NSF Prestige: Three GRFPs, More

School of Anthropology graduate students have scored big with three National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) awards this spring! The SoA is one of two University of Arizona departments to boast three recipients in the 2017 group; the other department is Optical Sciences. Overall, the UA has 15 awardees. In addition, the SoA is home to two Honorable Mention applicants. Congratulations to our GRFP recipients and honorees, and kudos to all of the SoA grad students who applied for these competitive awards! Below are overviews of the projects of the three grant recipients and two Honorable Mention recipients.


Rebecca Bedwell (left), Medical Anthropology
I propose to study how international family networks cope with the stresses of migration and how caregiving is modified in the context of migration. This project poses two questions: 1) how is embodied inequality experienced through relationships maintained across international borders; and 2) how do US immigration policies, border militarization, and experiences of ethno-racial discrimination influence relations of care in families with diabetic family members who are separated by the international border? I will investigate how this impacts health outcomes for people living with diabetes in Mexico whose caregivers have migrated. My hypothesis is that border militarization, policy, and discrimination in the US are affecting the ability of families to care for members with diabetes by severely restricting immigrants’ options, and by negatively impacting immigrants’ lives. Read Rebecca’s complete abstract.

Katie Sayre (right), Biological Anthropology
I completed my undergrad in Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. After graduating, I spent a year teaching English in China and became interested in how people age in different ways across the globe based on differences in lifestyle. I came to the University of Arizona to work with Dr. David Raichlen to study physical activity and the aging process. I accompanied Dr. Ivy Pike to Kenya in summer 2016 to collect pilot data for the project I proposed in my GRFP. I’m currently completing my second year at U A, about to defend my master’s (based on the pilot data), then will continue on to my Ph.D.

My research is concerned with the relationship between physical activity, kin-based care, and incidence of frailty in small-scale societies. I included this statement in my GRFP application: “My research program will test the hypothesis that the interaction between physical activity and kin-based care reduces incidence of frailty in small-scale societies, and similar lifestyles might have relaxed constraints on aging in our evolutionary past.” I plan to work with three communities in Tanzania who live in geographically similar areas, but who engage in different subsistence strategies. Photo: Katie in Ngare Ndare Forest, Kenya (photo credit Emma Bunkley).

Ashleigh Thompson (left), Archaeology
Wild rice (Zizania aquatica ) is an aquatic annual and only native North American cereal (Vennum 1988). Modern Anishinaabe, which includes the Ottawa, of the Great Lakes region harvest, consume, use, and sell wild rice. Yet the Anishinaabe were not the first or only people to utilize wild rice; ethnographic and archaeological data reveal it has been harvested in North America for the past 2000 years (Lee 2004). Although ethnobotanical research exists on the historical and contemporary uses of wild rice by Great Lakes tribes, archaeological research on wild rice subsistence is lacking (Lee 2004). Thus, many questions remain unanswered about wild rice subsistence practices of the past. For my dissertation research, I will add to the paleobotanical and archaeological body of knowledge of wild rice. Specifically, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians has requested that wild rice be introduced to Sleeping Bears Sand Dunes National Lakeshore; however, in order to plant wild rice in a national park, past presence of wild rice in the park must first be established. Therefore, I will investigate whether wild rice grew in the park and if evidence of wild rice can be found in the paleoenvironmental and archaeological record. Read Ashleigh’s complete abstract.


Caitlin McPherson (right)
Title: The Impact of Biosocial and Environmental Stressors on the Development of Anemia-Linked Skeletal Biomarkers
Summary: By comparing paleoepidemiological data collected from the Turkey Creek Pueblo skeletal collection to recent studies of anemia in both historical and modern agriculturalist and hunter-gatherer populations, this study will address the following questions: 1) which types of anemia are involved in the development of cranial porosities; and 2) do mixed-subsistence strategies serve as behavioral buffers against the development of nutritional deficiencies?

Sydney Pullen (left)
Title: Practices and Possibilities: Popular Education and the Dynamic Relationship between Formal and Non-formal Education Institutions in Cuba
Summary: Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba has managed to maintain an education system comparable to those of “developed” countries, even though Cuba itself is considered a “developing” country. How has Cuba been able to maintain such a strong education system even with limited financial resources? What aspects of its education system will the Cuban state prioritize as its political economy shifts with the recent normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba? How will the relationship between formal and non-formal education institutions change?