Projects in this area involve special attention to developing and testing novel methodological approaches to research and the application of anthropology.

Project: Advancing Knowledge and Practice for Ethnographic research and Qualitative Data Analysis

SJSU Principal Investigator(s): Melissa Beresford

Client/Partner/Collaborators: NSF-funded Cultural Anthropology Methods Program

Summary: Innovative social science research relies (in part) on innovative methods of data collection and analysis. This project uses existing ethnographic research projects and data sets to design and execute methodological studies that advance and innovate methods for ethnographic research and qualitative data analysis. Publications from these studies provide empirical evidence that can help to inform and justify research designs for projects in academia, industry, government, and non-governmental organizations. Students who are interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of ethnographic research methods and methods for qualitative data analysis should contact Dr. Beresford about joining this project.

Funding: the NSF-funded Cultural Anthropology Methods Program 

Timeline: Ongoing

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for MA projects and theses. Please contact Dr. Melissa Beresford

Project: Physical Anthropology

Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Weiss

Client/Partner: N/A

Summary: Research in osteological studies using the Amerindian curated skeletal collection to reconstruct the past and better understand bone biology.

Funding: N/A

Timeline: N/A

Student Opportunities: Students who are interested in pursuing a physical anthropology (e.g. forensics, paleoanthropology, or bioarchaeology) thesis should contact Dr. Elizabeth Weiss (

Student Researchers: N/A

Project: Community-Based Participatory Hazard and Vulnerability Assessment

Principal Investigator(s): A.J. Faas, Co-PI Anne Wein (USGS)

Client/Partner: US Geological Survey

Summary: In partnership with the US Geological Survey (USGS), we are working with community organizations and groups in the South and East Bay to study and interpret the production, negotiation, and reduction of hazards, disasters, and vulnerability. This is a citizen science project that directly involves non-professionals in the production of scientific knowledge about their cities and communities, which we hope to apply in projects intended to reduce vulnerability and hazard and disaster risk. To accomplish these objectives, we are piloting new participatory methodologies with community groups.

Funding: US Geological Survey

Timeline: 2019-2022

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for funded student research assistantships and individual student MA projects and theses. Please contact A.J. Faas (

Student Researchers: Jhaid Parreno, Gabbie Fall, Noemie Gonzalez Bautista (Post-Doc)

Project: Disaster Preparedness in San José

Principal Investigator(s): A.J. Faas

Client/Partner: Japantown Prepared!

Summary: In partnership with Japantown Prepared!, a disaster preparedness organization in San José’s historic Japantown, we are designing anthropologically-informed organizational development projects to improve organizational structure and community participation, and improving household and community-level disaster preparedness in Japantown. Deliverables to-date include: a preparedness and response “block captain” initiative, website and social media development, a community disaster supplies depot, community festival tabling and outreach, an organizational branding project, a business preparedness program, a marketing project, and an ethnographic study of preparedness in Japantown. New projects include a household preparedness survey and designing and implementing new participatory preparedness events.

Funding: Laura Good Grants to support undergraduate research and projects, GRAD grants for graduate student research

Timeline: 2017-2022

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for funded student research assistantships and individual student MA projects and theses. Please contact A.J. Faas (

Student Researchers: Vanessa Castro [pdf], Brandon Alvarado, Nicole Angulo, Bryan Arcadia, Essay Beyene, Nicole Bradley, Cameron Chan, Troy Clark, Nancy Diaz, Madeline Dickson, Maranyeli Estrada, Alyssa Gil, Matthew Hodson, Kiyoshi Ito, Mardi Khin, Patrick Kim, Wendy Kwong, Chelsea Lance, Nayeli Lopez, Jeovany Martin, Leonicio Mejia, Cristian Mesias, Roger Mountha, Wendy Myvett, Victoria Nguyen, Kelly Phan, Lluvia Ramos, Joshua Rivera, Maylea Saito, Jodi Tran, Janet Trujillo, Brian Truong, Shaojie Yu

Project: Colonial Caribbean Landscapes, Nevis, West Indies. A study of sugar capitalism, slavery, and environment.

Principal Investigator: Marco Meniketti

Partner: Nevis Historical and Conservation Society

Summary: Archaeological investigation of historic colonial landscape associated with sugar plantations and the institution of slavery. Included archaeological documentation of plantations, slave villages, and associate material culture

Funding: Self-funded through Faculty Led Programs Abroad program.

Timeline: 2007-2018

Student Opportunities: Students could develop advanced undergraduate or graduate thesis projects based on material culture, GIS based spatial analysis, forensics, geoarchaeology, and ethnographic studies. Leadership opportunities as field supervisors and field staff.

Student Researchers: John Schlagheck, Afonso Tinoco (McNair Scholar), Kathy Mistely, Jerry Starek, Rebecca Spitzer, Marissa Massaro [pdf], Chris Keith [pdf], Erika Harvey [pdf]

Project: Loma Prieta Mill Project. A study in labor, immigration, and industrial archaeology of 19th century timber industry in California.

Principal Investigator: Marco Meniketti

Partner: California State Parks and Recreation

Summary: Students could develop advanced undergraduate or graduate thesis projects based on material culture, GIS based spatial analysis, forensics, and faunal analysis.

Funding: Self-funded as Summer course and FLP program.

Timeline: 2015-2017

Student Opportunities: Students could develop complementary projects in new partnerships with Cal State Parks or engage with material culture studies. Leadership opportunities as field supervisors and field staff.

Student Researchers: Colin Jaramillo, Rebecca Spitzer [pdf], Ariana Heathcote [pdf]

Project: Mapping Ourselves

Principal Investigator(s): J.A. English-Lueck (SJSU); Rajiv Mehta (Atlas of Caregiving)

Client/Partner: Atlas of Caregiving

Summary: In partnership with the Atlas of Caregiving students conduct autoethnographic examinations of their ecosystems of care.  Using an expanded practice-based understanding of Care, pioneered by Annemarie Mol, we partnered with the non-profit, the Atlas of Caregiving.  This organization is piloting ways to enhance the effectiveness of communities of care in public and non-profit sectors.  They began by creating an app to help map networks of caregivers beyond the biomedical sector.  The organization came to realize that the exchanges between people in their communities of care practice led to longer term support.  Our efforts at San Jose State University help refine and expand the process.

Funding: N/A, Evaluation funded by We All Care in Michigan

Timeline: 2019-2021

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for individual undergraduate student projects and graduate MA projects.  Contact J.A. English-Lueck (

Student Researchers: Anthropology 108, Medical Anthropology students, Steffen Anderson, Lauren Anderson, Angela Ayala, Sean Davis, Calista Dieser, Marley Harr, Andrea Jurado, Jacob Landingin, William Layne, Hannah McCormack, Sana Rahim, Molly Rosenfeld, Alex Su, Mitchell Tran, and Jordan Valenzuela.

Project: The Streetsense Project, formerly known as Parking Matters 

Principal Investigator(s): J.A. English-Lueck (SJSU); Dr. Melissa Cefkin (Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Silicon Valley Lab)

Client/Partner: Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Silicon Valley Lab

Summary: In partnership with anthropologist, Melissa Cefkin, at the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Silicon Valley Lab graduate students in the Anthropology 232 Applications Core class have conducted original research and developed ethnographically-based video design fictions to examine the potential consequences of changes to our streetscapes as vehicles become more autonomous.  Students in the class go beyond the interior of the vehicle and the experience of driving to examine the landscapes, policies and behaviors that shape our experience of being street adjacent.  Each cohort develops several team projects that examine how our streets reflect vulnerability, social justice, social change and explores cultural concepts such as ability, navigation, safety and community.  The various films have been collected into a public access YouTube Channel, San Jose State Applied Anthropology Nissan Research Center Collaborative Videos.  These videos have been shown to Bay Area communities of practitioners, EPIC (The Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference), the Society for Applied Anthropology, and the Southwestern Anthropological Association. Several students have gone on to base their MA projects on issues considered in the project and/or have received paid internships at the Alliance Lab.   

Funding: N/A

Timeline: 2016-2020

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for individual graduate MA projects.  Contact J.A. English-Lueck (

Student Researchers: Anthropology 232, Applications Core: (2020) Chioma Aso, Brieann DeOrnellas, Jillian Ferini, Andrew Ng, Jhaid Parreno, Shilpa Shah, Edher Zamudio, (2019) Melanie Baily, Milton Canas-Chinchilla, Kristen Constanza, Ashley Estrada, Jasmine Low, Kevin Kochever, Shelbie Taylor, Brett Witteck, (2018) Victor Cortes, Briza Diaz, Andrew Marley, Laticia Marshall, Megan Shaw, Andrea Vinke, (2017) Miguel Huerta, Simon Jarrar, Shauna Mundt, Bhargavi Pawar, (2016) Clemy Bebb, Leah Grant, Chelsea Halliwell, Erika Harvey, Sarah Luce, Ailea Merriam-Pigg, Jamieson Mockel, Angela Moniz, Ari Pimentel, Alisha Ragland, Kelli Sullivan, and Megan Watson.

Project: Cascading Impacts and Cooperation in Disaster, Displacement, and Resettlement in the Ecuadorian Andes

Principal Investigator(s): A.J. Faas

Summary: This is part of an ongoing, longitudinal study of two post-disaster resettlements and one community of displacees that returned to rebuild their village at the base of the active strato-volcano, Mt. Tungurahua, after evacuating in 1999 and again in 2006. In this project, we are investigating the historical production of disaster vulnerability, state and nongovernmental recovery and reconstruction strategies, the politics of disaster and recovery, gender and work in resettlement, and the role of cooperation and local adaptation in disaster response and recovery. In addition, we are currently working on a “knowledge in action” project that involves summarizing and presenting the range of published findings from this project into creative and useful deliverables for the communities who have participated in the study.

Funding: National Science Foundation (2009-2013), SJSU Undergraduate Research Program, Laura Good Grant for Undergraduate Research, SJSU College of Social Sciences RSCA Grants

Timeline: 2009-ongoing

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for funded student research assistantships and individual student MA projects and theses. Please contact A.J. Faas (

Student Researchers: Zaida Aleman, Kristen Constanza, Briza Díaz, Citlalli Hernández, Abril Pérez-Gonzaga (McNair Scholar), Daniel Maldonado, Edher Zamudio