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Anthropology Mentors

Anthropology Skills and Knowledge Mentorship Program

If you have a question about anthropology…. …then just ASK!

Anthropology Skills and Knowledge is a mentorship program where graduate students volunteer their time to answer questions that undergraduate students may have about anthropology.  Our mission is to help undergraduates students achieve their academic goals by sharing our own experiences and providing an informal discussion forum where undergraduates can connect with graduate students and faculty members.  In addition to learning about opportunities in the anthropology program at McMaster, members of ASK can also help with:

 • preparing a CV  • getting letters of reference  • how to apply for graduate studies
 • volunteering  • jobs in anthropology  • external grants (OGS, SSHRC)
 • publishing  • scholarships  • independent studies
 • internships  • research opportunities  • conferences

Check out the mentor profiles below and feel free to contact anyone of us with your questions, and if someone’s research or expertise sounds interesting to you….then just ASK


Kari Carter, MA Student 

ASK key words: applying to graduate programs, working in CRM, completing an independent study, field schools, grant applications, writing abstracts, North American archaeology. 

My MA research looks at chemical signatures that characterize the intensity of human activity at archaeological shell midden sites on the central coast of British Columbia. I am hoping this work will provide new insights into the history and organization of settlement in this region. I am more broadly interested in North American archaeology over multiple time scales and in the application of earth science techniques to archaeological problems. Although not the focus of my current research, I am also interested in the archaeology of colonialism, and in ethnohistory. My experience has been primarily in northern British Columbia, where I completed a field school and worked on subsequent excavations. I also worked as a consulting archaeologist for three seasons in the region. I would be happy to discuss CRM with anyone who is interested. I would also gladly chat about applying to master's programs, applying for scholarships, working on independent studies, preparing for conferences, or doing fieldwork. I will do my best to answer any questions with anecdotes and good insight!


Ana Duggan, Post-Doctoral Fellow

B.Sc Hons (Memorial University of Newfoundland) M.Sc (Queen's University) PhD (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology / University of Leipzig)

ASK Key words: Molecular anthropology, ancient DNA, human genetics, populations genetics, genetics of infectious disease, grad school applications, post-grad Dugganapplications

My interests are broadly encompassed by molecular anthropology, evolution and population genetics, by the historical inferences we can make from genetic analyses. In the past, I have used phylogenies and phylogeography of modern human populations in Oceania to infer ancient migrations and population interactions. My current research interests involve using ancient DNA studies to reconstruct the genome of historical pathogens to examine the evolution and epidemiology of disease in ancient human populations as well as the population history of Native American groups from Canada's East Coast. I am more than happy to chat with anyone interested in the application of genetics to anthropology as well as anyone considering applying to grad school or post-grad positions.


Sarah Duignan, PhD Student  

Hons. B.Sc. Anthropology (Trent University, 2013); MA Biological Anthropology (University of Manitoba 2015)

ASK key words: archaeology; bioarchaeology; osteology; medical anthropology; obesity and body perception; stable isotope analysis; field school applications; grad school applications; conferences

During my undergrad I had a heavy focus on archaeology and completed several seasons of field work excavating a Mayan site in Belize. My MA research used stable isotope analysis to interpret mobility during the medieval period of Denmark. My doctoral research focuses on body perception in relation to obesity and dietary change amongst immigrant youth in Canada. My work will focus on immigrant adolescents in Hamilton, ON, exploring how dietary acculturation and obesity rates impact body perceptions through time. My work provides an opportunity to identify barriers to healthy body images and healthy eating, and will explore the complex social, cultural, economic, and biological factors influencing obesity rates amongst immigrant youth. 


Kaitlin (Katie) East, PhD Student 

B.A. Anthropology (with honors) and Archaeology, Brown University; M.A. Anthropology, University of Central Florida

ASK key words: Finding field schools, preparing a CV, graduate school applications, conferences, international students, bioarchaeology, osteology, paleopathology

My interests include studies of stress and violence in the ancient past, focusing particularly on skeletal injury and trauma. I hope to combine biological and cultural approaches to such questions to explore the lived experiences of individuals in relations to questions of risk, response, and resiliency. The research for my Master’s degree focused on the application of stable isotope analysis to questions of lived experience and social identity. I have participated in a number of archaeological and bioarchaeological field schools in the United States and internationally, and have volunteered on numerous archaeological projects in the US. I have worked as a TA and attended and presented at conferences. I am interested in mentoring students because I feel I would have benefited greatly from additional advice and direction in my early studies. I would be happy to speak with students and share my experiences about bioarchaeology, field schools, or graduate studies. I would especially be interested in sharing my insight about field work opportunities and graduate schools in the United States.


Becky Gilmour, PhD Candidate 


ASK Key words: grad school applications, field schools and international field work, apply to graduate school in the UK, bioarchaeology, palaeopathology, archaeology, finding funding

I completed my M.Sc. on Roman trauma at Aquincum, Budapest, at Durham University under the supervision of Drs. Rebecca Gowland and Charlotte Roberts. My B.A. (Hons) research at Simon Fraser University (Dr. Mark Skinner) investigated the forensic relevance of carnivore-digested bone fragmentation. For my Ph.D. at McMaster, I am working with Drs. Megan Brickley and Tracy Prowse to explore the long-term consequences of healed limb fractures in ancient Roman civilian contexts from the UK, Austria, Hungary, and Italy. Using morphological and radiographic analyses, I hope to find evidence for functional loss and impairment as it occurs after an arm or leg fracture. I aim to use this information to better understand the injury risks, longevity of trauma, and lived experiences of the northern Roman frontier and Italian core residents.

Allee Holland, PhD Candidate
ASK Key words: grad school applications, preparing a CV, scholarships, grants (both SSHRC and CIHR), conferences, finding field schools, historic archaeology, bioarchaeology, osteology, medical anthropology, food and nutrition, non-academic archaeology jobs

My research draws on biological, medical and nutritional anthropology to investigate the relationship between perceptions of the chronic disease osteoporosis and nutrition choices in young adults. I use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to explore how ideas of osteoporosis risk are developed by young adults and how they are applied to decisions about food and nutrition. While my PhD research concerns the intersection between food and disease, I have a Master's in bioarchaeology that focused on paleopathology in ancient Inca skeletal remains using digital imaging. I have worked on a number of archaeological sites in North America and Europe, both as an archaeologist and as a biological anthropologist. Additionally, I have worked as a contract archaeologist in Ontario for the past 3 years. I have experience in a number of different areas and would be happy to speak with students about archaeology, biological  or medical anthropology. I routinely present at conferences and have participated in a number of field schools so I would be pleased to pass along my experiences. I am interested in mentoring students because I was mentored by a graduate student when I was an undergraduate and I found the experience to be extremely helpful.


Madeleine Mant, PhD Candidate

Hons. BA Anthropology (University of Alberta)Mant, MSc Palaeopathology (Durham University, UK)

ASK Key words: Museology, Palaeopathology; Osteology; Graduate school applications (UK); Funding applications; Canadian history

My research is concerned with the identification of perimortem trauma- injuries occuring around the time of death-in archaeological skeletal remains. I seek to more readily identify perimortem trauma by studying the skeletal remains of individuals from 19th Century London, UK. I am interested in the biocultural context, coupling the study of skeletal remains with their cultural and historical background. I worked as a historical interpreter and researcher, and can give insight into the process of archival research and oral interviews.  I am interested in mentoring undergraduates because I benefited from the advice of higher-level students throughout my undergraduate years and hope to pass some of my experience along! I would be particularly happy to discuss questions regarding postgraduate studies in the UK. I participated in a cemetery excavation field school in Poland and, having just gone through the process myself, would be pleased to discuss graduate school and funding applications.



Priscilla Medeiros, PhD Candidate
MedeirosBA Anthropology (McMaster University), MA Medical Anthropology (University of New Brunswick)

ASK Key words: Volunteering, graduate school applications, conferences, applying for scholarships (OGS, CIHR).

My research interests within Medical Anthropology include globalization, gender and sexuality, global health systems, cross-cultural assessment, illness narratives, and the social/political dimensions of HIV/AIDS. My PhD dissertation will examine the recent changing paradigm of HIV/AIDS policy through the perspective of community-based HIV agencies and women living with HIV-AIDS in Atlantic Canada. Specifically, my work will document the needs of women to evaluate how policy changes are affecting their well-being. I have experience volunteering with a number of community-based organizations, actively participating in conferences, and working as a TA. As an undergraduate student, I benefited from peer mentoring programs and look forward to sharing my knowledge on the topics outlined in the preceding ASK list.


Murchie 2Tyler Murchie, PhD Student  

BSc (hons) in Archaeology (University of Calgary), MA in Archaeology (University of Calgary)

ASK Key Words: grad school applications, preparing a CV, scholarships/grants (SSHRC), conferences, publishing, basic arcGIS, archaeological method (microtraces, zooarky, lithics, morphometrics, etc.), North American archaeology (specifically plains, Mesoamerican, subarctic, and arctic), Ancient Greece, ancient DNA, and cultural resource management

My current research interests concern ancient DNA and its application to zooarchaeological datasets to understand paleodemography in archaeological hunter gatherers in Beringia. I’ve conducted research previously in zooarchaeology, lithic analysis, morphometric statistics, and paleogenetics. My undergraduate degree focussed on cross-disciplinary archaeological methods, while my masters was concerned with specializing in paleogenetics and taking course work in stable isotopes, physical geography, and archaeological theory. I worked for Stantec Inc. for four years in Alberta and Saskatchewan as an archaeological field worker, conducting site mitigations and archaeological survey for oil and gas development. I frequently present at conferences, have a peer-reviewed publication (with 3 manuscripts in prep for future publications), have received SSHRC funding, and consistently apply to a variety of small funding sources (with high success rates). I initially found grad school applications and scholarship/grant writing to be a stressful and enigmatic process; I would certainly wish to help anyone navigate those seemingly challenging obstacles in order to avoid the pitfalls that I myself encountered.


Jarred Rundle, PhD Student 

ASK Keywords: Forensic Anthropology, Trauma Analysis, Physical Anthropology,  Paleopathology


I graduated with a BA (Honours) in Anthropology from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2013. I continued my education at the University of Waterloo where I completed an M.A. in Public Issues Anthropology under the supervision of Dr. Maria Liston and graduated in June of 2015. My M.A. research focused on the effects of fire on the preservation of modern ballistic trauma in skeletal remains in a forensic context.


My doctoral research was inspired by both my MA thesis research and an undergraduate thesis that I wrote in 2013, and is interested in examining the evolution of ballistic trauma in skeletal remains associated with conflict and war. My research will specifically focus on the evolution of trauma between 1750s-1850s and will examine the remains of soldiers who fought in various conflicts like: the War of 1812, Napoleonic Wars and American Civil War. The objective here is to document and compare the severity of the trauma between the collections. In addition to examining historical specimens, my doctoral research will also involve an experimental aspect which will utilize the use of historic weapons and firearms in an attempt to replicate the battlefield trauma seen on the historical remains. Through the combined use of these methods it is hoped that an accurate and thorough understanding of how advancements in weapon technology can alter the appearance of trauma in the skeletal collection.



Lisa Semchuk, MA Student  
BA Hons. in Anthropology (University of Manitoba)

ASK Keywords: physical anthropology, bioarchaeology, medical anthropology, applying to graduate programs, field school applications, volunteering, research opportunities, conferences, grants and scholarships.


My research interests are in the study of diet, inequality, health, and well-being across past and present populations. My MA research involves using stable isotope analysis to study Roman diet. Other research projects I have worked on include topics such as the use of height from driver's licenses in forensic anthropology, food security in remote Inuit communities, and health care programs for Yukon First Nations. I have also worked on a mortuary archaeology field school in Poland. The mentorship I received from graduate students has opened me up to many different opportunities in anthropology, and I aim to do the same for undergraduate students at McMaster. 


Daina Stanley, PhD Candidate  
Hons. BA (Anthropology & Criminology), MA (Anthropology) Daina Stanley picUniversity of Ottawa

ASK Key words: Graduate school applications, conferences, preparing a CV, funding applications, reviewer and editorial experience

My research interests, broadly speaking, include medical anthropology, public health, community-based research, prison ethnography, health and illness, care and caregiving, morality and prisoners. My PhD dissertation will centre on prisoners' engagement with caregiving in a maximum-security hospice in California. I will draw on ethnographic methods to explore the connection between discipline and care, the formation of moral personhood in prison, and the kinds of moral prisoners within prison walls. I have worked as a community-based researcher, a clinical research assistant and a teacher's assistant. I also have experience working as both an editor and a reviewer for peer-reviewed journals and have presented at several conferences. I would be happy to share my insights and experiences and to answer any questions.


Lauren Wallace, PhD Candidate   wallalj@mcmaster.caLauren Wallace ASK Mentor
Hons. BAS (Bachelor of Arts and Science), University of Guelph, MA Anthropology (McMaster University)

ASK Key words: Medical Anthropology, Public Health, Applying to Graduate School, Publishing, Conferences, Applying for Scholarships (OGS, CIHR)

My Master's approaches health research using community-based participatory methods. I will work in the Upper East Region of Ghana in collaboration with the Navrongo Health Research Centre on a health issue identified by the community. During my undergraduate degree I was involved in a few different research projects, including public health research in Ghana and nutritional research in Cambodia. I benefited extensively from having student mentors during my undergraduate degree. I would be particularly interested in mentoring students who are completing graduate school applications, which I realize can be a daunting process.


Peter Wallace, MA Student   Wallace P

BA Archaeology (Simon Fraser University), Certificate in Cultural Resource Management (Simon Fraser University)

ASK Keywords: Archaeology, Osteology, FTIR, Soil Micromorphology, Jobs in Anthropology, Volunteering, Field School, Human Evolution, Letter's of reference, Graduate applications

Hello everyone. Feel free to ask me any questions and I will do my best to answer them! I am an archaeologist working on a Late Bronze Age (LBA) site in Cyprus. I have exhumed 13th century AD human remains and worked in a roman house in Navarre, Spain; TA'd a course on human remains (osteology) in Changchun, China; researched site formation processes and material composition in Kalavasos, Cyprus (11-16th century BC); and dug in an Upper Palaeolithic (30-50kya) cave in Manot, Israel. My interests are very varied (as hopefully yours are) but currently they are simmering around geological processes in relation to archaeological sites and how optical/chemical signatures can help identify said processes. I also have an interest in taphonomy, preservation, zooarcaheology and soil formation. And yes, I do enjoy watching the Indiana Jones Trilogy.


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