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Spring 2020 Graduation: Ph.D. and M.A. Recipients

*Please note: We apologize for the loss of diacritics that has occurred in some foreign language texts. An attempt will be made to correct these.


Benjamin Bellorado, Ph.D.
Dissertation Title: Leaving Footprints in the Ancient US Southwest: Visible Indicators of Group Affiliation and Social Position in the Chaco and Post-Chaco Eras
Advisors: Dr. Ronald H. Towner and Dr. Barbara J. Mills

Benjamin (Ben) Bellorado is an anthropological archaeologist focusing on the northern US Southwest. Ben has been an archaeologist for 20 years and his work has spanned the Four Corners states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Ben’s dissertation research centers on the ways that ancient Pueblo peoples used clothing and images of clothing in a variety of media to express aspects of their social identities. He has conducted extensive collections-based technological and stylistic research on complexly woven twined yucca sandals from the southwest that are housed in museums across the country. Ben has also conducted over a decade of surveys, excavations, and dendroarchaeological studies in southeastern Utah where he documented and dated rare examples of building murals in backcountry cliff dwellings. In this area he works with federal land managers to document at-risk sites and to build conservation ethics among the public. Ben also works with Native American tribes in the region to understand how ancestral sites and places remain important to the lives and identities of modern descendant communities. Ben enjoyed his time in the School of Anthropology immensely and hopes to maintain his ties with the great people at the U of A and in Tucson.

Victor Castillo, Ph.D.
Dissertation Title: Conquest and Religious Change at Chiantla Viejo, Guatemala. The Transition of a Highland Maya Community to Spanish Colonial Rule.
Advisors: Dr. Takeshi Inomata and Dr. Daniela Triadan

Victor holds a Licenciatura in archaeology from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala and an anthropology from the University of Arizona. In 2017-2018 he directed the Chiantla Viejo Archaeological Project, an incipient effort to open new avenues for archaeological research in an understudied region in the Maya area. Victor co-directed the Region Chacula Archaeological Project in 2013 and the Ceibal-Petexbatun Archaeological Project in 2012, both in Guatemala. He has co-authored articles published in Ancient Mesoamerica and Science

Elizabeth Eklund, Ph.D.
Dissertation Title: Where the Water Turns: Water and Cultural Memory in the Sierra Madre Foothills
Advisor: Maribel Alvarez

An emerging scholar in the fields of environmental anthropology, political ecology, and cultural memory, Elizabeth defended her dissertation on April 22, an unusual Earth Day. A native of San Diego, her work on water and traditional canal irrigation in the near-border community of Banamichi, Sonora, complements her previous scholarship that has focused on environmental politics, development, and preservation.

Mathew Fox, Ph.D.
Dissertation Title: Reconstruction of hominin paleoclimates and applying the analysis of biomarkers to Paleolithic research in the Qinling Mountains of Central China
Advisors: Vance Holliday and John Olsen





Victoria Moses, Ph.D.
Dissertation Title: The Zooarchaeology of Early Rome: Meat Production, Distribution, and Consumption in Public and Private Spaces (9th-5th cent. BCE)
Advisors: Emma Blake, Mary Stiner

Vicki is a zooarchaeologist with a focus on early Rome. For her dissertation, she analyzed the faunal remains from five major sites in Rome and two nearby urban centers, including the Area Sacra di Sant'Omobono, the Regia, the Curiae Veteres, Gabii, and Veii. Her work was supported by several competitive grants, such as a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2017 and a two-year Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome in 2018-2020. She received Honorable Mention for the Graduate Student Paper Award at the Archaeological Institute of America Annual Meeting in 2019. She has published her findings in several book chapters and journal articles, including in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports and the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. Vicki is beyond grateful to her advisors, committee members, mentors, and friends who have supported her and shared this experience. She will continue her fieldwork in Rome, southern Italy, and Sicily in the years to come. Outside of archaeology, Vicki loves (in no particular order) dogs, yoga, hiking, traveling, speaking Italian, drinking on terraces, Tucson, burgers, and pasta.

Juan Manuel Palomo, Ph.D.
Dissertation Title: Local Community and Foreign Groups: Political changes in the Ancient Maya Center of Ceibal, Guatemala.
Advisors: Dr. Takeshi Inomata and Dr. Daniela Triadan

Juan Manuel Palomo is an archaeologist from Guatemala City. He has studied Maya archaeology and bioarchaeology at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. Juan Manuel has worked at many Mesoamerican sites, including Aguateca and Ceibal in Guatemala. He has also worked in forensic anthropology. For five years, Juan Manuel has been an assistant at Maya epigraphy workshops. He has taught Maya history and hieroglyphs in Ceibal and Tikal, Guatemala, for the students of the University of Arizona‚Äôs study abroad program CIRMA (Centro de Estudios Regionales de Mesoamerica). 

Dani Phelps, Ph.D.
Dissertation Title: Intentionally Forgetting: An Anthropological Examination of the Burial of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt
Advisor: Jim Watson

Dani Phelps is from Tucson, Arizona and went to UA for undergrad. After getting sage advice from John Olsen, she went to the University of Memphis for her M.A. in Ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology. She was then accepted as one of the first Ph.D. students for the School of Anthropology's newly formed concentration of Mediterranean Archaeology in 2011. While a Ph.D. student, Dani has been able to broaden her skills and knowledge. She was an integral member of the University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition's dig at the temple of Tausret for a number of years, she has participated in a number of archaeological digs as a bioarchaeologist in Mexico, Rome, and even around Tucson, and she has been a co-director of a field school in the western Caribbean. She has basically dug up mummies, pirates, and is only missing the final clues to Atlantis! Dani also received a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which will undoubtedly help her in her career. Her dissertation is about the burial of King Tutankhamun (not born in Arizona) and provides new information to one of the world's most famous archaeological discoveries.

Evelyn Pickering, Ph.D.
Dissertation Title: The Social Construction of Water in Dominica, and how it has Impacted Use and ExportationReaching Environmental Sovereignty through Cultural Resilience: The Blackfeet Water Compact
Advisors: Dr. Maria Nieves Zedeño

Evelyn Pickering has been a long-time student at the University of Arizona, having earned her BA, MA, and now Ph.D. from the School of Anthropology. The opportunities available to students inside and outside of the Haury building walls allowed Pickering to explore the different subfields of Anthropology. As an undergraduate, she studied abroad in Rwanda with Drs. Dieter and Netzin Steklis to research primates, most notably the Mountain Gorilla. As a M.A.student, she worked on Dr. Richard Stoffle’s applied ethnography team, working on projects in Utah, Arizona, Michigan, Iowa, and Oklahoma. Her master‚Äôs thesis research took her to the Caribbean, where she investigated local knowledge of water in Dominica, in conjunction with mass water exportation away from the island. As a Ph.D. student, she joined Dr. Nieves Zede√±o‚Äôs applied archaeology research team to focus on work in the Northern Plains and contributed through an ethnographic approach to studies in Montana and Canada with the Blackfoot. Her doctoral dissertation, Reaching Environmental Sovereignty through Cultural Resilience: The Blackfeet Water Compact, was the culmination of everything she had learned as a student of the SoA and investigated Blackfeet water knowledge, materiality, and rights through the framework of ontological insecurity, cultural creativity and resilience, and environmental sovereignty. Throughout her time as a graduate student, she has worked for the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, which shaped her approach and interest in natural resources as cultural resources that served as the common denominator of her studies. Through BARA, Pickering worked on 14 different applied studies with 16 Native American Tribes, Pueblos, and First Nations; the general focus of these projects was to facilitate natural resource and land management negotiation between tribal governments and federal agencies. Pickering also earned a Graduate Certificate in the Administration and Management of American Indian Natural Resources. As a SoA graduate student, Pickering wrote successful research grants to fund her work and also received awards on and off-campus for her research presentations. She is grateful for the resources, opportunities, and experiences provided by the school. The staff and faculty and the School of Anthropology are unmatched, and over the many years and long hours Pickering spent in Haury, she developed meaningful relationships throughout the building that will not end with the Spring 2020 commencement. 

Matthew Winter, Ph.D.
Dissertation Title: Navigating the Built Environment: Architecture and Social Connectedness in the Southern Levant, 330 BCE - 250 CE
Advisors: Dr. Emma Blake and Dr. David Soren

I am an archaeologist of the Mediterranean and Near East, with a background in Classics, History, and Judaic Studies. I have worked on projects in Israel and Italy, as well as associated projects in Jordan. When not busy pursuing research inserts, I occupy my free time in the culinary arts and homebrewing. 



Jonna Yarrington, Ph.D.
Dissertation Title: A Time to Every Purpose: Kinship, Privilege, and Succession on a Disappearing Island (2020)
Advisor: Dr. Brackette F. Williams

I matriculated in the M.A./Ph.D. program at the School of Anthropology after an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary. As a graduate student, I majored in Socio-Cultural Anthropology, with long-time advisor Brackette F. Williams, and minored in Linguistic Anthropology under the mentorship of Norma Mendoza-Denton. I benefitted from the courses and advice of many of the SOA faculty across the subfields - and particularly from faculty in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology.

I have conducted field and archival research at Limonade, Haiti; Cayenne, French Guiana; various locations around the Commonwealth of Virginia, especially Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay; Paris, France; Washington, DC; and Tucson, Arizona. In 2014, I completed a Master's thesis on the connection between the splitting of the French national sugar market between European beet sugar and Caribbean cane sugar and the establishment of a penal colony in French Guiana. That year, I also received the SOA's Edward P. Dozier Award for best single-authored graduate student paper for a term paper in Linguistic Anthropology. My work has resulted in publications in Language and Communication and Economic Anthropology journals, and a book chapter in an edited volume from Liverpool University Press. In 2018-19, I researched and built the SOA's AnthGrad Toolkit with seed funding from the UA Graduate College.

My dissertation research (2016-2018) and dissertation (2020) focuses on socio-cultural reproduction on Tangier Island, Virginia, an island threatened by severe subsidence caused, in part, by anthropogenic sea-level rise due. Examining socio-cultural effects of a long-term threat of imminent displacement, my findings from this project include changes to kinship recognition, consolidation of roles, and residence inheritance. The project was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and write-up was supported by the P.E.O. Scholar Award given by the P.E.O. Sisterhood.

As I continue in Anthropology, I gratefully acknowledge SOA faculty, graduate student colleagues and my stellar cohort, and the many bright undergraduates who contributed so much to my life at UA.



Kirk Astroth, M.A.
Thesis Title: Measuring the Properties of Rock Varnish on Petroglyphs: A Comparison of Three Methods of Analysis Used on Dated Graffiti and Ancient Petroglyphs at Three Sites in Arizona
Advisor: Dr. T.J. Ferguson

After a long career in agriculture, Kirk decided to go back to school and earn a master's in the field he has pursued as an avocationalist since growing up in Utah--archaeology. Kirk's passion for petroglyphs, pictographs and ancient habitation sites was the impetus to immerse himself in anthropology. Kirk's thesis project looked at trying to develop a relative dating technique for petroglyphs using 3 different technologies for measuring and comparing varnish color on both historically dated graffiti and more ancient engravings at 3 sites in Arizona.

Lauren Bridgeman, MA
Thesis Title: Snake Butte: A Study of Cultural Landscapes and Indigenous Archaeology
Advisor: Dr. Nieves Zedeno





Mariah Claw, MA
Thesis Title: Miss Navajo Nation: A Discursive Analysis of Gender, Power, and Settler Colonialism
Advisor: Dr. Lindsay Montgomery

Yá’át’ééh ánáłtso. Tótsohnii nishłí. Tódich’íí’níí báshishchiin. Dibé Łizhiní da shichéí. Má’ii Deeshgiizhnii da shinalí. Ch’inlídee’ nasha. Akót’áó Diné asdzaan nishłi.

My thesis complicates the history of the coveted Miss Navajo Nation competition by interrogating how the structure of settler colonialism has defined the contestant rules and guidelines. By reaffirming gender binaries that invisibilize queerness the organization does not promote Diné values, such as K’é, K’éí, and Hózhó. This research is part of a growing collection of work by Indigenous graduate students to challenge structures of heteropatriarchy, capitalism, and imperialism. In the future, I hope to teach in creative ways to foster the resurgence of Diné life ways. Along the way, I plan to return home to Diné bikéyah with my partner and animals to build a land-based lifestyle rooted in K’é.

Stephen Molinares, MA
Thesis Title: Playing the Game: A Study of Hohokam Ballcourt Structures Using Performance Theory
Advisors: Dr. Baraba Mills and Dr. Takeshi Inomata

Stephen is of Yaqui, Jewish, and Irish descent. Born and raised playing in the creosote and cactus filled lots, once common place in Tucson, Arizona. He has always loved history, but it wasn't until he discovered archaeology that he learned how deep the history of Tucson went- a history that his own. This inspired him to use archaeology as a method learning more about his home and the people who came before and are still here.

Kristoffer "Izzy" Stein, MA
Thesis Title: Heritage, Identity, and The Santa Cruz River, Tucson.
Advisor: Dr. T.J. Ferguson

Izzy considers his time as a graduate student to be one of his proudest achievements. The two year M.A. program is a fast, and intensive program that Izzy feels has prepared him for a successful career in archaeology. Not only has the program contributed positively to Izzy's future advancements, but has also introduced him to many great friends and colleagues. He now looks forward to the future, but will always look back upon this time fondly, as a period of tremendous growth and development. Picture: Izzy, after defending his thesis via Zoom.