records stretch back over a century and are an integral part of the State’s cultural heritage. I find great reward and challenge in this job as we push to move all of our records to digital platforms and collections. I credit my advisors at Utah State for encouraging me to explore emerging technologies, especially GIS, which gave me an early and ongoing edge in my professional career in archaeology. I also credit the USU Anthropology program with making me (I hope) a better-rounded and compassionate resident of our diverse world. When I’m not crunching data you might find me hanging with my two beautiful kiddos, on an uncommon Utah summit, or earning my turns in the Wasatch.

Katie Simon

Slim, smiling woman. She has light skin and light brown hair which is in two braids. She is wearing a red and purple plaid button-up shirt and a wide-brimmed straw hat on. She is in front of a red sandstone canyon wall.

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.

 Class of 2004

Stephen Anderson

Man with light skin, a mustache and beard. He is smiling and wearing his black graduation cap and gown (the hood of the gown is blue with white trim, and his cap tassle is yellow). He is holding his toddler son, a fair skinned, blond boy in a blue tshirt and pants with yellow shoes.

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.

Jenny Cummings

Smiling woman with tanned skin, light brown or dark blond hair, and blue eyes. Her hair is pulled back out of her face. She is wearing long silver earrings.

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

Woman with tan skin and short dark brown hair, wearing a bright orange/pink shirt. She is standing behind a group of eight Egyptian children (boys and girls of all ages).

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!

Brian Munk

Smiling man with light skin and very short dark brown hair. He is wearing a bright green shirt. He has a young boy standing behind one shoulder (light skin, short brown hair, orange shirt), and a young girl behind the other (light skin, shoulder lenght dark brown hair, gray shirt).

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.