We hear today from second-year UNLV graduate student A'liciah Carr. A'liciah: could you please tell us about your research interests, including the focus of your ongoing MA research?
My research interests are in biocultural and evolutionary anthropology. My ongoing MA research is taking place at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica. At this university, there is a 3:1 female to male sex ratio. Given that past studies have indicated that people generally prefer to form romantic relationships with others who are equally educated as themselves, I hope to understand how women choose their mates when relatively few are available to them.
In summer 2021, you participated in a three-week Cultural Anthropology Methods Program (CAMP) sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Could you tell us about the application process, including how you found this opportunity?
CAMP is a three-week program provided by the National Science Foundation and ASU. Typically, it takes place in San Diego. However, this summer, it was all virtual due to the pandemic. The first week we watched videos provided by many notable anthropologists around the country detailing how to use different methods to get the most effective and accurate results from your research. The following two weeks were filled with lectures and interactive sessions between the 20 of us students. We also were able to get one-on-one time with the mentors where we were able to ask them any questions we wanted to know regarding methods, career advice, or any general advice they may have for graduate students.
The application process was short. It’s online on the website, and it asks about your research interests, some demographic information, and why you want to participate in the program. You also must submit a letter of recommendation. I don’t believe that the application is currently open, but it will likely appear on the website closer to the spring semester.
I learned about methods camp through my advisor (Dr. Peter Gray), who sent me an email about the opportunity because he thought it might be something I was interested in doing.
What did you learn in this Methods Program? What kinds of methods did you find most interesting or helpful to add to your methodological toolkit?
I learned a lot of helpful information at the methods camp; something that I found particularly insightful were the workshops about analyzing qualitative data. I didn’t realize there were so many ways to do so. We were taught how to use a few different types of software to do this type of analysis, including one called MaxQDA. I plan on using this software when it comes to analyzing any qualitative data that I have in the future.
What were some of the highlights of the Program? In what ways do you think the Program will shape your research and professional trajectory?
My favorite parts of the program were learning about and hearing the research that the other students were working on. A large part of the program was presenting and listening to others’ work and providing feedback on eachothers’ methods. There was a relatively diverse array of subfields among the students. It was a great way to learn about some of the up-and-coming research that is happening today in the field of anthropology. By sharing my research multiple times within this group, I feel much more comfortable giving presentations in an academic setting, which I was previously uncomfortable doing.
This program is also a great networking opportunity to chat with experts in many different subsections of anthropology. All the mentors that I talked to were more than willing to keep in touch and have encouraged me to reach out to them with any questions or help needed in my current or future research.
While the program was definitely academically challenging, it’s an experience that I’m grateful to have participated in and found to be immensely valuable. I would highly recommend any student in the Anthropology Ph.D. program to apply for it.