New Graduate Students


Vaness   Vanessa Armenta

BA Anthropology archaeology and biological option, Cal State University East Bay

Language Spoken: 
English and Spanish

Archaeology, physical anthropology, Latinx archaeology, and all things Disney.

Area of Expertise: Contemporary archaeology. 

Past Research:
 Conducted a garbology research project with other colleagues at a park located in Fruitvale, Oakland. Through the collection of garbage we were not only able to identify particular patterns conducted by age groups, but also came up with a variety of suggestions to aid in reducing the amount of trash and unwanted behavior.

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. - Walt Disney

Chioma Aso 

BA Anthropology, University of California Berkeley

Language Spoken: English, Conversational Spanish, Basic Korean

Interests: Ethnography, User Experience Research, Technology, Web Design, Qualitative Research.

Area of Expertise: Socio-Cultural Anthropology.

Past Research: Ethnographic research on gyms and the negotiation between body image and anti-shaming politics; contemporary social analysis of localized terrorism, ethnic warfare, and extremism in the U.S.; exploration of the use of TEPCO Beach ceramics as mementos.

“Villains of industry seek to deprive us of our humanity. Scientists, scholars, and designers prevail, and now a new profession flourishes, turning man's submission to technology into technology's submission to man.” - Leah Buley 


Dawn Burns 

BA Anthropology California State University, Long Beach

Languages Spoken:

Neanderthal cognition, Neanderthal ecological connection to megafauna, Neanderthal capacity for art, lingering biases about Neanderthals within the field of Anthropology. Anthropology of Consciousness – shamanism, animism, ritual, spirituality (and its origins), witchcraft. Visual Anthropology, both ethnographic photography and the study of Paleolithic cave art 

Area of Expertise:
Visual Anthropology (cultural photographic essays with written ethnographies). Neanderthals (in progress)!

Past Research: 
Santa Muerte, Goddess of Death: Veneration of a Mexican Folk Saint in MacArthur Park, Los Angeles presented at the 116th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, the 88th Annual Conference of the Southwestern Anthropological Association, and the California State University, Long Beach Department of Anthropology 2017 Visual Anthropology Showcase.

Venice Beach: A Soul Synthesis presented at 87th Annual Conference of the Southwestern Anthropological Association

Neanderthals and Paleolithic Cave Art: Did They Hold the Paintbrush? presented at California State University, Long Beach 2016 Student Research Competition.

Never Nappy: Retaining Cultural Identity through Hairstyling Rituals in a Skid Row Homeless Shelter presented at 114th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association.

“Anthropology is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities.” - Alfred L. Kroeber


Milton Canas-Chinchilla

BS Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

Languages Spoken: 
English and Spanish

 Bio - archaeology, Medical Anthropology, Psychological Anthropology, Epidemiology, and Human Osteology to name a few. 

Area of Expertise:
 My focus is on the physiological correlations between enviornmental, and socioeconomic factors which which are the determinants that influence health, illness, and disease. 

Past Research: My past research has consisted of analyzing healthcare models between the patient and physician to create a uniform relationship that influences  appropriate treatment response and preventive measures of disease and illness. 

Kristen Constanza

BA Anthropology, SJSU
MA Applied Anthropology  (Expected) 

Languages Spoken: English and Spanish

Interests: Immigration, forensic anthropology, human osteology, prison systems, physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, archaeology, and Issues on race and class. 

Area of Expertise: Physical anthropology and forensic studies.

Past Research: Dining Services Project (SJSU 2017), Food Culture Project (SJSu 2017). 

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” - Audre Lorde 


Ashley Estrada 

BA in Behavioral Science from San Jose State University

Languages Spoken: English

Interests: Traveling, cultural immersion.

Area of Expertise: Human behavior and interaction.

Past Research: "Films and Good Craic in Ireland", San Jose State Faculty - Led Study Abroad Program, 2017, The County of Santa Clara Government Fellowship Program - Roads and Airport Department, 2018.

"Success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives." - Michelle Obama 

Kevin Kochever
BA Behavioral Science from San Jose State University

Language Spoken:

Interests: Technology, astronomy, debate, philosophy, automation, eceonomics, gaming, education, fiction, outdoors.

Area of Expertise: I've done most of my research into the design of public and private spaces as they relate to the ongoing development of autonomous vehicles. 

Past Research: Autonomous vehicles (see above); analyses of 'dating app' trends and behaviors; crowdfunding, the sharing/gig economy, and the producer and consumer-investor relationship.

What is better: to be born good or to overcome your evil nature through great effort." - Paarthurnax, Skyrim  

Sanja   Sanja Kolarevic Pesich

BA in English Language and Literature, Universtiy of Nis, Serbia MBA, Marketing Management and Leading People and Organizations, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California 

Languages Spoken: 
English, Serbo-Croatian, Russian

Social Entrepreneurship, researching fear-driven decisions leading to wars as well as dysfunctional behavior in work environments. 

Past Research: A serial entrepreneur with businesses experience in former Yugoslavia and California. More than ten years of experience working in marketing roles for both for-profit and non-profit organizations.  

Jasmine   Jasmine Low 

BA Cultural Anthropology

Language Spoken: English, Spanish, Italian, and music 

Interests: Qualitative design research, graphic design, community arts & culture, environmental stewardship.

Area of Expertise: Qualitative research methods and hospitality, small - business, and non-profit service design.

Past Research: Host - guest perceptions and power structures in a national park town in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. 

No one - no indigenous group, no specialist science, no doctrine or philosophy-holds the key to the future, if only we could find it. We have to make the future for ourselves, but that can only be done through dialogue. Anthropology's role is to expand the scope of this dialogue: to make a conversation of human life itself. - Tim Ingold and Caroline Gatt 

Melanie   Melanie Maxwell Bailey 

BA Anthropology (Archaeology), Saint Mary's College of California 

Language Spoken: English

Interests: Business anthropology, small business culture, technology and culture change, women in business, cooking, eating, YouTube and makeup.  

Area of Expertise: Small Business, QuickBooks Online, 3rd party accounting application integrations 

Past Research: Fort Ross Windmill Project (2008), Maui, Hawai'i-Hawai'i Past and Present (2010), Narratives around Native Americans in Northern California Museums (2015)

Shelbie Taylor 

Masters of Education - Merrimack College 

Languages Spoken: English, limited Japanese, Mandarin, and French 

Africa Diaspora spiritualties & religion, social justice education, LGBTQ + studies, anthropology of education, pedagogy & teaching, fiber arts 

Area of Expertise:
Academic affairs and student life in Higher Education

Past Research: Masters Capstone - The Anthropology of Higher Education: An Undergraduate Course.

“When we drop fear, we can draw nearer to people, we can draw nearer to the earth, we can draw nearer to all the heavenly creatures that surround us.” – Bell Books

Brett   Brett Witteck  

UC Santa Cruz '18

Languages Spoken: English

Interests: Queer identity and communities, pop culture, queer culture, music and sound.  

Past Research: Experience and understanding of sound through dance and movement.

And the most important thing, I think, with creativity is that you honor your creativity and that you don’t ever ignore it or go against what that creative image is telling you because of what society is projecting on you” – Lady Gaga



Stephanie Zambrano 

University of California Berkeley Bachelors of Art - Anthropology, Minor - Global Poverty and Practice 

Languages Spoken: Spanish and English 

User Analysis, Resource Allocation, Technology, the Built Environment 

Area of Expertise: 
Low income Marginalized communities

Past Research: Youth Infrastructure Ethnography, Excerpt.