COVID-19: My Health Diary

Traveling is a big part of my job. Since I work remote traveling is a means of connecting with coworkers, vendors and building relationships that otherwise are lost. Connecting with others is one of the most important things for me. I am a working mother with 2 children+2 pets, recently engaged, and back at school working on a second undergraduate degree in Anthropology. My support system is small because my family lives on the other side of the country and have pre-existing medical conditions. My life is as hectic as any mother’s. As COVID-19 cases and deaths peaked a few weeks back, I realized that this is the first time in my lifetime that a pandemic has caused an uproar like none other and created what feels like a new, dangerous reality. A new life with distance learning, closed businesses and local shops shutting their doors permanently, toilet paper a scarce resource, in-home theatre movie releases, wearing masks in public and a wave of zoom meetings. Mom’s and caretakers are in a unique position because your actions are not only yours to bear, but those of your family and children around you. These changes have not been without hardship and as I am entering day 72-ish, I wanted to share my experience so others know they are not alone in the fear, anxiety and challenge of encumbered new beginnings.

First, a quick recap of how the coronavirus made it into our homes, unofficially. At the start of January and up until the week before the nation began to shelter-in-place, I traveled to several locations for work including L.A., San Diego, Sacramento, and Dallas. My first few trips were early in the outbreak when the U.S. was only starting to discuss the novel coronavirus that was sprouting in Wuhan, China. At that point, I wasn’t worried at all for our well-being. There are diseases around the globe that are endemic to regions outside of the U.S. that never have any significant impact on the U.S. population. A new coronavirus strand that was impacting China’s population was upsetting , but rationally thinking I wasn’t fearful. As the weeks went on, news coverage intensified and discussions about the virus started at a local level with our friends, family and schools considering what was next. Surprisingly, after my last business trip in early March I was accepted into ASU’s Anthropology program and met with my fiancé’s marriage proposal. Joyous times (I will share about later), but it was only two days later that California issued shelter-in-place orders that shut down all schools and non-essential businesses. My kids were initially unaffected as that week started a planned 2-week Spring Break. This was a godsend for us because it really helped give us an opportunity to help the kids adjust to what would soon be a two month ordeal. However, within that two week period, I fell mildly ill. My symptoms were a headache, stuffy nose, and cough, though absent of fever. After having traveled for many weeks prior, I was fearful of having contracted the virus and spent the two weeks social distancing in my room to keep the kids safe. However shortly after I recovered, my fiancé fell ill for over a month! Again absent of fever, but he had a cough, stuffy nose, shortness of breath, headache and body aches. Though neither of us was diagnosed with COVID-19, it was a fearful and dramatic time early into the SIP.

After a rocky start, sheltering in place continued over several weeks (72 day-ish today) and many challenges came my way. First, Marcos and Jenevy’s, 8 and 6 years old respectively, school confirmed that in accordance with the county board of education and health department schools would remain closed through the end of the school year. Wow! I did not see that coming. As a working mom of school age children, I have an advantage of dropping off kids at school and allowing teachers to take on the brunt of teaching schoolwork and social and emotional development. In traditional times, I am supplemental and a reinforcer of good work ethics, embracing learning and being kind human beings. However, with spring break over and SIP in full effect the school shared their distance learning plan. The distance learning plan was thoughtful and engaging (go CA’s Monterey charter schools!), but little did I know that the journey would bring on a time where teacher/parent roles swapped. As school started up under the new distance learning plan, I received weekly a schedule with zoom sessions the kids had to attend, often overlapping since they are in different grades, and assignments that had to be completed by the end of each week. Workload was reasonable for the expectation of 2-3 hours of school work daily plus physical activity and lunch/snack times, however, the kids are novices at the interworking’s of an electronic device. No, we do not live under a rock, and yes, my kids use iPads to play with apps and watch shows. Experience using electronic devices for those limited purposes was not enough for them to open their schedule, access their web browser, and manage multiple logins. They needed more from me than ever before. Do you remember from earlier that I work remote from home? Ok, so now that I am working from home indefinitely without relief my schedule is more busy than ever finding ways to manage their tasks as well as my own. While I am grateful that my job allows me to care for my children in this time safely and without financial hardship, the situational change has been tough on my physical and mental health.

Remember my new fiancé James? He is a Vice Principal and Science/Math Teacher for a local school, as well an incoming Principal for the 2020-2021 school year. These are exciting times for him to be a part of a new way of learning and bring his flair to the school community. He is managing at least 3 zoom sessions throughout the day to meet with his class and additional zoom meetings to stay abreast of the coronavirus impact on the educational realm to build a re-opening plan. I am extremely proud of his accomplishments and know that this shutdown has been hard on him too. While I am an introvert and relish all of the down time I have, he is an extrovert and a people person who is falling apart being at home 24/7. Plus…..he and I are at each other’s nerves trying to plan a wedding, managing the kids and dealing with our own fears stemming from COVID-19. Relationships are always tough and lots of hard work. I never imagined the day that I would be in tight quarters with my significant other. I have it easy because James is a calm, cool, collected man, but I quiver at the fear of how not-so-happy couples are trying to keep it together. Despite our annoyance, we are strong as a family and will weather the storm.

Since the shelter-in-place was initially instituted in March, I have slept less than 6 hours a night with most nights involving me going to bed in the wee hours of the night trying to catch up with classwork, writing, and scheduling that I cannot get to in the daytime. While I feel alone in a house full of people, I appreciate checking in with classmates, friends and family to build a community that supports each other during hard times likes these. Soon we expect the shelter-in-place orders will be lifted and everything will be back to normal; still for me the anxiety of what’s next even after the promise of normalcy is still a probing question in my mind.

So there! My journey since the novel coronavirus took over mainstream media and wove into our lives. Not exciting, not controversial or inflammatory, simply my truth, a woman, a mom recapping this new life as we know it.

Thank you to @19_diaries on Twitter for starting a community space for contributing Covid_19 stories as this pushed me to document my story.

Sociology vs. Cultural Anthropology

Last semester I took an introductory class on cultural anthropology and this semester I am wrapping up my introductory class in sociology. As I near the end of the semester, I realize that the sociology class has been much more meaningful to me than the cultural anthropology class. Each week the discussions and videos supplementing the lesson took me through an emotional roller coaster of happiness, sympathy, understanding, sadness, and fear. This week was particularly emotional. I read about the impact of economy and workforce and watched a small clip of “Which Way Home”. In the clip I watched and met Kevin and Fito 14 and 13 year old boys, respectively, that had left their home in Honduras in search of a better life in the U.S. Their journey consisted of crossing the border from Guatemala into Mexico, catching a train in Mexico towards the border and later crossing on foot into the U.S. through the desert hoping to make it unscathed. I saw them sleep under a gazebo in a plaza, ask strangers for food and water, jump onto a moving train and ride between or atop the cars while exposed to nature. The little bit of backstory that they shared on Kevin was that he had a hardworking mom back in Honduras and a stepdad that did not particularly like him, which led him to make the decision to head towards the U.S. to work, make money and buy his mom a house. He dreamed of seeing Manhattan, tall towers and large cities of the U.S. that he had seen on TV and movies. Fito’s story was a bit more somber with his father having passed away many years back. He left to join Kevin on his journey without even telling his mom because she was out at a party with her husband. A short clip and a chapter’s worth of reading led me to not only feel the situation deeply because I have children of my own, but to also put more thought into the ongoing, heated discussions surrounding families and children crossing the border and the consequences of being caught.

Clip of “Which Way Home” (2009) is a feature documentary film that follows unaccompanied child migrants, on their journey through Mexico, as they try to reach the United States.

The broader scale discussions about society and impact of contributing factors have kept me engaged, but also wondering why I didn’t feel this way during my cultural anthropology course. My cultural anthropology course felt much more dry, a focus on being an objective eye in the observation of others. Is it really that different? The answer I found is much more complicated than a simple yes or no, but to simplify, yes they are differences within each field of study and methodology, though there is overlap. Openstax (sociology textbook used this semester) defines sociology as “the study of groups and group interactions, societies and social interactions, from small and personal groups to very large groups.” (Openstax, pg.6/1.1) In contrast, the book defines cultures as a group’s shared practices, values, and beliefs, which are a part of the social facts that make up a society. This leads me to loosely define cultural anthropology as the study of individual’s or a group’s cultures, customs, practices, values, beliefs, and languages in an effort to learn about past societies. This is one of the broader anthropological fields. The use of ethnographic studies, qualitative methods, is how research under this field is cultivated. While sociology does rely on qualitative methods of research much like cultural anthropology, they are able to tap into quantitative research methods through statistical analysis. Though there is much to consider for both fields and the overlap is undeniable, at the early stage in academic studies of culture and society, I am finding that sociological concepts and their broadness help bring into perspective current events and how they have progressed over time from pre/post Industrial Revolution and into the Information Age. The relevance creates my affinity for this study.

Manzanar National Historic Site 51st Annual Pilgrimage

The unfortunate events at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 are a regrettable memory in U. S. History and an onset to the U.S. participation in World War II. What followed after that was much more grim. Japanese persecution and xenophobia grew every day in the United States. By February of 1942, the U.S. president at the time, F.D.R., issued Executive Order 9066 allowing the Secretary of War to declared prescribed areas military zones. This led to the incarceration of Japanese and others. Sadly in the name of “protection” the Japanese population was detained and placed at one of 10 internment camps around the country. Over 100,000 people were held at internment camps during a period of nearly 4 years. The internment camps were heavily guarded, with barracks as living quarters each with no partitions, mess halls, schools and communal bathrooms with no privacy stalls. Everyone was being forced to relocate, men, women, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and children. The governmental decisions then led to rights violations under the guise of protection that were an embarrassment to the nation. Several years later everyone was released and the internment camps demolished. It has been the mission of many survivors and family members to not let this moment disappear along with it. It was an uphill battle spanning several decades for the government to admit wrongdoing and offer restitution.

Last semester I had the pleasure of joining Dr. Jeff Burton, Archaeologist and Cultural Resources Program Manager, who has dedicated the last 20 years of his life to archaeological research and restoration of the first and most largely populated Japanese internment camp in California’s Owens Valley, Manzanar. Now known as Manzanar National Historic Site, the research that has been conducted led to the finding and reconstruction of watch towers, living quarters, and children’s hospital & orphanage. The site currently has a museum educating visitors on the history that precedes the site and offers tours of the reconstruction. During my time with Dr. Burton, I was volunteering with fellow Anthropology & History majors contributing to the ongoing archaeological project of the children’s village. We spent two days learning about how sites are strung up, weather and local vegetation, proper digging techniques and gear, and how to bag and process artifacts. Also, we spent a day visiting the museum and touring the facilities reconstructed based on the archaeological findings. During the museum walk through and later the tour, I found myself upset as I moved from one exhibit to the next reading about the events, watching interviews of survivors and seeing photographs. As I was walking around I asked myself, “Why is this the first time that I am hearing about this?” I have taken my fair share of history courses, learned about WWII & Pearl Harbor and this had never come up. When the weekend was done, I had a newfound interest to continue the journey of learning about this historical event and volunteering whenever I had an opportunity.

On April 25th, 2020, Manzanar National Historic Site was scheduled to host its 51st Pilgrimage event in commemoration of the site and all of the progress that the project has completed. This is an annual event that brings in hundreds of people from all over the area. The largest group of attendees consists of Japanese families that were either present during that time, children then, or next generations who are invested in the history here, including the cautionary tale. Whilst our own plans to attend the pilgrimage and continue our efforts in the project were derailed this year due to the recent events surrounding the coronavirus and shelter-in-place, I am excited to share my experience and bring this piece of history to you.

Reading List Recommendations:
Grade 3-5: The Journal of Ben Uchida by Barry Denenberg
Grade 6-8: Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
Grade 9-12: Executive Order 9066: The History of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Controversial Decision to Intern Japanese American Citizens During World War II by Charles Rivers Editors
Grade 12+: Confinement and Ethnicity by Jeff Burton, Mary Farrell et al


For more information visit the Manzanar National Historic Site at https://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm

Should Genetic Engineering in Humans be allowed in the United States?

The first unit of my Biological Anthropology course focused on Darwin, genetics, and evolution. During class this unit of learning proved to be controversial because of religious and personal beliefs that conflicted with science. Similarly, for our class research paper we had to select from one of three topics, and I was immediately attracted to the polarizing topic of genetic engineering in humans. The research paper was setup as an argumentative paper that discussed whether genetic engineering in humans should be allowed in United States. Though I can see the value of both points of view on the topic, I had to argue the pros for the in-class debate with an estimated 36% of the class agreeing with pros by the end of the debate.

In the words of national guest speaker and my insurance course professor Cary Phillips, “There is no good or bad, right or wrong, only pros and cons.” Those words have resonated with me during my career and even more now as I approached this research. Anthropology and scientific advancements in pioneering phases are often riddled with negative comments because uncertainty breeds fear which leads to paralyzing effects. Genetic engineering in humans is the artificial modification of human genetic material for the purpose of enhancement. Around the world techniques have been developed to support work in genetic engineering and 2,000+ trials have been conducted with many showing positive results. There are ethical implications to consider despite the positives and those are what bring this scientific advancement to a halt.

Below is a summary of pros and cons that came up during my research:

ProsCons
Modification of somatic cells in existing individuals can be used to treat & prevent disease.
An example being the use of CRISPR to eradicate cancer cells from a human diagnosed with a form of cancer.
A rise of eugenics may be expected because genetic engineering may be used to create a “master race”. This is a concept that dates back to the Hitler movement by the Nazis.
Genetic engineering is in its infancy and can be launched with proper registration, reporting and regulation to avoid misuse. Unforeseen consequences to future generational lineages may be expected because changing the genetic material of an embryo because it can be born has an impact to the genes being passed from one generation to the next.
Germline therapy (phrase referring to the genetic engineering of human genetic material at the embryonic level) can be used to enhance human skill sets to help regain workforce for humans that has been otherwise replaced by technology. Statistics show that mutations have been found in cells that were not modified genetically, in individuals whose cells were genetically modified, up to 60% of the time.

Regardless of how you feel about this topic being aware of the scientific community’s findings is important to understanding what is happening in the world around us.

Census 2020: Race is Real

U.S. Census Bureau logo http://www.census.gov

Applying for a job is stressful, the uncertainty of the process and financial pressures usually surrounding it exacerbate all emotions. Cumbersome job applications take us through the cliff notes of our life and present us with questions that we give little thought to day-to-day. As I turn the corner of 30, one of the most uncomfortable questions for me to answer on job applications and on my first census is race. What race am I?

Growing up, we lived in Miami, Florida, a city known for its diversity, culture and Latin flavors. My ethnicity is Hispanic, my mother is from Nicaragua and my father from Cuba. I have always been surrounded by Caucasians, Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics from all of the Americas and have been unaffected by race. Until now, my parents completed the last two censuses for our household, and I always perceived myself as White of Spanish descent. When I turned 26, I decided to move 3 hours NW from Miami to the beach town of Sarasota for a new job opportunity. Here, I quickly realized that my corporate status and education had no bearing on what would happened next. It started at a mall where I went to buy hundreds worth of personal items and the store attendant gave me a strange look before asking for my drivers license and proceeding to question if that was me on the picture. It was the first time I went out and people looked at me funny and held on to their purses tighter as I passed them by. Also, it was a time I was confused as being the maid of a friend. There is nothing wrong with being a maid, but apparently it was derogatory to the group of people who addressed me as such. It was the first time in my life that I had to work 10x harder than to “look the part”, whatever that means. I realized that I was no longer insulated from the world that I had only heard of in movies and civics class. This was when the word race became real to me (I know, late).

Life experiences took me through my journey on race and “racism” (which I will table discussing for another day) and that brings me to the now. A few weeks ago I received the infamous notice to complete the U.S. Census 2020. What is the U.S. Census 2020? This is a survey conducted by the U.S. federal government that intends to count every living person at their correct household in the U.S. for the purpose of helping to guide where the $675 billion+ of federal funding may be distributed to states and communities each year. This survey is conducted once every 10 years and regulation requires that everyone complete it. The data collected is used to develop statistical research regarding population demographics and race. Census 2020 is the first time that I am responsible for completing the survey for my household, and boy was it a thought-provoking moment. The survey starts off confirming household address, number of household size, and names and DOB’s of the household members. Afterward, each member has to identify with one or more of the 10 plus options for race and ethnicity. This is probably the most comprehensive set of options I have ever had to choose from, which made the experience pretty smooth to complete. However, it left me wondering more about where the concept of race originated and why it is still relevant today.

Research shows that the concept of race is one that has evolved modernly into groups classifying individuals based on superficial physical characteristics, such as skin color, hair type, eye color. The term became particularly popular during the early twentieth century when immigration to the United States boomed from all parts of Europe, Asia and Mexico. At this time, the prospect of being classified as White came with privileges, now commonly known as “white privilege”, that allowed individuals to become U.S. citizens. This became the standard, a baseline in an arbitrary categorization. Interestingly enough, my sociology class discussion this week came fully prepared with a chapter on Race & Ethnicity and a video to summarize.

Race, The Power of Illusion
https://www.racepowerofanillusion.org/clips

Traditionally, the census has felt like a big deal and for me it was this year because of all the emotion it stirred up for me. However, this census feels overshadowed by the calamity and fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the impact of the ongoing health crisis, Census2020 deserved discussion because our actions today will define governmental assistance and community viability for the next decade and that is certain to outlive the current situation.

Social Distancing – Blessing in Disguise

Facebook Live Paint Party #socialdistancing

My, my, my – how the world has changed in 2 weeks. As we adapt to the new normal, the new buzzword we are hearing about is “social distancing”. What is it and why is relevant during these times? Social distancing is the reduction of human contact through changes in behavior to reduce the transmission of a disease. (Reluga, 2010.) This is a non-medical method enacted by local and state governments for a specified period of time when disease or novel strains are in their infancy. Statistically, practicing social distancing flattens disease transmission so proper healthcare can be provided to those who need it and allows time for a permanent solution to be refined (i.e. vaccine). In concurrence with unpopular opinion, social distancing can be a positive amidst COVID-19 that has proven to be asymptomatic or mild for many. Keep in mind that even if you are not affected, you may still be a carrier of the virus to vulnerable population groups. Now consider for a minute why are some people reacting to the virus differently than others? We are all humans, but natural selection has created genetic variation that influences how our body’s respond when exposed to viruses. Natural selection is the increase in frequency of features in a population through environmental adaptation because it results in a more favorable chance of survival or reproduction. This means that genes that are more likely to survive and reproduce will be more common in an organism over time. An example of how this relates to COVID-19, let’s shift our focus to Africa and malaria for a moment – Research shows that in malaria prone areas genetic differences in humans lead to an increased chance of immunity. (Karlson, 2014). Immunity leads to survival, reproduction and natural selection ensues over those who are unable to fight it off. A true testament that being different is a blessing.

Restrictions on social distancing and shelter-in-place that have arisen from the lockdown in California and many other states have been reasonable to accommodate a balanced daily life while trying to control the spread. As an introvert I usually welcome a break from having to socially interact with people, but I understand that an imposed social distancing regulation is difficult for everyone especially families. We need to enjoy and take advantage of the opportunities to connect with others through Facebook Live’s and Zoom parties. In times of hardship, let’s learn to be patient, helpful and caring with one another.


Karlson, K. Eleanor et al. 2014. “Natural selection and infectious disease in human populations.” Nature Reviews Genetics. 15 : 379-393.

Katz, Rebecca et al. 2019. “Local Decision Making for Implementing Social Distancing in Response to Outbreaks.” Public Health Reports. 134(2) : 150-154.

Anthropology Day 2020

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) says, “Anthropology Day is a day for anthropologists to celebrate our discipline while sharing it with the world around us.” An event is hosted every year on the 3rd Thursday in February, so students across the world can participate in activities that bring awareness and promote learning in the field of Anthropology. This was my first major Anthropology event. Organizing and participating in this event gave me the inspiration to start this blog.

AAA’s website allows schools, organizations and students to register a local event that will be hosted for Anthropology Day and in return they send swag promoting the AAA and Anthropology during the registered event. For 2020, I collaborated with a local school to register and host an Anthropology Day event for their middle school science students. This was an awesome experience! But before we get to awesome part, let’s talk about the most challenging series of events in my life.

Hosting an event was a breeze because I have hosted hundreds of meetings successfully throughout my insurance career. But anthropology? Who was I, but a mere anthro student to think I was good enough to host an anthropology event to teach others in the community? It was me! I was the most challenging part of this event; feeling like I did not have enough knowledge, expertise in any one field, or support to make something like this happen. This is when the light bulb went off and I decided to tap my friends that joined me on the Manzanar trip last semester (more to come on this trip). They too are anthro students and enthusiasts who had participated in prior anthropology events and had a clear vision for what field of anthropology they were majoring in. Best decision ever!

Agenda for Anthropology Event

  • ~5 minute introductions of the hosts (Vanessa, Abby & Tanessa) and what is anthropology and why we care?
  • ~5 minute TED Talks video (refer to Resources) “What Can You Learn From An Ancient Skeleton?”, a quick summary of all of the fields of anthropology, how they complement each other and how to apply in the real world.
  • ~35 minutes of participating at one of three (3) available stations:
    • Biological Anthropology station led by Abby, discussion was led about human and primate skulls with skull casts being available thanks to local community college Monterey Peninsula College http://www.mpc.edu
    • Cultural Anthropology & Linguistics station led by Tanessa, art activities regarding Egyptian culture and hieroglyphics
    • Archaeology station led by Vanessa (that’s me!), dig stations filled with artifacts to help simulate the experience of a real archaeological dig site
  • Worksheets were available to supplement the discussions happening at each station
  • AAA swag was available for students

The middle grade science teacher had lessons planned surrounding anthropology in the weeks leading up to the event so the students were very receptive. Each station was a success with the middle grade students who were excited rotating stations and learning about anthropology. We even got to share some of our personal experiences participating in field work, which validated that much more to the students that we were meant to be there. Afterward, the school was so impressed with our event that they expanded the audience to have the 2nd, 3rd and 5th graders join us as well.

My friends and I really enjoyed doing this together, meeting and coming up with ideas to make this a success. We are certainly on track for a 2021.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – How this Pandemic is Influencing our Lives

Plague, Spanish flu, H1N1, and now the Coronavirus – all declared pandemics at one point or another by the World Health Organization (WHO). Pandemic refers to the widespread epidemic of a contagious disease throughout a country or two or more continents. (Rutherford, 2016.) These diseases swept the world and took the media for a spin at their peak. Most recently the Coronavirus has been making headlines since the first reported cases in the United States. What started out as a virus that was considered akin to the flu has turned into a pandemic bringing fear and uncertainty to the lives of everyone globally, more than I can ever remember. Going back to my earlier childhood years, I remember 9/11, the war on Iraq, the Recession, new flu strands, Zika virus and H1N1. These events had devastating effects on the economy, morale, and each led to many deaths. The one thing I know is that neither created a global panic in the way that COVID-19 is doing today. Everyone’s emotions right now are in a haze from the hours of incendiary news feed coverage. Even children are scared and unsure of what to do. Heartbreaking, but true – My 8 year old son said to me this morning, “Mom, I wish the coronavirus would go away. I know that it can kill people including kids like me and I don’t want that to happen.” Their school is doing a great job at communicating safety tips and age-appropriate content, but the rhetoric and parroting of news outlets that kids are hearing from friends and parents is turning into unexplainable fear.

What do we do? Let’s stick to the facts. CDC tell us that the COVID-19 is an upper-respiratory tract illness that has not been previously seen transmitted in humans. It is a new strain of coronavirus. To clarify, coronaviruses are not new. There are many coronaviruses that we know transmit from human to human, but COVID-19 is a novelty. The first case reported was near a live animal market in China & later exposure extended to the United States due to travel and close proximity. What can you expect? Symptoms vary from person to person, though the most common are fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The key now is to protect ourselves and others. We can do this by cleaning our hands often, avoiding close contact with others, staying home if sick, covering coughs & sneezes, and cleaning & disinfecting. Remember to keep yourself, your families and pets safe, but above all please stay calm.

For more information, please refer to reputable sources that are tracking and informing on the issue such as https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html or https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus.

Who is Dian Fossey?

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and I decided to read “Who Is Jane Goodall?”, by Roberta Edwards from the New York Times Best-Selling Who Was Series. Only two chapters in and I heard the name Dian Fossey for the very first time and decided to look her up. Ultimately, I was impressed with her accomplishments and dedication that I decided to feature her in my International Women’s Day blog post.

Dian Fossey was a foremost primatologist and conservationist in the world and a friend to Jane Goodall. Dian had an affinity for animals at a young age and after being a part of the workforce and becoming restless, invested all of their savings to travel to Africa. Africa was where she hoped to get closer to animals to observe, research and protect them. She was also the author of a book called “Gorillas in the Mist”, which is an account of her life over 13 years studying gorillas, the gentle giants. You probably have heard of the movie with Sigourney Weaver back in the 80’s, but it was an adaptation from this book.

Primatology is the study of primates. This field has bits and pieces of many fields such as zoology, biology and most often anthropology. Though anthropology is the study of humans, humans are primates and therefore primatologist research often works to answer frequent big questions anthropologists focus on, the origin of humans and how it relates to non-human primates.

Dian Fossey is a pioneer alongside Jane Goodall in primatology, animal conservation and in the field of science as a whole. Her findings have been used to propel continuous research of non-human primates, and her foundation was expanded to help gorillas in Rwanda and neighboring areas. Without the courage of women like her, women today like myself would not be empowered enough to pursue careers in biological anthropology and make scientific contributions.

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present.

Anthro- po- lo- gy

Dictionary.com says:

1. Anthro or Anthropo prefix comes from the Greek word meaning “human”.

2. -ology suffix that means the study of.

Because the study of humans past and present is such a broad category, Anthropology has been divided into four fields of study:

Biological Anthropology
Study of past and present evolution of humans
Cultural Anthropology
Study of human societies, cultures, and how they developed
Linguistics
Science of language, including phonetics, morphology, syntax (how we speak and the sounds we use to make words)
Archaeology
Study of historic or prehistoric humans and their cultures, usually found by excavating (fancy word for digging)

When asking students what comes to mind when they think of Anthropology, this is what they had to say:

What do you think of Anthropology?

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