Sherylyn Briller, Ph.D.

Briller._Sherylyn.jpgDr. Sherylyn Briller (PhD, 2000, Case Western Reserve University) is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Purdue University and a Faculty Associate in the Center on Aging and the Life Course. She is an applied cultural/medical anthropologist specializing in aging and life course issues. Briller has a long-standing interest in anthropologists’ education and career development; she co-authored a well-known textbook Designing an Anthropology Career: Professional Development Exercises. After working as a practitioner, Briller became an applied researcher working on old age support in Mongolia and the United States. Through her interdisciplinary work on aging, disability and human-centered design, she is fostering linkages at Purdue between Liberal Arts, Engineering, Technology, Health Sciences and a range of community partners. Briller’s individual and collaborative scholarship resulted in a four volume book series on dementia care settings, an interdisciplinary book about end-of-life issues, one design monograph, two guest-edited special issues, 10 book chapters, 21 peer-reviewed articles, and a community-engaged medical anthropology museum exhibit. Her work is used by policymakers, academics, healthcare professionals, patients, families and others. At the broadest level, her anthropological scholarship and practice aim to create a better, more inclusive world that supports people in achieving and maintaining social personhood across the life course and a range of disability and illness experiences. Briller is a Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology and the Co-Chair of the Consortium of Applied and Practicing Anthropology Programs (COPAA). She is a former President of the Association for Anthropology & Gerontology Education (AAGE) and served on the SfAA’s Nominations and Elections Committee.


I am honored to be nominated for the position of SfAA President. From my early start as a practicing anthropologist to my current role guiding the expansion of applied and practicing anthropology at Purdue, I remain keenly interested in how we can use anthropological knowledge and skills to make change in the world. Literally, I get up excited every day to work on this issue – thinking about how we can train the next generation of anthropologists to engage with the human issues about which they care most. I find it deeply gratifying to help shape the national conversation about how we prepare professional anthropological practitioners and future academics as our field expands in these directions.

Anthropological insight and critical thinking are much needed to address global grand challenges. I welcome the opportunity to work with others in SfAA to get more anthropologists to successfully collaborate and communicate with diverse stakeholders.  I have extensive experience fostering linkages and joint projects between academics and health practitioners for example. My leadership style involves a lot of active listening and consensus building. Given the many interests and skills of the SfAA’s members, I think a key aspect of this role is managing different priorities and resources. Although these are challenging times to navigate, I am excited about the opportunities we have to advance many diverse forms of anthropological engagement. A strategic initiative I would like to lead is planning for how we will innovatively prepare the next generation of anthropologists. My significant background in anthropological career development coupled with my training as a a life course scholar makes me particularly well-suited for thinking about career pathways and how to develop long-lasting, meaningful careers. This work is my passion. I am well-prepared to help ensure that SfAA is a trailblazer in this area.  I am very enthusiastic to see how we can work together to prepare, support, and partner with a wide range of applied and practicing anthropologists and interested others – and to see what our organization can become. In short, I am grateful to be nominated and willing to serve as the SfAA President. If elected, I will work very hard to help move our organization forward by example, collaboration and action.