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2015 Organizers and Participants


Katrina G. Claw (Diné/Navajo)
Katrina is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington working with the Northwest-Alaska Pharmacogenomics Research Network and the Center for the Genomics and Healthcare Equity. She is a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at UW (2015-2016). She received a PhD in genome sciences with Willie Swanson at the University of Washington. Her research interests include using genomics to address health disparities, the ethical and social implications of such research, especially in Native American and other indigenous populations, and primate evolution.

Michael DeGiorgio
Mike is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Pennsylvania State University. He completed a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics with Noah Rosenberg at the University of Michigan, before pursuing an NSF postdoctoral fellowship with Rasmus Nielsen at the University of California at Berkeley. His research interests include human evolutionary genetics, statistical population genetics, and mathematical phylogenetics.

Keolu Fox
Keolu is a Ph.D. candidate and human geneticist at the University of Washington, School of Medicine (Department of Genome Sciences). His work focuses on health disparities, next-generation DNA sequencing, and indigenizing genomics technologies. Currently Keolu works with experts at Bloodworks Northwest, Seattle, WA. focusing on the implementation of next generation sequence (NGS) analysis of human blood group antigens to increase compatibility for blood transfusion therapy and organ transplantation.

Nanibaa’ Garrison (Navajo)
Nanibaa’ is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Garrison earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Genetics at Stanford University, before completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Biomedical Ethics and the Center for Integration of Research on Genetics & Ethics, both at Stanford University. Her research was on the impact of the Havasupai Tribe lawsuit on genetic research and Institutional Review Boards. Nanibaa’’s current research interests include genetic research on Native American communities, informed consent, and issues of privacy and confidentiality.

Emilia Huerta-Sanchez
Emilia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of California Merced. She received her PhD in Applied Mathematics from Cornell University under the supervision of Carlos Bustamante and Rick Durrett. During her PhD work, she modeled evolutionary processes using stochastic models. After her PhD, she was a VIGRE Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of California Berkeley for one year, and after that she joined the laboratory of Rasmus Nielsen as an NSF postdoctoral fellow. Her current research interests involve detecting and characterizing natural selection in human populations, estimating human demographic histories and improving methods for the analysis of next generation sequencing data.   

Brian Kemp
Brian is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University. His research is focused on the analysis of mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomal DNA variation in extant and prehistoric populations to address questions about Native American prehistory that are not approachable from culture history alone. Brian received his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2006 from UC Davis.

Ripan S. Malhi
Ripan is an Associate Professor in Anthropology and Animal Biology, and is affiliated with the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign His research interests include using DNA analysis to infer the evolutionary history of Native Americans. Prior to his position at UIUC, he co-founded and served as the CEO of Trace Genetics, Inc., a biotechnology company located in the greater San Francisco area. Ripan received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California at Davis.

Cara Monroe
Cara earned a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 2014 and is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Anthropology at WSU. Her research is focused on, but not limited to, the examination of genetic variation of living and prehistoric human populations. She is trained in both archaeology and molecular anthropology, and her current research utilizes an ancient DNA (aDNA) approach to test for correlations between the genetic relatedness, spatial patterning, and presence of grave good assemblages within prehistoric Central Californian cemetery sites. This provides a direct examination of prehistoric mortuary practices and the emergence/maintenance of social inequality within the region. These same data than are used at the inter-site level in order to explore the timing and origin of the Penutian language family expansion and migration into California. This research also necessitated a partnership with indigenous California communities and has consequently resulted in a close working relationship with Native American groups both in regards to Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and the ethics of genetic testing. A highpoint is her collaboration with the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe which resulted in the participation and training of tribal students in extracting and analyzing aDNA from prehistoric remains from Central California.

Pilar Ossorio
Pilar is a Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin (UW), where she is on the faculties of the Law School and the Department of Medical History and Bioethics at the Medical School. In 2011 she became the inaugural Ethics Scholar-in-Residence at the Morgridge Institute for Research, a private, nonprofit research institute that is part of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery. Pilar serves as the co-director of UW's Law and Neuroscience Program, as well as a faculty member in the UW Masters in Biotechnology Studies program and the Graduate Program in Population Health. Prior to taking her position at UW, she was Director of the Genetics Section of the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association, and taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Chicago Law School.

Jamie Singson (Yaqui, Apache, and Filipino)
Jamie is the Director of the Native American House, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Jamie came to the University of Illinois campus from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he was a Student Affairs and Student Union Administrator. Prior to his current role, he was Assistant Director at the Illini Union, at the University of Illinois. Jamie’s doctoral work, in Educational Policy Studies within the College of Education at the University of Illinois, centers on Native American activist, Carlos Montezuma (Yavapai) and United States policy impacting Native American student education.

Joseph M. Yracheta (P’urhépecha and Raramuri)
Joseph has a Master's degree in Pharmaceutics from the University of Washington. He specializes in Pharmacogenomics, with an emphasis on American Indian and Latin Indigenous public health issues, as well as the bioethics of research within Indigenous communities. He has taught STEM courses at various reservation high schools in South Dakota.


Julie Beans (Yup’ik and Oneida)
Julie graduated with a Master’s in Public Health degree from Capella University in March 2014.  In October 2014 she accepted a position as a Researcher with the tribally owned and operated health facility, Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, AK.  Julie supports community-based participatory research efforts working with the Alaska Natives and American Indians living in the Southcentral Alaska region.  Current research projects include pharmacogenetics of tobacco cessation medication and the Alaska Native and American Indian population and pharmacogenetics of warfarin and the Alaska Native and American Indian population.

Rene Begay (Navajo)
Rene is a Masters of Science student at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO. She graduated in 2012 from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She plans to continue her education after her master's by entering into an MD-PhD. program. Her current research focuses on seeking cardiomyopathy genes in large family cohorts, and using gene information to recreate the human phenotype in Zebrafish.

Sheila Blanchard (Lumbee)
Sheila Jane Blanchard graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with BAs in both Anthropology and English, additionally she holds a BS in Biological Sciences from North Carolina State University.  Currently, she is attending Indiana University on a Graduate Fellowship, where she has earned her MA and will earn her PhD in Anthropology in Fall 2015. As a biological anthropologist with a concentration in food studies, her work focuses on human variation and the evolution of the taste sensory system. Under the guidance of her adviser, Dr. Andrea Wiley, she uses a bio-cultural framework to analyze the importance of secondary compounds, such as those found in chocolates and chili peppers, in human evolution and how these compounds influence contemporary human nutrition.

Jada Brooks (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina)
Jada is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her PhD in 2011 from the School of Nursing at Duke University, before completing postdoctoral training in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests include environmental health disparities and genetics related to Indigenous peoples.

Danelle Cooper (Hopi, Tewa, Navajo, Muscogee Creek)
In 2012, Danelle obtained her Associates in Arts from Mesa Community College. She then went on to acquire her Bachelor’s degree in Global Health and a minor in American Indian Studies from Arizona State University in 2014. Danelle is currently a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the Masters of Public Health program in the Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health specialization. She is interested in working with Indigenous People around the world to help in improving Indigenous Health.

Anna Cordova (Chicana)
Anna is a Master of Arts student in the Geography and Environmental Studies program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a focus in archaeology.  She has worked as a professional archaeologist since 2005, and is currently a Staff Archaeologist at the University of Colorado.  Her focus throughout her career has been on indigenous involvement in the field of archaeology where she concentrates on tribal and native community consultations, repatriation issues, and general communication with indigenous people about the various archaeological sites she has had a part of.  Her main career goal is to help bridge the gap between archaeologists and indigenous people.  Her current scholarly research is on the effectiveness of Cultural Resource Management laws in the State of Hawaii as they pertain to Native Hawaiians and the protection of traditional cultural practices and properties.

Jacob Dixon (Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma)
Jacob recently received his bachelors in Environmental Science from Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU). He has been accepted into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Entomology program where he plans to pursue his doctorates degree. In the coming fall semester, Jacob will be working in the lab of Dr. May Berenbaum as research assistant, acquiring skills as a new researcher. During the summer, Jacob will be a participant in the ERDC-CERL College Qualified Leaders (CQL) program that is part of an army education outreach program stationed in Urbana, IL.

Danielle Hewey (Navajo)
Danielle received a B.S. in Biology in 2015 from Fort Lewis College.  Research experience includes the examination of H2A.Z mRNA in D. melanogaster during embryogenesis, and an Animas River Study that aimed to isolate E. coli O157:H7 from recreational waters.  She is continuing her research experience with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories before applying to perspective graduate schools.  Benefiting Native American communities is fundamental to her goals as a future clinician.

Candice Jimenez (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs)
Candice received a B.A. in Biology from Concordia University and will be graduating with her Master of Public Health at Oregon Health & Science University in June 2015. After graduation Candice will be applying to medical school for Fall 2016 admission. She is particularly interested in Primary Healthcare and Healthcare Disparities as they relate to Indigenous Peoples’ across the United States as well as exploring the strength of Community-based Participatory Research. Currently, Candice is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board in Portland, Oregon focusing on pre-teen oral health as well as injury prevention in children.

Justin Lund (Diné)
Justin graduated from Arizona State University in 2014 with a B.S. in Anthropology and a minor in Global Health. Currently, Justin is a Master’s Candidate at the University of Oklahoma-Norman, where he again studies Anthropology with a focus in Health and Human Biology. Justin has plans on attaining his Master’s degree in the Spring of 2016. His current research project centers on analyzing microbiome changes in the graduate student gut. Justin will likely continue his research and studies at the University of Oklahoma-Norman, where his future plans include earning his PhD.

Savannah Martin (Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians)
Savannah graduated in June 2014 from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Psychology, and she is currently a Physical Anthropology graduate student and Olin Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research interests include epigenetic change as a result of psychosocial stress as it relates to the environment of poverty in Indian Country. This summer she is engaging in research on her home reservation with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, investigating how poverty is intertwined with cultural identity and this relationship’s effects on health outcomes. Savannah was recently awarded Honorable Mention by the National Science Foundation for a research proposal on traditional and contemporary diets.

Angela Neller (Hawaiian)
Angela completed her Masters in Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the Curator for the Wanapum Heritage Center where she focuses on the care and management of archaeological, ethnographic, and archival collections. She previously held positions at the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program and the Bishop Museum. As a Native Hawaiian she is particularly interested in the issues of identity, ownership, and authority as it relates to material culture and indigenous communities. Angela provides technical expertise to the Wanapum Band of Priest Rapids working closely with the tribes of the Columbia Plateau in repatriation matters. Her work in repatriation leads her to believe that genomics can be an important tool to Native American communities. She hopes to provide a bridge between this new path of knowledge and tribal perspectives.

Joel Parker (Maidu of California)
In 2016, Joel will obtain three associates degrees at West LA College Honors program (Liberal Arts, Health Sciences, and Psychology) and apply for early admission into medical school at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He works as a firefighter-EMT at Mooretown Rancheria Fire Department, his tribal fire department. Joel's worked in various fields, including politics, archaeology, and firefighting.  In 2007, a personal quest to ‘learn the Maidu language’ turned into a full-fledged linguistic project sponsored by National Science Foundation (NSF, Documenting Endangered Languages.)

Tada Vargas (Minniconjou, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe)
Tada has obtained Associates of Arts degrees in Life Sciences as well as Science, Engineering, and Math from Oglala Lakota College.  Currently, she is in her senior year at Oglala Lakota College, pursing a Bachelor’s in Natural Science with a Conservation Biology emphasis.  She is also working towards an Associates of Arts in Tribal Law.  Her current research project is evaluating the presence of cattle introgression in the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s bison herds.  Ultimately Tada would like to enter a Master’s program that would enable her to do research in hereditary diseases that are prominent in Native American populations.