Senior Research Projects

All Luther College students complete a senior project as a culminating, independent experience.  Students with more than one major typically complete only one senior project, but many take advantage of the opportunity to develop a project that combines their interests in two or more disciplines. 

Anthropology majors who elect to complete the senior project in anthropology must address an issue of contemporary anthropological importance through a theoretically grounded analysis of anthropological data. In many cases, the students collect the data themselves, which might involve measuring artifacts and other archaeological remains; conducting interviews; making detailed observations of a cultural setting; or examining the content of films, advertisements, popular songs, or other expressions of contemporary culture.  

Students give oral presentations of their research at the annual Anthropology Senior Project Symposium.  Many choose to present their work at the Luther College Student Research Symposium, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, or other regional or national conferences. Explore conference presentations and publications by students in anthropology.


Recent Senior Projects

Class of 2019

  • Lauren Bruneau "Leaving the Academic World: Experiences of Retired Professors"
  • Harrison Hoffman "Small College, Small vapes, Big Habits: An Investigation of the Factors that Drive Smoking and vaping throughout College at a small Midwestern University"
  • Grace Gibson "Gender Attitudes in Contact Improvisation"
  • Samantha Headington "Effigy Mounds Aerial Photography Project"
  • Emily Linder "The Tipping Point Perceptions of Stress Among Undergraduate Students"

Class of 2018

  • Jay Puffer "Geophysical Investigations at Site 13AM18a, Allamakee County, Iowa"
  • Nicole Weber "The Social Experience of Anxiety"
  • Madeline Knutson "Native American Representations in Northeast Iowa "
  • Alison Gau "How the Concept of Motherhood is Shaped by Breastfeeding in the United States "

Class of 2017

  • Maxwell Rooney "Down the Hill and Back Again: An Examination of Possible Causes of Lower Cervical Spine Deformation in Central Mexico"
  • Cailin Higgins "Technology, Religion and Ethics Within the U.S. Healthcare System"
  • Joy Gnade "Food Labels and Personal Values"
  • Evie Iralu "Fear as a Way of Life:The Risk of Sexual Violence and Women’s Coping Strategies"

Class of 2016

  • Amerman, Rachel. "Cross-Cultural Integration: The Relationship Between International and Domestic Students at Luther College"
  • Anderson, Brittany. "Global Epidemics and Local Solutions: An Examination of the Ebola Outbreaks of 2014-2015 in Sierra Leone and 2000-2001 in Uganda"
  • Kemp, Max. "The Disappeared Ones: Confronting the Memory of Pinochet's Chile"
  • Kinley, Taylor. "Reflections of Social Change: Hmong Refugees and Their Story Cloths"
  • Melby, Cole. "Effective Models of Healthcare Intervention: Anthropological Approaches Giving 'Teeth' to Community-Based Public Health Initiatives"
  • Orngard, Solveig. "Finding Sanctuary in Song: Anthropological Perspectives of Healing through Community Singing in Decorah"
  • Stenson, Tia. "Identity Beyond the Grave: A Study of Ethnicity in Winneshiek County, Iowa Cemeteries"
  • Wolter, Katie. "Against Consumer Culture: Anarchism and the Gift Economy"

Class of 2015

  • Burreson, Noelle. "Swearing and Religion: An Ethnographic Study of Swearing Among Luther College Students"
  • Rowse, Hannah. "Hippy Feet: An Analysis of the Barefoot Lifestyle in American Society"
  • Williams, Kelsey. "Going Green: Luther College's Impact on the Shopping Habits of Students"
  • Zylstra, Annie. "Radical Inhabitance: Recreating Resilient Human Culture in the Midst of Global Ecological Crisis"

Class of 2014

  • Broner, Matthias. "Ethnography by Design: An Analysis of Anthropology Fostering Creativity"
  • Cleven, Phil. "A Metric Analysis of Stone Axe Efficiency"
  • Gove, Katharyn. "Symbols in Banquet Rituals: 'Private' Events at the Hotel Winneshiek"
  • Henderson, Alec. "The Archived Self: Translation of Offline Identity to Online Social Networking Sites"
  • Landgraf Jess. "Organized Atheism Creating Community" (Honors)
  • Mastel, Maia. "Influences on Nursing Home Selections"
  • McMullan. Delaney, "An Anthropology of Art: The Palestinian Art of the Israeli Security Fence"
  • Morehead, Kathryn. "Malone Terrace: 13AM6"
  • Stippich, Lisa. "Cultural Patrimony: Legal and Ethical Perspectives"
  • Urspringer, Ashley. "Disciplined to Forgive: An Amish Model for Raising Children Equipped with Grace" 
  • Waites, Andrew. "Corporate Social Responsibility: How Companies Obtain Social License and How Their Efforts Affect Local Populations"
  • Wetzel, Perran. "The Evolution of Homo Sapiens: How Geographical Variation May Determine Our Next Stage in Evolution"

Class of 2013

  • Hodapp, Rachel. "Female Circumcision: The Sociocultural Influences among the Maasai Tribe in Northern Tanzania"
  • Kampa, Benjamin. "Plant vs. Animals: A Comparison of Nettle and Sinew Native American Bowstrings"
  • Koivunen, Lynda. "Repatriation and the Scientific Study of Native American Remains"
  • Kubicek, Cassandra. "Inside the World of Autism: Exploring What Autism Means for Those Diagnosed and the World Around Them"
  • Lehmann, Kirk. "More than the Java Jive: Coffeehouses in Decorah"
  • Myott, Hannah. "Human Endurance Running Capabilities and their Effect on Human Evolution"
  • Nagel, Clare. "Understanding and Managing Reproductive Trends Among Non-Majority Muslim Population"
  • Ramos, Emily. "So Close, So Far: Cell Phones in the Making of Our Relationships"
  • Rouse, Erin. ""Sluts Die First": Gender and Mortality in Horror Films"
  • Walter, Julia. "Belief and Healing During the Black Death"
  • Webb, Sarah. "Exploring Egalitarian Relationships: Availability of Male Contraceptives Allow Women and Men to Share Reproductive Responsibility"

Class of 2012

  • Bottem, Katelyn. "Breaking the Development Barriers: Women's Empowerment through Microfinance"
  • Clark, Alex. "Cultural Influences in the Academic Success for African American Students at Luther College"
  • Harper, Meredith. "Shipwreck Archaeology"
  • Hill, Michaela. “The Contra Dance: A Cultural and Functional Analysis of the Reemerging Country Dance Phenomenon”
  • Irish, Mark. “Lithic Raw Material Sourcing and Exchange Patterns at the Late Prehistoric Hartley Fort Site”
  • Jackson, Jorie. "Gentrification, the View from Above and Below: A Case Study on Detroit"
  • Johnson, Brittany. "American Southwest Puebloan Policy and the Impact of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act"
  • Kline, Molly. "Children and Nutritional Growth: The Effects of the Industrial Revolution (850-1850 BC)"
  • Lynch, Ellen. "Reconstructing Cultural Change in Ancient Societies: Romanization of Gaul"
  • Nielson, Kristy. "Unraveling the Debate about Whether Language Conditions Culture or Culture Conditions Language"
  • Rieffer, Amy. "Analysis of Exchange Networks in Iron Age Levant: A Study Based on Pottery Diffusion"
  • Rosell, Aaron. "Goods and Services: Yanomami Implications on Preconception, Exchange, and the Anthropological Ethic"
  • Sancken, Alison. "Children on a Journey: Unaccompanied Migrant Youth in the United States"
  • Stockberger, Ashley. "The Mystery Cult of the Great Gods at Samothrace"
  • Thompson, Sonja. “Where Does One Draw the Line When Doing Participant Observation? Participant Observation as Anthropological Method via the Readings of Tobias Schneebaum's Professional and Personal Life”

Class of 2011

  • Johnson, Kia. "Maasai Traditional Medicine: Preserving Traditional Knowledge" (Honors)
  • Anderson, Molly. "Human Rights Abuse in the Changing Culture of Dubai, United Arab Emirates"
  • Ashok, Aparna. "Active Compassion: The Journey to Making an Anthropological Documentary"
  • Baumann, Lauren. "An Analysis of Language Development Theories"
  • Campbell, Timothy. "The Head, the Heart, and the Hands: An Ethnographic Exploration of Relationships Between Administration and Employees in Community Aid, a Rural Nonprofit Organization"
  • Christianson, Mara. "American Culture: Its Effect on Women through the Media"
  • Crowns, Catherine. "Punk and Riot Grrrl: Youths Trying to Change Culture"
  • Horner, Kimberly. "Modern Love Stories: Exploring Hook-Up Culture and Perceptions of Love Among Young Adults"
  • Hruby, Dustin. "More Than a Hobby: Disc Golf in Decorah"
  • Klompenhower, Ryan. "13WH8: A Look at the Chronology through the Analysis of Identifiable Projectile Points and Patterns of Lithic Raw Material Usage"
  • Kruse, Adam. "Increasing the Understanding of Fatherlessness in the United States"
  • Mannerberg, Nathan. "The Hay Market: Forging Community, Spanning Age and Social Strata"
  • Morris, Anna. "The Art of Death: As Seen in Today's World and that of the Aztec and Mayan People"
  • Nowosatka, Brian. "NAGPRA: Revisiting a Legal Understanding and Its Implications on the Future of Repatriation"
  • Ryan, Rebekah. "Retaining Traditions, Embracing Innovations: The Presentation of American Indian Identity in Female Contest Powwow"
  • Hall, Sylvie. "Maasai Traditional Medicine: Preserving Traditional Knowledge" (Honors)
  • Hecht, David. "Acknowledging Spiritual Realities: Ecological Knowledge, Cultural Connections, and Spiritual Agency in Dai Theravada Buddhism"
  • Willis, Rebekka. "Free Current: Off the Grid in Decorah, Iowa"

Class of 2010

  • Darus, Stephanie. "Snitching: The Importance of Loyalty in Contemporary African American Communities"
  • Hanssen, Sara. "Holistic Healing: Importance of the Traditional for Warriors Suffering in Post-apartheid South Africa"
  • Wolf, Jilian. "A Place Apart: An Anthropological Look at Christian Summer Camps"