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Department of Anthropology

Interview with Samantha Yaussy



Samantha Yaussy

Why did you decide to pursue and MA/PhD in Anthropology?

At my undergraduate institution, I got a taste of independent research as a part of my honor's thesis. For me, the research process--collecting and analyzing data, examining and interpreting my findings, and contributing to our collective understanding of life in the past--was an exciting and empowering opportunity. Particularly, I was interested in learning more about the ways in which cultural and biological factors intersected to influence the experiences and health outcomes of individuals in the past. Those sorts of questions--and the holistic approaches used to answer them--are not found in any other discipline.

Tell us about your current position.

I am currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. My primary role is to teach several of the biological anthropology classes currently offered at the university, including Introduction to Physical Anthropology, Fundamentals of Forensic Anthropology, Human Osteology, Forensic Anthropology, Health and Disease in the Past, and Human Variation.  

Why did you choose our program?

The faculty. The research and teaching interests of the faculty at UofSC coincided with my own research interests and goals. Even more importantly, I felt comfortable discussing my thoughts and ideas with various faculty members when I visited the campus. Those feelings of mutual respect and encouragement were not duplicated in every department I visited, and it became a huge factor in my decision.

Did you get what you wanted from the graduate program in the Department of Anthropology?

Absolutely. The faculty and other graduate students are very generous with their advice and materials, such that you have every opportunity to succeed if you put in the effort. My success is in no small part thanks to the support provided by the faculty of the department and my peers in the program: I was awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship on the first submission because other successful PhD students were willing to share their materials with me; I published multiple times before I completed my PhD because I had an advisor who provided outstanding mentorship over the course of my scholarly development; and I continue to produce innovative research thanks to the guidance and counsel of the members of the Department of Anthropology who were willing to take the time to provide feedback on my ideas.

What is your favorite thing about Columbia, SC?

The eats! There is something for everyone in Columbia, even though it's not a particularly large city. If you like Vietnamese, check out Decker Blvd. If you like proper southern barbecue, you will not go hungry. If you want to take a night on the town and visit a nicer dining establishment, there's no shortage of those venues either. As a graduate student, it was especially important for me to be able to get out of the house and take a mental health break every one in a while. Columbia had plenty of options for foodies and craft beverage connoisseurs alike. 


Samantha L. Yaussy, PhD

Department of Anthropology

University of Nevada, Reno

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.