Our Team

Our Medical Anthropology Lab is working as a team to better understand the intersection of culture and biology.  If you are interested in joining the lab with an independent study, work-study, or graduate research, check out the Join Us page.

Current Members


Sean Bruna

Sean’s current research examines disciplinary practices, fieldwork safety, and emergent wellness practices among underrepresented peoples.




Graduate Students (whose Committee I Chair)

matiaMatia Jones (website) M.A. Candidate, Cultural Anthropology

Matia is a Farihaven College graduate with an interdisciplinary BA entitled ‘Wellness.’ This degree focused on social and environmental justice as preventative health care. She has worked in sustainable agriculture and the allied health care field since 2001 and 2003 respectively. Current work includes a Master’s thesis entitled Ethnography of Urban Food Policy: Increasing Food Sovereignty in Bellingham, WA Through Urban Agriculture.


WWU_Vikings(193)Cecilia Martin M.A. Candidate, Cultural Anthropology

Cecilia Martin’s photovoice based research examines water needs in a small rural community in Kenya.




Samantha Whalen M.A. Candidate, Cultural Anthropology

Check back soon!


Undergraduate Students

Tori Bianchi (website) Bio-anthropology (junior) Currently an undergraduate student at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington studying biological anthropology. Tori has an interest in human origins and evolution, and plans on studying paleoanthropology / archaeology in a graduate program after graduation. Tori is assisting with dissemination of findings, graphic design, and the Cascadia Seminar in Medical Anthropology.



Giselle Kiraly

Giselle Kiraly (website) Senior, Biology & Anthropology

Giselle Kiraly is a Junior at Western Washington University completing a BS in Biology/Anthropology. She plans to continue with biological anthropology after she graduates, with a focus on health research.  Giselle is currently researching the gender composition of editorial boards for various anthropology journals.



Anna Knoblach, Senior, Anthropology and Linguistics

Anna Knoblach is a senior at Western Washington University studying Anthropology and Linguistics. She plans to join the Peace Corps after graduating, working with a focus on education. Anna is currently researching phone and tablet applications for anthropological research.




Madeleine Rackers, Junior, Biology/Anthropology

Madeleine Rackers is a junior at Western pursuing a Biology/Anthropology major with a pre-medical focus. She plans to attend medical school after graduating and practice rural women’s medicine internationally.


Angel Terry, Freshman, Political Science

Angel is a freshman with an interest in cultural anthropology and political science, with a later focus in law. Angel is assisting with various lab tasks, including research on gender and academia.



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Aengus BA, Landscaping, MA Candidate, Osteology

Aengus is a 6th year wolfhound completing a MA in osteology.  He asks that you send him supplies for his research because he is a very good dog.



Medanthro Lab Alumni: Graduate Students

peterPeter Miterko (website) MA, Cultural Anthropology, Fall 2017

A Master’s candidate with a focus in cultural anthropology, Peter’s project examined creation of community within a former chronically homeless population.




Megan StephensonMA (with distinction), Anthropology, 2016

A former multimedia reporter, Megan Stephenson graduated with a Master’s  in medical anthropology. Her thesis work was a pilot project regarding nutritional type 2 diabetes education videos in a rural community in Hawai’i. Megan Stephenson is a specialist on the Outreach and Enrollment team at Unity Care NW, a non-profit community health center. Specialists “work to connect patients to high quality, affordable health care services by providing insurance enrollment, health care navigation support, and community outreach to medically underserved populations in a manner that empowers patients to understand and engage in their health care.

Medanthro Lab Alumni: Undergraduate Students


Yomalli Contreras-Ortiz Sophmore, B.A., Anthropology, Fall 2017

Yomalli is a junior specializing in cultural anthropology. Her research in the lab is examining student perspectives regarding mentoring practices at WWU.




Galen Herz (website), B.S. Biochemistry & Anthropology, Fall 2017

In the fight for climate justice. Student at Western Washington University studying Biochemistry and Anthropology.  Galen is currently on a lab grant researching informal mentoring networks at Western Washington University.



bryn-knappBryn Knapp, B.S., Psychology, Fall 2017

Bryn is pursuing a BS in Psychology with minors in Anthropology and Sociology at Western Washington University. She is planning on obtaining her Masters in Counseling. Bryn is currently on a research project that examines the relationships within informal mentoring found on Western’s campus.



Steve Martin B.S., Biology & Anthropology, Spring 2017 Steve Martin is a Senior studying Biology and Anthropology. He plans to either pursue medical school or pursue his passion for photography.





Lillian Loescher B.A., Pure mathematics, 2017 Lillian assisted with a research project in WWU’s C. Elegans neuroscience lab where she examined associative learning and memory. She will graduate Spring 2017 with a bachelors in pure mathematics and minors in Anthropology and Psychology. In 2017 she will pursue a PhD. in Mathematics and continue her theoretical neuroscience research, where she will integrate her future work into a larger cultural framework.




Evangelia Pantoleon B.A., Cultural Anthropology, 2016

Evangelia graduated with a degree in cultural anthropology. She is currently researching gendered leadership in the Society for Medical Anthropology.  



tawny-mayer Tawny Mayer, B.A., Anthropology, 2016 Tawney graduated with a degree in anthropology and in her senior year received a research Grant for Undergraduate Students for her project, “The Digitized Indian: Representation and Reclamation in Video Games“.






Louie Labrador M.A., Business

Louie was a business student and a wizard with spreadsheets, statistics, and R.



Alex DonigianAlex Donigian Undergraduate, B.S. Bio/Cultural Anthropology, 2016

Alex Donigian graduated with a degree in biocultural anthropology student. His interest is primarily involved in applying anthropological perspectives to sport studies and evolutionary biomechanics. 



IsabellaRamosMillerIsabella Ramos Miller B.S., Biology-Anthropology (with Honors), 2016 Isabella graduated from WWU with a B.S. in Biology-Anthropology and a Spanish minor. Her final project as part of the Honors Program is titled “Simplifying Care: A Pilot Study, Reworking the Structure of Sexual Health Education Sessions at Western Washington University.” Interested in the anthropological factors that influence human health, she hopes to pursue a dual degree in Nursing and Public Health.




WWU_Vikings(193)Sam Bottman B.A., Biology & Anthropology, 2016

BA in Anthropology/Biology with a Music minor. Currently applying to psychotherapy graduate programs after his senior year at Western.



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Brita Eisert B.A., Biology & Anthropology, 2016

BS in Biology/Anthropology with a Spanish minor. She is planning on attending PA school and is interested in pediatric primary care.





Processed with VSCOcam with a9 presetBrooke Jespersen B.A., Anthropology & Spanish (with Honors), 2015

Brooke Jespersen recently graduated from Western with a BA in anthropology and Spanish. Currently attending Ph.D. program at Case Western University where she is examining how dominant medical paradigms and social hierarchies contribute to the marginalization of immigrant populations within the U.S. healthcare system.