I have worked with over a dozen students over the last three years to expand on my research and help them develop their own ethnographic projects. My mentoring philosophy is to hold my undergraduates to the same expectations of performance as I would any graduate student. They play an active role in designing research questions, collecting and analyzing data, and producing scholarly publications. For example, I am currently wrapping up a year long project with eight students investigating the digital presentation of pharmaceutical practices on social networking sites. We will be submitting two articles based on the results of this study to Social Science & Medicine and the Journal of Medical Internet Research this spring. Below are some testimonials from the students I have worked with:
“During my sophomore year at Michigan State University, Taz guest lectured in my Social and Cultural Analysis in Anthropology class. Her enthusiasm and confidence in the subject matter she was teaching kept me engaged and interested in everything she had to say. As an undergraduate anthropology major, it was also very encouraging to see someone this excited and passionate about her work and research in the anthropology field. This little glimpse into Taz’s teaching style led me to enroll in her online summer class. I was very impressed with the organization and layout of the class. Taz made the material very understandable and the online exercises made it relatable to my own life. I found that I was actually excited to learn and be more involved in the class and would often share what learned with my friends and family. Although it was online, I felt as though I knew my classmates and my teacher better than in most of my live classes. After taking this class, my interest and love for anthropology grew exponentially and I began looking for opportunities to get involved. I emailed Taz to see if she had any advice or knew of any opportunities. She was very excited and willing to help. She told me about her research assistants, along with the work they were doing and soon she welcomed me aboard. I consider this research experience to be one of the most important and useful learning experiences I had during my undergraduate career. Taz helped me to understand the type of work that is involved in graduate school and methods for doing research. She took the time to get to know me, and my interests and helped me to formulate my career and graduate school goals. I have never had a teacher or mentor more dedicated and genuinely interested in helping her students reach their goals”.
– Erin Mobley, Former Anthropology major, current graduate student in the University of Michigan School of Public Health
“Before I met Taz, I was a senior human biology student at MSU with no research experience. Meeting Taz was a blessing. I discovered her wonderful personality and exciting research when she was a guest lecture for ANP 370 in the spring of 2014. I later contacted her about research opportunities because I have a personal and professional interest in her anthropological research on drug abuse. Throughout summer 2014, Taz and I worked on two encyclopedia articles on Performance Enhancement in Professional Sports to be published by SAGE in 2015. I was ecstatic to have such an amazing opportunity to be published before I graduated with my Bachelors of Science degree. During this time, Taz made sure to not only check on in on my academic goals but also my personal life. Our professional and personal relationship quickly blossomed. Her generous advice and spirit always made my days less stressful. When I was at a roadblock in writing my personal statements, Taz helped me create a unique writing method that worked better for me. I have continued to use the method to this day. Working with Taz has provided me with many experiences which I am very thankful for. I look forward to further developing our professional and personal relationship for many years to come!”
– Chelsea Stockman, Senior in Human Biology at Michigan State University
My name is Bree Casper. I am a sophomore majoring in Anthropology at Michigan State University. In two short years when I graduate I plan to attend graduate school. I hope to one-day work as an Anthropologist, specifically in Applied Anthropology, using my skill set to help improve relations for governments, NGO’s, or even advocacy groups. I have been working with Taz for about six months on the Production chapter of her dissertation. I have been helping collect information about pharmaceutical companies and ADHD drugs from these companies. We are also currently working on an analysis of pharmaceutical advertisement techniques. I decided to work with Taz after I heard one of her lectures. I was actually contemplating changing my major completely the day Taz came and lectured to my class. She was very engaging and excited about what she was talking about, and that made me excited about the subject. She also mentioned a side of anthropology that I had not previously heard of, Applied Anthropology. What she described was exactly what I wanted to do; she just put a name to it for me. At the end of her presentation she mentioned she was looking for more research assistant, and now here I am! Taz is honestly one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. Every meeting we have I walk away feeling excited about my future. She has such passion for what she does, that it’s contagious. She is also a great teacher. Still young in my anthropological career there are a lot of things and theories I still need to learn, Taz always takes complicated information, and simplifies it in a way I can understand. It’s really great because I am learning things I haven’t even been taught in my anthropology classes yet. I’m also learning a lot of skills that I will apply later in my career. I’m learning more about professional writing and participating firsthand in research. As a research assistant, one would assume that I’m doing a favor for Taz, but I feel like Taz is doing me a favor. I’m learning so much, and I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing woman!
– Bree Casper, Sophomore Anthropology Major at Michigan State University
” I am a recent graduate from Michigan State University with a degree in Human Biology and it wasn’t until my final semester at MSU that I came in contact with Taz while taking Medical Anthropology. Her level of passion and concern for us as students to learn and benefit from the material was unbelievable and something I am very grateful for. When she reached out to us following completion of the semester to assist in research I didn’t think twice. First, Taz explained her dissertation and from there it was up to me to decide which area I felt most comfortable assisting. I found this strategy to truly benefit the research and myself, making the process extremely enjoyable. Through the many intriguing sections of her research I decided to work with analyzing interviews with prescription Adderall users. From the first interview analysis to the last, Taz was nothing short of excellent as a mentor, continuously assuring I was on the right track and always willing to help. Her positive attitude toward the material and concern to create comfort level for the students assisting her proves her love and true belonging in the field of Anthropology. Taz has also taken the time to get to know me on a more personal level while offering advice toward my pursuit of dental school. Throughout my time attending Michigan State University, I can easily say I never came across another professor or teaching assistant with the passion and self-belonging to their field quite like Taz shows day after day and I look forward to seeing where this takes her down the road!”
– Justin Blazejewski, Former Human Biology major at Michigan State University, currently applying to dental schools
“Taz has been an incredible mentor, research director, and instructor. I have had the privilege of working with Taz for almost two years, and am constantly amazed by her insight and advice as I begin to navigate the medical school application process, and a career in public service. As an instructor, Taz facilitated lively discussions and was always willing to spend additional time answering pressing questions. Given my positive experience with Taz in ANP 204 Introduction to Medical Anthropology, I was eager to join her team as a research assistant. As a research director, Taz provided a clear description of responsibilities and was always receptive to new ideas and opinions regarding the project. In short, any University would be extremely fortunate for Taz to join their faculty.”
-Nick Flaga, Former Human Biology major at Michigan State University, current intern at the White House, Washington, D.C.
More testimonials coming soon…