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Department of Anthropology

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Department of Anthropology

Alumni Testimonials

Students who graduate from our program go on to do amazing and diverse things within the field of anthropology. A few of our alumni have shared their stories below. 

Brandon Ackermann, Archaeology '19

At DU, Brandon's focus was on the archaeological applications of ground-penetrating radar (GPR). Brandon says that the technical focus, coupled with coursework in archaeological methods, cultural resource laws and practice, and anthropological theory, are directly responsible for his immediate employment post-graduation. Today, Brandon is employed as a senior archaeologist within the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research (BAR), one of two bureaus within the Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State. At the BAR, Brandon serves as the technical specialist in the Public Lands Archaeology (PLA) section, conducting field surveys on Florida's state-owned lands. In addition to his fieldwork responsibilities, Brandon is the administrator for the research permitting program, where he is responsible for approving and reviewing all external archaeological activities that occur on Florida's 4.7 million acres of state-owned lands. Brandon's coursework at DU prepared him to not only conduct archaeological investigations, but also how to analyze research proposals and results, formulate public policy, communicate with stakeholders, and evaluate problems from an anthropological perspective, all vital components of my job.

Elinor Brereton, Cultural Anthropology '18

Elinor received her MA in cultural anthropology with an emphasis in health from DU in June of 2018. She now works for the University of Colorado School of Medicine as a qualitative researcher, conducting interviews and observations with patients on topics regarding end of life care (hospice, medical aid in dying, etc.). Elinor is part of a research team that focuses on decision-making in health care. She is also conducting her own independent research at the University hospital. Elinor will be continuing her education this Fall through a graduate certificate program in bio-ethics

Emily Creek, Cultural Anthropology '18

Emily graduated from the DU anthropology department in 2018 with her MA concentration in cultural anthropology. Emily's research while at DU took her to Reykjavik Iceland where she studied the dance community through the lens of cultural economy and place. Emily's time at DU was sweet, working as the student worker in the office and visiting student coordinator, she got to spend time assisting each professor at various times, and thus felt very much a part of the department. Upon graduating from DU, Emily has floated around various part-time research gigs in Denver assisting in large scale data collection projects. This summer Emily landed an incredible internship through the National Council for Education Preservation (NCPE) and is living at Kalaupapa National Historic Park. Here she is transcribing interviews, moving databases from paper to digital, and assisting with a beautiful photo scanning and elicitation project with a patient.

Jamie Devine, Archaeology '14

Jamie's educational experience at the University of Denver gave her the tools she needed to work for an international company. Immediately out of the graduate program Jamie was recruited by a Canadian Oil and Gas company that has a diverse employee population. Additionally, the network and connections through DU gave Jamie the opportunity to publish academically an edited volume on the topic of Childhood archaeology. Professors in this program care about their students and many stay in communication with them after graduation as mentors. DU was a fantastic experience for Jamie academically, professionally, and personally.

Amie Gray, Archaeology '05

Amie entered the graduate program at DU because of the departments involvement with the studies at the Ludlow Massacre site. Amie was a crew chief during the last two field seasons and used the material from them as the subject of her thesis research. Amie was employed as a temporary field/office technician while she finished her thesis. After about nine months, Amie secured a permanent position at a different CRM company, where she worked for four years. During that time, she worked in California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. The company was small and there was little to no room for advancement, so she looked for other opportunities. Amie was hired by a growing environmental company that specialized in government contracting. She found the opportunities that she was looking for and was soon thrust into various management positions. Amie received extensive training in project and client management, marketing, and other business practices. After seven years, she resigned to start a CRM company with a fellow DU graduate. Their company, AK Pioneer Consulting, turned four in April 2019.

Kathryn Grossman, Museum and Heritage Studies '16

Kathryn chose DU's Anthropology program because she appreciated the flexibility of the curriculum and how she could tailor it to her specific research interests. In addition to course work and the rigors of thesis writing and editing, Katheryn completed an internship at the Denver Art Museum--experience and a reference she continues to use in her career today. Kathryn was lucky enough to receive a job offer in museum education four months after completion of her degree back in Oklahoma, her home state. After three years of service at her current institution, Kathryn will be pursuing further study in non profit management in Washington DC. She is so grateful to DU's Department of Anthropology for the incredible colleagues, contacts, knowledge and skills she gained through the program.

Molly Hagan, Museum and Heritage Studies '16

During her time at DU, Molly pursued a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology, specifically focusing on museum and heritage studies. Her thesis research centered on cultural resilience post-disaster and how that is represented in museums. Since completing her degree, Molly began work in market research. She is currently employed at Corona Insights, a local research and strategic consulting firm here in Denver. At Corona, Molly utilizes both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies she  learned by studying anthropology as a mechanism to empower nonprofit organizations in our community to meet their strategic objectives, serve their community members and stakeholders, and illuminate insights. Having a background in anthropology has been especially useful as social sector research now demands a human-centered approach that incorporates empathy and compassion into the research process. Molly has worked with a diverse set of clients including the Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, Museo de las Americas, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, numerous professional membership organizations, as well as The Logan School, an independent school in Denver. In all of these engagements Molly has utilized qualitative techniques such as in-depth interviews and ethnographic observation to unearth subtle realities. 

Samantha Hagan, Cultural Anthropology '15

During her graduate studies with DU's Anthropology department, Samantha studied sustainable and socially responsible tourism. She did her field research in Guatemala, learning about how volunteer tourism effects communities and community perceptions of volunteer tourism organizations. This experience was incredibly educational and inspiring for Samantha, increasing her passion for learning about the travel industry and doing qualitative research as well. Since graduating, Samantha has been working for a market research consulting company first as a moderator, and now as a qualitative analyst. She tells companies ranging from Amazon to small medical supply companies and even some political candidates what consumers/voters want and feel so that they can then make changes to better serve their consumers or constituents. Additionally, Samantha recently started my own responsible travel consulting company using her knowledge and experience learning about responsible tourism at DU. She plans socially responsible and sustainable trips for people, paying special attention to supporting community owned and run businesses, indigenous communities, and environmentally responsible companies. In addition, Samantha educates clients about the cultural norms and values of the places they visit, so they know how to be respectful and make connections with local communities.

Derek Hamilton, Archaeology '01

Derek was working in commercial archaeology (CRM) after receiving his undergraduate degree when he began to learn about the application geophysics to archaeology and specifically sought out DU Anthropology Professor Larry Conyers to supervise an MA research project that employed ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technology.  At DU Derek discovered Archaeological Science, which offers the incredible ability to meld together subjects that are traditionally situated in the Arts, Humanities, and/or Sciences. After graduating from DU, Derek eventually made my way to London, England where he worked for four years with English Heritage (now Historic England), which is the national body in England for the care and protection of the historic environment, and for whom Derek provided advice on scientific dating of standing historic buildings and excavated archaeological sites. That job opened a number of doors, and enabled Derek to develop a wide-reaching professional network within the United Kingdom. Derek eventually left that job to continue toward his goal of earning a doctorate, which he did through a fully-funded research scholarship in the UK. After receiving his PhD, Derek moved to Scotland to take up a research position within the radiocarbon laboratory at the University of Glasgow's Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre. Derek has been in this position for over 8 years now, and has expanded the work he does beyond radiocarbon dating and statistical analysis of the results, and now spends much of his time developing and running research projects that employ stable and radiogenic isotope analyses to explore the movement and mobility of people and animals in the past. 

Maeve Herrick, Archaeology '17

At DU Maeve studied under Dr. Larry Conyers as part of his GPR lab. Maeve learned GPR from Dr. Conyers and was able to hone his skills through many surveys the lab conducted during his time at DU. Maeve served as a crew chief at the Amache Field School under Dr. Bonnie Clark, where he presented a seminar on GPR and taught students how to collect GPR in the field. Maeve combined these methods, along with excavations, in his thesis research at the Hollister site, a 17th-century farmstead in Glastonbury, CT. After his graduation in 2017, Maeve started a job with New South Associates, a CRM firm with offices throughout the southeast. He is a geophysical specialist with them, and has conducted surveys in Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Maryland, Arkansas, and Minnesota.

Michele Koons, Archaeology '06

Michele attended DU for her MA degree in Anthropology concentrating in Archaeology from 2003-2006, where she did her thesis project on ground-penetrating radar and excavations at Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Immediately after finishing her MA at DU and because of the experience and knowledge she gained there, Michele started a PhD program at Harvard University. For her dissertation, Michele excavated a Moche ceremonial site in the Chicama Valley, Peru. Michele completed her PhD in 2012 and immediately secured a post-doctoral fellowship at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Although she did not receive a degree in Museum Studies, ever since finishing her BA Michele spent many hours volunteering and working in all aspects of museums, which qualified her for this position. While a post-doc, one of the curator positions became available and Michele was fortunate enough to receive the post. She has now been Curator of Archaeology at DMNS since 2013. This position allows her to facilitate work on the collections and do her own collections-based research. Michele also conduct fieldwork in New Mexico, Colorado and Peru. Additionally, she gets to share her love of archaeology with the public through many outreach opportunities.

Sarah Lowry, Archaeology '09

Sarah's primary focus at DU was archaeology and the archaeological applications of ground-penetrating radar in archaeology. Sarah wrote her thesis about the Bluff Great House in Bluff, UT. She also spent a great deal of time collecting, processing, and interpreting ground-penetrating radar data on a large number of sites in Denver, up and down the front range, and the southwest more broadly. Presently, Sarah runs the geophysics department at New South Associates, Inc. She began working at New South about 6 months after graduation after moving to North Carolina to live with her fiancé. She initially worked as a project archaeologist and geophysical archaeologist. Sarah found that my classes at DU allowed her to transition seamlessly into industry. Through the years she took on more responsibility and was formally promoted to co-director in 2017. In 2018, Sarah took over the department. She is going to be celebrating 10 years at New South this winter. In this position, Sarah is able to work all over the southeastern United States and occasionally beyond that. She really felt like her studies at DU prepared her for this job directly. Not only did Sarah learn how to operate geophysical equipment, but she learned how to write and how to think anthropologically. She is able to apply these lessons to her work every day. She is most proud of the public engagement work she get to do. Sarah has worked extensively with African American communities documenting cemeteries (of both enslaved and post emancipation people). Sarah's company has also conducted multiple tribal field schools with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Katherine Mayo, Archaeology '14

Katherine was drawn to DU by the opportunity to work with Dr. Conyers and Dr. Clark. Most of her time at DU was focused on the use of geophysical techniques in archaeology. Katherine's thesis focused on excavations at a prehistoric rock shelter in Colorado. The use of GPR led to the discovery of a potential architectural feature. The anthropology department provided much more then just classes. Dr. Conyers allows students to tackle real-world GPR experience in group sessions. Additionally, DU provided monthly brown bag lectures from both anthropology professors and outside guests. These lectures covered unique and variable topics that broadened Katherine's understanding of the discipline. Dr. Clark also led "Crew chief coffee" sessions; open discussions which delved into the world of Cultural Resource Management (CRM). Her practical tips continue to help Katherine in her own CRM career. Since leaving DU, Katherine has worked as a field archaeologist in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Montana. Her master's degree from DU helped her professional career develop more quickly than if she had gone into the field of CRM without it. Inspired by her time at DU, Katherine continues to research and write for professional archaeology conferences.

Kevin Ritt, Cultural Anthropology '16

Kevin was a cultural anthropology student during his time at DU. For his thesis, Kevin worked with a US-based non-governmental organization which runs a health clinic in rural Haiti. Kevin wrote his thesis on how the organization operates, how their projects are conceived, funded, and carried out. He also planned and carried out a project for the organization that allowed him to spend a month doing fieldwork at the clinic. After graduating, Kevin moved back to Chicago. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do, but he knew he wanted to continue working in research. Eventually, Kevin used his thesis experience, especially my experience dealing with DU's Institutional Review Board (IRB), to obtain a job managing research projects at Chicago's main children's hospital. Kevin worked on the brain cancer team, opening research studies, tracking patients, and frequently submitting documents to the hospital IRB. He really enjoyed the work, and spent 3 years at the children's hospital. Recently, Kevin took a new position at a cancer research startup called Tempus. Kevin has been working with Tempus for 3 months now, and he is helping them bring cancer trials to patients who don't have access to these types of therapies.

Emily Starck, Museum and Heritage Studies '17

While at DU, Emily focused on museum studies, with her thesis work centered on the intersections between feminist anthropology and museology. Emily's research involved working closely with the staff of the Molly Brown House Museum to understand how staff perspectives influenced the message the museum was putting out to the public. While working on her degree, Emily also had the opportunity to complete internships at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and History Colorado Center. Currently, Emily works as an Anthropology Collections Assistant at the Field Museum in Chicago; the specific project she was hired for involves the complete deinstallation and renovation of the Field's Native American exhibition. Much of her day-to-day work draws on the practical collections management skills she developed through my graduate school internships. Her team also works closely with Native American community members to develop more culturally-aware collections management practices. 

Tiffany Tchakirides, Archaeology '02

Tiffany completed her B.A. degrees in Anthropology and Geology at Syracuse University, and knew she wanted to pursue an advanced degree that allowed her to integrate both degrees to understand the subsurface of archaeological sites in a more holistic and less invasive way than by traditional archaeological excavations alone. When Tiffany first learned of ground-penetrating radar (GPR), she knew immediately that she had found the integrated research path she desired. Tiffany chose to attend DU to work with Professor Larry Conyers, who literally 'wrote the book' on using GPR in archaeology. During her time at DU, Tiffany had the opportunity to conduct GPR research at numerous sites throughout the U.S. as well as internationally; the depth and breadth of these experiences enabled her to pursue a Ph.D. in Geophysics at Cornell University. At Cornell, Tiffany continued to focus on GPR and conducted her dissertation research at Early Formative archaeological sites in Honduras. Tiffany completed her Ph.D. in January 2010. In March, 2010, Tiffany moved to Houston to begin her career at Shell, one of the world's leading oil and gas companies, first as a seismic processing geophysicist in the Deepwater Exploration Imaging Team for the Gulf of Mexico. After two years, she moved into the Brazil Core Basins Team, then the Latin America Regional Team, where Tiffany gained valuable experience as a geophysicist and seismic interpreter. For the last six years Tiffany has been an Exploration & Geophysics Workflow Advisor in the Subsurface & Wells Support & Deployment organization, where she coaches and mentors geoscientists in the use of Shell's proprietary imaging and interpretation software, develop new course materials, provide proactive, integrated workflow support, and capture key seismic interpretation workflows. Although she has not had the most 'traditional' path into Shell or even within Shell, Tiffany thinks it's imperative to forge your own path and make contributions that only you can make. It's not particularly common for geophysicists to have been trained in the social sciences (anthropology in her case), but the combination of strong technical and 'soft' skills has served her particularly well, especially when working in a support organization, where building strong relationships and earning people's trust as a technical advisor is critical. Tiffany would encourage students to think broadly about the opportunities available to them, no matter what degree they are pursuing, because the skills developed at DU will provide them with many opportunities for success in their future endeavors.

Adrienne Turnbull-Reilly, Museum and Heritage Studies '15

After graduating from DU, Adrienne moved to the Boston area and began working for Historic New England, one of the largest preservation organizations in this area. In 2016, she began a full time position at the Paul Revere House, located in Boston. Here, she does education, both for local students and out of town tour groups, office management duties, and managing the gift shop. There are many things that DU prepared Adrienne for in this job, primarily how to work with material culture and how to think critically about how we interpret our history to the public. Outside of her paid work in the field, Adrienne also have experienced sitting on planning committees in a volunteer capacity. For example, Adrienne spent three years as the chair of a Young and Emerging Professionals affinity group, which is housed within our regional museum organization - the New England Museum Association (NEMA). She also currently sits on the planning committee for the Greater Boston Museum Educators Roundtable (GBMER). Adrienne thinks DU professors and the professionals she encountered through her internships instilled in her the desire and appreciation for being involved in one's professional community both as a networking tool, but also as a way to stay "sharp" when you're not in school full time. Adrienne is exposed to ideas, research, scholars and practitioners through her continued contact with colleagues from other institutions.

Kara Underwood, Museum and Heritage Studies '17

Kara Underwood is a researcher at Marzano Research. She earned her master's degree in anthropology with a concentration in museum studies in 2017. Kara's graduate thesis focused on ways to interpret and evaluate tangible and intangible heritage at historic sites in Colorado. Kara worked as a curatorial assistant and NAGPRA assistant for the DU Museum of Anthropology. At Marzano Research, she currently work on the evaluation of high school programs. She develops and conducts surveys, interviews, and focus groups, and collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data sets. Kara is the lead in the Native American Needs Assessment project, where she develops, refines, and analyzes annual surveys to gather information on high needs. She then identify strategies to support and address needs and include them in an Action Plan. Kara is also a contract program evaluator for STEM and environmental literacy interventions at Yampatika Environmental Learning Center and an adjunct instructor for University College at DU.