Meet the 2023-24 First-Year Graduate Cohort

The Department of Anthropology is thrilled to welcome its 2023-24 first-year graduate cohort to Brown! From socio-cultural and medical anthropology to linguistic and environmental, this year's cohort brings a full spectrum of research interests.

The Department of Anthropology is thrilled to welcome its 2023-24 first-year graduate cohort to Brown! From socio-cultural and medical anthropology to linguistic and environmental, this year's cohort brings a full spectrum of research interests. 

Click through the following profiles to learn more about each new community member: 

Gonzalo Aguirre"My name is Gonzalo Aguirre and I'm from Chile. I earned a B.A. in Anthropology from the Catholic University of Chile and an M.A. in Sociology from Alberto Hurtado University.

Throughout my career, I have participated in several research projects on topics such as tourism and indigenous peoples, entrepreneurship, incarceration, knowledge production, and climate change. In recent years, my interests have focused on two areas: conservation and knowledge production. During my time as a graduate student, I would like to develop a multi-species ethnography focusing on the coexistence of humans and non-human animals in protected areas of Chilean Patagonia. Patagonia is currently a highly contested territory by actors interested in its natural resources, scenic beauty, and biodiversity. I am interested in observing ethnographically the practices and devices that allow the generation of knowledge about the species that inhabit protected areas. I would like to develop my research in interdisciplinary settings that allow for collaboration between different forms of knowledge related to conservation practices.

Before coming to Brown, I began to engage with science, technology, and society studies – an area that I would like to continue to explore at Brown. I conducted a laboratory ethnography on the production of climate change in Chile. This research has led to a couple of publications: on the circulation of knowledge between the global South and North, and on interdisciplinary work in climate science. In recent years, I have worked on research focused on private conservation in southern Chile and on the conservation of alerce trees in a national park in southern Chile.

I am very happy to start my Ph.D. studies at Brown this year and to be part of the Department of Anthropology. What excites me most is the opportunity to work with professors and colleagues with such diverse experiences and specialties. It will undoubtedly be an experience that will open up my world and help me develop the best research I can."

Creighton Burns "My name is Creighton Burns, I graduated with the Class of 2023 at Purdue University with a B.A. in Anthropology and a focus on environmental toxicity and medical humanities. 

Supported and funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, my research engages with US communities socially and ecologically impacted by toxic legacies from the United States’ “war on terror.” By evaluating perceptions of national security and the military normal against a backdrop of toxicity and neoliberal expansion of corporate capitalism, I seek to hone in on domestic forms of resistance and refusal to US military projects to explore the ways in which insurgent living reinforces kinship bonds and makes living and dying well possible in militarized-toxified environments.

In addition to my own research, I am a collaborator on two community engaged research projects in the United States and Iraq examining the social and health consequences of ecological devastation. By unearthing histories of military production and chemical introduction alongside the economic, political, and material arrangements that made them possible, we focus on and advocate alongside the lived experiences and expertise of local residents in the pursuit of reconciliation, remediation, and repair.

I am thrilled to be joining the program and learning from scholars both within the department and across the University, such as those affiliated with the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society and Brown’s Costs of War project. 

During my time in the graduate program, I hope to foster exploratory, interactive research between grassroot social movements and the academy to forward political organizing, knowledge production, and transnational solidarity."

Mira Guth "My name is Mira Guth and I hold a B.A. from Wesleyan University in the Science in Society Program, with concentrations in anthropology and environmental science. This summer I will graduate from the University of Oslo (UiO) with an MPhil in Development, Environment, and Cultural Change. 

My research interests lie at the intersection of environmental and medical anthropology, with a focus in Science & Technology Studies. With the support of a Fulbright grant at UiO, I had the opportunity to write a master's thesis examining the role of veterinarians in the public health issue of antimicrobial resistance. My project involved ethnographic fieldwork with livestock veterinarians and dairy farmers in California. At Wesleyan, my undergraduate thesis centered on a centuries-old apple orchard in New England, investigating the politics of land, nature, and labor.

At Brown, I plan to build on my master's thesis to study the position of veterinarians at the tense interface of agriculture and public health, exploring themes of multispecies care, expertise, and health governance on a changing planet. I am looking forward to joining Brown's vibrant intellectual community of faculty and fellow students to further develop my research interests and training."

Moisés Herrera-Parra "My research focuses on diet, foodways, and agricultural practices of the pre-Hispanic Classic Maya (300-900 AD) in the Middle Usumacinta region in Mexico. Using a paleoethnobotanical approach that involves identifying starch grains, phytoliths, and macrobotanical remains, my research aims to comprehend the combinations, cooking techniques, ancient culinary preferences, and their social connotations. Lately, my research has delved into exploring how past ingredients and cooking activities may have stimulated sensory experiences, thereby influencing the daily lives of the Maya people. More broadly, I am interested by the intricate interplay between the senses, food, and agricultural production practices within Maya society."

Ashley J. May "Ashley J. May graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.A. in Women’s Studies - Feminist Theory and Policy Studies concentration (‘01) and from the University of Southern California with an M.S. in Education, focusing on the psychocultural contexts of education (‘04).

Before coming to Brown, Ashley worked for many years in child care subsidy research and advocacy serving children and families in South Los Angeles, California. During her most recent project, funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Ashley developed and piloted a program tasked at promoting healing and community capacity building for home based caregivers and children (birth to five).

Notably, Ashley continues to organize woodland gatherings in Baldwin Hills, CA to better understand informal networks of care within the South Los Angeles community. This work, which began in 2018, has grown into a collective effort to re-imagine how communities care for each other outside of red tape and formalized systems of compliance. Ashley archives these experiments in collective dreaming through a three-volume research zine and oral history project titled Thirty Sunsets and a Moon. This work is held at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Black Feminist Archive and the Barnard College Special Collections Zine Library.

While at Brown, Ashley will draw upon archival and ethnographic methods to examine an initial set of questions which seeks to understand the folk beliefs, rituals, and values that nourish Black children’s worldmaking, how they encounter a place in relation to its many histories, human and more-than-human, and the quotidian practices Black children and their kin engage in to create sanctuary in the ongoing presence of subjection.

Ashley looks forward to the rich opportunities for cross departmental collaboration at Brown. She is particularly interested in opportunities to think with the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, the Pembroke Center’s Black Feminist Theory Project, as well as the Ruth J. Simmons Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. And, as a collector of vintage children’s books authored and illustrated by Black writers, poets, and artists, Ashley is especially excited to explore the Pillar Children's Literature Archive."

Madeline Nicholson "At Brown, I will be training to be a socio-cultural and medical anthropologist, with a focus on reproductive healthcare and adoption. I am interested in the ways in which medical and legal systems intertwine and impact the reproductive experiences of women of color in the United States and Scandinavia. My thesis at Colorado College utilized organizational ethnography to explore community and legal based strategies to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and defend Indigenous kinship systems in Minneapolis, MN. 

My prior field work experiences include participatory action research in partnership with Indigenous border and environmental activists along the Texas - Mexico border, ethnographic research on identity development among transnational adoptees in Norway, and archival research on Indigenous curandera healing traditions in New Mexico. 

While at Brown I aim to dive deeply into the role reproductive oppression and justice plays in shaping the child welfare system and reproductive healthcare. I am honored to be joining the program at Brown and its community of scholars."

Daniel Krugman "I graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in anthropology in 2021, and an MSPH in International Health from Johns Hopkins University in 2023

Broadly, I study how people imagine and enact social change at the intersections of cultural, medical, and linguistic anthropology. I do this through ethnographically examining humanitarian and Global Health projects in East Africa. Paying particular attention to how certain words and discourses conceptualizing change are circulated around the world, the connections between these industries and neoliberal capitalist expansion, and manifestations of (de)coloniality, I seek to understand how certain ideas of how societies change take power over others and the consequences that. 

From observing and documenting how rebellious and anarchistic South Sudanese refugees in Northern Uganda transgress and counter the concept of being a ‘refugee’ to interrogating how Johns Hopkins International Health faculty use the word 'decolonization' to frame and understand efforts to change the field of Global Health, my projects are underpinned by a commitment to abolitionist thinking and politics. I believe alternate possibilities to what is considered 'global health' and 'humanitarianism' can exist, and anthropological inquiry is an incredibly useful way to map the contours of these possibilities. 

At Brown, I plan to continue this research through examining the contradictions and struggles of Kenyan global and public health workers attempting to 'decolonize' their practices and the global social arena that framed their work. I also hope to explore globally funded and connected mutual aid networks in Nairobi and Mombasa and what they tell about alternate visions of “global health.”

I could not be more excited to join such a supportive and thoughtful academic community. Over the next years at Brown, I am looking forward to further developing this research and new questions through working closely with professors and fellow students in the department."