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Alumni of the anthropology Ph.D. program begin their careers with a profound understanding of diverse cultures, advanced research skills, and a global perspective. Our rigorous program fosters skills applicable to a number of professional landscapes, from academia to politics to international development, preparing students to succeed in their chosen careers.

Our Alumni





  • Emma Banks, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Bucknell College
  • Beth Scaffidi, Assistant Professor, University of California-Merced
  • Keitlyn Alcantara, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University Bloomington
  • Carla Hernández Garavito, Assistant Professor, University of California-Santa Cruz
  • Rebecca Bria, Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at San Antonio


  • Iyaxel Cojti Ren, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Caissa Revilla Minaya, Postdoctoral Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology


Alumni Stories

Alex Korsunsky, Ph.D. ’23

Dissertation Adviser: Norbert Ross, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Dissertation Title: Milpa and Strawberries: food justice, labor, and the place of Mexican immigrant farmers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

Current Role: Full-time faculty (tenure-track) in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, South Seattle College

“Anthropology courses are a core part of my teaching load, so all those years studying anthropology have ended up being pretty useful! I borrow significant parts of my teaching approach from the courses. I TA’d in the Vandy anthropology department and I got to develop my skills by teaching my own courses there. That instructor of record experience was especially important in getting this job.”

Phyllis Johnson, Ph.D. ‘21

Current role: Director of the Archaeology Lab, Augustana University

Phyllis’ research addresses archaeological questions surrounding ancient economies, site formation processes, social structure, and inequality. While at Vanderbilt, Phyllis studied under Markus Eberl, associate professor of anthropology, with whom she co-developed novel machine and deep learning techniques for the examination of stone tool production. In her current position as director of the Augustana University Archaeology Lab, Phyllis oversees all field and lab research completed by the lab, secures funding for future projects, and works with students in the lab and in the classroom. Phyllis plans to combine her experience in cultural resource management with the theoretical and computational skills learned at Vanderbilt to develop new research foci for the archaeology lab and to enhance teaching and research opportunities for undergraduate students at Augustana.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have had Dr. Eberl as my adviser while at Vanderbilt. He was consistently generous with his time and resources, gracious when I made mistakes, and respectful of the work/life balance that I strived to achieve. He treated me more as a colleague than a student, and I think that set me up for success on the job market.”

Carla Hernández Garavito, Ph.D. ‘20

Current role: Assistant Professor, UC Santa Cruz

Carla Hernández Garavito is a Peruvian archaeologist investigating the reinvention of community identity in the Central Andes through successive colonization by the Inka (1450-1532 CE) and Spanish (1532-1821 CE) Empires. Working with Tom Dillehay, University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, and Steve Wernke, associate professor of anthropology, Carla was able to develop a collaborative approach and an interdisciplinary agenda that includes traditional archaeological methods, archival research, spatial modeling, digital humanities, and compositional ceramic analysis. Her work is driven by the question of how local communities incorporated the long history of colonialism in the Andes within their everyday lives and how their local history and practices allowed them to shape policies forced upon them.

Academically, Vanderbilt prepared her to challenge herself to create theoretically sound and methodologically creative research. But most importantly, at Vanderbilt, Carla found a home away from home and is forever grateful for the community of friends made in the years spent at Garland and Buttrick Halls.

Jeffrey Shenton, Ph.D. ‘14

Dissertation Adviser: Norbert Ross, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Dissertation title: “Schooling the Forest: Land, Legacy, and Environmental Epistemological Practice in the Upper Napo”

Current Role: Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Centre College

“When I arrived at Vanderbilt as a new Ph.D. student in anthropology, I had no idea that I had signed up to become a teacher. I had jumped out of one research world and, I thought, into another. Luckily, I was set straight early and repeatedly by department faculty, who constantly reminded me to take note not just of what they were teaching, but how. And they were right: I would need it. I was also taught breadth. In my current job at a small liberal arts college, I have so far taught courses in cultural, linguistic, and environmental anthropology, the anthropology of tourism, the anthropology of violence and nonviolence, the anthropology of religion, and the anthropology of education. None of this would have been possible without the omnivorous perspective on knowledge that I gained in Vanderbilt’s Ph.D. program.”