Graduate Students

Gary Abarca Gary Abarca | Web Site

Emily T. Andrews Emily T. Andrews
authorship, intellectual property, online ethnography, narrative, performance, contemporary legend | Web Site

Chima Michael Anyadike-Danes
Mongolia, Los Angeles, Post-Socialism, Mobility and Migration, Placemaking, Recognition | Web Site

Nandita Badami Nandita Badami | Web Site

Ante Bagic | Web Site

Cristina Teresa Bejarano | Web Site

Admitted in 2007. Cristina completed her MA in applied anthropology with an emphasis in medical anthropology in 2007. She is interested in the areas of social and cultural studies of science, medical anthropology, history, and Latin American studies.

Michael Anthony Briante
Biotechnology, regenerative medicine, stem cells and finance, securities law, intellectual property, speculation, post-colonialism, STS, medical anthropology | Web Site

Admitted in 2011. Michael Briante holds a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Davis and an M.A. in Anthropology from UC Irvine. Before coming to UCI, he conducted extensive fieldwork in a volunteer community clinic in Sacramento, focusing on issues such as access to primary healthcare and knowledge production in the laboratory and clinic. 

His graduate research investigates the relationship between the life sciences, finance, and law. Specifically, he is concerned with the burgeoning field of regenerative medicine in the context of recent changes in legal and financial governace, the speculative infrastructure in the United States, and offshore markets associated with the industry. 


Emily Brooks Emily Brooks
water and deserts, extreme environments, science and technology studies, ecology, expert knowledge, disaster, climate change, Western United States | Web Site | CV

Admitted 2011. Emily holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Reed College, and an M.A. in Anthropology from UCI. Before coming to UCI, she worked in biobehavioral and clinical research support with the University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Cancer Consortium. Her graduate research investigates the science and cultural politics of slow ecological disasters through a focus on water scarcity, climate change, and applied environmental science in the southern California desert. Her current interests include: applied science and technology, cosmology and cosmography, materiality, environmental disasters, and the cultural history of human-centered ecologies in the Western United States. She is affiliated with the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center, and is currently collaborating with Dr. Valerie Olson on a project to study participatory science and water management in the threshold-driven system of Borrego Springs Valley, California.


Colin William Cahill Colin William Cahill
anthropologies of medicine, science and technology; Indonesia; colonial hygiene programs; embodiment; ontology; animal studies; naturecultures; labor studies | Web Site

Admitted in 2010. Colin received his B.A. in Anthropology and Peace and Conflict Studies from Haverford College, and his M.A. in Anthropology from UC Irvine. He has been working in Indonesia since 2004 on projects related to subjectivity, identity politics, representation, marginality, street art, art collectives, and public space, and his projects have been supported by the Haverford College Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (2004, 2005), the Freeman Foundation/ASIANetwork (2006), and the Fulbright Program (2009-2010).

Colin’s current research is based on Indonesian civet farms, and looks at human-animal interactions, health-making practices, public health initiatives, and Islamic conceptions of purity and cleanliness. His project brings together analyses of colonial health regimes and agricultural and labor politics, placing them in conversation with the contributions of animal studies and the ontological turn in anthropology to contemporary understandings of the nature-culture binary.

Luzilda Carrillo Luzilda Carrillo
diversity, expertise, transnational feminism, neoliberal subjectivity | Web Site

Aleksandra Maria Chmielewski
Collaborations, Museums, Nontransparency, Public and private resources, Design, Fakes and copies, Professionals, Anthropology of history, China | Web Site | CV

Admitted in 2009. Leksa holds a BA from Duke University. Her dissertation project examines how museum designers, academics, local government officials and building contractors in and around Shanghai collaborate and compete to create new museums. As Chinese state and local government money has begun pouring into the emerging field of museum production, the roles of the actors involved are no sooner defined than they are redefined. The project investigates how actors’ understandings of themselves as public or private entities are realigned through their collaborations and production activities, and also how different types of collaborations result in different narratives of history in exhibitions. This is not a story of propaganda, but of iterations of everyday creativity, copies, fakes, artistic avant-garde production and general workaday slogging. The project studies the relationship between form and content through visual analysis of museums, newly-constructed “old towns,” city planning exhibition centers and history-themed tourist destinations. Through participant observation of museum design and government meetings, it examines the relationship between collaborations, material design, the retelling of history and the changing public and private roles of officials and professionals in China. This research is supported by the Fulbright Program, 2012-2013. Currently in field.

Joshua Clark
law, rights, United Nations, the state, Latin America, difference and discrimination, epistemology, ethnography | Web Site

Admitted in 2009. Advanced to candidacy June 2012.

Josh holds a B.A. in Political Science from Butler University and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. His studies at UT focused on nationalism, multiculturalism, international human rights law, and the politics of indigenous peoples and peoples of African descent. He conducted thesis fieldwork in El Salvador on nascent forms of indigenous recognition, and also participated in a research delegation to Colombia to investigate the implementation of laws designed to provide Afro-Colombian communities with collective lands. Josh’s current research uses ethnographic methods to analyze the UN human rights treaty system, its oversight mechanisms, and their effects on state practices. Specifically, his multi-sited fieldwork examines how methods for evaluating implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) distinguish, define, and conceptualize various forms of racial discrimination as objects of human rights knowledge and state obligation.  Conceptual issues explored include jurisdiction, responsibility, interpretation, verification, expert knowledge and judgment, evidence and belief, dialogue, commensurability, and the formation of individual and collective subjects.

Josh's research has been generously supported by grants from the National Science Foundation's Law and Social Sciences and Cultural Anthropology programs; UC Irvine's Center for Unconventional Security Affairs; and UC Irvine's Graduate Program in Anthropology.

Field sites: Central America; UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Nathan Coben Nathan Coben | Web Site

Admitted in 2011. Nathan studies property in the context of the real estate bubble and subsequent austerity in Ireland. 

Benjamin Cox Benjamin Cox
Counter/Piracy, East Africa, Indian Ocean, Rule of Law, Security | Web Site | CV

Admitted in 2010. Ben holds an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Religious Studies, with concentrations in African Religions and Islam, from the University of Virginia. He researches the nexus of counterpiracy initiatives, the rule of law, security, and politics in the wake of the phenomenon of maritime piracy in the Horn of Africa. 

Marc Dacosta | Web Site

Ann Elizabeth DeLuca Ann Elizabeth DeLuca
aging, dementia, caretaking, health care, Turkey, neuroscience | Web Site

Cheryl Deutsch | Web Site

Admitted in 2009. Cheryl received her BA in Women's Studies from the George Washington University in 2006. On a Shapiro Traveling Fellowship, she then spent a year studying street vendors' organizing against supermarkets in Bombay and across India, followed by two years working with an Indian human rights NGO on the issues of street vendors' legalization and social security for informal workers. She is interested in how gender is mediated through consumption and the market in contemporary India. More broadly, she is interested in the idea of the informal economy, social movements, NGOs, political economy, space, theory, and good street food.

Nathan Dobson Nathan Dobson | Web Site

Garrison Lee Doreck Garrison Lee Doreck
Islam, Muslim minorities, Liberalism, Secularism, Advocacy, Bureaucracy, Policy, US | Web Site

Garrison's current research examines how Muslim immigrant minorities conduct political advocacy through epistemic and embodied practices that formulate relationships between religion and liberal secular democracy in the US. Admitted in 2011.

Mark Durocher | Web Site

Admitted in 2008, Mark received his BA in History from Princeton University and his MA in Middle Eastern Studies from NYU. His work at NYU that inspired his pursuit of anthropology at Irvine was on the convergence and tension of liberal political discourses and Islamist ethical and political projects such as Hezbollah's in Lebanon. Subsequently, he has turned the gaze back and reactivated a long-time interest in American Studies to examine how practices of consumerism serve as major engines of self and social formation in contemporary America. His own research focuses on the new web, social and mobile analytics that are introducing new research forms and models of the social into marketing practice. He is conducting his research in New York City.

Melissa Lauren Gang Melissa Lauren Gang
anthropology of medicine, feminist anthropology, medical humanitarianism, international conflict, indigenous justice mechanisms, post-colonial societies | Web Site

Padma Govindan
ethics, subject formation, development, entrepreneurship, anti-trafficking, India, affect theory, phenomenology, social movements | Web Site

Admitted 2010. Padma received her B.A. in sociology and anthropology from Middlebury College in 2005 and her M.A. in anthropology from Columbia University in 2010. She spent four years in Chennai, India where she founded a non-profit organization, The Shakti Center for Gender and Sexuality Advocacy, for which she remains on the board in an advisory capacity. Padma works in the fields of gender studies, the anthropology of affect, and the study of social movements. Her current research interests center on American organizations that intervene into poverty and marginalization in India through a variety of approaches--anti-trafficking, development, and public health, among them. More particularly, in her research she focuses on emotion work and affect as significant factors shaping the trajectory and politics of various social movements and development projects to end poverty and violence in the global South, as well as the importance of ethical subject formation in drawing young Americans to social justice work abroad. 

Mariel Edith Gruszko Mariel Edith Gruszko | Web Site

Georgia Hartman Georgia Hartman
property, urban planning, infrastructure, expert knowledge, CancĂșn | Web Site

Admitted in 2010. Georgia received her B.A. in Anthropology from Pitzer College in 2003. Following graduation she received a Fulbright Fellowship to Turkey where she researched Turkish university student's perceptions of foreigners. Upon her return to the U.S., her interests shifted to the subject of migration and human rights in the United States. In 2010 she received an M.A. in Latin American Studies with a concentration in International Migration from the University of California, San Diego. Her thesis research focused on the effect of the economic crisis on migration and settlement decisions of migrants and non-migrants from Yucatan, Mexico.

Michael Hurley
landscape, memory, nation, waterways, Bangkok, Siam/Thailand | Web Site

Eun Hae Jeong | Web Site

Admitted in 2007. She is currently studying reproductive technologies in South Korea. She is specifically interested in the production and use of genetic knowledge in reproductive technologies, as well in the field of adoption. Her broader interests include the development of genetic science and bioethics in South Korea.

Robert Kett
science and technology studies, material culture, historical anthropology, anthropology of Latin America, pre-Columbian art, archives | Web Site | CV

Admitted in 2009. BM in Music and International Studies from Northwestern University. Robert's work engages science and technology studies, the anthropology of art and material culture, historical anthropology, and the anthropology of Latin America. It centers on archaeological, industrial and natural scientific extraction in southern Mexico in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, examining how these projects generate resources and scientific objects and dramatically alter the region in the process. 

Alexander Knoepflmacher Alexander Knoepflmacher | Web Site

Gregory Kohler Gregory Kohler
Italy, corporations, bureaucracy, accounting, linguistic anthropology, power and authority, value, identity | Web Site

Yimin Lai Yimin Lai | Web Site

Matthew Riley Lane
Commodity forms; recycling; scrapping; scrappers; green economies; Chicago, Los Angeles and Mumbai, India | Web Site


Admitted 2009 

Research Interests:

The commodity form; green economics; commodity circuits and interruptions; scrappers and scrapping; things; shipping, ships and shipbreaking; the transport and movement of bodies and things; global sea ports; environmental stewardship; ontologies of trash, waste, and rubbish; greenwashing; corporate social responsibility (CSR) discourse; money; urbanity; seas; natural elements: earth, air, water, wind, fire; nature; recycling; dwelling; steel manufacturing and use.

Matt’s research centers upon the commodification of metallic objects discarded from households (obsolete scrap) and industrial metal scrap recycling. Currently, Matt is conducting 18 months of research on the global trade of scrap metals in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Mumbai, as well as other sites of metal recycling and casting throughout the subcontinent of India.

His research project, entitled Scrap: The Social Life of Recyclable Metals in the United States and India, has been supported by the following organizations:

The National Science Foundation (NSF DDRIG); The American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS); UC Berkeley’s Center for Human Rights; UCLA Institute for Work and Labor Studies; UC Irvine Center for Asian Studies; UC Irvine Anthropology Department.

Matt holds degrees in literature and anthropology from the University of Florida; an M.Ed in English from the University of Florida; and an MA in Social Sciences (Anthropology Cohort) from the University of Chicago. He spent the first six years of his career teaching English, anthropology and creative writing in Virginia.



Janny Li
anthropology of religion, 19th century religion-science debates, history of experiments, pragmatism, phenomenology, and science and technology studies | Web Site | CV

Admitted in 2008. Anthropology (Asian Humanities Minor), B.A. 2006 UCLA.
From 2003-2006, she conducted fieldwork in Los Angeles, London, Taiwan,
and Hong Kong resulting in an undergraduate thesis exploring the religious
conversion and missionary practices of Buddhist nuns at the Fo Guang Shan

Currently, her dissertation project “Spectral Science: Into the
Experimental World of Ghost Hunters” explores how ghost hunters, past and
present, design experiments or “ghost hunts” in order to transform
invisible and ephemeral ghosts into empirical objects of inquiry. More
specifically, she examine how ghost hunters conceive of and do the work of
paranormal research, often engaging with gut feelings, learned gestures,
trained perception, and re-purposed scientific instruments (e.g.,
geophones, thermal imaging cameras), to create research protocols,
standards of evidence, and communities of practice.

Sean Mallin Sean Mallin
law and property, ethics and aesthetics, land use, urban history, wetlands, New Orleans | Web Site

Admitted in 2009. Sean received his BA in Economics and Policy Studies from the University of Notre Dame. His disseration research uses vacant property as a lens onto debates over the meaning of recovery and community in post-Katrina New Orleans.

His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation Cultural Anthropology and Law and Social Sciences programs, as well as the Center in Law, Society, and Culture and the School of Social Sciences at UCI.

Eudelio Martinez | Web Site

Admitted in 2006, Eudelio grew up in a small farming community in Central Washington State. He received his B.A. in Anthropology from Eastern Washington University. His present research focuses on the consumption of instant ramen in Mexico. Eudelio is particularly interested in understanding the relationship between the liberalization of the Mexican economy, a process that culminated in 2007 with the full implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the increased consumption of processed foods-including instant ramen-by both rural and urban Mexicans. Some theoretical issues that he addresses in his project include: the role that cultural context plays in the localization strategies employed by food-related transnational corporations in their operations abroad, and the relationship between macrolevel shifts in trade and governance-like NAFTA-and the emergence of new landscapes of food accessibility and scarcity.

Kimberley Danielle Mckinson | Web Site

Colin Mclaughlin-alcock Colin Mclaughlin-alcock
Anthropology of news media and news production, public spheres, politics of representation, Egypt, Middle East | Web Site

Elham Mireshghi | Web Site

Admitted in 2007. Elham received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley where she also completed a minor in Anthropology. She also has experience working in the intellectual property arena and is a licensed patent agent. Her interests are currently quite varied and range from globalization, mass media, visual anthropology and popular culture to technology, intellectual property, and medical anthropology. She hopes to conduct her research in the Middle East (particularly Iran).

Alberto Eduardo Morales | Web Site

Megan Neal Megan Neal | Web Site

Taylor Campbell Nelms Taylor Campbell Nelms
political, legal, economic anthro; money, value, markets, finance; bureaucracy, states; alternative economies, digital currencies; STS, SSF; Ecuador, the Andes | Web Site

Admitted in 2008, Taylor previously studied at the University of Cambridge and The Ohio State University. His dissertation, "Popular and Solidarity Economies: Money and the Social in Post-Dollarization Ecuador, "is based on eighteen months of fieldwork with retail market vendors and family and neighborhood savings and credit associations in and around Quito, Ecuador, as well as with the policymakers and bureaucrats who have turned to such “popular” economic groups for inspiration in developing alternative “social” models of economy. This research links efforts to develop a so-called "popular and solidarity economy" to the official adoption of the US dollar as Ecuador's sole legal tender through inquiry into the social and material infrastructures subtending collective financial and political practice—including money. Taylor has also written on zombie banks and the recent financial crisis, mobile money, emerging payment technologies, and Bitcoin. His research has been supported by the Wenner-Grenn Foundation for Anthropological Research, among other sources.

Justin Dieter Andres Perez Justin Dieter Andres Perez | Web Site

Admitted in 2011.  Justin received his BA in Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame in 2010.  As the recipient of a Boren Undergraduate Scholarship in 2008, he studied at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima, earning a Certificate in Peruvian Studies.  His present interests include sport, gender, and sexuality.

Simone Alexandria Popperl Simone Alexandria Popperl
Sovereignty, tourism, commodity chains, settler colonialisms | Web Site

Admitted in 2011. Simone received her B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service in 2009. In her undergraduate thesis, she analyzed emic and etic cultural representations of the Gaza Strip between the British Mandate era and Operation Cast Lead in 2008. Before joining the department, she spent two years studying Arabic and working as a research assistant in Doha, Qatar. Her current research concerns logics of sovereignty in the Dead Sea area. 

Stephen Campbell Rea
embodiment, human-computer interaction, labor, South Korea | Web Site

Admitted in 2008. Stephen holds an AM in Social Sciences from The University of Chicago (2005) and a BA in Cross-Cultural Relations from Simon's Rock College of Bard (2003). Stephen's current research interests focus on institutional disciplining of embodied behavior among online computer gamers in South Korea.

Elizabeth Anne Reddy
seismic science, geophysics, structural engineering, public policy, Mexico, expertise, land and landscape, sensory technology, research paradigms | Web Site

Admitted in 2010. Elizabeth holds an M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago, where she studied Mexican public policy, and a B.A. in Anthropology from Reed College, where she studied independent publishing communities and sculpture. She has done research on the health care and self-care systems of kidney patients and their families at Northwestern University's Institute for Healthcare Studies. Interested in regimes of knowledge and expertise, she is currently focusing on questions surrounding seismic science and public policy in Mexico City.

Rebecca Richart Rebecca Richart | Web Site

Morgan Lynn Romine | Web Site

Admitted in 2007. Morgan Romine is a third year PhD student at the University of California, Irvine. She received her BA in cultural anthropology from UC Berkeley in 2003. Before beginning her graduate studies at UCI, she spent four years with video game publisher Ubisoft in San Francisco, CA doing community management and online marketing while also managing an all-female team of professional video gamers sponsored by Ubisoft. Morgan’s current research interests include sociality in online video game communities, collaborative and competitive gaming practices, social networking and communications technology, constructions of gender in gamer culture, and design practices within game development studios. Her dissertation research aims to look at how social phenomena like deviance (ie. griefing), addiction, and complex collaborative efforts (ie. dungeon raids) are produced by how players and makers jointly imagine and interact with their online game world. She has received funding for her research from the Department of Anthropology, the School of Social Sciences, and the Intel/UCI People and Practices Research initiative for which she is currently doing a study of Xbox Live gamers. She is a graduate research assistant for the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion.

Daina Sanchez Daina Sanchez
indigenous migration, identity, belonging, ritual, usos y costumbres, 1.5 and 2nd generation transnationalism | Web Site

Admitted in 2011. Daina received her B.A. in Ethnic Studies and History from the University of San Diego in 2011. Her current project examines issues of identity and belonging among the children of indigenous Oaxacan migrants living in Los Angeles, California. 

Nick Seaver Nick Seaver
algorithms, classification, taste, sound studies, science and technology studies, the history of quantitative anthropological methods | Web Site | CV

Admitted in 2010. Nick holds an SM in Comparative Media Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BA in Literature from Yale University.

Nick's research investigates the uses of technology to reproduce, organize, and disseminate sonic materials. Previous research projects have involved the history of automatic piano recordings and the relationship between "noise" music and the history of audio recording fidelity. His current research investigates the design of algorithmic music recommendation, exploring how engineers' cultural theories about taste and music influence the production of software systems.

Mindy Wynn Tauberg Mindy Wynn Tauberg
Youth identity formation, Muslim Americans, transnational and interfaith families, immigration, diaspora, online communities | Web Site

Admitted in 2012. Mindy graduated from Oberlin College in 2008 with a BA in Anthropology and East Asian Studies.  In her undergraduate thesis she investigated identity formation among students who were children of interfaith couples. Mindy went on to obtain an MA in Elementary Education from Teachers College in 2010 and taught in New York City public schools.  

Heather Thomas
autism spectrum disorders, diagnosis and identity formation, social media, narrative | Web Site

Natali Theresa Valdez | Web Site

Admitted in 2009

Josef N. Wieland
Brazil, semiprecious gemstones, commodity chains, anthropology of markets | Web Site

Josef's research explores the production, circulation, and uses of Brazilian gemstones. Using semiotic and phenomenological modes of inquiry, his work addresses how miners, wholesalers, retailers, and energy healers imagine and communicate their bodily encounters with crystals' seeming inherent energetic properties. Specifically, Josef asks how these energy encounter narratives might shape the political-ecological dimensions of mining near Diamantina, Brazil, crystal healing practices in southern California, and global crystal market more broadly.

Melissa Wrapp Melissa Wrapp
informal settlements, urban inequality, property and law, media and perception, identity, Cape Town | Web Site | CV

Lydia Catherine Zacher
medical anthropology, anthropology of science and technology, midwifery, Mexico, women\'s health | Web Site

Admitted in 2008. Lydia received her BA in Gender Studies and Latin American Studies in 2002 from the University of Chicago. She spent four years traveling between Mexico and the US before graduate school working with midwives and women's health organizations. Her research has focused on the institutionalization of midwifery and midwifery education in Mexico. She is interested in the ways in which international development frames and impacts women's bodies, and how processes of standardization force differentiations between local models of health care. Her work draws from the fields of Medical Anthropology, the Anthropology of Science and Technology, and Global Health. 

Sana Zaidi | Web Site

Admitted in 2008.

Leah Brooke Zani Leah Brooke Zani
prosthetics, maiming, embodiment, Southeast Asia, Buddhism, animism, STS, medical anthropology | Web Site

Admitted in 2011. Leah received her BA from Lewis & Clark College in 2008, where she majored in Sociology and Anthropology, with honors, and minored in Religious Studies. Leah is exploring the different ways that we animate matter, paying particular attention to how embodiment is mediated by religion and nonhuman agency. In her thesis research, she explored how tumors and anti-cancer drugs acquire agency through religion, producing different kinds of science for differently religious people. In her current work, Leah is examining the embodiment of prosthetics in Laos within that region’s legacy of wartime violence and continuing maiming due to landmines. Through this research, she will inquire into the intimate politics of how people conceive of new types of bodies: bodies with augmented limbs, or no limbs at all.  Located at the intersection of embodiment and nationalism, this research aims to explain how Theravada Buddhism has come to shape a specifically Lao form of embodied politics that links individual loss of limb with collective loss.

Shaozeng Zhang | Web Site

Admitted in 2007. Shaozeng received a B.A. in sociology and a M.A. in anthropology from Peking University, China. He is currently working on his dissertation project about the ongoing process of making carbon credit payment policy in the Brazilian Amazon based on the new CO2 emission reduction scheme of REDD (Reduced Emission through Deforesation and Degradation), (to be) approved by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2009. Shaozeng's research looks at the coproduction of expert knowledge and politics in Brazil's REDD policymaking in the shifting context of global climate change politics.

Ather Zia | Web Site

Admitted in 2008. Ather Zia is from Kashmir. Her research interests lie in the issues of conflict, media, gender and human rights. She wants to explore the critical and cultural theories of communication, feminism, human rights, and nationalism in conjunction with postcolonial theory in order to yield a broader understanding of women’s agency and contextualized narratives. She has two Masters Degrees, one in Mass Communication and Journalism from Kashmir University and another in Communication from Cal State University Fullerton. Before coming to U.S. on a Fellowship she has had varied experiences as a journalist with BBC, administrator with Kashmir Government, writer, activist, and a teacher. Ather has several publications to her credit including a book on poetry. She continues to be a part of social justice projects and is editing an e-zine titled Kashmir Lit.



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