On 10/10/11, Governor Scott stated that “we don’t need any more anthropology majors”. As anthropologists who have worked very hard to improve Florida’s education, healthcare, economy and understanding of local history, we feel that Governor Scott is poorly informed on what anthropology is. Below is a small sample of anthropologists who are working on projects that are important for Floridians.
Elizabeth McCoy: I am an Archaeologist, trained at the University of South Florida. My research is on improving how Florida’s State Parks manage and interpret cultural sites located on state lands. I work directly with park managers, local tourism bureaus, and Department of Environmental Protection officials to develop strategies that will increase park visitation and revenues, decrease park operating costs, and improve the visitor experience for all Floridians. I use the latest technology to document sites and create a digital presence for Florida’s state parks so we can continue to protect and celebrate some of Florida’s most unique resources.
Wendy Hathaway: I am an Anthropologist, trained at the University of Florida and the University of South Florida. My current research is on improving health care delivery for veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This is anthropology because I use anthropological theories and methods to find out what is going on in veteran health care systems from multiple points of view–veterans, health care providers, and key administrators. I use both qualitative and quantitative methods to help policy makers and health care professionals provide the best care to Florida’s veterans.
Melissa Pope: I am a Biological Anthropologist, trained in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida. My research is on estimating the amount of time between when a person dies and when the body is discovered. This research helps to reconstruct events surrounding unexpected deaths, and is particularly critical in cases of homicide, where the time of death is essential to establishing investigative leads and helping solve a crime. Estimating when a person died is highly dependent on the geographic region and the social context. I collaborate with local law enforcement agencies as well as the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office so that my research will better assist them in forensic investigations within the Tampa Bay area. All forensic evidence is subject to the judicial system’s high standards for admittance into court. It is imperative that my research is quantified, accurate, reflexive and relevant. Therefore, my research is not only scientific, but also has broader application to the forensic community and the greater public.
Jason E. Miller: I am an Anthropologist, trained at the University of South Florida. I moved to Florida specifically because Florida was one of only a few states that offered a degree in Applied Anthropology. In that time, I have received grants, gotten jobs, purchased a house and contributed to the economic success of this state in many other ways. My own research is focused on helping Florida parents, children and families of many different backgrounds experience a better quality of life, a strong education and access to state-of-the-art health care. Anthropologists are uniquely suited to do this kind of work because we work to understand people and the social systems in which they live. In my work, I facilitate conversations between parents, youth, schools, health care providers and other community groups to bring about positive social change. These groups often have similar goals, but do not always speak the same “language.” The work of the anthropologist is to help bring these constituencies together and build a stronger community.
Maressa Dixon: For nearly a decade, anthropologists at the University of South Florida have been awarded millions of research dollars from the National Science Foundation to conduct research on the reasons students enter and stay in rigorous STEM fields. If STEM education is important, knowing what draws students to these fields and makes them successful is even more-so. Currently our work at the Alliance for Applied Research in Education and Anthropology (USF Tampa), lead by Dr. Kathy Borman, investigates the factors within Florida’s career academies and accelerated programs that influence students’ STEM course-taking throughout high school and into college and career. We talk to people and observe in schools to understand what is working and what needs improvement, and then we combine these findings with statistical analyses of larger populations to understand to what extent these trends are reflected in different areas of the state. In essence, we have dedicated our work to improving the very STEM education programs that have only recently become a priority to policymakers in the state.
Janelle Christensen: I am a Medical Anthropologist, trained at U.C. Santa Barbara and the University of South Florida. My research is on improving hurricane preparedness for families who are caring for someone with dementia in Florida. I am collaborating with a Florida based agency, Alzheimer’s Community Care, to help caregivers improve their disaster plans. This is anthropology because I have gone to live and work with the people from whom I want to learn. I use scientific methods and mathematics in my research design, but I put these findings into context by talking with the people my research is supposed to help.
Nolan Kline: I am an Anthropologist trained at the University of South Florida. My research has focused on access to health services among agricultural workers in Florida. I have collaborated with faith-based organizations to understand how they aid needy populations that have few primary care options available to them. This is anthropology because I look at how non-government organizations help populations that cannot access regular health services. These populations ultimately visit emergent rooms when their health needs are greatest and most costly. In my work, I have used structured interview techniques and food security surveys to measure poverty and understand how faith-based organizations provide care to people who cannot afford health insurance, and how these organizations save our entire health system money by treating patents before they end up going to an emergency room.
Elizabeth Danforth: I am an Anthropologist trained at the University of South Florida. I am currently working to create effective services for people with disabilities who have experienced sexual abuse. People with disabilities have unique cultural and structural factors which define their lives, and risks in regard to sexual violence. They also have unique healing processes, and unique perspectives on the services they need in response to abuse. I am currently conducting an ethnographic needs assessment, based in part on methods pioneered by anthropology faculty at the University of South Florida. The programs developed from this anthropological needs assessment will serve as a national model for disability support organizations and trauma services.
Carylanna Taylor: I am an Anthropologist, trained at the University of South Florida. I have worked with an interdisciplinary team through the USF Sustainable Communities field school to access hurricane preparedness among mobile home and immigrant populations in Ruskin County. My research with Honduran immigrants in Florida and New York documents the contribution that Floridians make to international community development and natural resource management efforts.
Ethel Saryee: I am an Anthropologist that has begun work with South Florida Refugees. Florida is the largest refugee relocation center in the United States that currently relocates 27,210 persons annually. These refugees become Florida residents. Adverse health conditions due to persecution in their home nations puts refugees at higher risk for negative health outcomes such as chronic diseases. I am working with the departments of health to help gather data that will inform programs to help refugees maneuver the complex food systems and barriers in hopes to reduce chronic disease. This is anthropology because I use statistics and people’s voices from the communities to identify the best ways to reduce risky health behaviors. By doing this I hope to decrease the cost and burden of chronic disease for the state of Florida and to increase the quality of life for Florida residents.
Margeaux Chavez: I am an Anthropologist, trained at the University of South Florida. I work for the Alliance for Applied Research in Education and Anthropology (AAREA) at USF. As an organization, we collaborate with the Florida Department of Education, United States Department of Education, various Florida school districts, and the National Science Foundation. This organization has created jobs and brought millions of dollars to our communities. Our multi-disciplinary team researches STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) based curricula and programming in the state of Florida from kindergarten through college. This is anthropology because we work as an interdisciplinary team, using qualitative and quantitative scientific methodology to investigate and evaluate the impact of the educational reforms paid for by tax dollars. We use science to help solve the problems facing our communities. The statistics/ data used by Rick Scott to extol the virtues of STEM education at the expense of other disciplines are brought to you by anthropologists.
Robert Cowherd: I am a Medical Anthropologist, trained at the University of South Florida. In the past year I have done research with a Florida-based agency that has helped improve access to healthcare for Farmworkers in the state of Florida. This is anthropology because I have worked along side farmworkers and medical practitioners to understand both the needs of the farmworkers and the barriers to care faced by the medical community serving this population. Using the scientific method, advanced statistics and interviews with farmworkers, nurses and doctors working in the field, I was able to make recommendations that resulted in improved medication distribution and the implementation of a diabetes education program.
Gina Larsen: I am proud to call myself an Anthropologist, trained at the University of South Florida. I am working on a large-scale grant with other anthropologists, biologists, and geographers, focusing on how the redistribution of groundwater from rural areas of the Tampa Bay region to urban areas affects both humans and the environment (lakes and wetlands). This is anthropology at work because local resident voices are the basis of the research, as in-depth interviews with residents are a key component of our study. Our highly interdisciplinary research team is conducting important work in Florida by measuring the health of local ecosystems and sharing local resident views pertaining to the way our water is managed.
Robert D. Bowers: I received both my B.A. and my M.A. in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida. I research poverty, race and homelessness. I have worked on assessing a homeless shelter program to improve outcomes for their clients. As an applied anthropologist, I am an advocate for the poor and I work to expose and fight racism. I also have training as an archaeologist and I am currently helping to do bone chemistry analysis on cold-case skeletons found in Hillsborough County. This will help to provide information to identify the individuals and hopefully bring closure to the cases.
David McCormick: I am an anthropologist, trained at the University of South Florida who has worked both in the United States and Honduras. I have worked on various archaeological surveys in conjunction with infrastructure development in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. My thesis work has explored the applications of existing technology to answer questions of chemical composition. Working in Honduras I have had the chance to work with the National Government and the Indigenous Community to foster archaeological tourism. Most recently, I worked as a contractor for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in developing and administering training sessions for adults and adolescents on the subject of “Race” in the United States.
Rebecca Campbell: I have been trained in Anthropology at the University of South Florida. My research looks at the ways that students speak (like their language, dialect, or accent) as well as the ideas about how students should speak and how that influences their school experiences. I research how teachers can best connect with students who might use non-Standard speech. This is anthropology because I compare different speech patterns and examine the context of these educational experiences. Next year, I will spend many hours observing classrooms and interviewing teachers to learn about effective strategies to best help students. In addition to anthropology, I use methods from fields like math (statistics), sociology, and linguistics to analyze my work. This research will help inform teachers and researchers of better ways to educate to ensure that schools teach better for all students no matter what subject is being taught.
Kara McGinnis: I am an Anthropologist trained at the University of South Florida. I work with refugee resettlement agencies and ethnic community-based organizations (ECBOs) to assess the health needs of new refugee populations, especially the Burmese. Florida takes in more refugees than any other state, and beginning in 2007 the numbers of Burmese have increased dramatically. Using vigorous research designs and quantitative and qualitative methods, I provide resettlement agencies and local organizations information to help them recognize refugee health needs they might not have been aware of. This is anthropology because I pay special attention to the interactions of refugees with their new communities and the differences between the many ethnic groups within the “Burmese” that may affect their health beliefs and needs. By addressing the health needs of refugees early in their resettlement, we can help save FL money by preventing and/or managing health issues before they become future, expensive, problems.
Stefan Krause: I am an anthropologist, trained at the University of North Florida, San Diego State University, and now at the University of South Florida. My previous research has dealt with understanding the impacts of tourism on coastal communities in developing countries so that they can be better prepared culturally, economically and environmentally. This past year I have also been involved with two projects helping a local Tampa community protect and preserve its unique heritage. Understanding the importance and dynamics of culture is vital to a society’s health and progress. This is why I am proud to call myself an anthropologist. Through scientific methods, we can document, describe, and study culture so that we can in turn contribute to its well-being.
Ashley Meredith: I am an anthropologist in the applied anthropology doctoral program at University of South Florida. In Florida within the past year, I have worked with doctors at a local cancer center to understand patients’ perceptions with cancer and at the cancer center. This is important for informing health policies. Last fall, my colleagues and I developed a project for understanding transportation behavior because Tampa is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for pedestrians and bicyclists, among alternative modes of transportation to automobiles. In Alaska, Dr. David Fazzino and I focused on access to healthy food, perceptions of healthy eating, and agricultural overproduction in the United States. This information was useful in fighting hunger in Fairbanks Northstar Borough by informing foodbanks of where food goes and from where it comes as well as learning about food placement and understanding how perceptions of healthy eating are informed. Additionally, my team and I collaborated with Native Alaskan groups and the Alaska Native Language Center to document dying languages in Alaska and reproduce materials for speakers to teach their children in their native tongue. It is through their language they learn how to use technology and improve their lives, not technology first. In Hawai’i, I focused on the impacts of tourism on Hawaiian culture. This research helps inform policies to improve outcomes of tourism, including health of the hosting locale and its people. In Guatemala, I worked with a community desiring ecotourism as a sustainable solution to poverty for their village. This helped inform sustainable tourism practices as they moved forward with their plans. Lastly, and most importantly, all of this research is anthropology because I use anthropological methods to find out how humans are affected by current policies in place and use the data to solve human problems.