Deconstructing the Silos: Bridging the Gap Between "Applied" and "Academic" Anthropology

  • 15 Apr 2014
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Sumner School


Registration is closed

Deconstructing the Silos: Bridging the Gap Between "Applied" and "Academic" Anthropology

Date:  Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Time:  7:00 pm

Location:  Sumner School

Pre-meeting get-together: 5:30 pm, Beacon Bar and Grill. Registration is helpful for planning purposes, but is NOT required.  To register, click on the link at the bottom of the message.

The student representatives of WAPA invite you to attend a panel discussion with esteemed anthropologists Courtney Dowdall, Suzanne Heurtin-Roberts, Eleanor King, and Kerry Lessard as we tackle the issue of academic anthropology vs. applied research. It is a tension that we all feel, especially as students and young professionals pursuing careers both in and outside of the university setting; and one that creates unnecessary barriers between theory and practice. Instead of maintaining their separation, this panel seeks to provide space to learn from those who are successfully navigating between the applied and academic worlds, and hear their insights on challenges and opportunities for next generation anthropologists.


Elizabeth Van Dolah, M.A.A. is a doctoral student at the University of Maryland studying environmental anthropology. After several years of working with Chesapeake environmental management programs, Elizabeth pursued graduate studies in anthropology to contribute to broadening understandings of the human dimensions of environmental issues. She is particularly interested in applied research that sits at the boundaries of interdisciplinary work and enhances community-based environmental management in coastal regions. Her research to date has focused on investigating the underlying socio-cultural and socio-political drivers and processes that affect community response to harmful algal blooms mitigation in the Chesapeake Bay region. For her doctoral research, she is interested in exploring the political ecology of ‘place’ construction, and understanding the implications of place-making processes on socio-ecological resilience.

Amelia Jamison is finishing her Master's in Applied Anthropology at the University of Maryland. Her research is focused on understanding the intersections of medical anthropology and the practice of public health, with a particular emphasis on racial/ethnic health disparities. Her next step is to pursue an M.P.H. in Social Epidemiology.


Courtney Dowdall, Ph.D.
Courtney Dowdall is a professional anthropologist specializing in program evaluation and development studies. She earned her PhD in global and sociocultural studies with an emphasis in anthropology from Florida International University in 2012. Her dissertation research employed a mixed-method, multi-site comparison to evaluate market-based development programs centered on alternative markets for coffee. She co-authored a book with Ryan Klotz titled “Pesticides and Global Health: Understanding Agrochemical Dependence and Investing in Sustainable Solutions,” published by Left Coast Press in 2013 as the first volume in the Anthropology and Global Public Health series.

As Professional Fellow at the American Anthropological Association (AAA), Courtney works as researcher and program manager for Academic Affairs and Professional Services, identifying opportunities for AAA to enhance existing programs and create new services that provide educational and professional support to members. In addition to managing AAA’s research efforts, she has concentrated on developing support for professional anthropologists – increasing awareness among students and anthropology programs of diverse career paths in anthropology and the contributions of anthropologists working outside the professoriate.

Suzanne Heurtin-Roberts, Ph.D., MSW
Suzanne Heurtin-Roberts is a Health Scientist and member of the National Cancer Institute’s Implementation Science Team. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland, College Park. Suzanne currently leads the My Own Health Report Project, a pragmatic trial of the use of patient reported information about behavioral health risks in primary care. Suzanne received a PhD in Medical Anthropology from UCSF/ UC Berkeley, an MSW from UC Berkeley, and a MA Medical Sociology from the University of New Orleans. Her interests include the integration of primary care and public health, persons with multiple chronic conditions, the contextualization of health, and implementation science. She co-chairs the NIH’s Anthropology Interest group and the AAA’s Committee on Public Policy. Suzanne has published in implementation science, culture and chronic illness, adherence, health disparities, and mental health services research. Her current focus is to bring more anthropology into Implementation Science.

Eleanor King, Ph.D.
Eleanor M. King is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Howard University. She is an archaeologist specializing in Mesoamerican archaeology, with a specific focus on the Maya and their economies. She also studies the interaction of Buffalo Soldiers and the Apache in the Southwest during the Apache Wars. Other research and writing interests include heritage studies, pre-collegiate education in archaeology, and the under-representation of minorities and other groups in the anthropological profession. She has served on the Public Education Committee of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) and is currently Chair of the SAA’s Committee on the Status of Women in Archaeology. She also serves on the WAPA board and is WAPA’s president-in-waiting. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000.

Kerry Hawk Lessard, M.A.A.
Kerry Hawk Lessard (Shawnee) is an applied medical anthropologist working in Baltimore, Maryland. As a lifelong resident and member of the local urban American Indian community, Lessard’s professional experience and academic interests center on the health status of her community. She is particularly focused on issues of HIV/AIDS, substance abuse prevention, access to care, health literacy, and culturally appropriate health promotion/disease prevention initiatives. Solidly grounded in historical trauma and decolonization theory, Lessard strives to create environments that empower the community in uncovering what Freire calls “limit situations” and to respond to those challenges in overtly indigenous ways. Lessard’s approach leans heavily upon participatory decision-making and community based initiatives aimed at remediating the impacts of microagression and historical trauma and growing healthier a American Indian community.

How to get there:  The Sumner School is located at 1201 17th St NW (corner of 17th St and M St NW).  The entrance to the meeting area is on 17th St under the black metal stairway. Directions from Metro Red Line: From Farragut North station, take either L St exit, walk one block east to 17th St, turn left and walk 2 blocks north.  Enter the building through the double doors under the black metal staircase.  MEETING ROOM:  Rotating Gallery G-4 (ground floor)

Pre-meeting:  Beacon Bar & Grill (one block north of Sumner School)

How to get there:  The Beacon Bar & Grill is in the Beacon Hotel located at 1615 Rhode Island Ave NW (corner of Rhode Island and 17th St).  Directions from Metro Red Line Farragut North station: take either L St exit, walk one block east to 17th St, turn left and walk 3 blocks north (one block past Sumner School).  All are welcome.

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