PhD Candidate Elena Lesley has been selected by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation as one of 23 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellows for 2020-2021. The Newcombe Fellowship is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for PhD candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values.
Her dissertation examines Buddhist-influenced mental health interventions in Cambodia. Since first traveling to Cambodia in 2004, Lesley’s work in the country has been supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, a Fulbright fellowship, the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Blakemore Foundation, among others. The results of her research have appeared in Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, the journal of Genocide Studies and Prevention, the U.K. literary magazine Granta, Necropolitics and Remembering Genocide.
Lesley has a BA from Brown University and an MS from Rutgers University. Before coming to Emory, she worked as a journalist in the U.S. and abroad, and also as a Senior Research Specialist at Princeton University.
Naomi Tesema (C20), earned her BS with honors in Anthropology and Human Biology. She received the Atwood Award for her honors theses titled “Mobile Phone Apps for HIV Prevention Among College-aged Black Women in Atlanta: Preferences and Prototype.”
Anna Wachspress, a junior majoring in anthropology and human biology, received an honorable mention for “Lori Loughlin and the College Admissions Scandal: Frame Analysis of Online Entertainment Magazines,” an assignment for Sociology 289: Crime and the Media.
The Anthropology Department is pleased to announce our 2020 student award winners! Please join us in congratulating undergraduates Isabel Slingerland, Claire Biffl, Emma Hanlon, Evan Amaral and Rebecca Rusnak, and graduate students Sara Kauko and Shreyas Sreenath. Undergraduate awards were conferred at a virtual celebration on Friday, April 24. See below for detailed award descriptions. We are so proud of our many impressive students!
2020 Undergraduate Student Awards
Outstanding Senior Award: Isabel Slingerland
Outstanding Junior Award: Evan Amaral and Rebecca Rusnak
Marjorie Shostak Prize for Excellent and Humanity in Ethnographic Writing:
Claire Biffl for her honors thesis “Experiences of Aging, Kinship, Death, and Independence in an Independent Living Facility”
Emma Hanlon for her honors thesis “Negotiating Spirituality: Ritual, Language, and Space in the First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta”
2020 Graduate Student Awards:
Marjorie Shostak Prize for Excellent and Humanity in Ethnographic Writing: Shreyas Sreenath for his dissertation “Black Spot: An Account of Caste and Discards in 21st Century Bangalore”
George Armelagos Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student: Sara Kauko and Shreyas Sreenath
The Anthropology department is proud to recognize eleven seniors who successfully defended honors theses, most of them holding defenses remotely and completing their projects from home after the University closed due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Their projects, the culmination of a year (or more!) of independent research and writing, were completed under the supervision of faculty advisors and committee members from within and outside of Anthropology, with support from faculty honors coordinator Dr. Kristin Phillips. These students were honored in a virtual Anthropology Honors and Awards Ceremony on April 24th. One student, Rachel Kim, graduated from Emory in December, and the others are scheduled to graduate with honors on May 11.
Please see below for a full list of theses, and join us in congratulating these students on their hard work and accomplishment!
Claire Biffl – Experiences of Aging, Kinship, Death, and Independence in an Independent Living Facility
Advised by Kristin Phillips
Elisabeth Crusey – “Does anybody have ibuprofen?”: An Investigation of Emory Undergraduates’ Over-the-Counter Analgesic Use
Advised by Bisan Salhi (School of Medicine)
Emma Hanlon – Spiritual Community, Sacred Congregation: Ritual, Discourse, and Space in the First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta
Advised by Anna Grimshaw
Sarena Ho – Father Absence and Young Adult Romantic Relationship Ideals
Advised by Craig Hadley
Jahnvi Jain – Effects of a Brief Breath Focused Mindfulness Meditation Intervention on Heart Rate Variability and Dissociation in Patients with PTSD and Dissociation
Advised by Negar Fani (School of Medicine)
Adama Kamara – The Politics of Empowerment and Black Female Sexuality: Perceptions Through the Lens of Atlanta’s Trafficking Networks
Advised by Bayo Holsey
Nora Keathley – Latinx Women and Labor in the Digital Age: Exploring Childbirth and Medical Authority Through the Use of YouTube
Advised by John Lindo
Rachel Kim – Representation Matters: Changing Portrayals of Asian-Americans in Hollywood Films from 1993-2019
Advised by Anna Grimshaw
Riana Peskopos – The Queer Female Medical Narratives
Advised by Anna Grimshaw
Ruhika Prasad – Mental Illness and Pregnancy among Women in Mysore, India: Health Provider and Women’s Perspectives
Advised by Joyce Flueckiger (Religion)
Naomi Tesema – Mobile Phone Apps for HIV Prevention Among College-Aged Black Women in Atlanta: Preferences and Prototype
Advised by Rasheeta Chandler (Nursing) and John Lindo
A list of all previously completed Anthropology honors theses is available at
Anthropology and human biology graduate Abbe McCarter received the Bradley Currey Jr. Seminar Award for her project “Food Insecurity on the Cattaraugus Reservation.” This was part of her honors thesis titled “Windows into the Lived Experiences and Health Consequences of Food Insecurity on the Cattaraugus Reservation: Implications for Indigenous Peoples’ Food Sovereignty”. She graduated in May with highest honors.
“I am beyond grateful for the Rose Library and their consideration for the Bradley Currey Jr. Seminar Award. This award allowed me to travel to the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Cattaraugus Reservation and conduct first hand qualitative and quantitative research. The experience as a whole provided me with significant lessons in conducting anthropological research as I examined the lived experiences and health consequences of food insecurity and sovereignty for Indigenous Peoples. I am certain that this award, the mentorship of Dr. Vidali and the rest of Emory’s Anthropology department, and the completion of my honors thesis, contributed to me achieving my current position – as the 2019/20 Melvin Ember intern with HRAF at Yale University working with some of the most important minds and data in cross-cultural research. Having the opportunity to travel to the Cattaraugus Reservation was absolutely critical, and allowed me to foster relationships with interlocutors in the field and embark upon a course of study which will continue to grow for years to come thanks to the Bradley Currey Jr. Seminar Award!”
She is one of eleven Emory students who recently received undergraduate research awards for their library research. Read more in the Emory News Center.
Anthropology major Katya Bobrek was one of six recent Emory graduates to receive NSF funding and the only one to be awarded the prestigious grand right after receiving her undergraduate degree. She graduated in May with high honors in Anthropology and Human Biology. The title of her honors thesis was “Genomic Analysis and Natural Selection Scan of Mexican Mayan and Indigenous Populations” and her advisor was Dr. John Lindo.
“I’m so thankful for the opportunity given to me by NSF. What excites me the most about my research is its interdisciplinary nature. I would never have found this niche if not for the education I received at the Emory Anthropology department. There I discovered my love of anthropology, health, and scientific research. It’s because of Emory Anthropology that I found what I am most passionate about.” Katya Bobrek
Kristen graduated in May with highest honors in Anthropology and also minored in Sustainability. She has worked with the Office of Sustainability Initiative on the zero waste policies.
“I have learned so much about how to make change happen thanks to the sustainability initiatives at Emory. Through collaborating with administrators, faculty, staff, and student peers in the process of working towards a sustainable Emory, I have met inspiring people across the University and forged connections that contribute not only to my sense of place but also to my professional development.
Through working as a student employee with theOffice, I have also been able to understand the links between my education in theclassroom and real-world translation and application. I think people are so fundamental to understanding sustainability and sustainable outcomes, so studying anthropology has been as necessary supplement to my sustainability work and a fundamental influence in my thinking. Both working with OSI and studying anthropology were invaluable for my skills development, my understandingof people and the world around me, and the evolution of my sustainable vision for the future.”
Please join us in congratulating undergraduates Esther Garcia, Grace Jarrett, Hannah Katz, and Sierra Stubbs, and graduate students Andrea Rissing, Christina Rogers, and Adeem Suhail. Undergraduate awards were distributed at the Honors and Awards Luncheon on Friday, April 26. See below for detailed award descriptions. We are so proud of our many talented and engaged students!
Marjorie Shostak Prize for Excellent and Humanity in Ethnographic Writing: Grace Jarrett for her paper “The Hair Salon: A Black Female Geography”
2019 Graduate Student Awards:
Marjorie Shostak Prize for Excellent and Humanity in Ethnographic Writing: Adeem Suhail for his dissertation “THIS IS NOT A GANG: Proxy Classes and Political Subjection in Lyari”
George Armelagos Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student: Andrea Rissing and Christina Rogers
For an Anthropology senior who has shown significant achievement in their undergraduate career, both academically as well as through extraordinary engagement and/or service relevant to their study in Anthropology.
For an Anthropology junior who shows great promise at this stage in their undergraduate career, both academically as well as through extraordinary engagement and/or service relevant to their study in Anthropology.
Marjorie Shostak Prize for Excellence and Humanity in Ethnographic Writing
In 1999 The Department of Anthropology announced the establishment of the “Marjorie Shostak Prize” to be awarded each year to an Emory student whose paper reflects original research on some aspect of human life experience. The prize commemorates the life and work of Marjorie Shostak, author of Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1981, republished 2000) and the sequel Return to Nisa (Harvard, 2000). These works were highly praised for the immediacy of the writing, the personal character of the ethnographic encounters, and the complete absence of jargon, without any sacrifice of anthropological accuracy or validity. The presence of the ethnographer as an individual in these writings gave the reader an opportunity to take her perspective and biases into account in evaluating the descriptions and interviews.
The award is bestowed on papers/theses that take a direct, personal approach to ethnography, without sacrificing validity or analysis, in keeping with the spirit of Shostak’s work. In the best submissions, human beings will come alive on the page, giving the reader a strong experience of the culture those people belong to. The writer will also attempt to analyze or interpret the experience, but with a minimum of jargon.
George Armelagos Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student
This annual award is to recognize graduate students in Anthropology who have demonstrated excellence in undergraduate teaching during their time at Emory. One goal of our graduate program is to develop the teaching skills of all doctoral students. This award is given based on a student’s record in teaching and contributions to the undergraduate program over the entire span of their career at Emory. The award is funded through an endowment set up by the late Professor George Armelagos – a distinguished scholar, teacher, and mentor. It was his desire that the department recognize graduate students who are exceptional teachers, and that this recognition might help them on the job market.
The Department of Anthropology is thrilled to report that Klamath Henry (19C) is the recipient of the prestigious Marion Luther Brittain undergraduate student award at Emory University. The Brittain Award, generally acknowledged to be the highest honor bestowed on a student by Emory University, is presented each year to two graduating students – one graduate and one undergraduate – from any of the nine academic divisions of the university. These students are considered to have performed the most “significant, meritorious and devoted service to Emory University, with no expectations of recognition or reward.” The award is made under provisions of a gift by the late Dr. M. L. Brittain, former President of Georgia Institute of Technology and an alumnus of Emory.
Klamath’s awards and accomplishments are numerous. This Spring, Klamath was recognized as a “100 Senior Honorary” by the Emory University Alumni Association and as a “2019 Graduating Women of Excellence” by the Center for Women at Emory. Last year she was awarded “Junior Student of the Year,” by the Department of Anthropology. She received a full scholarship for graduate study in Anthropology at the University of California at Fullerton, which she will pursue starting this Fall.
Klamath’s academic research, public scholarship, community work, and personal mission in life is centrally concerned with issues of diversity, inclusion, and representation. Klamath’s own background as a Shasta and Tuscarora woman guides her in this work. The Brittain award serves as a wonderful affirmation that Klamath is making – and has made — a significant and lasting impact on Emory University at many levels, including student life, academic life, our relation to space, and our future as a more engaged ethical community. Her work has been essential in shifting the Emory landscape towards increased representation of Indigenous peoples at Emory. This includes recognition of the Cherokee and Muscogee Creek people who flourished in this region and who took care of this land before the land dispossession and forced removals by the US government in the 1830s.
Just recently, Klamath’s experimental ethnography project – entitled Three Sisters Resiliency — was selected through juried review for inclusion in the annual Screening Scholarship Media Festival at the University of Pennsylvania. The project examines contemporary Indigenous sovereignty in relation to Indigenous food ways.
From Emory News: Melvin J. Konner, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and Behavioral Biology at Emory, will present this year’s John F. Morgan Sr. Distinguished Faculty Lecture.
Konner will speak on “Believers: Faith in Human Nature,” which is also the title of his forthcoming book, on Tuesday, March 26, at 5 p.m. in the Presentation Room of the Oxford Road Building. RSVP here.