Spring 2018 Commencement Brunch Biographies

Rachel Rosenbaum, Master of Arts.
The title of her thesis is “‘It’s quite a sensitive issue’: Grappling with Anxiety and Ambivalence towards Syrian Refugees in Beirut, Lebanon.”
Rachel is a student in the PhD program in Sociocultural Anthropology. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Global Studies from Colby College. For her Master’s research, Rachel conducted fieldwork in Beirut, investigating how histories of occupation in Lebanon are affecting perceptions of Syrians in Lebanon and contributing to the racialization of Syrian refugees. Her future research concerns secular political reform movements among the post-war generation in Lebanon.

Danielle Soza, Master of Arts.
The title of her thesis is “Points of View: Landscape Persistence in Northeastern AZ.”
Danielle is an archaeology graduate student focusing on the Archaic U.S. Southwest. A Tucson native, Danielle started her academic career at Pima Community College before transferring to New Mexico State University, where she received her B.A. in Anthropology in 2015. Grad school field and research opportunities have taken her to northeastern Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico. Her thesis research centered on her ongoing research with the Arizona State Museum at Rock Art Ranch in northeastern Arizona under Professor E. Charles Adams. Using projectile point typology and spatial analysis, this research aims to broaden the literature on place-making and social memory of early hunter-gatherer groups and how place is maintained and transformed. She is also currently working with the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) on the Blackfoot Early Origins Project under Professor María Nieves Zedeño, a collaborative project working with and for the Blackfeet Tribe on an Archaic bison hunting encampment in northern Montana. These experiences and research goals have ultimately led Danielle to receiving a NSF-GRFP. Thanks to the supportive faculty at the School of Anthropology and the unwavering love and support from her family, Danielle has successfully completed her Master’s degree and looks forward to continuing on to her PhD.

Hayal Akarsu, Ph.D.
The title of her dissertation is “Reforming the Police: Violence, Security, and the Social in Turkey.”
Hayal got her Bachelor of Arts from Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2012, she completed her MA studies at New York University and moved to Tucson to start her PhD at the School of Anthropology. She works on security and policing in Turkey and conducted eighteen months of ethnographic research among the Turkish Police. Her PhD research was supported by various grants including a Wenner Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant. For the next two years she will be a junior research fellow (postdoctoral) at Brandeis University, where she plans to complete her book, tentatively titled “Policing Democracy: Techno-Politics of Security and Citizenship in Turkey.”

Lindsey Feldman, Ph.D.
The title of her dissertation is “Forging Selfhood: Masculinity, Identity, and Work in Arizona’s Inmate Wildfire Program.”
Lindsey Feldman, born and raised in Tucson, received both her Bachelor of Arts and MA degrees in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Arizona, and is happy to complete the triad by graduating this semester with her PhD. Since enrolling in the graduate program, she has worked in a variety of locations throughout the United States. She worked for four years under Dr. Diane Austin at BARA, serving as transcriber, ethnographer, and Data Manager for several Bureau of Ocean Energy Management projects. Her Master’s thesis examined the ways ranchers and cowboys in southern Arizona constructed working identities in an economically unstable industry. Her dissertation explores meaning of work for men in Arizona’s prisons who fight wildfires. She became a wildland firefighter herself, and conducted fifteen months of ethnographic research alongside three prison fire crews. Her analysis describes how program participants grapple with the simultaneously exploitative nature of prison labor and the transformative potentials of such work. She has accepted a tenure-track job offer to become an Assistant Professor of Applied Anthropology at the University of Memphis, starting this August.

Nicole Mathwich, Ph.D.
The title of her dissertation is “Landscapes of Resilience: O’odham landscape use in the colonial Pimeria Alta.”
Nicole explores the connection between economy and ecology in the Spanish colonial period. Her dissertation research examined how the Columbian Exchange shifted the relationships of humans, landscapes, and animals during the colonial period using zooarchaeology, agent based modeling, stable isotopes, and historical documents. She received her bachelor’s in Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies graduating summa cum laude from Santa Clara University in 2012, and received her Master’s in Anthropology in 2014 from the UA. Her work brings rigorous data analysis into conversation with human experience. At her next job, she looks forward to turning all she’s learned at UA School of Anthropology toward building connections between contemporary challenges and their historical precedents.

Jessica Fae Nelson, Ph.D.
The title of her dissertation is “Pataxó Hãhãhãe: Race, Indigeneity and Language Revitalization in the Brazilian Northeast.”
Jessica Fae Nelson completed her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She then taught kindergarten for two years before returning to pursue a doctorate in Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Arizona, with a minor in Linguistics. Her research focuses on questions of race, racism, and indigeneity in contexts of language shift and revitalization.

Gabriella Soto, Ph.D.
The title of her dissertation is “The Border Enforcement ‘Funnel Effect’: A Material Culture Approach to Border Security on the Arizona-Sonora Border, 2000-Present.”
Gabriella matriculated at Arizona in 2011 after earning her Master’s degree in 20th Century Archaeology from the University of Bristol in the UK. Her dissertation considered the multi-faceted materiality of U.S. southwest border enforcement and its consequences.

Robin Steiner, Ph.D.
The title of her dissertation is “Between Oil Pasts and Utopian Dreams: Making State and Economy in Oman’s Citizen Labor Industry.”
Robin Steiner is a political and economic anthropologist who specializes in issues of development, employment, citizenship, and cultural economy in the Arab Gulf, and specifically Oman. Robin’s dissertation explores how regimes of economic expertise are applied in selective, locally specific ways to support oil-dependent distributive arrangements of the Omani state. Robin has several articles based on his research under review and is working to develop his dissertation into a book manuscript. Robin is currently teaching at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah

Leila Castro, BA
Leila is receiving the School of Anthropology Leadership Award.

Leila was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona, where two cultures and traditions merge into one. Her research interests and aspirations all go back to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. During her time here, she has been able to conduct research in her hometown, learn about the importance of binational collaboration, and become an advocate for human and environmental rights. She would like to thank the School of Anthropology and especially Dr. Diane Austin for mentorship and support throughout the past two years. Leila would also like to thank her parents and sister for their unconditional support. As this chapter ends, she is hopeful that it is only the introduction to a great journey.

Michael Chikos, BA
Michael is receiving the School of Anthropology Leadership Award.

Michael is graduating with degrees in Anthropology and Latin American studies.

Lauren Cuadrado, BA
Since the seventh grade Lauren knew she wanted to study Anthropology at the UA. At twelve years old, while doing a research project she came across information about careers in anthropology. She committed and she is here now, graduating with a major in anthropology and crossing two goals off her list. She will always be thankful for that one, middle school research project. The most memorable moment Lauren experienced is the point in her cultural anthropology class where she felt the change in the way she thought and the way she saw the world. Thanks to anthropology she has found who she wants to be and how she wants to navigate the world going forward.

Hailey Dickson, BS
Hailey Dickson is a Flinn Scholar and a double degree student, combining her Bioanthropology BS with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Health. Hailey is dedicated to public service and has been engaged through community-driven public health research. Hailey is a four-time recipient of nationally competitive scholarships through the US Departments of State and Defense, which enabled her to study Hindi and Global health in India for over one year. She now works as a medical advocate for refugees in Tucson, and will soon be employed teaching Hindi at UW Madison’s Summer Language Institute. In August, Hailey will return to India for one year to conduct reproductive health research through a Fulbright Fellowship.

Dakota Fleming, BA
Dakota is receiving the School of Anthropology Scholars’ Award.

Kota’s research focuses on the bioarcheology of the southwest, specifically trauma among early agricultural period farmers. She has interests in Egyptology, paleopathology, and trauma. Her future plans revolve around gaining practical experience in the work force in the southwest, and then completing a PhD in biological anthropology with a focus in bioarcheology and forensic anthropology.

Regan Gee, BA
Regan is receiving the School of Anthropology Scholars’ Award.

Regan would like to thank the amazing School of Anthropology faculty for guidance and inspiration throughout her academic journey at the university. Specifically, she would like to thank Dr. Ivy Pike and Dr. Stacey Tecot for their mentorship, as well as Dr. Diane Austin and the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology team. She counts her Biological Anthropology Internship over the past two years as one of her most valuable academic experiences and feels privileged to have worked alongside so many intelligent, thoughtful individuals united under the common goal of contributing positively to the Tucson community. Finally, she’d like to thank her friends and family for their unwavering support and love. Bear down!

Malia Griffith, BS
Malia was born in Louisiana, but grew up in Germany and spent much of her childhood traveling. Malia credits her mother, Frances (whom she thanks for being her greatest supporter), and her active duty military status for letting her experience and appreciate different cultures at an early age. During high school, Malia had to write a paper on her future career. Researching careers involving travel, research, and multi-cultural aspects, she came upon Anthropology, and hasn’t turned back since. At the UA, Malia has had the amazing opportunity to learn from both her instructors and fellow students. She plans on furthering her education after a break filled with adventures and traveling. Congratulations to everyone and the best of luck on all your future endeavors!

Darcey Guffey, BA
Darcey is a proud American Indian and is a member of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe as well as Cheyenne and Arapaho. Her clan is the neolge. She would to like thank her professors and fellow students for making her college experience a memorable one and she would like to give thanks to all of the faculty members who helped her along the way. A special thanks to her family who gave their support.

Blake Houghton. BA
Blake was unable to come up with anything biographical to write, so instead, he wrote this:
It’s a terrible thing, in Life,
To wait until you are ready.
We wait for school, for work, for love...
Fear stays our course, keeps us steady.
Yet there’s a different kind of fear
Which pursues new, exciting things:
It’s called “the fear of missing out”
And it makes ev’ry Cat grow wings.
And even though we’re all Great Apes
We’re flung far... o’er the Earth, we roam,
Looking forward to returning here,
To the place we once called our home.

Angelo Pama, BA
Since childhood, Angelo has been fascinated by ancient monuments and their creators. What fascinated Angelo even more were the ancient artifacts and relics housed within these structures. Throughout his service in the United States Marine Corps, and later, during eighteen years in the U.S. Army Reserve, his dream of learning more about these material remains never subsided, until finally he decided to earn his degree in Anthropology with an Emphasis in Archaeology and a Minor in Liberal Arts Astronomy at the UA. Now he is very excited to begin his career as a real Archaeologist. He will be attending an Underwater Archaeology Field School in Florida State for the next mission in his academic endeavor.

Alicea Lauren Riley, BS
Alicea is receiving the School of Anthropology Scholars’ Award.

Alicea would like to thank the faculty in the School of Anthropology who supported her in achieving her academic goals. Her most valuable experiences have been completing an Honors Thesis, participating in both the Biological Anthropology and Forensic Anthropology Internships, and attending a bioarchaeology field school in Poland. She would like to thank Drs. Stacey Tecot, Ivy Pike, David Raichlen and Diane Austin for their mentorship and guidance, as well as the students she had the privilege to collaborate with and learn from along the way. Finally, she would like to thank her family and friends for their continued support and encouragement.

Christian Sanchez, BA
Christian was born in Sierra Vista, Arizona and grew up for most of his life in Tucson. He graduated from Canyon Del Oro High School and started his college career at Pima Community College. He initially was interested in engineering to follow in the footsteps of his dad and brother, who are alumni of the UA electrical engineering department. One elective anthropology course was enough to change his mind about engineering. Now here he is graduating from the UA majoring in Anthropology and with an East Asian studies minor as well. Christian hopes in the future to teach English abroad and pursue an advanced degree to work in the field of development and in academia.

James Staples, BA
James came to the UA after serving four years in the US Marines. He originally planned to major in criminal justice but very shortly changed his major to anthropology. He participated in two study abroad programs while at the University, one excavating a Roman villa in Italy and the other an enhanced human osteology class in Romania. After studying in Romania he found his calling studying human osteology and has made this his focus in anthropology. James hopes to continue studying osteology in grad school.

Valerie D. Warner, BA
Valerie is receiving the School of Anthropology Ganesha Award.

Valerie transferred from Pima Community college to the UA. While double majoring in Anthropology and Sociology and seeking her Honors Degree, she enjoyed volunteering in the community and membership in three honor societies. A highlight of Valerie’s education was to study abroad in Panama. This summer she will study for her TEFL certification in order to teach English abroad. Valerie is grateful to UA faculty, including the late Dr. Thérèse de Vet; community professionals; friends; and family. She thanks her parents, whose dream was that all four of their children get university degrees—granted, hers is a few decades late. And just as it takes a village to raise a child, Valerie believes she achieved her dreams because the village encircled her, an older adult, keeping her connected and her mind alive. Thank you all.

Aimee Weber, BS
Aimee is graduating with a degree in Archaeological Science and a minor in Geographic Information Science. During her two years at the UA, she worked as a curatorial technician at the National Park Service’s Western Archeological and Conservation Center and participated in several research projects led by School of Anthropology faculty, including Drs. Robert Schon, David Gilman Romano, Mary Voyatzis, and Vance Holliday. Her senior thesis, advised by Dr. Mary Stiner, is on Natufian and Pre-Pottery Neolithic architecture in Southwest Asia. Aimee is looking forward to her internship at the NPS’s Olmsted Center in Boston beginning in June and hopes to study environmental archaeology in graduate school.

Priscilla Weilbaecher, BA
“Failure is the path of the winner, or so they say. It is when we learn through our mistakes that we can chase the path of perfection. So fail once, and fail a thousand more times, because each time you do, you come closer to the result that you want.”—Koro sensei