Welcome to Graduate Student Storieswhere we get the chance to showcase some of our amazing graduate students who are deeply committed to their research programs, and give them a chance to reflect on their work and their participation in UBC’s Anthropology Graduate Program.

Through this series, you’ll learn about the motivations and aspirations of graduate students in Anthropology at UBC, hear about their current research interests, and some more personal insights into academic life. Whether you are a prospective graduate student, or simply interested to know more about the UBC Anthropology Graduate Program, we hope you enjoy these graduate student stories.


Heather Robertson
Meet Heather Robertson, the second student showcased in our Graduate Student Stories series. Heather, a current PhD student specializing in Anthropological Archaeology, was born in Montreal but was raised in Ontario. She completed her BA at Simon Fraser University in Archaeology, specializing in human osteology, with a minor in Criminology. She has worked as a Lab Technician at SFU for 4 years maintaining Archaeological equipment and documenting ancestral remains for repatriation and at a research facility conducting longitudinal studies on the influence of activity on children’s bone growth for 3 more years before pursuing her Master’s degree at the University of Victoria. Outside of her academic interests, she is passionate about acting (she has performed in a number of musical theatre performances!) and is active in the Anglican Church, particularly with the Diocesan Youth Movement focusing on promoting inclusive and gender neutral worship environments and encouraging youth to apply the scientific method to their faith journey.

Why did you choose to pursue Anthropology as a career?

I intended to pursue a career in the dramatic arts, but I was unsuccessful. So I took some General Arts and Science courses and stumbled onto Introduction to Archaeology. I did well and the topic interested me so I figured I’d go for it. There is a commonality between drama and Anthropology in the way the two disciplines investigate the human condition. So I guess I’ve always been attracted to understanding the complexity of human kind. I just altered how I would go about understanding it.


Why did you choose UBC’s Anthropology graduate studies program?

I chose to study at UBC because it posed a great opportunity to bridge Anthropology theory with bioanthropological sciences.


What are your research interests?

My area of research is investigating how body size and body mass impact bioanthropological methods of sex estimation in the human skeleton and how we can better understand and apply ideas of intersexuality in our interpretation of skeletal sex.


What do you enjoy and find challenging as a UBC Anthropology graduate student?

I find interacting with graduate students of other anthropology sub-disciplines the most enjoyable part of being an UBC Anthropology Graduate student. We can discuss different ideas and theories together and help one another succeed.

I find the lack of opportunities within my specific sub-discipline challenging, but this is changing gradually.


Are you involved in any anthropology-related extracurricular activities or leadership roles?

I am one of this year’s co-presidents of the Anthropology Graduate Student Association (AGSA). I update graduate student profiles on the website, coordinate AGSA talks, and help organize social events for graduate students and the department.


What are the most valuable things you have learned and do you have any anthropology-related accomplishments you’re proud of?

The most valuable thing I’ve learned is to identify and control your own biases or the biases of the discipline in order to help the discipline grow and to help expand our own understanding of humanity.


What advice would you give to a person interested in pursuing graduate studies in Anthropology?

To anyone pursuing graduate studies in Anthropology I would say, let your experiences lead you to look at old ideas or practices in a new way.  Bring your own unique perspectives into your research and make it your own.