Current & Recent Graduate Students

in order of (anticipated) graduation

Robin Gray (Ts’msyen and Mikisew Cree)

PhD 2015, UMass Amherst Anthropology

Current position: Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Missisauga.

Dr. Robin R. R. Gray is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Prior to joining our faculty, Dr. Gray held a 2-year University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History Department at the University of California Santa Cruz. Her research centers primarily on the politics of Indigeneity in settler colonial contexts such as Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia. As a socio-cultural anthropologist and Indigenous studies scholar, Dr. Gray employs critical ethnographic, community-based, Indigenous and intersectional methodologies in the study and presentation of knowledge, power, culture and society.

Dr. Gray’s current research projects focus on the repatriation of Ts’msyen songs from archives, and foundational issues related to the preservation, management, ownership, access and control of Indigenous cultural heritage. She is working on a book manuscript titled, Indigenous Repatriation: Law, Property and Nationhood. In it she is analyzing various forms of Indigenous repatriation to interrogate the colonial power dynamics engendered by the transformation of Indigenous cultural heritage into the property of people, states and institutions unrelated to the source community. Theoretically, it necessarily confronts the contested sites of archives, museums, law, ethnographic collecting practices, cultural appropriation, collective memory, intellectual property issues, and Indigenous rights, while it also disrupts totalizing discourses of Indigeneity, nationhood, property and heritage—including the concept of repatriation itself. You can learn more about her work here:

Davina Ruth Two Bears (Diné-Navajo)

PhD 2019, Indiana University Anthropology Department

Current position: Visiting Asst. Professor of Anthropology, Swarthmore College

Dr. Two Bears is a Diné (Navajo) originally from Birdsprings, Arizona. Her maternal clan is Tódích’íi’nii, Bitter Water, born for Táchii’nii, Red Running into the Water Clan; and her maternal grandfather’s clan is Tábąąhí, Edge Water, and her paternal grandfather’s clan is also Tódích’íi’nii.  Currently, Davina is the Anne Ray Fellow at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she is writing a book based on her dissertation research. In 2019 Davina completed her dissertation and received her doctoral degree from Indiana University in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology; and a PhD Minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies. Her dissertation topic derives from her grandparents’ oral history about the Old Leupp Boarding School (OLBS), an early twentieth century Federal Indian Boarding School on the southwestern Navajo Reservation. Using decolonizing research methods, including interviews with Navajo elders and a critical analysis of historical records and photographs, Davina investigates the early history of the OLBS (1909-1942), which has never been thoroughly documented in the literature. Davina focuses on the survivance of Navajo children and how they resisted and survived assimilation within the context of the OLBS. From 2017-2019, Davina completed the Charles Eastman Fellowship in Native American Studies (NAS) at Dartmouth College where she finished writing her dissertation and taught an NAS course on Native American contemporary music in the Spring 2019. She is an Alumni of Dartmouth College and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology in 1990. Davina later earned a Master of Arts degree in socio-cultural anthropology from Northern Arizona University (NAU) in 2002. Davina worked as a tribal archaeologist and program manager of the Navajo Nation Archaeology Department NAU Branch Office for fourteen years from 1991 to 1995 and 1999 to 2010. She has published on the topic of Navajo and Indigenous Archaeology and wrote about her experience at Dartmouth in the book, “I Am Where I Come From: Native American College Students and Graduates Tell Their Life Stories” (2017 Garrod et al.). Davina is a proud mother of three young adults, Brenna, Barbara, and Brady Jr. You can download Davina’s CV here.

Cedar Robideaux (Anishinaabe-Ojibwe)                                                                                 MA 2020, UMass Amherst Anthropology Department

Cecilia Vasquez

Phd 2021, UMass Amherst Anthropology Department.                                                        Current Position: American Council of Learned Societies Emerging Voices Fellow at UC Davis’s Global Migration Center

I am researching the implementation of Sanctuary Policies during the Trump Era, in the conservative region of San Bernardino County in California. I work with a grassroots organization developing the Sanctuary infrastructure in the region to understand community power. My research uses community-based and critical race methods.
Areas of interest: activist research, sanctuary, immigration, community-based research.
Learn more about Dr. Vasquez’s work at:
Erica Kowsz                                                                                                                        PhD 2022, UMass Amherst Anthropology Department                                                        Current Position: Assistant Director of Fellowships at the Fries Center for Global Studies at Wesleyan University

Erica is a cultural anthropologist, filmmaker, and heritage studies scholar. Her most recent work brings together semiotic approaches to social difference in contemporary liberal democracies, political and legal anthropology, and critical indigenous studies. She is currently writing her dissertation based on three years of ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in Norway and New England. In the dissertation, she traces Sami and Nipmuc histories of struggle for recognition of their indigenous rights by the states and societies in which they live (read more about the project here in English, and here in Norwegian).

Earlier work: From 2009-2014, Erica’s work focused on issues related to cultural heritage and archaeological practice in North America, as well as early work on issues of indigenous recognition, including a film project with Sinixt people living on both sides of the U.S./Canada border in Washington State and British Columbia, completed in 2013.

In addition to her scholarly work, Erica has worked in university teaching, documentary film and video production, museum consultation, web content development, and academic publishing. Erica is currently based in Western Massachusetts where she is a PhD Candidate in the Anthropology Department and a qualitative methodologies consultant at the Institute for Social Science Research.  Learn more about Dr. Kowsz’s work at:

Julie Woods

Doctoral candidate, anticipated date of graduation is May 2022                                                         

Brie Adams PhD student, entered Fall 2016

Ryan Rybka  PhD student, entered Fall 2016

Victoria Bochniak  PhD student, entered Fall 2017

Kay Kakendasot Mattena (Potawatomi, Loon Clan)

PhD student, entered Fall 2019

I have specialties in perishable artifact analysis and reshaping, experimental replication, osteology, archaeological field methods, anthropological ethics and theory, and various art forms including: spoken word poetry, acrylic painting, realism studies, and human figures.
My future research focus is directed at community engaged anthropology through the use of activism and art to educate the public. Primarily aimed at educating and encouraging the seventh generation (Indigenous youth) to aid the revitalization efforts in nishnabek (Alqonquin) communities.