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2007 Annual Report

Program Highlights

Wadsworth Fellows 2007

Wadsworth Fellows 2007

In 2007 the Foundation introduced a number of changes to the Wadsworth International Fellowship program including an annual application deadline and a parallel Wadsworth African Fellowship (WAF) that is earmarked for an African student studying at a South African university. In total, six new fellowships (5 WIF, 1 WAF) were awarded from a very strong field of applicants. The success rate across both awards was 21.4% (28 applications; 6 awards). This year for the first time all of the awards went to students planning to pursue doctoral degrees outside of the US. In addition, eighteen existing Wadsworth Fellowships were renewed, and six Short-Term Research Fellowships were awarded over the same period.

The 2007 Wadsworth International Fellowships were awarded to the following students:

Wadsworth African Fellow:

 Campbell, Tessa J., U. of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa - To support training in anthropological genetics at U. Cape Town, supervised by Dr. Rebecca Ackermann

I applied for the Wadsworth African Fellowship in 2006 to begin my training in Cape Town, South Africa in 2007. I completed a B.Sc. degree in Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences in 2005, specializing in both archaeology and in genetics and development. My focus on genetics allowed me to gain practical experience using a variety of genetic techniques, although my personal interests remain focused on the intersection of anthropology and genetics.

I am currently enrolled in the Masters/Ph.D. program at the University of Cape Town, where my research interests involve investigating ancient disease pathways and disease evolution through the use of modern and ancient DNA. Currently I am engaged in research that aims to extract and analyze ancient M. tuberculosis DNA from South African remains to answer questions about the evolution of M. tuberculosis and then address larger issues associated with human and disease migration in South Africa. This particular area of research, while being explored in other areas of the world, is underdeveloped in southern Africa, and little to no infrastructure exists to enable research using ancient DNA. I plan to spend some time in the United States at Arizona State University in order to learn the techniques and utilize the facilities available for ancient DNA work. I hope to be able to contribute to the development of such facilities in South Africa at some time in the future.

Wadsworth International Fellows:

 Henig, David, U. of West Bohemia, Pilsen, Czech Republic - To aid training in social anthropology at U. of Durham, United Kingdom, supervised by Dr. Stephen M. Lyon

I am an anthropologist from the Czech Republic where I obtained a MSc degree in anthropology from the Department of Anthropology, University of West Bohemia in Pilsen.

My primary geographic area of research is the Balkans, Caucasus, and the Middle East. Particularly, I study forms of resurgence of “muslimness” after communism, and the transmission of religion, culture and classifications (especially ethnicity) over time. Moreover, I am interested in anthropological methodologies and in the use of information technologies in sociocultural research in general.

I chose the Department of Anthropology at the University of Durham because it is one of the best departments in the United Kingdom. I studied one term here before I definitely had decided to come back. I met experienced specialists in the department in many branches of anthropology and an such interdisciplinary environment inspired my to come back for doctoral research at the University of Durham.

After completion of a doctoral thesis I would like to go back to the Czech Republic and to teach anthropological research methods and in particular regional anthropology of the Balkans, Caucasus and the Middle East. I would like to develop closer research cooperation between researchers interested in issues of Eurasia and the anthropology of Islam in the region of Central-East Europe.

 Jillani, Ngalla Edward, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - To aid training in cognitive evolution at U. of Witwatersrand, Parktown, South Africa, supervised by Paul R. Manger

I am a research Scientist in Palaeontology Division, National Museums of Kenya with a wealth of field and laboratory experience in Paleoanthropology and currently a PhD student at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, under the supervision of Prof. Paul Manger. A Biologist by training (BSc) from the University of Nairobi and holding a Masters degree in Archaeology from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

My academic interests include research and information dissemination. I find an all encompassing approach to studying human evolution quite interesting. Seeking a deeper understanding of the evolutionary history of the human species is the epitome of my intellectual curiosity and career building. My current research interests are in the evolution of the brain through comparative primate brain studies. I am particularly interested in gaining significant insights into the “mental machinery” that was available to our ancestors and how this assisted them in survival strategies within the environments which they found themselves in at different times. The actual biological underpinnings of human intelligence remain enigmatic and there still remains great confusion and controversies regarding the mechanisms that enable humans to conceptualize, plan, and prioritize, and why they are set apart from other animals in terms of their cognitive abilities. Thus, understanding changes that may have occurred in the brain during human evolution is critical to understanding human intellectual abilities and behavior, past and present. My current study has great potential to reveal the ancestral forms and conditions of the brain complexity in terms of wiring.

The University of Witwatersrand’s School of anatomical sciences is the best place south of the Sahara to pursue PhD training on the brain since it has superb laboratory facilities for investigating brain evolution in mammals. It has well developed and strong research programs on human brain evolution with many students pursuing multidisciplinary studies related to human evolution. I therefore stand to gain from experienced researchers for mentors thereby guaranteeing academic excellence.

My major career goals are to become a skilled anthropologist doing cutting edge research in the field with a focus on the brain using the primate research facility in Kenya.

 Margvelashvili, Ann, Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi, Georgia - To aid training in paleoanthropology at U. of Zurich, Switzerland, supervised by Christoph Peter Eduard Zollikofer

The background of my studies consists of the medical education in the branch of stomatology at the Tbilisi State Medical University, which I graduated in 2004. During the studies, I had two years of practice as a doctor’s assistant at the Orthodontic centre.

In 2004, I was granted with the Erasmus Mundus scholarship for accomplishing Master’s studies in “Quaternary and Pre-history” that took place in Portugal and Spain. I also participated in the archaeological excavations of Lower Paleolithic site of Dmanisi (Georgia) (2002-2007) and Atapuerca (Spain) (2006).

The main interests of my future studies is focusing on dental occlusion and its correlations with the craniofacial morphology, also examining the biomechanical properties and impact of food processing on the development of the masticatory system, exploring the dental attrition patterns.

The reason of choosing the Anthropological Institute and Museum of University of Zurich is that it provides expert knowledge and state-of-the-art technology (medical CT, microCT, advanced image data processing and 3D geometric morphometric tools) which will help me to acquire specific skills in new morphometric methods. The institute has a large primate/human skeletal collection, which will greatly facilitate my comparative approach.

My plan after writing-up the thesis is to return to Georgia and obtain a position as a qualified researcher at the Georgian National Museum.

 Regehr, Vera Dorothea, U. Catolica 'Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion', Asuncion, Paraguay - To aid training in social anthropology at U. Iberoamericana, Lomas de Santa Fe, Mexico, supervised by Roger E. Magazine

Since childhood I have been in close contact with the reality and challenges faced by indigenous communities in the colonial context of the Paraguayan Chaco where I grew up. The multiple social dilemmas in this colonial setting inspired my decision to pursue studies in social anthropology at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. This university offers a flexible doctoral program and a variety of courses that are closely connected to my research interests. These include questions about community and family dynamics and issues of ethnicity, representation and the politics of culture. Moreover, I decided to study at a Mexican university so that I could write my dissertation in Spanish which is of great importance to me as my target audience consists of anthropologists and other professionals working in Paraguay with indigenous peoples, as well as indigenous people themselves.

The aim of my research is to understand how the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode people, who are involved in a land claim, construct their identity and their relation to the land in the current historical, political and social context. One of my overall professional goals is to produce anthropological knowledge that contributes to a better understanding of the current situation of indigenous peoples in the Paraguayan Chaco and their relations with the dominant society.

 Tesar, Catalina Constantina, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania - To aid training in social anthropology at U. College London, United Kingdom, supervised by Michael Sinclair Stewart

I completed my bachelor’s degree in 2004 (philology and ethnology) at the Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest, a master’s degree in 2005 (interdisciplinary social sciences) at the Francophone Doctoral School for Central and Eastern Europe, University of Bucharest (studies funded by AUF) and a second master’s degree in 2006 (cultural anthropology and communitarian development) at the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest. Since October 2006 I’ve been employed as a researcher by the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Bucharest. Since September 2007 I’m a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UCL, with a project revolving around the plight of the Gypsies in postsocialism Romania. My research project has a lot to benefit from the experience and knowledge in the field of Roma in South-Eastern Europe of Michael Stewart, under whose supervision I work. Furthermore, the program of Anthropology at UCL with its lively debates in the seminars and its staff’s long standing commitment to interdiciplinarity, offers me great opportunities to develop high research skills in the fields of my interest: economic anthropology, political culture, anthropology of the margins, ethnicity, resistance, international migration and postsocialism. After completing my PhD degree, I wish to return to Romania and contribute to the development of the new born discipline of Anthropology.