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Anthropology Students Present Research at PASSHE Undergraduate Anthropology Research Conference

The 27th annual conference of the PASSHE Undergraduate Anthropology Research Conference included presentations by Anthropology students Lisa McCann, Katherine Elizabeth Fox, Gabrielle Renee Lehigh, and Sara Endy.

The conference was held at Kutztown University on April 27–28, 2013, and was sponsored by the Kutztown University Department of Anthropology and Sociology.

The student presentations included:

Molas: Tradition and Change

By Lisa McCann

Handmade molas are a main source of income for the Kuna people of Panama. Molas are an important part of Kuna culture and are an outward manifestation of their ethnic identity. Recently, several phenomena are impacting the Kunas. Sea level rise is forcing displacement of thousands of Kunas. Cruise ships bearing wealthy tourists increasingly visit the region. My study explores how external causes have impacted mola production and price. I interviewed four mola dealers. I reviewed journal articles and books pertaining to Kunas and molas. I examined various features of molas for changes over time, such as quantities being produced, subject matter, color palette, size, technique, and quality. Despite a growing population of Kunas, molas of exceptional craftsmanship and detail are made less often than in the past, with a corresponding increase in lesser quality “tourist molas.”

Examining Patient-Perceived Issues in Health Care for Chronically Ill Adolescents

By Katherine Elizabeth Fox

Though adolescent medicine as a discipline has existed since the 1960s, much of the substantive work in this field has only occurred within the last decade; even with this expansion, adolescent patients, especially those with chronic diseases, often feel that their concerns are underrepresented in medical settings. Interviews were conducted with current university students who had been diagnosed with a chronic condition between the ages of 12 to 17 to elicit illness narratives particular to these factors and how a diagnosis during adolescence affected their long-term health management. Themes gathered from interviews in this study, such as the current environment in which adolescents are treated, medical decision-making processes, and transition to adult medical care, as well as participants’ individual experiences will be explored within the context of available literature to identify areas of improvement from a patient perspective.

Cultural Study of the Homer City Power Plant

By Gabrielle Renee Lehigh

The Homer City Power Plant plays a pivotal role to the surrounding community through employment, financial support, and tradition. However, the recent controversy over installing scrubbers at the plant has led people to re-examine their relationships to the power plant, and to coal and energy extraction more broadly. This paper draws from my Anthropology honors thesis research on the ongoing social-environmental controversy surrounding the Homer City Coal Fired Power Plant. I draw from interviews and participant observation with Indiana County residents, political figures, and environmental organizations to examine the role of social history in relationship to place and the dynamic conversation around environmental concerns, employment opportunities, and local economy. This paper provides a unique opportunity to understand the cultural implications that surround the debate regarding energy production in a rural area.

Activity Patterns and Proximity among Mantled Howler Monkeys

By Sara Endy

Mantled howler monkeys are less social and less active than other primate species, spending much of their time at rest due to their folivorous and occasional fruit diet. Found in the rainforests of Central and South America, mantled howler monkeys live in multimale-multifemale groups of around 10 individuals. I studied the distance between the focal subject and its nearest neighbor as well as the activity levels in juvenile and adult (male and female) mantled howler monkeys at La Suerte Biological Field Station in Costa Rica. I hypothesized that juveniles would be more active than adults, and that juveniles would remain in closer proximity to other group members than adults. I used scan sampling to observe the activities of resting, feeding, and traveling over two-minute intervals for a 30-minute sample. I found that juveniles were the most active and that females had the smallest distance between themselves and other group members.

Department of Anthropology

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