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Southern Oregon University

McNair Scholars


Patricia Halleran

        My name is Patricia Halleran. I am earning a Baccalaureate of Science Degree in Anthropology and a certificate in Native American Studies, and anticipate graduating summa cum laude in March 2015. I grew up in New York, where at a young age I developed a deep curiosity and respect for cultural diversity and the complexities of human societies. I became socially and politically active in my community as a young teen, and worked on numerous campaigns for social and environmental justice. Although the urban setting offered many wonderful opportunities for my early development, I yearned for a place where there were clean rivers, healthy forests, and open spaces. When I was 18 years old I relocated to the beautiful Rogue Valley of southern Oregon and have called this bioregion home ever since.    

      My primary field of interest is environmental anthropology, which focuses on the ecological relationships people have with their biophysical world, while examining the complex ways that populations shape, and are shaped by, their environment. My research interests include advancing our cultural and scientific understanding of the environmental challenges we face in the 21st century such as climate change, water scarcity, and excessive industrial development. I believe anthropological knowledge offers a unique perspective to these critically important issues as it holistically examines the role gender, class, 'race', and cultural differences play in one’s interaction with the landscape. I am also interested in the traditional methods of sustainable ecological practices that enabled human beings to survive for millennia, and how we might use these practices as models to explore viable solutions to contemporary problems.

      I have been a key organizer for the Native American Ecological Education Symposium (NAEES) at Southern Oregon University for the past two years. The mission of NAEES is to connect Native American ecological practices with educational development and contemporary actions to foster environmental restoration and stewardship in our region. The symposium offers a unique forum for local tribes, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and campus and local communities to share ideas concerning environmental justice and sustainability. This two-day event takes place during Native American month at SOU as a way to honor the Indigenous Peoples of our bioregion, as well as to address the ecological wounds left behind by the colonial era. I also had the honor to be an intern in the summer of 2014 for Dr. Mark Tveskov of the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA), and helped to repatriate Native American cultural items back to their rightful tribe.

     I have been fortunate to be the recipient of several scholarships in my academic journey from the American Association of University Women, American Association of Women in Community College, Chapter CP – PEO Foundation, Margaret D. Stephen Foundation, Miller Foundation, and the Second Step Foundation. In 2010, I received the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman Foundation International Scholarship that enabled me to study abroad in Florence, Italy where I explored my mother’s cultural heritage and the ecological niche my ancestors once occupied. This experience changed the way I felt about my place in the world and inspired me to take a deeper look at myself in relation to my own cultural background. In 2014, I was honored to receive the Anthropology Merit Award from SOU, the highest award given by the Anthropology Department.

      I am a student member of the American Anthropological Association, the Anthropology and Environmental Society, and the Society for Applied Anthropology. I am also a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society. I am a teaching assistant for the Native American Studies Program and anthropology department at SOU, and work with the McNair Program as a research assistant.

    After completing my undergraduate studies at Southern Oregon University, I will be applying to PhD programs in applied anthropology for fall 2015 entry. I am eager to advance my understanding of human society and intend to use the knowledge and skills I develop to improve our collective quality of life. My motivation to academically and professionally succeed is driven by my conviction to leave behind a healthy and sustainable planet on behalf of future generations. 

McNair Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jessica Piekielek, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

McNair Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tveskov, Professor of Anthropology


Scholar Curriculum Vitae

2014 McNair Scholar Symposium

PowerPoint Illustrated Presentation: