Eric Koenig
2015 Valene Smith Winner – First Place

smith_Koenig.jpgEric Koenig is a MA student in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida. His research interests and professional aspirations focus on sustainable development, heritage conservation, public policy, and human rights issues, particularly for marginalized groups of people in the Americas. Over two summer seasons of research in 2013 and 2014, Eric conducted multi-methods ethnographic research on the Placencia Peninsula, Belize, investigating local, national, and tourist conceptions of coastal heritage and their implications for community-based tourism and sustainable development initiatives. Currently, he is working on a heritage conservation and tourism development project in partnership with community-based organizations in a predominately Garifuna village on the peninsula, which will serve as the foundation for his dissertation research at USF.    

Erica Hann
2015 Valene Smith Winner – Honorable Mention 

smith_Hann.jpgErica Hann received her Master’s degree in Geography from the Pennsylvania State University in May 2015 and earned a B.A in International Political Economy from the University of Puget Sound in 2011.  Her professional interests lie in the area of political ecology and community-based conservation, particularly in Southern Africa.  Her MS research was focused on the impacts of a ban on trophy hunting on rural livelihood practices and attitudes toward conservation in Northern Botswana.  This work relied on a multi-method approach, including interviews, participant observation, and spatial analysis of the physical landscape.  Erica plans to continue exploring the dynamic relationship between humans and the environment, as well as the mediating role tourism plays, in her future work.

Rachel Ward
2015 Valene Smith Winner – Honorable Mention

smith_ward.JPGRachel is completing her Ph.D. at Simon Fraser University's School of Interactive Arts & Technology with a focus on digital anthropology, intangible cultural heritage and experimental ethnography. She strives to convey culture using interactive, visual, digital and sensory-based mediums. Rachel earned her Master's degree in Social Anthropology from The London School of Economics in 2010. The following year, she completed a degree in Visual Anthropology at The Australian National University as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. After completing material culture training at the American Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian Institution (SIMA program, 2013), Rachel is now experimenting with unconventional methods of representing intangible cultural heritage through the technological modification of local material culture (such as musical instruments) and digitalia. She is currently in the process of translating her documentary film, “Appalachian Punks: A Resurgence of Tradition” (2014), into an interactive ethnographic art installation (a prototype was recently exhibited in Vancouver), as well as a web-based “interactive documentary,” as a novel platform in conveying the results of her archival research and fieldwork in Appalachia.