ASU anthropology students, graduate to study abroad with Fulbrights

May 30, 2023

Three students with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University were honored with Fulbright awards this year. 

The students will spend a year in Africa, the Philippines and a small island off the coast of China, where they will learn about other cultures, conduct research and teach English.  Patrick Fahey sitting down holding a pencil and writing in a notebook while looking at the camera. Patrick Fahey Download Full Image

Fulbright creates connections in a complex and changing world,” according to the informational website. “In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers unparalleled opportunities in all academic disciplines to passionate and accomplished graduating college seniors, graduate students and young professionals from all backgrounds.”

Patrick Fahey

Patrick Fahey is a graduate student at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and affiliated with the Institute for Human Origins (IHO) through his advisor, Curtis Marean, an ASU Foundation Professor and research scientist. Fahey’s research is focused on paleoanthropology and zooarchaeology.

Fahey received a 2023–24 Fulbright to travel to South Africa and research the faunal (animal) remains from Pinnacle Point 5-6N (PP5-6N).

“I’ll be working in the South African Paleoclimate, Paleoenviroment, Paleoecology, and Paleoanthropology (SACP4) laboratory at the Diaz Museum in Mossel Bay and will form the basis of my PhD dissertation,” Fahey said.

PP5-6N is a Middle Stone Age rock-shelter site with well-preserved evidence of human occupations spanning the Late Pleistocene, around 90,000 to 50,000 years ago, during a time of cyclical and dramatic climate change.

“The humans who occupied this site during the transition from the interglacial phase where warm conditions similar to today prevailed, to the cold and arid glacial phase MIS 4, left records of how they adapted to the changing environment around the Cape region,” Fahey said. “They left innovative new tool forms, including potentially the earliest evidence of projectile hunting weapons and the earliest proliferation of symbolic material culture known. My research explores changes in human subsistence by reconstructing the types of animals humans hunted and how changes to environments and material culture affected the prey they pursued.”

Fahey, a skilled illustrator and artist, will also be helping to create a museum exhibit in the newly built Point Discovery Centre in Mossel Bay with information graphics that highlight the knowledge gained through research at Pinnacle Point, helping visitors better understand the evolution of modern human behaviors.

David Gowey

David Gowey

David Gowey is a graduate student at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change with a focus on sociocultural anthropology. 

This was Gowey’s second application for a Fulbright. He said he was grateful for the feedback he received from the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement and felt more confident applying in 2023. 

Gowey received the Open Study/Research Award to work with schools in the central Philippines, in the town of Calinog.

Culture schools in the area teach members of the community, mostly children, traditional performing arts and crafts. Gowey’s research will focus on Panay Bukidnon epic chanting, known as “sugidanon.”

“The epic chants are stories about heroes and heroines with magical powers going on sailing voyages, fighting monsters and demigods, and finding spouses,” Gowey said. 

“Each sugidanon epic can take several days to chant in full, and traditionally they're performed as bedtime stories. The students at the culture schools learn to perform them at contests and festivals for tourists. I want to study how the students learn these epics, what they get out of learning them and how they use them to represent themselves as Panay Bukidnon people.”

Gowey will use different components including Photovoice for his research. He will ask community members to record short videos explaining what they want others to know about their cultural practices. His hope is that the collection of stories can be used later on in the cultural schools. 

The research he does during his Fulbright award will also go towards his dissertation research. 

Along with the Fulbright, Gowey was awarded a paid summer internship at the National Museum of Natural History. For four weeks, he will get hands-on experience in museum methods, theory and working in discussion groups. 

Quinn Hardt

Quinn Hardt graduated from Arizona State University in spring 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and a minor in Asian languages with a focus on Chinese.

Hardt received an English Teaching Assistant Award from Fulbright to teach and live in Kinmen.  

“It is a small island approximately 6 kilometers from the coast of Fujian, China,” Hardt said. 

While studying archaeology, Hardt said he felt supported by faculty and his advisor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

Hardt completed an internship at ASU's Center for Archaeology and Society and was hired as a student worker at the Tonto National Forest. He took a graduate-level course from Associate Professor Matthew Peeples and participated in a research apprenticeship program with graduate student Britt Davis. 

“Our project was constructing a plausible trade network spanning roughly the Belize Valley during the Preclassic Mayan period, looking into the formation of hierarchies and inequality by comparing frequencies of ceramic types in assemblages at a wide spread of sites dating to that period,” Hardt said. “Davis did most of the heavy lifting but was kind enough to credit me on the resulting poster, which was presented at the Society for American Archaeology.”

Hardt is also grateful for mentor Kathryn Ranhorn, assistant professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and Jiangnan Li, a teaching assistant of Chinese at the School of International Letters and Cultures.

“I got into archaeology because it's cool and the work itself is rewarding,” Hardt said. “I like looking at ancient stuff and trying to connect the pieces in plausible ways. I like constructing networks based on available data and then analyzing the structures.”

Written by Julie Russ and Nicole Pomerantz.

Inspiring the next generation of engineers

Graduate students demonstrate final projects to encourage high schoolers to pursue engineering

May 30, 2023

When high school students consider majoring and working in a field as broad as engineering, it can be difficult to narrow down what the right fit may be without firsthand knowledge. 

Junfeng Zhao, an assistant professor of engineering at The Polytechnic School, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, found a way to help. A group of people pose for a photo. Graduate students in Arizona State University’s Principles of Systems Engineering class present their final projects encouraging high school students to pursue engineering in higher education. Photo by Sona Srinarayana/ASU Download Full Image

Students in Zhao’s graduate-level Principles of Systems Engineering class turned their standard end-of-semester presentations into an engineering showcase at ASU Preparatory Academy-Polytechnic High School. The showcase gave students an inside look at what engineering projects can entail.

The class focuses on the interdisciplinary aspects of designing and developing complex systems, addressing the scale, scope and complexity that engineers need to consider during the design process. 

Zhao, who also runs the Battery Electric and Intelligent Vehicle, or BELIV, Lab, which researches the development of safe, clean and energy-efficient intelligent vehicles, split his class up into five groups, each focused on a different aspect necessary to the development of an autonomous vehicle. 

Presenting the possibility of an engineering future

The idea for the showcase came from a chance encounter at an event organized by the School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks, part of the Fulton Schools at ASU.

Irvin Goutcher, a science teacher at ASU Preparatory Academy, heard about Zhao’s work. They began discussing opportunities that Zhao could provide for Goutcher’s students.

“Students need to see what they are learning in action,” Goutcher said. “Being able to participate in events that validate what you are learning is inspiring. The earlier you can inspire a kid, the more passionate and driven they become in achieving their goals.”

Stephen Rothkopf, principal of ASU Preparatory Academy-Polytechnic High School, said the students look forward to ASU-affiliated showcase events. 

“Students gain an appreciation for the sorts of things engineers do,” Rothkopf said. “This helps students be more active when selecting learning pathways toward graduation.”

At the event, Zhao and his students demonstrated the systems that are implemented into autonomous vehicles, including the limits of sensing technology and the way that impacts how a robotic system recognizes objects, maps its surroundings, follows paths and detects traffic signs.

Through in-person demonstrations, graduate students tested a shoebox-sized autonomous car’s ability to assess changes in its environment and navigate itself. High schoolers were able to ask questions, watch and interact with the vehicles.

Nikki Van Handel, a master’s student in the systems engineering program, conducted one of the presentations.

“Usually with a final project, there’s an expectation that you’re following a rubric and marketing your final project to your grader,” Van Handel said. “In this case, we really had to pivot in our presentation development.”

Looking to lifelong learning

Rothkopf believes the high school’s relationship with ASU and its focus on preparing students for higher education sets ASU Preparatory Academy apart.

“Students feel like Sun Devils from day one,” he said. “(ASU Preparatory Academy’s) curriculum is designed to help students find their potential and develop an understanding of what they would like to do for their postsecondary education.”

That goal is directly aligned with the Fulton Schools’ foundational identity to expose engineering and technology students to hands-on, impactful projects from their first day.  

Ariana Adrian, a senior at ASU Preparatory Academy, has already enrolled to study software engineering this fall at the Fulton Schools as a student in Barrett, The Honors College. She will complete the first year of her degree via ASU Universal Learner Courses, a program that offers introductory college courses for credit.

“After I learned to code, I started trying out the classes on ASU Universal Learner,” Adrian said. “It solidified my interest in software engineering.”

Zhao plans to continue integrating the showcase into future courses to generate positive connections in the community. He said that he enjoys the opportunity to get high school students excited about engineering and their education.

“I hope that exposure to engineering concepts and hands-on experience can help the high school students establish an interest in higher education that shapes their long-term career goals,” he said.

Hannah Weisman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Marketing and Communications