Prospective Graduate Students

I am actively seeking students to work with, although whether or not I can accept any students in any particular year will of course depend on the graduate application pool, the needs of the department as a whole, and ability to offer a competitive financial aid package to students. I am particularly interested in students who are working with issues of disability, social movements, and technology (regardless of region). I am especially interested in helping diversify Cal and academia by mentoring successive generations of disabled scholars, scholars of color, queer scholars, and other minoritized scholars.

I welcome e-mail from prospective graduate students who want to work with me and encourage you to write early in the process (late spring or summer). When you do write, I do want you to have at least a draft statement of purpose that I can read and think about (i.e., your statement can be a crappy first draft but at least it'll form the start of a conversation). I have trouble responding to applicants who give a one or two-line version of their proposal and ask if I'm "interested" — I might be, but I also get dozens of these types of short emails and so I need more from you than a few sentences to really respond to. If you got a link to this page, that's why.

Entering a doctoral program in anthropology is a tremendous commitment of time and energy on your part and on the part of the university and your graduate advisor. You should spend as much time as possible before you apply to programs both articulating why you want to enter a doctoral program as well as trying to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the various programs that you want to apply to. At UC Berkeley (as well as at most other institutions), incoming students are selected by a committee of the faculty as a whole. Thus, successful candidates should frame themselves in ways that appeals to at least three different faculty as a general rule. The days when a single professor chose their individual students is long gone, thankfully.

My former colleague at Yale, Professor William Kelly, wrote an extensive description of what the Yale anthropology department is looking for in applicants, prospective doctoral students are strongly advised to read this as that program is quite selective and serves as a good proxy for many other competitive programs including UC Berkeley.

I've written some blog entries about graduate programs in Japan Anthropology and doctoral/MA programs in Visual Anthropology and Deaf Studies/Disability Studies. And finally, some of the most useful advice I've found on the admissions process for grad students has been on - for example this post on the steps you need to follow when applying to grad schools, finding an advisor, and writing your statement of purpose is simply superb:

At UC Berkeley, we have more slots than students we can fund. Americans who have a national fellowship such as an NSF-GRFP are at an advantage in admissions. Our funding for international students is very constrained so coming with your own funding such as CONACYT (Mexico), CONICET (Argentina), KFAS (Korea), JSPS (Japan), or so forth will give you an advantage. This isn't to say that you should give up on applying to Berkeley if you are an international student or don't have an external fellowship. It gives you an advantage, that is all, and should be pursued as with all other things that will give you an advantage.

The one thing that shouldn't be pursued too relentlessly is a high GRE score. The university and the department realize that for anthropologists, GRE scores are not predictive of performance in graduate school and beyond. I personally predict a time (soon) when we will no longer require GREs.

Anthropology and Medical Anthropology at Berkeley

UC Berkeley has two separate PhD programs that I am part of. The first is the PhD in Anthropology, which includes socio-cultural anthropology. The second is the Joint UC Berkeley UCSF Medical Anthropology Program. These are two separate programs with separate admissions processes (you cannot apply to both at the same time) and separate funding, with the med anthro program being much smaller than socio-cultural and more competitive in admissions. That being said, the med anthro faculty also serve in socio-cultural anthro and students in both streams can take classes in the other stream. We can talk about which program is better for you once you have a sense of what your project might be.


Disability Studies at Berkeley

There is no doctoral or master's program in Disability Studies at UC Berkeley nor do we have a certificate program or designated emphasis (yet).

Most graduate students who are interested in Disability Studies at Berkeley enter through one of the departments or programs that have proven to be supportive of DS. This includes but is not limited to Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, English, TDPS, Art Practice, Geography, and so forth. I am part of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society which does provide intellectual support for the Disability Studies Research Cluster.

Queer Studies at Berkeley

There is no doctoral or master's program in Queer Studies at UC Berkeley. This was somewhat puzzling to me when I arrived and still puzzles me now. So just as with Disability Studies, if you're interested in Queer Studies, you'll enter through a traditional discipline (Af-Am Studies, History, Anthro, Geography), and get a Designated Emphasis in Gender and Women's Studies.

Teaching Philosophy

A short piece on my philosophy of teaching and mentoring. Also see the "careers" section of my blog.

Other things you should know about me before meeting or working with me

1. I use a service dog, a small beagle. If you are afraid or allergic of dogs, we can arrange to have you sit so that you are not in close proximity to him. We can also meet via teleconference.
2. I am scent sensitive and they can give me intense migraines, so please try to avoid wearing perfumes or scents (including hair conditioner, laundry softener, and essential oils) if you can. If you can't avoid such products, let me know ahead of time so we can again arrange seating so that we can speak at a comfortable distance or perhaps change meeting locations to a better ventilated area. We can also meet via teleconference.
3. I also have a degree of facial blindness and please don't be offended if I don't recognize you, especially if it's out of context. I'm embarrassed about this and often fake it, so if you sense that, reminding me subtly of who you are would be much appreciated.

Informed Consent

#InformedConsent: Grad school is not for everyone. Don't apply or go to grad school just because everyone told you that you should because you're smart. And don't go because you don't have other choices. A grad career takes much too long (doctoral programs are 5-8 years) and pays much too little for an uncertain future where full-time tenure track positions are shrinking in number. Furthermore, the bay area has an extremely high cost of living. Think carefully about why you want to apply, where you should apply to, and how you'll pay for it. Never go into debt for graduate studies.

Resources for Disabled Students and Scholars

  • PhD Disabled - a blog for doctoral students with disabilities
  • Autism&Uni - a European Union based effort to increase access to universities for autistic students