Past Students


Cathy Cichon (Undergraduate Thesis) – A senior Anthropology and Pre-Professional major writing her thesis with Dr. Smith-Oka.

Grace Deardurff (Directed Readings) – A senior Psychology and Pre-Professional major who conducted research regarding the role of medicinal plants in the indigenous cultures of central Mexico. She presented her findings on the meaning and treatment of the indigenous illness espanto.  She currently assists Dr. Smith-Oka in writing grants for new projects and preparing articles for publication.

Amy Klopfenstein (Undergraduate Thesis) – A senior Anthropology major who conducted research regarding human trafficking following an internship with an anti-trafficking NGO in Bangkok, Thailand. She is currently writing her senior thesis with Dr. Smith-Oka about the ways in which perceptions of masculinity can prevent men from being acknowledged as victims of trafficking.

Alexis Palá (Directed Readings) – A junior Anthropology major with a Theology minor.  Under Dr. Smith-Oka’s guidance, Alexis conducted independent research on opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities in Spain and Chile and the societal perceptions of their conditions. She presented her findings at the 2013 AAA conference in Chicago, IL. She also assists in preparing Dr. Smith-Oka’s fellowship and grant proposals.

Margeaux Prinster (Undergraduate Thesis) – A senior anthropology major, Margeaux conducted summer thesis research in Jodhpur, India under the guidance of Dr. Smith-Oka, who is now advising her thesis. Prinster’s thesis is focused on vocational training and micro finance NGO Indian women’s empowerment programs, and she presented her research at the 2014 AAA conference.



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Katelyn Melloh (Undergraduate Thesis) – An Anthropology major who conducted research in the Peruvian Andes regarding the dynamic nature of the regional traditional medicine. Her thesis investigated the consequences of a Cornell-sponsored development project in a small Andean village in Peru.

Margot Morris (Undergraduate Thesis) – An Anthropology major with minors in French and International Development Studies. Her thesis discusses community health education and NGO program effectiveness in Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia.

Katya Simon (Directed Readings) – A Chemistry and Business major who did summer research in Mexico on water sustainability issues, concluding in a paper entitled, “Going Green in Mexico: Steps Towards Sustainable Water Use in Toluca.”

Daniel Balcarcel (Directed Readings) – A Science Pre-Professional and Spanish major who researched governmental assistance programs that use the conditional cash transfer model. He investigated the growing evidence of unintended consequences of these programs, which are growing in Latin America.

Clayton Smith (Directed Readings) – An Anthropology and Pre-Professional major who conducted research regarding alternative medicine in a predominantly indigenous community. He spent summer 2012 working in India and fall 2012 studying in Puebla, Mexico.


Shelly Birch (ND 2012) and Kelly Colas (ND 2012) doing ethnographic research in Puebla

Shelly Birch (ND 2012) and Kelly Colas (ND 2012) doing ethnographic research in Puebla

Kelly Colas (Undergraduate Thesis) –  An Anthropology and Pre-Professional major who carried out research during Summer 2011 at a hospital in Puebla, Mexico. She focused on sexual education and its effect on birth outcome of young, low-income mothers. Her research led her to write a senior thesis entitled “Birth Experience for Young Mothers at a Public Mexican Hospital.”

Shelly Birch (Undergraduate Thesis) – Carried out research during Summer 2011 at a hospital in Puebla, Mexico where she investigated the culture of clinicians, particularly exploring hierarchy, work stress, and doctor-patient relationships.  Her research led her to write a thesis entitled “The Nature of Care and Caring: The Doctor-Patient Relationship in a Low-Resource Hospital in Mexico.” She is now a student at the medical school at University of Miami.

Isaias Montaño Hernández  (Second Reader for Undergraduate Thesis) – Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural, Mexico: “La Importancia De La Revitalización De La Danza Indígena Monteson En Ixhuatlán De Madero, Veracruz”

Hanna O’Brien (Second Reader for Undergraduate Thesis) – Carried out several years of research on palliative care in Uganda, writing a senior thesis in 2012 entitled “Quality of Life for the Sick and Dying: Perspectives of Health Disparities, Challenges in Ugandan Palliative Care and its Relation to Disease-Modifying Services.”


Claire Naus (Undergraduate Thesis) – An Anthropology and Biology major who carried out research and service at the Touching Tiny Lives organization in Lesotho during summer 2009.  She returned with funding from a Kellogg Institute grant during summer 2010 and investigated the extent to which women’s lives affect their health and, subsequently, the health of their children. She is currently a medical student at University of Chicago.

Elizabeth Benson (Undergraduate Thesis) – An Anthropology and Pre-professional Studies major who carried out research in South Bend, Indiana, examining the treatment of patients with diabetes in the free clinic environment. She is currently a medical student at Loyola University.


Stephanie Fairhurst (ND 2009)

Stephanie Fairhurst (ND 2009)

Nicole Yamaguchi(Directed Research) – Carried out research during summer 2008 in Puebla, Mexico, focusing on doctor-patient relationships and the factors that influence reproductive choices for women of low socioeconomic status.

Stephanie Fairhurst(Directed Reading) – In summer 2007, researched the effects of globalization on food culture in an indigenous community in Mexico, examining the social relations that revolve around food preparation and consumption. After graduating from Notre Dame, she created the HANDS Organization, a non-profit that helps match volunteers with non-profit organizations suited to their skills and interests. HANDS currently has offices in Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as a local office at Notre Dame. Service and internship opportunities are available for students. For more information, visit


Kathryn (Casey) Bouskill (Undergraduate Thesis) – Researched the effects of the Peruvian sterilization campaign on men and women’s perceptions of fertility.  She is now a graduate student at Emory University.

Vivian Urbieta(Directed Research) – Worked on a project looking at health care services for Latinos in northern Indiana.

Nathan Serazin (Directed Research) – Traveled to Ecuador in summer 2007 and researched ethnobotanical practices of the local community.

Andrea Martin (Directed Research) – Researched the creation of ecotourism in Lake Atitlán, Guatemala.

Lisa Rauh (Directed Reading) – Carried out service and research at a half-way home for abused women.


Emily Kelley (Undergraduate Thesis) – Carried out research on the adaptation experienced by Rwandan refugees in northern Indiana.

Bryan Hambley (Undergraduate Thesis) – Carried out an evaluation of development programs based on his research in Cambodian shantytowns and refugee camps.

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