MA in Anthropology

Maria Sellers, 2023

Maria Sellers

When are you graduating?

Summer 2023

Describe your dissertation, thesis, or capstone (if you completed one):

I used dental enamel microstructures to study patterns of stress in northern Peru. Specifically, I studied the colonial sites of Mórrope and Eten in order to determine how these patterns changed in response to colonialism.

How did you choose your specific area of study?

I came to bioarchaeology a bit by accident. When I was an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University, I had originally planned to do research in biology. After taking my first anthropology course, I fell in love with the perspectives that it provided. I ultimately found biological anthropology and bioarchaeology, which combined my interests into a single discipline. I chose to continue to pursue this interest at George Mason for my MA degree, and I will continue my work in bioarchaeology starting next fall at the University of Florida.

How did your academic experiences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences impact you?

The professors within the Anthropology department have taught me many new perspectives and theoretical frameworks that have completely shifted the way I think about every aspect of my life, including and even beyond my academic research. What I have learned here has truly made me a better person, and will continue to impact everything I do going forward.

Of which accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud?

This past spring semester, I was given the opportunity to serve as the Instructor of Record for an online asynchronous section of the Introduction to Biological Anthropology. I am really proud of the work I have done with my students. Seeing when different concepts click for them and finding ways to make the class more accessible have been some of my favorite parts. At the end of the day, there is nothing more valuable than passing on the knowledge that we have learned, and I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of that.

Are there faculty or staff members who made a difference during your Mason career?

There are so many faculty and staff members who made a difference during my Mason career. Dr. Haagen Klaus, my advisor, has been an invaluable source of help and support throughout this process. Through him, I was able to travel to Peru for a field season to collect my data, which otherwise would not have been possible. Dr. Daniel Temple has taught me new ways of integrating theoretical paradigms with statistical methods. Dr. Rick Smith's ongoing advice and his Disrupting Nature class have changed the way I think about my research, my career, and my life.

What advice would you give to an incoming cohort of graduate students?

Make sure you maintain a balance between academia and your personal life. Treat graduate school like a job, because it is. Set your work hours and stick to them. When you've set aside time to work, work. Once that is finished, clock out and do something for yourself, or with friends and family, that is completely unrelated to academia. This will help you to be more productive in the long run. It's your life, make sure that you're enjoying it along the way!

What are your current career plans following graduation? What are your long-term career goals?

I will be starting in the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at the University of Florida in the fall. Ultimately, I plan to continue to pursue my passion for both teaching and research by continuing in the field of academia.