Faculty Applied Interests and Consulting Specialties | Department of Anthropology

Faculty Applied Interests and Consulting Specialties

Beverly Ann Davenport

Anthropology and social epidemiology of chronic disease (especially hypertension, type II diabetes, and obesity), the role of race and class as variables in health disparities in the United States, communication processes in medical care, medical professional socialization processes, qualitative methods in program evaluation

Doug Henry

Medical anthropology, refugee and immigrant health, international and public health, the demographic impacts of culture change, the Internet, international disaster relief, violence, Africa

Lisa Henry

Cross-cultural health beliefs and treatments, healthcare decision making and alternative medicine, evaluation of healthcare delivery in hospitals and clinics, patient response and compliance to treatment plan, curriculum evaluation in medical schools

Pankaj Jain

Migrants and refugees, religion and ecology, environmental anthropology, Indian and South Asian culture and society, Asian diaspora, American places of worship and sustainability

Mariela Nuñez-Janes

Anthropology of education, bilingual education, multiculturalism, hidden curriculum and critical pedagogy. Race and ethnicity, nationalism, Latinos, whiteness, border studies, U.S. Southwest, and the applied implications of "insider" research

Alicia Re Cruz

Migrants and refugees, displacement, border studies, Hispanic culture and society, Latin America, Mesoamerican culture, Maya culture and society, rural-urban migration, social change, tourism, transnationalism, peasant societies

Christina Wasson

Virtual and face-to-face communication in the workplace, user-centered design of products and technologies, organizational culture, human-computer interaction, video ethnography, how visitors experience museums


Examples of Applied Projects of Faculty Members

Beverly Ann Davenport

Project: SolanoWORKS-WIC Nutrition Program Evaluation
Client: Department of Health and Social Services, Solano County, California
Date: 2001-2003
Description: Dr. Davenport designed a program evaluation using qualitative research methods for a special WIC program for welfare-to-work mothers. She trained nutritionists in basic principles of ethnographic research and writing, conducting monthly workshops to help them develop their ethnographic write-ups of their clients. She provided an overall data analysis, wrote the executive summary, edited the ethnographic portraits written by the nutritionists and integrated them into a comprehensive final report produced for the Director of the Health and Social Services Department.


Doug Henry

Project: Social and Environmental Interventions Study
Client: University of Texas SW Medical Center
Date: 2000-2002
Description: This project, a multi-stage, mixed quantitative/ qualitative study, was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to look at "structural" influences from the social and physical environment on the behavior of young gay and bisexual men. Between 2000-2002, the project collaborated with some 200 young men and over 80 local HIV service providers, outreach workers, community leaders, and health professionals. The approach followed that of a "community empowerment" intervention, in which community-wide change in behaviors is targeted by organizing communities to define their health problems, identify the determinants of those problems, and engage in effective, collective action to change these determinants. The purpose was been to engage young men in articulating the social and environmental factors in their lives relevant to their current risk for HIV/ STD infection, and to enlist their participation in conceptualizing, prioritizing, and evaluating a range of potential prevention interventions that could, if realized, fundamentally address these influences, and positively impact their lives.

Project: Liberian, Nigerian, and Sudanese Refugee/ Immigrant Health Concerns
Client: Baylor University Hospital, Dallas
Date: 1998, 2001
Description: Refugees and immigrants living in the United States often have unique health concerns, of which U.S. health practitioners may be ill equipped or simply too busy to understand. This research was based on the belief that a better understanding of the social, cultural, political, and economic situation of these groups could help U.S. health care practitioners better meet refugee and immigrant health care needs.

Project: Health, Income, and Empowerment Among Sierra Leonean Refugees
Client: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Field Office, Guéckédou, Guinea, West Africa
Date: 1997
Description: Economic opportunities for camp-dwelling refugees are limited, a fact which has problematic implications for health and health behavior within the camps, in particular the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Currently the prevalence of STDs among refugees remains largely undocumented, as most cases are not reported to the formal sector. They are, however, widely acknowledged among refugees themselves to be common. This project was the result of preliminary research concerning health behaviors of Sierra Leonean (mostly Mende) refugees in Kolomba Camp, Rep. of Guinea. It attempted to shed light on the complex relationships that exist in camps between economic generating ability, empowerment, gender, culture, education, and "at risk" behavior. It was done in conjunction with the researchers' affiliation with the NGO's Catholic Mission for Refugees and Concern Universal, and as part of doctoral dissertation research in medical anthropology.


Lisa Henry

Project: Physician Assistant Students and Their Cadavers: Narratives on the Gross Anatomy Experience
Client: The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Date: 2001
Description: The goal of this study was to understand the sociocultural experience of gross anatomy on physician assistant students. By understanding this experience we hope to 1) better understand its impact on the process of acculturation to the medical profession, and 2) expand the knowledge base of physician assistant educators to help them make appropriate educational decision for their students.


Pankaj Jain

Project: EcoDharmic Seva
Client: Hindu American Seva Communities
Date: 2011-present
Description: This project, in collaboration with Pluralism Project of Harvard University and Green Faith aims for greening of temples and places of worship. The project was launched in July 2011 at the White House. We are working with select temples in North Texas and beyond to pilot the national greening effort. We have developed "Greening of Puja" guide book, Community Gardening, and many other resources.


Mariela Nuñez-Janes

Project: Bilingual Education and Identity
Client: New Mexican Urban Elementary School
Date: 2000
Description: This project compared two strands of bilingual instruction (dual-language and maintenance) utilized in a New Mexican elementary school. The purpose was to understand how each strand's assumptions about the roles played by English and Spanish in the classroom informed Latino students' attitudes towards language and ethnicity. I conducted participant observation with fourth and fifth-grade students who identified as Mexicano and Chicano to further illuminate the historical tensions between long time Hispano residents and recently arrived Mexican immigrants.


Alicia Re Cruz

Project: Immigration Resource Council for Conflict Resolution
Client: North Texas community
Date: 2001-2002
Description: This project aims at resolving conflicts due to cultural misunderstanding among the multi-cultural community of North Texas. It provides assistance for immigrants, civic agencies, schools, hospitals or other individuals and organizations that request the council's resources for help in problem solving. The project helps with mediators, translators, legal liaisons, and cultural experts provided through the network of professionals, community leaders and ethnic associations which comprise the program. In addition, this project is an exercise in keeping university and community in constant communication; applied anthropology students get involved at different steps of the research or resolution of the case-conflict that the council deals with. This program is operated on a volunteer basis.

Project: Dialogue Among Borders
Client: UNT (University of North Texas) and UQROO (The University of Quintana Roo)
Date: 1999-2001
Description: This project aimed at analyzing the "border culture" by establishing a dialogue between different Mexican border regions: North, border with USA, and South, border with Belize. The study had three focuses: public health, environment, and community development. Two groups of students from both universities were selected. Through videoconference, three scholars from both universities, specialized in the study's focuses, presented their research to both student groups. An integral part of the videoconference was a twenty to thirty minute time for questions and answers among Texans and Mexican students, based on the data presented and the stereotypes that each group had on their or the others' border region. The project finished with a round table of guest speakers which included scholars, community leaders and representatives, and students in order to address the needs of both Mexican borders, and the commonalities and differences among them. This project resulted in a monograph that contains scholars' lectures, major points discussed at the round table, and Mexican and Texan students papers which were presented at the Society for Applied Anthropology meetings in 2000 and 2001.

Project: Introduction of New Planting Techniques among Yucatec Mayas
Client: Chan Kom, a Maya Yucatec community
Date: 1989-90
Description: The Yucatec Mayas perform slash-and-burn techniques to plant corn in their milpas; however because of the exhaustion soil in the forest, their yields are more and more scarce. The Mexican Government tried to bring new planting techniques to the Maya communities, in order to produce more corn; however their training and efforts to teach and show the Maya peasants the new agricultural methods were not successful. This project showed that the agricultural introductions by the Government were clashing with the ancestral ways of "growing and nurturing" corn, which jeopardizes the ritual-sacred Maya cycle associated to corn. The study proposed alternatives of establishing "dialogues" between the new techniques and the traditional way of "making milpa". This project-study was part of my PhD research among the Mayas, which resulted in the book, The Two Milpas of Chan Kom, published by SUNY Press.


Christina Wasson

Project: EcoMoto: Exploratory Research on Environmentally Friendly Design for Motorola (Class Project)
Client: Motorola
Date: 2005
Description: This research was conducted for Motorola's ECOMOTO group, which was in the process of developing cellphones that would be targeted at "green" consumers. Although the group had extensive technical expertise in how to create more environmentally friendly cellphones, they were interested in obtaining ethnographic information about the potential audience for ECOMOTO. We conducted ethnographic research among this community and presented our findings to Motorola.

Project: Making Mobile Experiences Meaningful (Class Project)
Client: Microsoft
Date: 2004
Description: In order to think predictively about design opportunities for mobile devices over the next 3-5 years, Microsoft wished to broaden their understanding of the ways in which people were transforming their overall mobile experiences by making them more personally meaningful. We partnered with Microsoft to explore some of these dynamics among young adults, conducting ethnographic research on how 18-24 year olds use and understand their mobile devices.

Project: Design of COPAA Website
Client: Consortium of Applied and Practicing Anthropology Programs (COPAA)
Date: 2004
Description: Wasson led a team that developed a website for COPAA. First a graduate student research assistant conducted user research with faculty in applied anthropology programs, students, and practitioners. These findings were presented at the 2004 COPAA business meeting, where a series of design recommendations for the website were developed collaboratively by COPAA members. We then worked with UNT's Multimedia Development Lab to create a website in accordance with the recommendations.

Project: Travelers' Experiences with Concessions at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (Class Project)
Client: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Date: 2003
Description: The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was under increasing financial pressures in the post-9/11 world. It sought to better understand the needs of travelers in order to offer concessions that would be a good fit with their needs, and thus increase revenues to the airport. We conducted an ethnographic study of how travelers spent their time when they were waiting for their flights. We collected information about both the current use of concessions, and unmet needs which provided opportunities for the airport.

Project: Evaluation of the Exhibit "Latino Life in the United States"
Client: Field Museum and Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Chicago
Date: 2001
Description: Ethnographic study of how visitors engaged with a traveling exhibit that was split between two museums when it appeared in Chicago. Researchers observed, videotaped, and interviewed visitors. Findings included the navigational difficulties that visitors encountered; the role of visitors' prior knowledge about Latinos; and the ways that visitor's mental models shaped their perceptions of the exhibit.

Project: Communication and Information Technologies for the Police
Client: A large U.S.-based high technology company
Date: 1997
Description: Research to help client company develop a strategy for expanding its presence in the market for police communication and information technologies. Project members observed, videotaped, and interviewed police working on the beat and in the office in several Texas cities. Findings included an analysis of the complex trajectory of the information that police collect, process, and hand over to the DA, and a description of the complex mobility requirements of these professionals. I led the research on this project when I was a project manager at E-Lab LLC, a design consulting firm in Chicago.

Project: Group Work
Client: Steelcase
Date: 1996
Description: Ethnographic study of how employees engage in groupwork, leading to recommendations for how Steelcase might design office environments to support the needs, behaviors and mental models that we observed employees displaying with regard to teamwork and collaboration. I led this project when I was a project manager at E-Lab LLC, a design consulting firm in Chicago.

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