LHA Staff and Partners
Jessica Yaquinto, M.A., Founder/Principal Investigator
Jessica Yaquinto (formerly Medwied-Savage) has an MA with distinction from Northern Arizona University in Applied Socio-Cultural Anthropology and a B.A. with honors from the University of Arizona in Anthropology and Spanish (Portuguese emphasis). Her Master’s thesis focused on improving federal-tribal consultation using Grand Canyon National Park’s tribal and cultural resource programs as a case study.
Jessica has worked in the field of Applied Cultural Anthropology for over a decade. During this time she conducted ethnographic and tribal consultation work through the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park, Northern Arizona University, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, and Dominguez Anthropological Research Group. She has worked with over 45 tribes across the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. She has also worked with Hispanic communities in Arizona, Colorado, Panama, Uruguay, Spain, and Mexico in both English and Spanish. The majority of her projects were federally funded and revolved around NHPA, NAGPRA, and NEPA compliance. The remaining studies focused on health disparities and community development.
Jessica is also a NOLS WMI certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR). She believes the safety of all fieldwork participants needs to be the top priority.
Kathleen Van Vlack, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Dr. Van Vlack is an applied cultural anthropologist specializing in Native North America and the Caribbean. She received her PhD from the University of Arizona in 2012 where she remained for four years following as a Post-doctoral Research Associate. Over the past fourteen years she has worked with 32 tribes across the U.S. Southwest, Great Basin, Midwest, and California, as well as people of the Caribbean.
She is currently the Past President of the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology and the Editor in Chief of The Applied Anthropologist. She has received numerous research and travel grants, including the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund for Dissertation Research. In 2009, she was awarded The Friedl and Martha Lang Student Award by the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology.
Her research interests include: Climate Change and Impacts on Indigenous Communities, Heritage Management, Cultural Landscapes, Resilience, Community Based Resource Management with Native Americans and people of the Caribbean, the Social Impacts of Environmental Policy in North America, and Cultural Resource Management.
Benedict J. Colombi, Ph.D., Research Associate
Dr. Colombi is Associate Professor of the American Indian Studies Program and Affiliate Associate Professor of the School of Anthropology, School of Geography and Development, and School of Natural Resources and Environment. He also holds a Faculty Appointment with the Institute of Environment, a center for disciplinary and interdisciplinary environmental and climate change research at The University of Arizona. He is the Past Program Chair of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), Anthropology & Environment section, Past Faculty Fellow with The Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, and is a Fellow with The Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA). In 2014, he served as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar conducting ethnographic fieldwork with Indigenous communities along Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.
His area of specialization lies at the anthropology of complex human-environmental problems (i.e. energy, water, climate, and fisheries). Recent publications include the book (Colombi and Brooks 2012), Keystone Nations: Indigenous Peoples and Salmon across the North Pacific (Advanced Seminar Series, School for Advanced Research Press) and a number of articles and chapters, including long-term and engaged research with the Nez Perce Tribe (Nimiipuu) about large dams, salmon, and the regional economy in the Columbia River basin. He also pursues interests in expanding his research to include Southwestern Indigenous people and watersheds (Colombi 2010; Colombi 2014; Pasqualetti et al. 2016); complimented with field studies of local-Indigenous resources/management in the United States, Canada, Russia, Iceland, Norway (Ween and Colombi 2013), Japan, and Mexico.
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Chelsea Kuiper, M.A., Research Associate
Chelsea has an M.A. with distinction in Applied Socio-cultural Anthropology from Northern Arizona University and a B.A. with honors in Anthropology from Colorado College. She has been working as an Applied Cultural Anthropologist since 2010. Her research interests include oral histories, digital storytelling, health disparities, and community organizing.