Published: July 26, 2021

CU Boulder’s Kelly Zepelin wins David M. Schneider Award from the American Anthropological Association

A PhD student who analyzes how wild food—uncultivated edible plants—could provide human and ecological relief in a changing climate has been recognized for her “innovative and fresh” scholarship.

Kelly Zepelin, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Colorado Boulder, is the co-recipient of the 2021 David M. Schneider Award from the American Anthropological Association, the group announced this week.

Kelly Zepelin

At the top of the page: Almost all spruce trips, like these from the Sitka Spruce, are edible and have a bright, citrus flavor (Sitka National Historical Park/FlickrAbove: Kelly Zepelin is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The Schneider award recognizes innovative and fresh approaches to kinship, cultural theory and American culture within an original graduate student essay.

Zepelin’s winning paper, “Root Mothers and Reciprocity: Ethical Frameworks of Wild Plant Harvest in Contemporary North American Foraging Communities,” will be sent to the journal of Cultural Anthropology to be reviewed for publication.

Zepelin will also receive a $500 award. Zepelin describes herself a researcher, forager, ethnobotanist, educator and Multiple Schlerosis warrior based in Durango, Colorado.

“I am interested in issues of human and ecological health in a changing climate, decolonizing diets and land,” she states on her website. “My research starts at the level of microbes and dirt, and extends to guts, plants, people and forests. The ecosystems of the body and the ecosystems of this earth are inseparable.”

Zepelin earned an MA degree in anthropology from Colorado State University in 2015 and a BA, magna cum laude, in psychology from Goucher College in Maryland in 2011.

She said she was honored to have been selected for this award and indebted to her advisor, Kathryn Goldfarb, “for showing me the exciting ways kinship theory is being used to better understand relatedness not just as an interconnected web of humans relations, but as a lens to see our deep enmeshment with more-than-human ecologies.”

Zepelin noted that her research has been conducted on traditional territories of the Ute, Cheyenne, Southern Arapaho and Diné.

Jerry Jacka, professor and chair of anthropology, said, “Kelly’s award is indicative of the hard work that our faculty put into mentoring our students. This is a prestigious award, and Kelly and Dr. Kate Goldfarb deserve a big round of congratulations!”

Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association is the world’s largest scholarly and professional organization of anthropologists. The association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and applying this understanding to the world’s most pressing problems.