Announcing the Lemelson Anthropology Fellows/Scholars Program at UCLA

The Lemelson Anthropological Fellows/Scholars Program at UCLA was created through the generous vision and support of Professor Robert B. Lemelson, a psychological anthropologist, documentary filmmaker and distinguished educator. Professor Lemelson has been widely recognized for his progressive philanthropic leadership — much of it at UCLA — most notably through his Foundation for Psychocultural Research (FPR), a non-profit foundation supporting research and training bridging the neurosciences and social sciences.

The Fellows/Scholars Program grew from Professor Lemelson’s belief that close mentoring relationships and creative, problem-oriented field research skills are of crucial importance in training active and engaged anthropologists. As an undergraduate, Lemelson was fortunate to have a mentor who had a profound early influence on his academic experience and ultimate choice of career. “The mentor relationship helps build identity and shapes you as a scholar,” he said.

He expects that undergraduate and graduate anthropology students selected for the Fellows/Scholars Program will learn how to develop concrete research problems; work in team research settings; conduct cutting-edge anthropological research; and see that research through to completion—all hallmark skills of a successful academic scholar. The Fellows/Scholars Program will fulfill this goal through the development of close mentoring relationships among individual faculty members, individual graduate students and small groups of UCLA undergraduates, who will form collaborative teams to conduct problem-oriented research with a strong field component.

Professor Lemelson has high hopes for the impact of the Fellows/Scholars Program, noting that “it will allow committed scholars to go much deeper into their research and give them opportunities to really explore their vocation as anthropologists.”

Thanks to Professor Lemelson’s visionary philanthropy, UCLA’s anthropology department will provide inspiration and topnotch research skills training for the next generation of research anthropologists, while nurturing the culture of collaboration for which UCLA is renowned.

Program Details

Starting in Winter 2012, the Lemelson Anthropological Fellows/Scholars Program will pair Junior-level undergraduate anthropology students with individual graduate students in the research phases of their graduate careers for two years of mentored research training. The four Graduate Fellows were selected in the spring of 2011 through a competitive application process.

    • All junior-level undergraduates who are currently enrolled in or have taken at least one course in anthropological research methods are eligible to apply. They will form the pool of potential Undergraduate Scholars.
    • Graduate Fellows will develop and deliver “requests for proposals” (RFPs) based around their planned research. They will form the pool of Graduate Fellows.
    • The pool of potential Undergraduate Scholars will learn how to read RFPs, develop innovative (inspired) research questions and designs around the RFPs and write concise research proposals. Proposals will be submitted at the end of the fall quarter 2011.
    • A committee consisting of the Program Directors, Graduate Fellows and their faculty advisors will select the Undergraduate Scholars on the basis of submitted proposals. A major criterion for proposal selection will be how ideas originating with the undergraduate extend the ideas in the RFP.
    • In Winter quarter 2012, Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Scholars will begin the research process. The Graduate Fellows’ faculty advisors will work with their teams in overseeing all phases of research through to completion.
    • Summer 2012 is expected to include hands-on anthropological work, which may include fieldwork, laboratory work or some other anthropologically oriented empirical enterprise.
    • The 2012-13 academic year will be dedicated to analysis, write-up and presentation of research results.

A cohort of Lemelson Anthropological Fellows/Scholars will consist of four faculty, four Graduate Fellows, and eight Undergraduate Scholars. It is envisioned that the Lemelson Anthropological Fellows/Scholars program will expand to recruit a new cohort each year. For more information about the Lemelson Anthropological Scholars Program, please contact Professor Carole H. Browner, Chair, ( ) and Professor P. Jeffrey Brantingham, Vice Chair of the Department of Anthropology (

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About Constance A. Cummings

Constance A. Cummings, PhD, is Project Director of the non-profit Foundation for Psychocultural Research, which supports and advances interdisciplinary research and scholarship at the intersection of brain, mind, culture, and mental health and illness. She is co-editor (with Carol Worthman, Paul Plotsky, and Dan Schechter) of Formative Experiences: The Interaction of Caregiving, Culture, and Developmental Psychobiology (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and (with Laurence Kirmayer and Rob Lemelson) the forthcoming Re-Visioning Psychiatry: Cultural Phenomenology, Critical Neuroscience, and Global Mental Health (Cambridge, 2015). She received her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from New York University.

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