The Department of Anthropology is using the Innovative Programs Award to develop the LEAD (Learning Environments in Anthropology Disciplines) program.
The LEAD program is aimed at early career undergraduate students but open to all students in the Department.
The LEAD program is centered on two complementary components: LEAD Student Mentoring Groups and LEAD Critical Skills Clinics and Informational Sessions.
The LEAD program will facilitate social interactions with peers with the goal of learning from one another, promote a sense of belonging and engagement, provide additional opportunities to bolster skill building, and increase institutional knowledge including campus resources available to assist students.
Hello! My name is Jackie Abing (she/her/hers) and I am a first year PhD student in Sociocultural & Linguistic Anthropology at UIUC. My current research project looks at the history of Mexican Repatriation in 1930s U.S. history and the (linguistic/social/political) implications of legal apologies. In my free-time, I enjoy spending time with loved ones, my cat (Tsubaki), and cooking! I'm looking forward to our time together this semester!
Degree: 2nd year sociocultural & linguistic Anthropology PhD student
Research interests: I’m currently figuring out my research question(s), but I am interested in the intersections between identity and creative expression, social movements, migration, queer theory, gender, and the Andes.
Hobbies: I collect spoons and I like poetry, powerlifting, puzzles, dogs, and cooking (and eating more!)
My name is Alex Orille. I am from Royal Oak, Michigan, which is a medium-sized city in the metro-Detroit area, and home to the Detroit Zoo! I got my bachelors and masters at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan where I studied biology and psychology. I am a first-year PhD student at UIUC in Biological Anthropology. I am a primatologist who is interested in the relationship between social bonding and health outcomes, and I am especially interested in parasite ecology and how social behaviors influence parasitism and vice-versa.
As for my non-academic interests, I love golf, reading, music, and TV! My favorite book is A Primate’s Memoirby Robert Sapolsky, my favorite music artists are The Strokes, Florence and the Machine, and Glass Animals, and my favorite TV shows are Peaky Blinders, Attack on Titan, and Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Hello! My name is Rachel Rusen. I’m a PhD student in biological anthropology. I did my undergrad at McGill University in Montreal, where I fell in love with anthropology and discovered the amazing world of primatology. After graduating, I went to Peru to do an internship for a conservation organization. I followed groups of monkeys through the Amazonian rainforest. I did my master's at the University of Toronto (my hometown). My thesis was on early primate brain evolution. After that I spent a year in Uganda as a research assistant. I followed chimpanzees through the forest every day for a year. I came here to continue learning about chimps and the health problems they face in captivity.
I’m a graduate student in biological anthropology and my research focuses on how labor is biologically embodied through environment and stress that influence the epigenetic regulation of immune function. I am originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee and lived in Glasgow Scotland for a few years where I received my masters in cancer sciences. I worked in biotech industry in a cancer drug discover lab before pursuing my doctorate at UIUC. I am an avid backcountry backpacker and climber and enjoy dancing and rugby.
Hi! I am Jeongsu Shin (she/her). I am studying sociocultural anthropology focusing on environmental anthropology, East Asian Studies, and and Feminist Science and Technology Studies. My dissertation—Worldly Ecologies: Landscape, History, and Environmental Politics on Jeju Island—is an ethnographic exploration of the politics of ecology in Jeju Island, South Korea. I am originally from Seoul, South Korea and Urbana, IL is the first foreign city that I’ve lived in. I love reading and watching good stories for work (more reading) and free time (more watching).
Emma Verstraete (she/her) is a sixth year graduate student focusing on historical archaeology and the anthropology of health and medicine. In addition to her research background she has also worked in the private sector of archaeology (CRM), government oversight, and in a museum context. She is excited to mentor students looking to graduate school or who intend to enter the workforce.
Arielle Yvie Reich
Hi! My name is Arielle and I'm a first year PhD student studying forensic anthropology with a focus on how NAGPRA is implemented in the medicolegal context (or rather, is supposed to be implemented). This involves a lot of collaboration, which is great for me because I love meeting new people!
I grew up in Los Angeles then moved to New Orleans to attend to Tulane University. After graduating in Winter 2018 with my BS/MA, I took a few months to save up before attending field school. That same summer, I was invited to help with some bioarchaeological projects in Peru, which is where I applied for and accepted a job in CRM in Bismarck, North Dakota. I worked there for about two years before starting at UIUC. With all the moving around, I am very happy to feel settled here at UIUC for the first time in a long time!
I was involved in LEAD last fall and loved the program! I'm excited to meet my new group and am looking forward to a great semester!
Sahara Zitlali Vilchis
My name is Sahara Zitlali Vilchis, I do not have preferred pronouns. My concentration is in biological anthropology and this is my second year in graduate school. I am a single parent of two wild kids and we like adventures, doing arts and crafts, and reading silly comics. My research interests are in understanding the paleo-diets of ancient American populations through the analysis of dental calculus and its microbial composition. I am also interested in discussions on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and how we can improve better practice research with indigenous peoples, their land, and their ancestors.
My name is Brooke Blaszynski (she/her) and I am a junior majoring in Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology. I have a minor in Classical Civilizations and am pursuing a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). My current research interests are Zooarchaeology and coastal settlements. I am the president of Anthropology Club/Lambda Alpha and a member of UIUC's SAA Ethics Bowl Team. I enjoy biking, movies, and reading.
My name is Rachel Burdette (she/her/hers) and I am a junior double majoring in History and Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology and a Museum Studies Certificate. I love spending time outdoors and knitting!
My name is Mearieta Clemente (she/her) and I am currently a junior at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. I am an Anthropology Major with a concentration in Biology and Human Evolution with a certificate in Forensic Anthropology. I love to travel and cook and find new music to share with my friends. When I am not at school you can find me in Chicago, my hometown, practicing Gym Wheel with Cirques Experience.
Hi I am Morgan from the Chinese University of Hong Kong! I am a Anthropology Student interested in Political Anthropology (Postcolonialism) with a minor in Arabic Studies (Jihadism and Secularism) when I am not studying, I am a big fan of many sitcoms! I am glad to be an exchange student here at UIUC for the Spring semester 2022, I look forward to meeting different people from all walks of life!
Hello! My name is Haley Collins (she/her), and I am a freshman with an Anthropology major. I am still undecided about my concentration but am leaning towards biological or sociocultural. Aside from academics, I love horror movies, music, and visiting my pets back home!
My name is Jorge and my pronouns are they/he. I am an anthropology minor interested in socio-cultural anthropology, Latinx studies and linguistics. I will be graduating in 2023. My hobbies include running, watching Drag Race and studying for organic chem.
I’m Justine Dioneda. I’m a sophomore anthropology major with a concentration in archaeology. My favorite past times are video games and documentaries.
Claire von Ebers
My name is Claire von Ebers and I am a sophomore. I am majoring in Anthropology with a concentration in Biological Anthropology and a minor in Geology. I am really interested in forensics and human evolution in general! I love crocheting, drawing/painting, and spending time with my friends. Also, I love cats!
My name is Peyton Heinze (she/her), and I'm a senior majoring in General Anthropology with a minor in Chemistry. I'm a resident advisor (RA) in Weston Hall, and play for the UIUC women's lacrosse club team. In my free-time, I love to read (mostly sci-fi/fantasy), binge various tv shows (currently The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) listen to music (mainly show tunes and pop) and spend time with friends.
Hello! My name is Sara Kiel (she/her) and this is my first semester as a LEAD Scholar and an Anthropology major! I am a sophomore studying the Sociocultural and Linguistics concentration. I am interested in potentially pursuing a career in User Research Experience, and because of this I also plan to obtain an Informatics minor. Some organizations I participate in include Illini Student Musicals, JSSAB, and I plan to become involved in the Anthropology Club. I enjoy watching a plethora of tv/anime, playing video games, hiking, and I am currently honing my digital design skills.
Hi, I'm Toby Kutz (They/Them) and I am a senior majoring in Anthropology with a concentration in Human Evolutionary Biology and minoring in Art and Design. In my free time, I enjoy baking all kinds of snacks, knitting, watching cartoons or reality tv, and snuggling up with my 2 cats!
My name is Lily (she/her) and I am a sophomore pursuing a double major in archaeology and classical civilizations with a minor in political science. Concerning my focus in archaeology, I have always been fascinated by past civilizations and their development, especially how cultural change is evident through material remains. In my free time, I like taking care of my plants, biking, and cooking.
Hello! My name is Morgan Lott (she/her) and I am a junior psychology major with a minor in anthropology. While I plan on entering a graduate program for psychology after graduation, I remain very interested in anthropology, and want to further explore the subject, possibly finding work in the field during grad school! I spend most of my time either reading, building miniatures, or working as a research assistant at the Learning and Language Lab here on campus. (I’m currently reading Euphoria by Lily King, which happens to be based on the story of famous anthropologist Margaret Mead) I look forward to exploring all this department has to offer and meeting new people through the LEAD program!
Hi! My name is Shyann Mack and I go by they/them pronouns. I am a junior at UIUC, working towards my bachelor’s in General Anthropology. As of now, my hobbies include thrifting, skateboarding, and working on the multiple projects I have thrown myself into this semester. I greatly appreciated being a part of LEADS last year and hope that everyone enjoys the program this semester!”
My name is Jack Murphy, but I typically go by just my last name; pronouns he/him. I am a sophomore majoring in Anthropology, Human Evolutionary Biology concentration, and I'm also working on a minor in Journalism. Aside from academic studies, etc., I greatly like writing and I hope to put my major to use in a journalistic field, writing scientific or travel journalism of some variety. My more personal hobbies include tabletop games and fantasy novels, as well as outdoor activities like hiking. Hope this is enough information, and I look forward to meeting everyone in LEAD.
My name is Dawn Pagel (she/her), and I am a junior year transfer student who came to UIUC in the fall of 2021. My anthropology major concentration is archaeology, and I am also pursuing a museum studies certificate alongside my major. I love going to museums and learning new things, so that's something I would love to be involved with as a future career! In my free time I enjoy drawing, playing games with friends, and growing succulents.
Emma Perry (she/her) sophomore and transfer student from Black Hawk College. Concentration in archaeology interested in pursuing either the GIS minor or forensics sciences minor!
Hi! My name is Sophia Ramos, pronouns she/her/hers. I am a freshman majoring in anthropology and minoring in MCB on a pre-med track! As of right now I do not have a concentration, but I am leaning more towards concentrating in biological anthropology. My favorite thing to do in my free time is hang out with friends and go out to eat. I love listening to music and relaxing, but also love staying active. I ran track and field in high school (and occasionally go on runs now, but definitely not as much as I'd like) and I have been figure skating since I was about 4 years old. I am very excited for all the opportunities that the LEAD Program has to offer!
Hi, I'm Calvin Sato and I'm a freshman majoring in Anthropology. My preferred pronouns are (he/him) and I haven't declared a concentration yet. In my free time, I like to go hiking, game with friends, and work as a translator on the side. My favorite part of Anthropology is how it covers a wide range of topics that are interrelated.
My name is Yohann Torres, I am majoring in Anthropology with the concentration of Human Evolutionary Biology. I am a sophomore here at UIUC and I go by he/him. Some hobbies of mine are playing sports, spending time with friends, reading, drawing, and playing the guitar. A fun fact I enjoy telling people is that I have a twin that goes here at UIUC. I'm looking forward to the first meeting. I hope you two have a wonderful day.
My name is Connor Uphues, my pronouns are he/him/his, I am a sophomore double majoring in anthropology and history, with my anthropology concentration being archaeology. I play on the Illinois Men's Rugby team, play intramural sports with friends, and enjoy reading!
Gabby is a freshman majoring in Anthropology with a sociocultural and linguistics concentration, and this is her second semester in LEADS! On campus, she is involved in the Vietnamese Student Association and Philippine Student Association, and at home in Chicago, she practices karate and loves to bake and hang out with her dog!
My name is Madeline Woods but I prefer to go by Maddie. I am a junior majoring in anthropology with a concentration in archaeology. I am also minoring in Spanish and have started to pursue a certificate in GIS as of this semester. Outside of anthropology I enjoy reading, music, and spending a lot of time with my friends. An interesting fact about me is that I have always had a special knack for memorizing complicated, yet sometimes useless, trivia. I look forward to being a part of this program!