I am assistant professor of anthropology at the University of North Florida where I teach in a department dedicated to the four field approach. My research investigates the experience of deafness among deaf children and their families in Mexico City, Mexico. To address the interrelatedness of human biology, culture, and language among deaf participants, I integrate the analytical lens of medical anthropology with sociocultural-linguistic theoretical approaches. I use a community-based approach that incorporates participatory and visual methods including photovoice, digital storytelling and personal history timelines.


Photovoice is a qualitative research method that asks participants to respond to research themes or questions using digital photography. Participants and researchers then discuss the images which allows participants to guide the researcher to topics that may not otherwise be discovered using “traditional” ethnographic research methods. I use photovoice methodology with deaf youth participants in Mexico City, Mexico (Proyecto Fotovoz or Project Photovoice) and I adapted this research method for the undergraduate classroom (Observations through Photovoice).

Field Research

East-West Center - Cambodia

Participated in a current events seminar investigating the effects of the Khmer Rouge regime and civil war on contemporary Cambodian education. Conducted interviews and participant-observation at non-governmental organizations sponsoring deaf education (2009; 1 month).

Instituto Pedagógico para Problemas de Lenguaje - Mexico City, Mexico

Longitudinal ethnographic field-research investigating the medicalization of deafness. Field methods include digital storytelling, photovoice, personal history timelines, surveys, and semi-structured interviews (January-July 2018; 7 months).

Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept., USF - Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Designed ethnographic research for civil engineering team investigating the impact of public green spaces on urban water drainage. Implemented surveys, conducted semi-structured interviews, analyzed and presented results (2010; 1 month).

Student Research

Kaitlynn Himmelreich

Tylyn Dagsaan

Birth Control Behind Bars: Anthropological Perspectives on the Care of Captive Bonobos – Honors Thesis in Anthropology, OUR Grant Winner, Outstanding Anthropology Graduate (2019)

Project Brush Up, Winner United Way UpStream Grant (2017)

Julia Rivera-Whalen

Kaitlynn Himmelreich​

Fulbright U.S. Student Program award in Education (2020)

Cambodian Sign Language: Development and Impact, OUR Grant winner, and Outstanding Research Award in International Studies (2018+)

Tylyn and Anne

Julia Rivera-Whalen

Rising Nationalisms and the Migrant “Crisis” in the European Union (2019)

MOSH History and Natural Science Collection Internship (2017)

Dr. Pfister helped me uncover the powerful conclusion of my research: an anthropological perspective is lacking in the care of captive bonobos. I'm very proud of completing such a big project and could not have done it without a great mentor.
Tylyn Dagssan
UNF Class of 2019