Students

ANTH 714 CLASS 2016

Amanda Black

picture1   Amanda Black holds a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Spanish from UNC-Greensboro, and a Master of Arts in Translation Theory from the Universidad de Málaga (2011). After completing one year of the Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance, Amanda’s studies broadened to include Latin American cultural studies and in-depth Spanish language study. She completed her final year of painting study at the Universidad de Guanajuato, in Guanajuato, Mexico, where she continued to play and teach flute and engage in new musical experiences. As an interpreter and translator, she would travel to Honduras, on return trips to Mexico, as well as to Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and Spain. Translating and editing within a circle of scholars working towards decolonization, Amanda developed a strong interest in the intersection of music, immigration, the control of sonic space, and place. Amanda’s other interests include ethnomusicological methodologies, race and representation, and dance practices.

Nicole Castro

picture2Nicole is Texas-born and mostly Texas-raised, identifying as female and using the pronouns she/her/hers. After finishing her BA in Communication at Trinity University in San Antonio, she worked at a rape crisis center for many years. Wanting to further support the cause through scholarship, she pursued her MA in Communication at the University of Colorado Boulder. She has recently moved to UNC for her doctorate, committed to living daily as a scholar-activist. She works to advance a variety of social justice issues, especially race, gender, and sexual oppression. Currently, she’s excited about projects around how ‘safe spaces’ allow individuals to see taking risks with nonviolent communication as an opportunity, as opposed to a threat. She’s also upset by and curious about the lack of language resources taught for consent. She loves animals and has a wonderful partner she adores. Her life goals include: creating an effective rating system of freezer pizzas and completing a successful mic drop.

Jacqueline Chang

picture3Jacqueline Chang is a 1st year MPH/RD Candidate in the Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her current interests are broadly in the translation of nutrition research into nutrition policy, and particularly in (1) student food insecurity and (2) the role of family/home dynamics in shaping childhood nutritional outcomes. She is indebted to her alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley; her mentors at the Nutrition Policy Institute in Oakland, CA; and fellow University of California Global Food Initiative Fellows, for igniting her love for Public Health and CBPR as tools t pursue social justice. In addition to school (she really loves school like a true nerd), some of her other favorite things include cookies, coffee, and C.S. Lewis (each individually, and together all at once)!

Beth Coleman
picture4Beth Coleman is a third year PhD student in the Cultural Studies and Literacies program in the School of Education at UNC Chapel Hill. Before her doctoral program, she taught first grade for five years in public school settings in Durham and Orange counties, during which time she completed a Masters in Mathematics Education (K-6), also from UNCCH. Beth’s research and teaching practices integrate critical, humanizing and inquiry-based pedagogies. More specifically, Beth seeks to engage in dialogue and activism through the generative and collaborative process of uncovering how it is that teachers, particularly white teachers, understand and/or lack understanding of systems of oppression.

Marie Eszenyi

picture5Marie Eszenyi has a M.A. in Communication & Advocacy from James Madison University, a B.S. in Communication Studies from James Madison University and a B.A. in Philosophy & Religion, from James Madison University.  Marie is interested in transnational feminism and cultural studies. Currently, she is working on a project on contemporary Cuban feminism. This past summer, she lived in Cuba for a month while conducting ethnographic research and oral history interviews. In Fall 2016, she will showed an installation titled Moving Through Cuba throgh the performance studies program. She also be presented research at the 2016 National Communication Association Convention and the 2016 Oral History Association Conference.

Anusha Hariharan

picture6Anusha Hariharan is a graduate student in Anthropology working on issues of Caste- and Gender-activism in India, specifically to understand the everyday lives and labor of activism in South Asia. Her graduate work is envisaged as a collaborative project that seeks to document the emergence of Dalit women’s activism in the northern part of Tamil Nadu, India, and how that shapes contemporary Dalit feminist struggles. Tamil Nadu, India has been a site of caste-based activism for more than 70 years. However, the questions raised by Dalit feminist movements are shaping the political landscape of the region along the lines of gender, lending a new understanding of who political actors are, and what constitutes the everyday labor of activism. This project will collect oral histories of Dalit feminist activists as well as build an archive of historical material (visual and aural) that cannot be found in conventional archives pertaining to South Asia. The goal is to produce a digitized archive curating these different materials that are accessible to activist groups across South Asia, as well as race activists in North America. An additional goal is to produce a booklet in Tamil of activist history and the everyday labor of activism to be disseminated amongst Dalit communities in the region. The project ultimately seeks to be in dialogue with similar initiatives emerging from North America that work on race activism.

Barkley Heuser

picture7Barkley Heuser is currently a PhD student in the music department. Though he’s always been involved with music in some sense or another, he came to graduate music studies in a roundabout way. His undergraduate degree is in English and Spanish Literature, and this allowed him to teach high school English for a time. He eventually went back to school for a performance degree in classical guitar and, while there, became more and more interested in the academic side of music studies. His primary research interests center on Latin American popular musics, music and identity, and the ways that contemporary musical practices engage with historical narratives.

Sonny Kelly

picture8Sonny Kelly is a scholar, performer, story teller, motivator, speaker, and comedian. Currently pursuing a PhD in Communication Studies & Performance Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, Sonny is a graduate of St. Mary’s University (MA, Communication Studies, ’08) and Stanford University (BA, International Relations, ’98).  His research is focused on Critical/Performance Ethnography, Critical Pedagogy, and Youth Activism & Empowerment.  Sonny is currently pursuing UNC’s Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research (GCPR).  During the Summer of 2015, he started research doing performative ethnography work youth in Fayetteville, NC funded by the GCPR Seed Grant.  He seeks innovative and effective approaches to addressing the Achievement Gap between thriving and marginalized students and the School-to-Prison Pipeline that threatens marginalized youths in the United States.  Sonny is a volunteer and board member of Boomerang Youth, Inc., a non-profit that serves youth in Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, NC with positive alternatives to suspension and after school programming.  He is also a participating artist with Cumberland County’s Misdemeanor Diversionary Program designed to keep 16 and 17 year-old youths out of the criminal justice system.

Blake Montieth

picture9Blake is a Master in City and Regional Planning candidate at UNC Chapel Hill and is from Wilmington, North Carolina. Within a broader city planning curriculum, Blake specializes in economic development, real estate development, international development, and participatory research. He also holds a professional Bachelor of Architecture. He has earned awards for excellence in urbanism and critical exploration in addition to a traveling fellowship to India to study the development patterns of informal urban settlements. Blake is also a serial editor, having founded and led four student publications.

Michelle Padley

picture10Michelle Padley is a graduate student in Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She specializes in Urban Geography with current research interests in the privatization of low-income housing, especially as it relates to the relationship between poverty and city building.

Megan Peters

picture11Megan Peters is a master’s student in the Health Behavior program at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.  She is a North Carolina native, and completed her undergrad at UNC, studying nutrition.  Prior to starting graduate school in Fall 2016, Megan worked in the community as a Research Assistant for a children’s healthy weight research group.  During her time with that team, Megan worked with many childcare providers and children across NC.  She greatly enjoyed working in the community to promote healthy lifestyles in childcare providers and children.  Currently now pursuing her master’s she hopes to continue with her interest in healthy lifestyles through research and community engagement.  In her free time, she enjoys baking, reading, and catching up on many of her favorite TV shows.

Amy Shipow

picture12Amy Shipow graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Human Development and Minor in Global Health. Her passion for social activism and dedication to gender equity manifested alongside her love of theater when she performed in The Vagina Monologues. Working at the intersection of the two, she volunteered at a girl’s home in Hyderabad, India where she inaugurated a girls’ empowerment theatre group. Subsequently, Amy interned at the African Refugee Development Center in Israel where she conducted comprehensive interviews with Eritrean asylum seekers to complete applications for refugee status. She also interned at Terem Public Clinic where she triaged incoming patients and started an independent project to track the types and costs of asthma medications currently prescribed with the goal of lobbying the Ministry of Health for cheaper and more effective alternatives. Her work with migratory populations led her to the UNC School of Social Work’s Refugee Mental Health and Wellness Initiative. After participating as a co-facilitator with the Congolese Community Adjustment Support Group, she helped the group obtain non-profit status as the Raleigh Immigrant Community. As a board member and global neighbor, she hopes to serve alongside the refugees in facilitating the social and economic empowerment of refugees and immigrants in North Carolina. Her larger research interests include the family planning, structure, and dynamics of refugees both in refugee camps abroad and among those domestically resettled.

Francesca Sorbara

Francesca Sorbara is a Gradupicture13ate student in Sociocultural Anthropology and a Rotary Peace Fellow, pursuing the Certificate in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. She holds a Master Degree in Humanities (2001), from Venice University, with a concentration in Performance Studies, and a Master in International Development (2007) from Pavia University, Italy.

She has worked for the last ten years in Children’s Rights issues in International NGOs. She grew up in Italy, studied in Spain, and later lived and worked in Brazil, Ethiopia, Bolivia and Paraguay. She took part and coordinated social and community projects, institutional and participatory trainings, national and international advocacy and research initiatives, and capacity building of local and national child protection systems. She has also worked as trainer in Applied Theatre workshops and projects, mainly with students and educators. She has been trained in Theatre Animation, Theatre of the Oppressed, and more recently in Morenian Psychodrama and ‘Teatro Espontaneo’ (Playback Theatre).

Gioia Skeltis

picture14Gioia Skeltis is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology with a concentration in Human Biology, Ecology, and Evolution. Her primary research focuses on how effects of market integration are shaping and transforming health in the Ecuadorian Amazon. She is interested in applying a participatory-research approach in conjunction with quantitative methods to identify key risks and vulnerabilities faced by indigenous communities, and how these in turn affect decision making and traditional livelihoods.

Sarah Tomlinson

picture15Originally from Penfield, NY, Sarah moved to Chapel Hill after graduating from Michigan State University in 2014. She holds a B.M. in Music Education and a B.A. in Music, earning both degrees with high honors. Sarah’s master thesis examines the ways that activist, pianist, and singer-songwriter Nina Simone resisted racism and engaged with black consciousness before she composed her first explicitly political protest song in 1963.  In addition to her interests in popular music and critical race theory, Sarah’s master’s thesis work also stems from her broad interests in feminism(s), identity politics, and American music. Her dissertation is on the ideological history and current practice of classical music programming for children’s audiences in the United States. She situates her study of classical music in children’s lives within feminist methodologies and critical examinations of elitism, ageism, and race studies. Her dissertation work weaves historical and ethnographic research methods together with social engagement. As she pursues her PhD, Sarah is earning a graduate certificate in cultural studies and a graduate certificate in participatory research.

Priscilla Vaz

picture16Priscilla Vaz is a popular educator and Theater of the Oppressed practitioner, who entered graduate school after a decade of community-organizing with underserved communities of color. She has long been interested in the intersection of class, race, and gender in Brazilian society and their resulting geographical patterns of segregation and resistance. Teaching has been a passion for fifteen years. She is an ABD doctoral student in the Department of Geography in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Her work engages ethnographic and participatory research to learn how black women residents in the slum City of God (CDD) in Rio de Janeiro conceive of existing solidarity economy practices and operationalize self-organized forms of communal governance.

ANTH 714 CLASS 2015

Lillie Armstrong is a Master of Public Health candidate in Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her public health interests include harm reduction and injection drug user health, sustainable agriculture and food justice, deincarceration, and adolescent sexual health. She is also a Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) fellow in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, where she focuses on sociopolitical and analytical methodologies, spatial power, and reproductive health. She plans to do independent work on sustainable farming and harm reduction networks in Morocco after graduating in Spring 2016.Bruckert_Photo

Jessica Bruckert studies Peace, War, and Defense. She previously worked as a Department of Defense civilian with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, NC. There, she endeavored to improve the relationship between the military and knowledge capital communities in the private sector and academia. While in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jessica collaborated with NATO, U.N. and U.S. Embassy representatives alongside the Afghan people to support efforts at combating transnational organized crime in Afghanistan. At Carolina, Jessica studies ways to improve operational efficiencies within the military and reduce incongruities between the strategic and tactical levels of war-fighting. She is interested in leveraging CBPR principles to improve health outcomes for active duty, veterans, and civilians presenting with symptoms oDong_Photof post-traumatic stress.

Willa Dong is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior. She is interested in partnering with sex workers and transgender women in China to address health needs and eliminate stigma.

Molly Green is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology and is interested in climate change, gender, and race in Latin America. She plans to use participatory research methods to help scientists and p
olicy makers understand climate change from a different perspective and to work towards giving local communities control over their futures.

Marwa Koheji is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology. Her work explores development, sustainability, and climate change in the Arabian Gulf. She is interested in participatory research methods toMaxwell_Photo actively engage with local efforts to protect nature from the pressure of development.

William Maxwell is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography.  He is working with the Tuscaroraindigenous people of North Carolina to explore the potential contribution of wild native plants to their struggle for recognition.  He is using collaborative methods explored in the GCPR in all phases of my research project.

Amelia Rock, MS, is a doctoral student in the Health Behavior department and trainee at the Carolina PopulatRock_Photoion Center. Her work focuses on socio-cultural and structural determinants of sexual and reproductive health, especially gender and economic opportunity. She is interested in using participatory research approaches to improve health and social equality through understanding and building on communities’ local knowledge and ways of doing

Tainayah Thomas, MPH., is a 2nd year doctoral student and graduate student researcher at the UNC Chapel Hill Gillings School of Public Health. Throughout her academic career, she haThomas_Photos focused on the health of vulnerable populations throughout the world.  Ms. Thomas is committed to working with communities to promote health and advocate for change. Her research interests include diabetes prevention and self-management, men’s health, health disparities, medical mistrust and healthcare utilization among underserved populations.

ANTH 714 CLASS 2014

Leslie Adams is a PhD student in the Department of Health Behavior, School of Public Health. My research interests explore the role Adamsof cultural stress and its impact on disparities in mental health care. I plan on using participatory research methods to incorporate the community in reducing stigma and increasing mental health care utilization in underserved populations.

Deanna Befus is a PhD student in Nursing, Duke University. Research interests: Health vulnerabilities of low-income women worker; health disparities; coalition-building; immigration and migration studies; cycles of poverty; transformative, collaborative and emancipatory research designs; feminist critical theory; radical reimagining and reinvention of nursing. In resisting the widely-held views that science is value-free and research is dispassionate in favor of more situated knowledges, I would like to give voice to the experiences of people whose perspectives aren’t usually noticed, valued, or considered by disembodied, objectivist research. I am especially interested in collaborating with community partners to catalyze innovative and powerful ways of integrating contextualized perspectives and findings into compelling arguments for social and political change.

Atiya Husain is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology. Her research focuses on race/ethnicity and Islam in the United States. She is interested in ethnography and participatory research in order to better understand how to challenge racial inequality.

Melissa Kimathi is a master’s student, School of Social Work. I am particularly passionate about cross-cultural communication of al Kimathikinds, and about people being aware of and free to exercise their choices toward a collectively just and sustainable future. Research interests: Macro/community practice; arts-based community mental health promotion; international social work; participatory research; communication within social work and between social workers, professionals in other fields and the public around social change.

Jasmine Kumalah is a master’s student, City and Regional Planning. Research interests: food systems, environmental justice, green Kumalahdesign and the use of narratives and the arts as vehicles of social change. I am significantly passionate about engaging communities of color in community development work through innovative channels. I believe that meaningful participation is the only way towards true systematic changes. Therefore, I am driven to learn and understand more about the various ways I can work with communities to trigger changes from the bottom up. I am currently working with the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention research center as a Social Marketing assistant on a farmers’ market promotion project.

Elizabeth M. Melton is a PhD student in Communication Studies. My research focuses on circuits of touring commercial performance. I look at the ways university performing arts presenters work with agents and artists to bring specific touring performances to their regional communities. I hope to work with local university presenters in the triangle area for her future dissertation project.

Katie Merriman is a doctoral student in the Department of Religious Studies at UNC. She studies in Islam in America involving questions of race and religion; urban environments; and the formation of community. Katie is interested in collaborative local history projects and the use of ethnographic evidence for community-based social justice work.

Adrienne Miao is a doctoral student in the Department of Allied Health Sciences.  She is interested in the use of participatory visual methods with families to explore disability experiences.Moore

Elizabeth Moore is a master’s student in the Department of Health Behavior, School of Public Health. Research Interests: Health disparities, tobacco prevention and control, access to physical activity, community driven health interventions. I hope to gain the skills and tools to become a researcher who actively works with communities to improve the health and wellbeing of all community member.

Elisabeth Kago Nebie is a PhD student in Anthropology. Research interests: NebiePromoting the mixed use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and ethnographic methods to understand environmental changes and contribute to international development. I aim t develop innovative and participatory techniques to integrate indigenous knowledge into multidisciplinary research. At the end of my research, I aim to bring back this produced knowledge to the community to promote social change.

Adébukola Oni is a master’s student in the Department of Health Behavior, School of Public Health. Research interests: TransafricanOni folk medicine and systems of care; erotic and womb wellness; conflict resolution; incarceration and liberation geography; border studies; solidarity economics. What I learn here will feed into deepening my involvement in co-creating community-driven alternatives to policing and incarceration and inequitable healthcare/food systems.

Shyra Peyton is a master’s student, Folklore Studies, Department of American Studies. I am interested in ethnography, oral histories, preservation projects and public programs. I aim to use my experience in participatory research to work on collaborative projects that enlighten and raise the level of appreciation for cultural diversity and contributions of people of the African Diaspora.

Elizabeth Reeves is a PhD student, Nursing, Duke University. Research interests: Healthcare experiences of women who have survived traumatic life events, qualitative and participatory research designs. I wish to work against the hierarchies that separate researchers and participants, to work with people who are excited about answering similar questions to build a collaborative body of knowledge that benefits all those involved. With regards to my research interests, I feel it is only ethical to engage survivors of violence–who have been harmed by abuses of power in their lives–as powerful decision-makers in the research process.

ANTH 714 Class 2013

Katie Akin is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography. Her dissertation explores popular concepts of political possibilities and political subjectivities in contemporary North Carolina through ethnographic research with the Forward Together Movement (responsible for the Moral Monday protests). She is particularly interested in how spiritually based knowledges and collective spiritual or religious practices influence peoples’ concepts of politics and political action, wellbeing, and how we (should and do) organize the social-material world. With respect to the Forward Together Movement, Katie is exploring how race, religiosity and state governance/sovereignty have shaped and continue to shape the possibilities for political actions and political subjectivities in NC.

Amy Braun is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography. She is interested in learning about participatory researchDSC_0022 (2)methodologies in the context of her studies of commons, political ecology, and migration.

Orisanmi Burton is a second year doctoral student in socio-cultural anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill. His research examines efforts by U.S.-based activists to intervene in the crisis of mass incarceration. He will employ participatory research methods with formerly incarcerated prison reformers.

Maia Dedrick is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology, with a specific focus on archaeology. She hopes to use participatory research methods to collaborate with communities on archaeology projects in Mexico and Guatemala.

Kirstin Frescoln is a doctoral student in the Department of City and Regional planning interested in the impact of the built environment on health outcomes amongst vulnerable populations. She has spent 20 years working in the community with and on behalf of vulnerable populations. She interested in CBPR to improve research conducted with community professionals and the populations they serve.

Rachel Gelfand is a doctoral student in the American Studies department, seeking to do participatory research in terms of oral history. With a background in radio, she is interested in feminist and queer histories, in memory and countermemory. She has a B.A. in American Studies from Smith College.

Sarah Kowitt is a doctoral student in the School of Public Health, Health Behavior Department.  She is interested in participatory research because she views research as a partnership with communities, rather than a process imposed on communities. Accordingly, she wants to incorporate participatory research into her dissertation work, but is not yet sure in what capacity.

Kenneth J. Richards is a doctoral student in the Department of Religious Studies.  In his research he examines the limits and applications of religious freedom in the United States in relation to American Indian political struggles over the protection of their sacred places. He aims to enter into collaborative research projects with Indigenous communities engaged in the advancement and experimentation of tribal sovereignty through the protection of their sacred places.

Benjamin Rubin is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography.  His research focuses on childhood, race, and normative ethics.  He interested in PAR methods to engage state and family actors and their concepts of a child’s “best interest.”

Nikhil Tomar is a doctoral student in the Department of Allied Health Sciences.  He is interested in PAR as it helps to engender social change by acknowledging voice of community members, not as subjects but as partners.

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Amy Patel is a masters student in the Department of Health Behavior.  In public health, research and practice go hand-in-hand. It’s important that whatever health program is initiated is community, not researcher, led, which makes PAR a critical component of program development, implementation, and sustainability.  She seeks to learn the different ways that PAR can do this in an effort to promote truly “public” health.

Pavithra Vasudevan is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography.  Pavithra is interested in making connections between critical thought and political organizing. Using visual, performance and collaborative methodologies, Pavithra engages in grassroots organizing around toxic waste to imagine and build a future that is racially just.

Willie Wright is a PhD student in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina and a Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellow. Prior to his graduate studies he was a Research Assistant in the Research on Food and Farming for All (ROFFA) project, which incorporated participatory methods to assess local agri-food systems across four regions in North Carolina. His research interests include geographies of race, rural lifeways, and Black Geographies.