From the Chair — Spring 2013

Janelle Taylor headshot
Janelle Taylor

It is springtime at the University of Washington—the cherry trees are blooming and new life is bursting forth all around. With graduation approaching, a new life lies ahead for many of our students as well. We will watch them move on from the UW with great pride and high hopes, eager to learn about the myriad ways they will carry forth what they have learned from anthropology. With that in mind, this issue of AnthropoLog highlights and celebrates some of the surprising and inspiring paths that our students, faculty, and alumni have followed. Thus, we feature here five stories about alumni who have drawn upon their anthropological knowledge and skills in different interesting careers. Several alumni recently returned to campus to share their insights and ideas with current undergraduate anthropology majors, in a very popular Career Night event—read about it here, and we hope you will consider joining us at this event next year.

We also share with you here some of the many ways that UW anthropologists work every day to bring anthropology to life for students through teaching. Several of our faculty are leading experiential-learning courses, where students learn about indigenous agricultural techniques in the American Southwest, immerse themselves in the politics of language in South Africa, or encounter legacies of colonialism in the South Pacific. We are delighted and proud to announce that for the extraordinary impact of her courses, which show students how to apply anthropology to human problems in ways that empower communities, Lecturer Holly Barker has recently won the Distinguished Teaching Award—the university’s highest teaching honor. 

The research that we do also breathes new life into anthropology. Many of the courses we teach involve students in research, and some of our undergraduate majors earn honors in anthropology by designing and carrying out an original research project—an accomplishment described in the accompanying article. Our graduate students, meanwhile, are shaping the future of anthropology through their exciting, original field research. Their remarkable success in winning grant and fellowship support is a testament to the quality and importance of their work—which, in many cases, emerges out of pilot research funded by our generous donors. And as ever, UW anthropology faculty are actively generating innovative and fresh research in anthropology; you will find here a listing of some highlights. This issue of AnthropoLog features a profile of our newest faculty member, Dan Eisenberg, who applies cutting-edge genetic research techniques to the biocultural study of inheritance, aging and health. As I write this, we are in the process of hiring more new faculty, whom I look forward to introducing to you soon! Four longtime anthropology faculty, meanwhile—Angela Close, Carol Jolles, Lorna Rhodes and Eric Smith—are looking ahead to a new life following retirement. Please join us in thanking them for their many contributions, and wishing them well as they embark upon their next phase.

UW anthropologists are fortunate to benefit from the support of our department’s excellent, dedicated, and highly competent staff. I am so proud to share with you that our Director of Undergraduate Advising Diane J. Guerra has been nominated for the Distinguished Staff Award, in recognition of her outstanding efforts on behalf of anthropology students.

I hope that you will enjoy reading about what is happening in the department. We are eager to stay in touch, and the AnthropoLog e-newsletter is just one way we hope to do this. Our website also lists events that we encourage you to attend, if possible, and has links for making donations. The website also features news, and we welcome our alumni to share items that we might post. More immediately, we warmly invite all who are in the Seattle area to join us at a spring gathering of Puget Sound Anthropologists, planned for 6:00 – 8:00 PM Thursday, May 16th – RSVP here!

Thank you so much for your interest in anthropology, your support of our students, and your friendship.


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