Celebrating SoA Fall 2021 Graduates

Dec. 17, 2021

The School of Anthropology held a virtual celebration this morning to honor our students who completed their studies during the Fall 2021 semester. We salute all 2021 graduates for navigating unprecedented difficulties on the path to graduation! The graduates are listed below, with biographies when available. View the 2021 Graduation Program here.

Two new bachelor’s degree graduates were presented with SoA awards during the Zoom celebration: Kyeri Brooks received the Ganesh Award, and Ruijie Yao received the Scholar’s Award. In addition, Ruijie was recently awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; you can read more about Ruijie in this SBS news story.

Fall 2021 B.A. and B.S. Recipients

William Barnett, B.S. in Anthropology

Kyeri Brooks, B.A. in Anthropology
SoA Ganesh Award
Kyeri is specializing in archaeology with a minor in Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS). She hopes to continue her studies in archaeology and attend grad school.

Carsten Camden, B.A. in Anthropology

Sylvia Culpepper, B.S. in Anthropology
Sylvia (right) is graduating with a B.S. in Biological Anthropology. She is proud to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother, who also graduated from the University of Arizona. Mississippi may be Sylvia’s home state, but she has found her heart in Tucson.

Tanner Guske, B.A. in Anthropology
Tanner majored in Anthropology and Political Science and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Sigma Alpha. Tanner participated in study abroad at Easter Island through the University of Arizona and a field school at New Mexico State University. Tanner says, “much thanks to Drs. Douglass, Hunt, Schluntz, and Weber!”

Lau Rynn La Rue, B.A. in Anthropology

Cameron David Lowe, B.A. in Anthropology

Emma Peterson, B.A. in Anthropology

Samantha Stashin, B.A. in Anthropology

Elizabeth Ann Sweeney, B.A. in Anthropology

Aiden Vens, B.S. in Anthropology
Aiden Vens is graduating with a B.S. in Anthropology and a B.A. in History. In his free time, Aiden enjoys video games, scuba diving, photography, resin work, and Dungeons and Dragons. Aiden looks forward to continuing his education in a Master's or Ph.D. program.

Grace Nicole Villwok, B.A. in Anthropology

Ruijie Yao, B.A. in Anthropology
SoA Scholar’s Award
College of SBS Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award
Ruijie Yao specializes in Mediterranean archaeology. His academic interests during his undergraduate years focused on Aegean archaeology, Egyptian archaeology, and archaeological theory. In 2021, He had participated in the summer excavation at Gila Cliff Farm. He wrote his honors thesis about the Aegypto-Aegean interactions under the guidance of Professor Robert Schon. Ruijie used comparative archaeological and political-economical approaches in his studies. After graduation, he will continue his education by pursuing a graduate degree in Egyptology/Egyptian archaeology.

Winter 2021 M.A. Recipients

Clara Randimbiarimanana, M.A. in Sociocultural Anthropology
Advisor: Dr. Tad Park
Committee members: Dr. Mamadou Baro and Dr. Kathryn Snyder
Master’s Report title: Education Policy and Practice: Leveraging Multilingualism in Teaching and Learning in Madagascar
Clara is a third year Ph.D.  student in Sociocultural Anthropology. Her overall interests include development practices, languages, education, and political ecology. Her master’s project explores the role of language in reframing the goals of education fit for post-colonial Madagascar. Her work aims to challenge the hegemonic approach to what is considered “quality education,” using decolonial studies and critical pedagogy as theoretical frameworks. Clara is continuing her Ph.D. with the School of Anthropology, here in Tucson. With the invaluable guidance and support of her advisor, Dr. Tad Park, Clara intends to explore the intersection of ecological knowledge and education for her dissertation research.

Jared Renaud, M.A. in Applied Archaeology
Advisor: Dr. Lindsay Montgomery
Thesis title: Persistent Place Modeling within the Altar Valley Cultural Landscape, Pima County, AZ
Jared is an M.A. student in Applied Archaeology, the Heritage Conservation Graduate program, and a (planned) winter 2021 graduate. Before starting his M.A., Jared worked in various National Parks and Forests in Southern Arizona, Southwest New Mexico, the Sierra Nevada, and Northern California to preserve and protect cultural resources on public lands. Jared is most interested in cultural landscapes and community-focused approaches in archaeology. His master’s research explored a landscape level approach to preservation planning by modeling persistent places in the Altar Valley landscape within eastern Pima County. After completing the M.A. program, Jared plans to return to archaeology and cultural heritage management in the public sector through work at Coronado National Forest this upcoming spring. He greatly thanks his advisor (Dr. Lindsay Montgomery) and committee members (Cannon Daughtrey from the Heritage Conservation Program, Dr. Barbara Mills, and Dr. Thomas Sheridan) for all their guidance through his M.A. research as it progressed. Jared will greatly miss the virtual and in-person camaraderie of the Southwest lab and the AGUA board, and wishes the best for those continuing there.

Fall 2021 Ph.D. Recipients

Evan Giomi
Advisor: Dr. Barbara Mills
Dissertation title: Exploring the Development and Persistence of the Eastern Puebloan Economy: Rio Grande Glaze Ware as a Window on Regional Interaction
Evan earned his B.A. in Anthropology from New College of Florida in 2013 and his M.A. in Archaeology at the University of Arizona in 2015. His primary area of interest is examining regional interaction through ceramic evidence, particularly across the “pre-history”/”history” divide. His dissertation focuses on the Rio Grande of New Mexico during the late pre-contact and early Spanish Colonial periods. He has also conducted research on Chaco Canyon, using social network analysis and other quantitative methods to understand the distribution of ceramics across the Chaco World and to evaluate ritual behavior at Pueblo Bonito. He has worked a number of times as a teaching assistant and research assistant in the School of Anthropology, including for several years as a research assistant in the development of the cyberSW database. In the field, he has worked as staff for the joint UA and Archaeology Southwest Upper Gila Preservation Archaeology Field School, as Survey Director, 2016–2017; as excavation Crew Chief, 2018–2019; and as Field Director in 2021.

Eric Heffter
Advisor: Dr. Steve Kuhn
Dissertation title: Absence of evidence or evidence of absence? Assessing the intensity of Early Upper Paleolithic occupations in Serbia and the Central Balkans
Eric Heffter has over ten years of experience studying the archaeology and geoarchaeology of North America and Central and Southeastern Europe, working in both cultural resource management and academic settings. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology with minors in Maritime Archaeology and Business from the University of Connecticut, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona. He was a Fulbright scholar to the Republic of Serbia in the Balkans in 2016, where he conducted dissertation research. His dissertation analyzes stone tools to gain a better understanding of human population movements in the Balkans during the Early Upper Paleolithic Period. His research interests include lithic analysis, Paleolithic Archaeology, and geoarchaeology.