drone POV students walking in red square, evening sun casting their shadows in silhouette on the ground

Anthropology Newsletter

Student Stories, Alumni Updates and Faculty News

Welcome New Professors!

Dr. Marianne Brasil is a biological anthropologist who studies skeletal evolution and variation in humans and monkeys. Her research spans work in the field, museum, and lab to investigate human origins. She is thrilled to be joining the vibrant faculty in the Anthropology Department at Western in the fall of this year, and is excited to work with Western students and welcome them into her lab! 

Dr. Brasil holding a laptop that shows her congrats letter from WWU

Dr. Natalie Baloy is a cultural anthropologist and new faculty member in the WWU Department of Anthropology. Natalie earned her PhD at the University of British Columbia, where she studied urban settler colonialism in Vancouver, BC. Prior to joining the department, Natalie completed a postdoc at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and worked as the Associate Director of Canada House Programs at WWU (the Border Policy Research Institute, the Center for Canadian-American Studies, and the Salish Sea Institute). 

Natalie holding daughter Cleo on her hip

Dr. Mariangela Mihai is a sociocultural and visual anthropologist and filmmaker whose work builds on decolonial, intersectional feminists, and sensory ethnographic methods to understand Christian Indigenous resistance on the India-Bangladesh-Myanmar borderlands. She served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Global Media and Film, in the Culture and Politics Program (CULP) at Georgetown, an interdisciplinary program that focuses on questions of power and inequality, globally. Her interdisciplinary and multimodal research, transnational teaching and activism, and  long-term commitment to engaged pedagogy and public scholarship have led her to this position, as an Assistant Professor in Anthropology at WWU.

black and white portrait with striking shadows


Dr. Jerald Ek (Jerry) is an archaeologist with research interests in community-based participatory research, indigenizing archaeology, human-environmental interactions, and political economy. After spending most of his career focusing on the Maya Lowlands region of Mesoamerica, he has shifted focus to the Salish Sea region. 

In front of Mount Baker
Dr. Bocast headshot with a rustic mixed wood panel background

Visiting Professor

Dr. Brooke Bocast is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Anthropology for 2023-2024. While at Western Washington, Brooke will be developing her next book project about the politics of sentiment and semiotics of resistance among diaspora activists in Uganda’s National Unity Platform/People Power Freedom Movement.

DEPT Highlights

jack presenting his archaeology paper next to a screen with PowerPoint
Jack Tillman, Senior Anthropology- Archaeology major and the department's WWU Outstanding Graduate 2023, presenting his paper "Pots, Pendants, and Picrolite: Bidirectional Interaction in Cyprus During the Third Millennium BCE" at the Anthropology Scholars Week Conference 

Students receive awards and recognition at the annual Anthropology Scholars Week Conference 

2023 Outstanding Student Research Award recipients:

Lily Berver “Gender and Repression in Argentina’s Last Dictatorship”

Luke Heinen “Art Against Tyranny: Ukraine’s Resistance of Occupation Through Cultural Expression”

Payton Hyatt & Laila Kleven “Unsettling the Settler Teacher: An Indigenized Inquiry into American Public Education.”

In 2022-2023, students participated in the following conferences: Unsettling Landscapes Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Seattle WA; Renewal 76th Annual Northwest Anthropology Conference in Spokane WA; and the Society for American Archaeology Conference in Portland, OR.

students sit in a row together waiting to present at the AAAs
Researchers in the Medical Anthropology Lab presentation at the American Anthropological Association. From Left: Hunch (Service Dog) and “Spike” L. C. Osadchuk, Cori Knight, Dan Hargrave, Sean Bruna, Rhiannon Joker, Tori Bianchi, Caitlin Millard, and G McGrew’s Backpack. Photo by G McGrew.

Professor Monson traveled to multiple conferences in 2023, including the recent American Association of Biological Anthropology meetings in Reno, NV to present her paper:

2022. Tesla MonsonTeeth, prenatal growth rates, and the evolution of human-like pregnancy in later HomoAnthropology

Tesla holding a cast of a hominid jaw with teeth between racks of archived specimens

ANTH 476 Borderlands

In this experiential bioregional course that includes local field trips, students examine histories, politics, and lived experiences of the land and marine borders of the Salish Sea and across the continent. Students compare and contrast our region's border stories with borderlands around the world. Professor Natalie Baloy

U.S. and Canadian Border marker/monument


Museology Internship ANTH 470

ANTH 470 is designed to expose students to the workings and issues of museums through "hands-on" experience, readings, and written work. 


ANTH 312 Field Course in Archaeology

The x̌ʷiq̓ʷix̌ʷalqʷuʔ (Blue Water) Archaeological Project is a community-based participatory research program designed to reorient archaeological practice to address the concerns of indigenous communities and promote greater inclusiveness in perspectives, accessibility, and representation in our field. Professor Jerry Ek serves as a co-director with three colleagues from the Stillaguamish Tribe's Cultural Department. The formation of this project involved the reorientation of the WWU Archaeological Field School as an Indigenous-led program centered on local knowledge, tribal research priorities, capacity building, and promotion of unmitigated Indigenous sovereignty over intellectual property. The first season of this new partnership was an unmitigated success, and we will build on the foundation created this summer in 2023 and beyond. 

student participating in canoe journey 2022 summer field school
Canoe Journey from Camano Island, 2022 Field Season
of the x̌ʷiq̓ʷix̌ʷalqʷuʔ (Blue Water) Archaeological Project


2022 Peter Miterko & Sean BrunaReframing sense of community with photovoice: perspectives from residents of a permanent supportive housing program who have experienced chronic homelessness, Journal of Community Practice

torso of a person in sweatpants that read "the struggle is real"
Figure 1. “The struggle is real.” Photo by Samantha.

2022 Tesla MonsonTeeth, prenatal growth rates, and the evolution of human-like pregnancy in later HomoAnthropology

4 different skull casts
A series of hominid craniums (clockwise from the left): juvenile Australopithecus, juvenile chimpanzee, adult chimpanzee, adult Australopithecus, adult Homo erectus. Photo by Tesla Monson

Articles featuring Monson's research:

NewScientistOur ancestors’ prenatal growth sped up after we split from chimps

Phys.org: Hominid prenatal growth rates found to have increased after lineage split from chimps

ScienceWe evolved to grow in the womb rapidly—even before we were human: Finding opens up a new way to study ancient human pregnancy

Riff Reporter. Evolution: Wie der Mensch zu seinem großen Gehirn kam und was die Schwangerschaft damit zu tun hat 

Science Alert. There's a Weird Link Between Teeth And The Evolution of Pregnancy

Western Today. Our ancestors’ prenatal growth sped up after we split from chimps

2022 Jerald EkThe inflection points in formative Maya history: the view from the Champotón, Campeche, MexicoAncient Mesoamerica

Cartography: Early Middle Formative ceramic spheres in the Maya area.

2022 Sobocinski, KL, CD Harvell, NJK Baloy, G Broadhurst, MN Dethier, A Flower, and J Delaney. Urban Seas as Hotspots of Stress in the Anthropocene Ocean: The Salish Sea Example. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene 10(1). 

elementa logo, a graphic that resembles flower pedals
Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene

2014 Judith PineAuthenticity of the Sign: Travels of a Lahu Song. Erudit 

highlighted quote from the article "polyvocality that facilitates complex, fluid indexical connections."

About Anthropology

students working on a dig

The discipline of anthropology studies humans in all the cultures of the world, both past and present. This includes humanity's evolution, physical development, and the wide diversity of lifestyles people have created.

Anthropology has three main goals: first, providing a deep understanding of humans, both past and present; second, analyzing and organizing the knowledge gained and making it accessible; and third, engaging in the practical application of anthropology to various areas of contemporary human behavior.

Read more about anthropology and its subdisciplines- cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology and medical and genetic anthropology.