Brandon Fryman, MA
Brandon Fryman received his Master of Arts at California University, Long Beach with an emphasis in Applied Anthropology in 2011. He has conducted ethnographic and applied research in Africa, Mexico and here in the United States. His undergraduate senior honors project, titled "Female Genital Modification: Beyond the Universalism versus Particularism Debate," was published in 2010 where he discussed FGM in depth. His master's thesis project conducted needs assessment and program evaluation on a non-governmental organization working with orphans and their families in Southwestern Uganda. While conducting ethnographic research, he visited the houses of the orphans and participated in workshops hosted by the NGO working with them. He wanted to see if the basic needs of the orphans were being met and whether the programs had a positive or negative effect on them, focusing on health, education, and sustainable living practices.
Professor Fryman has worked with Cambodia Town, writing grants focusing on capacity building projects, working on the business improvement district, and helping create the Gods of Angkor Wat exhibit at the Getty Museum. Additionally, he has worked at the Downtown Women's Center in the Los Angeles Skid Row area distributing feminine hygiene products and information while collecting data on the homeless population and getting children out of sex trafficking rings. He is also a Ugandan Country Specialist for Amnesty International conducting research and creating advocating strategies for social justice and human rights for the people in Uganda and helping with asylum cases in the United States. He has taught at various schools teaching a variety of courses such as criminology, ethnic studies, sociology, and anthropology, focusing on sex and gender, social justice, human rights, international development, indigenous peoples, applied anthropology, and NGOs.
Current projects of Professor Fryman focus on the embodiment of healing from various cultures around the globe. He has recently worked in Arizona and New Mexico focusing on the pan-indigenous movement of the hoop dance and how this is healing some communities. With tantra, he is studying how Buddhist, Hindus, and psychologists are using tantric techniques to heal through somatic touch. All the above has had a drastic effect on his hobbies and interests, volunteering for many organizations he has received an award from former President Obama in recognition for his service in the United States.
Dana Keithly, MA, MFA
Dana Keithly has taught courses in biological and cultural anthropology, and archaeology at the community college level for over 15 years. She is an alumni of Chaffey College, where her love of anthropology began. She transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned her bachelor's degree in anthropology. Always having an interest in archaeology, she decided to pursue a master's degree at California State University, Fullerton. Her thesis work focused on an analysis of marine mammal remains from several Holocene-era processing sites on one of the southern California Channel Islands, San Nicolas. She gained further fieldwork experience at several sites throughout southern California, including working as a paleontological monitor for a cultural resource management firm. During her time at CSUF, she became interested in visual anthropology and documentary filmmaking, and rather than pursue a Ph.D., she applied for the UCLA Producers Program, where she earned her master of arts degree. She is interested in working on film projects that have an anthropological focus, and currently working on several documentary proposals.
Wesley Nielson, MA
Wesley Nielson has been a professor of anthropology for over ten years. As a first-generation college student, Professor Nielson began his studies at Chaffey College. Early in his college career, he became fascinated with anthropology and went on to continue studying the discipline at California State University, Fullerton, where he received both his bachelor of arts and master of arts in anthropology. While earning his bachelor's degree, he trained in all four fields of anthropology and cultivated his passion for cultural anthropology. The sub-field would later become the focus of his research during his graduate program. His master's thesis investigates the symbols of the culture of martyrdom present in Sri Lanka and in West Asia (the Middle East) and examines the socio-political context in which suicide terrorism and the community that supports their actions emerge. His other current areas of interest include the modern human's understanding and interaction with wilderness, the sub-culture of adventure enthusiasts, and the connection of food and self-identity.
Kathryn Sorensen, PhD
Dr. Kathryn Sorensen is an anthropologist with a specialty in Maya archaeology, and has many years of teaching experience at universities and colleges here in the United States. She also has years of fieldwork experience in the Yucatán Peninsula, México and Panama.
Dr. Sorensen completed a bachelor of science from the University of California, Riverside, and earned a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Riverside. As a returning student (she didn't even start college until she was 40 years old!), Dr. Sorensen is familiar with the challenges and benefits of working, being a full-time student and parent. In her spare time she enjoys being with her family, reading, traveling, science fiction, and playing with her two German Shepherds, Thor and Loki.
Believing her life experiences and training adds another dimension to her teaching, Dr. Sorensen hopes that you will find anthropology to be as fascinating and relevant as she does.
Julie Strom, MA
Julie Strom is originally from New York and moved to California with the hope of becoming an actor. Like most actors in Hollywood, she worked a variety of odd jobs to make ends meet. Knowing that education was the most reliable path to steady and gainful employment, she began her academic career at Los Angeles Valley College without a specific career goal, but out of curiosity: "Can this college thing work for me?" A night course in cultural anthropology caught her eye because it generally addressed many of the things that had always fascinated her throughout her life, such as different cultures, art, history, literature, language, how and why people organize themselves. That first semester of college where she took this single class hooked her on anthropology for life. In those first years, she studied art history and religion alongside anthropology, but in the end, anthropology won the contest because of its culturally relative perspectives on studying the human experience and all its sociocultural diversity.
Transferring to the University of California, Los Angeles and completing the anthropology program in two years, Julie earned a bachelor of arts summa cum laude with highest departmental honors for her undergraduate thesis work on "Empathy and the Moral Negotiations of Science Fiction Fandom." This work focused on understanding the relationship between cultural concepts of morality and empathy for fictional characters among the vibrant online communities of science fiction fandom. At the time, there was little research in anthropology into online communities, and despite concern from some faculty members she was able to demonstrate through fieldwork and analysis that social media is a valid field for anthropological studies as it is a space where humans engage meaningfully with each other.
Continuing this work in graduate school at California State University, Northridge, Julie earned a masters in sociocultural anthropology with distinction. In her thesis "Moral Agency and Free Will: Speculative Fiction Fandom and the Discourse of Empathy," Julie looked at tens of thousands of social media posts to understand the rules of empathy. She asked questions like: Why do we feel empathy for some people, and not others? What are the rules by which we, consciously or unconsciously, choose to empathize with another human and their experiences? How does this affect how we analyze new experiences? And how might these rules be similar whether we are thinking about real-world human groups or fictional characters to which we are becoming attached?
Julie teaches the four fields of anthropology to community college students today because she hopes to inspire, even a small amount of fascination with humans and their amazing diversity of thought and behavior, with the belief that from understanding comes empathy and tolerance. She believes that anthropology provides a perspective through which each of us can better understand others in their own contexts, rather than based on our own biases, and that this is the path to a better future for all of us. "Anthropology does not teach us what to think, but it does teach us how to better think about ourselves and the world around us."
Jamie Vilos, MA
Jamie Vilos began her anthropological training in her very first class at Illinois Wesleyan University. While she originally majored in biology, she quickly switched after an introduction to human evolution and earned her bachelor of arts in anthropology.
After gaining an appreciation for archaeological excavations in Kampsville, Illinois, Professor Vilos moved to Las Vegas to continue her education and earned her master of arts in anthropology from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her research involved an investigation of extreme cases of trauma and pathological conditions in human remains from a 4,000-year-old tomb site in the United Arab Emirates. She theorized that the existence of these bones shows that the afflicted individuals survived these hardships but with the assistance and care of others in their society, thereby establishing a sense of compassion in the community. In addition to this research, she has traveled all over the world to explore archaeological sites and research ancient human remains. She has worked with skeletons from Bronze Age Greece, studied animal bones from major sites in Turkey, and excavated a medieval cemetery in Poland. Her other archaeological excursions include Cahokia, Athens, Rome, Pompeii, Chichen Itza, Guam, and Teotihuacan.
Professor Vilos began teaching biological and cultural anthropology in 2014 and joined Citrus College in 2018. In addition to teaching, she is interested in video game culture and gender issues.
Laura Wills, MA, MSW
Laura Wills began her academic life as a student at Mt. San Antonio College, where she became interested in anthropology after taking several introductory courses and discovering anthropology is not only the study of ancient relics, fossils or past cultures - as many believe - but also a study that examines present humanity and at times makes predictions about our future. Laura transferred to California State University, Fullerton where she focused her interests on biomedical anthropology: a discipline that examines the biocultural impact on our behaviors and health. She received her bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees from CSU Fullerton. Laura's graduate research analyzed how socioeconomic levels affected stress and cardiovascular health among certain populations. After receiving her master of arts in anthropology, Laura then went on to receive a master of social work (MSW). Currently, apart from teaching, she works as a licensed mental health therapist. In addition to her careers, Laura also enjoys traveling, tinkering on music instruments and trying to understand the how and why of internet phenomena, such as the virality of memes.