Featured Alumni

UC Davis Department of Anthropology alumni are engaged in a wide variety of career positions.


Ian Heath: Advertising Research Strategist


"Being an Anthropology major taught me to ask questions."

Name: Ian Heath
Graduation: 2015
Major: Cultural Anthropology (Honors), Minor in Middle East/South Asia Studies
Company/Current Position: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners advertising agency, San Francisco


Ian Heath is a quantitative strategist at the San Francisco-based creative advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, whose clients include Pepsi, Cheetos, Doritos, Comcast and the Golden State Warriors. Heath spent over a decade working blue collar jobs around the country before returning to college at age 30. He graduated in fall 2015 with honors in cultural anthropology with a minor in Middle East/South Asia Studies.

What do you do at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners?

“I do any kind of quantitative research—like survey and secondary research—that needs to be done for our clients. Brands position themselves in the world and [figure out] how they’re going to speak to the consumers that use their products. We go a lot into demographics and the psychology of how consumers think, their lifestyle, how they relate to the product, with the proposed strategy, and how the products fit into the culture of any given consumer group. Advertising is all about culture and how products fit into people’s culture and who they are. Culture informs a huge amount of who we are as individual people and how we relate with outside influences such as advertising.”

How did your education at UC Davis prepare you for your job?

“Being a social science major taught me to ask smart questions. Anthropology especially is all about questions: what’s the right question, and what’s the context behind what’s going on? That’s what my job is—I ask questions of people, clients, other departments as well as the consumer.

“The environment of UC Davis, where there isn’t a lot of competition between students and there’s a lot of collaboration, really helped when I got out into the business world. At least at my company there isn’t a lot of competition between people, and you’re expected to be a real solid team player while working across all sorts of different departments and clients.”

Are there any classes or programs you found particularly helpful?

“Almost every class I took at Davis really helped a lot. I construct a lot of surveys. 

I was also part of the pilot program for the data studies initiative that is going on there now, where they bring in social scientists and stuff that teach people how to process data, how to program using R, and how to ask proper questions. It gave me some hard data skills that weren’t available in the anthropology department at the time.

“I really suggest that students take basic a statistics class, because I’ve found [statistics] to be one of the most applicable skills out in the business world. It doesn’t matter what part of the business world you’re in—at some point, you’re going to deal with statistics and data, what they mean, and how to draw implications out of them.”

Any advice for current students?

“People need to network and get their name out there. They need to have a LinkedIn account that’s really well-constructed and has a clear picture of who they are, what they’re good at, how it can apply to the industries or the type of job they want.

The other thing I suggest is, go travel. Get to know different places in this country and experience different cultures. It helps us be able to adopt different viewpoints just to explore them. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with them, but being able to step into someone else’s shoes and say, ‘Oh, how are they seeing the world?’—there’s nothing more powerful than that.”

“Finally, approach school like a job. You really need to learn to show up to a class every day and be engaged—really ask questions and never stop being curious because that drives our self-improvement and makes us immensely more successful in life. Learning can’t stop when you leave school.”

Natalie Swinhoe


Natalie Swinhoe
BS, Anthropology, 2015
Company/Current Position: Junior Researcher Plant Pathology Lab, UC Davis

“My job requires a lot of detailed understanding and critical thinking that I learned throughout my undergraduate courses. I work with large amounts of data, and studying anthropology has taught me to use a holistic perspective when looking at experiments and their results, which helps me take in the whole picture of plant disease, not just one symptom or effect.

“My favorite learning experience at UC Davis took place in my first archaeology class, where we were each given a piece of obsidian and asked to count how many strokes it would take to cut a stick in half. Nearly all of my other classes up to that point were just listening to lecture slides and reading the textbook. This class was so hands-on, and I really enjoyed it. Outside of the classroom, my favorite experience was the community I made while at school. I was active in campus athletics, Greek life, internships, and clubs. All these experiences reinforced the idea that there are always people around to help support your goals. I also really loved being an Anthro peer advisor.”

Laura Youngquist

Laura Youngquist
BA, Anthropology, Evolutionary Emphasis, 2015
Company/Current Position: Grants Management Assistant, U.S. Forest Service

As a Grants Management Assistant, Laura served as administrative support to the Rocky Mountain Grants and Agreements (G&A) Center of Excellence, which serves 6 National Forests and the Regional Office. She was responsible for the initial preparation and review of G&A proposals, as well as creating and maintaining documentation of new agreements and modifications.

Adie Whitaker, Ph.D.


Adie Whitaker


A.B., Anthropology, Evolutionary Emphasis, 2001
Ph.D., Anthropology, UC Davis, 2008
Company/Current Position: Principal Investigator Far Western Anthropological Research Group Inc.

Adie has worked in California archaeology since 2001 and conducted his dissertation research in Humboldt and Mendocino counties. At Far Western he has taken on a variety of projects that run the gamut of cultural resources management, including all stages of archaeological inquiry, and ranging from small surveys of less than 100 acres to large-scale data recovery and test excavations with multiple sites. During this time, his geographic focus has broadened to include archaeology of the Central Valley, Sierra Foothills, Southern California coast, and southern Santa Barbara Channel Islands. Adie has written more than 60 technical reports, and has experience with managing Native American and archaeological construction monitors.