Hometown: Ingleside, Ill.
Degree or certificate program at CLC: Participated in CLC’s archaeological field school in Belize in 1997 and 1999. She also took a natural biology field course with Dr. Michael Corn in Costa Rica.
Degrees: B.S. in biological anthropology, and a B.A. in Latin literature, University of Michigan; master’s degree from University of Tennessee; doctorate from Texas A&M University.
Current position: Assistant professor, department of geography and anthropology, Louisiana State University. Prior to August 2015, she taught at Loyola University Chicago.
Q&A with Juliet Brophy
My father was interested in archaeology, and he had attended the CLC Belize field school. The next year he enrolled my sister Susan and me to the field school because he thought it was such a great opportunity. It was a great learning experience and helped introduce me to anthropology in an official capacity. Upon enrolling in university the following year, I chose several anthropology classes because I was already familiar with the field and I knew I was interested! I would absolutely say that the CLC Belize field school contributed to sparking my interest in anthropology.
What sticks out as the most important thing you learned or experienced when you did the CLC archeology field study in Belize?
In my classes I still tell stories about both of the field schools I participated in at CLC (Belize and natural biology course in Costa Rica). One of the most important experiences I learned on the CLC field school was that field schools are an excellent way of being exposed to all four sub fields of anthropology (linguistic, biological, cultural anthropology and archaeology). Specifically, I learned about field methods in archaeology. I also learned about cultural anthropology and cultural relativism. One of my favorite stories includes one of the field guides, Tio. He took us on a hike one day and pointed out plants that one would use for a headache, menstrual cramps, etc. I remember thinking “This man is teaching me material I could never learn in a book and this man is quite intelligent about the jungle!” I also learned important lessons about globalization. I was surprised that so many Belizeans were Bulls and Cubs fans. Apparently, the local place with a television received a signal from WGN.
Was the experience eye-opening for you? What was your biggest take-away?
The experience was extremely eye opening for me. It was my first official exposure to anthropology in general and archaeology in specific. I feel like I received a great introduction to the field, which helped fuel my interest in the future.
Did the CLC faculty leading the trip have any impact on you and your academic and career interests? If so, what? Can you recall a specific experience that stands out?
Through the faculty, I gained exposure to a foreign country and culture. But rather than see these differences as something “less than the U.S.,” I learned that cultural variability was important in and of itself. This experienced helped to plant the idea that I would like to have my own field school someday, albeit in a different area of the world. The faculty’s hard work also taught me to appreciate how difficult it is to run a field school in a foreign country.
What would you say to encourage CLC students to consider going on a field study trip?
The CLC field study trips are a great way to gain in depth exposure on a field one might be considering. One can be interested in pursuing anthropology and/or just interested in experiencing a field school. Either way, the field schools are a great opportunity to experience anthropology first hand.
Do you teach and conduct research? On what topics? Undergrads or graduate students?
At Loyola and, of course, at LSU, I have always performed research while teaching. My research revolves around early human evolution, or paleoanthropology. My dissertation involved reconstructing the habitats associated with an early human ancestor, Australopithecus robustus, in order to better understand why they went extinct. This research involved quantitative analyses of teeth from animals in the Family Bovidae (antelopes and buffalos). My research has evolved to focus on the quantitative analysis of teeth from our early human ancestors, including Australopithecus sediba and the newest named hominin, Homo naledi.
What is the main significance of this new article and its findings?
The main significance of this new find is that we have discovered a new species in our genus, the genus Homo! The current evidence from the Dinaledi Chamber suggests that the genus Homo has more representatives in the fossil record than we previously thought! Also, the suite of characteristics in the anatomy of the Dinaledi specimens is unique to these individuals, which is why we ended up naming a new species. Because it is so transitional in form and shares characteristics with the more primitive genus Australopithecus and the genus Homo, our current hypothesis is that this species is at the root of our genus. I do not think we necessarily expected to find a specimen that was quite so diverse in its morphology. We also used to think that an increase in brain size correlated closely with smaller tooth size, but Homo naledi has a small brain and small teeth! So, the evolutionary pattern is different than we expected. Ultimately, I think the discovery is going to change our definition of the genus Homo.
How did you get involved in the research team on this? What role did you have?
After excavations began Lee Berger, head of the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of Witwatersrand and Project Director for Rising Star, put out a call for early career scientists “to study and describe recently discovered fossil early hominin (human) material.” The scientists had to have data and skill sets applicable to the study of early hominins. From the applications, he hand-picked 30 scientists from around the world to look at the fossils. Everyone was ecstatic to be a part of the project. It was an intense experience in that we would study the materials all day and then talk about them with each other all night. It was akin to a giant think tank. We all got along extremely well. We were all so full of excitement and intrigue that it would have been impossible to not be in a good mood!
To date, excavations from the Dinaledi chamber have uncovered about 1550 early human skeletal specimens that include 190 whole or fragmentary teeth from at least 15 individuals. My role in this project was to describe and analyze the teeth of the new fossils. The dental team and I started our examination by writing up a detailed description of each tooth and then determining which teeth belong to the same individual. My specific research expertise involves the morphology of the occlusal, or chewing, surface outline of teeth. I documented and compared the teeth to other human ancestors in order to determine the biological identity and to establish phylogenetic, or evolutionary, relationships between the ancestors. This work is important to the project because dental morphology plays a pivotal role in our understanding of early humans.
What has been the most exciting part about this research for you?
Participating in the Rising Star Workshop and examining these fossils was one of the most exciting experiences in my paleoanthropological career. Previously I helped identify the fossils from the site of Malapa, which turned out to be a new species as well, but this research never gets old. I absolutely love studying all fossils from southern Africa; it is why I became a paleoanthropologist! That there is just something special about being on the team that first gets to investigate new hominin fossils. I was a part of the dental team that set up in a side area of the lab at the University of Witwatersrand informally called the “tooth booth.” We have 190 teeth and about 1000 other fossils that indisputably are associated with each other. This is unprecedented in paleoanthropology. The fossils are different from anything that has previously been found. We knew we were making history. I do not think it gets more exciting than that!
What are your future research plans?
The dentition retains a number of features that are primitive for the genus Homo but not found in later, more modern Homo. My research involves taking pictures of the occlusal surface of the teeth, digitizing the outlines using a morphometric shape analysis program, and comparing the results to my database of outlines of other human ancestors. My findings thus far indicate that the mandibular third premolars are unique in their occlusal surface outline. Their square-like shape is a complete outlier and does not overlap with any other human ancestor that we have recovered. I am going to continue with this research and provide analyses of all of the teeth. Specifically, my next publication is going to focus on an in depth analysis of the upper and lower first molars. We have only scratched the surface in terms of our research, so I look forward to going back to Africa to continue studying the teeth!
“CLC offers so much more than cost savings. I’ve received an excellent education that’s a good stepping stone to my goal of becoming a marriage counselor.”
“CLC is such a welcoming environment for international students. Within my first year here, I was helping other international students as a student ambassador.”
“I rediscovered my love of chemistry at CLC. My professor was such a great teacher and passionate about chemistry that it was easy to go to class and learn.”
“CLC has absolutely played a role in changing my educational and career goals. I had space to explore different fields and talk to many knowledgeable people about careers and opportunities.”
“I loved my education courses. The professors bring a lot of experiences into their classrooms, and everything we learn builds from class to class.”
“The nursing skills lab at the Grayslake Campus is great because the equipment is similar to what nurses use on the job. The clinicals were also great hands-on learning experiences, and the CLC instructors have a great relationship with area hospitals and clinics.”
“I have enjoyed all the instructors in the horticulture department, especially their expertise and practical work experiences. All the classes that I have taken are pertinent to my career choice.”
“CLC's field school in Belize was my first official exposure to anthropology in general and archaeology in specific. The college's field study trips are a great way to gain in-depth exposure on a field one might be considering.”
“Really get to know your professors; they are the ones who will write you a letter of recommendation in a few years, so keep in touch with them.”
“The business expertise and management advice from my small business advisor has been extremely helpful from our first meeting and to this day. He has helped me create a clear vision for the future of my company and a detailed action plan to execute it.”
“The automotive technology program has smaller class sizes than at competing schools. That's really important, because it allows more hands-on experience and a better-quality education.”
“College is the best decision I ever made. As a senior at Zion-Benton High School, I received a scholarship to CLC. I thought, “This is an opportunity.””
“The entire Illinois SBDC International Trade Center staff is an invaluable resource – always available, honest and thorough. If there is a subject outside their realm, they have a network of referrals who are experienced in that field.”
“The Truck Driver Training course built my confidence and really prepared me well for a successful career in this field.”
“In my first semester at the U of I, I attained a GPA of 3.8. CLC did a great job of preparing me for classes at one of the top engineering schools in the world.”
“I chose CLC’s Small Business Development Center for guidance and help meeting people who have already gone through the process of starting a business. They are a great team of experts to have on my side.”
“I became the first community college student accepted as an intern at a newsroom in Erie, Penn., thanks to my experiences on The CLC Chronicle and working with Professor Kupetz. That first internship opened many doors for me.”
“I am currently working part-time as a paralegal while enrolled as a full-time student in Roosevelt University’s Paralegal Studies program. If I had not received the education I had from CLC, I would not have the part-time job.”
“What I like especially about the mechatronics classes is the hands-on learning and the helpful instructors who want you to succeed. We also went on field trips to companies, where we got a chance to see practical, real-world examples of ideas such as building and maintaining assembly lines.”
“CLC is super well-rounded and excels at pretty much everything it does. It's really cool to know that no matter what you want, you have a strong chance at success at CLC.”
“The course prepared me for a veterinary assistant job and the externship was a great part of the reason I felt prepared.”
“CLC is a melting pot; a microcosm of America. The students come from so many different backgrounds and contexts, that you learn almost as much from your classmates as you do from your courses.”
“Margie Porter, who is chair of the mechatronics technology program, understands the challenge of juggling a job, college courses and raising a family. She helps you build your self-confidence in learning the material.”
“One great part of CLC's hospitality and culinary management program is the opportunity to put together a portfolio of your work. It teaches you how to be organized and professional, and it's a great thing to carry into a job interview.”
“I believe that everyone in a classroom serves as a teacher and a student. I take pride in knowing that all of our communication courses have the potential to be life-changing experiences for our students.”
“To create the 'a-ha' moment in my public speaking classes, I set the pace from day one, creating an environment in which my students will feel safe and comfortable.”
“I use many different teaching methods, including: journaling, readings, oral quizzes, in-class and out-of-class activities, role plays, group discussion, media, group work and providing many examples.”
“Whether teaching online or onsite, I encourage active discussions in which students interact with each other as well as the course material.”
“When assigning papers, I encourage my students to choose their subjects carefully. If students can write about a subject about which they are passionate, they will write better papers.”
“Looking back, I had instructors who helped me to see and appreciate the joy, wonder and mystery that exists in the world all around me-whether it is in nature, science and people, or in stories, essays and poetry. I try to do the same thing for my students.”
“I teach because I want to help students imagine a better life for themselves. When they do that, they will be able to imagine a better world for all of us. And that is pretty cool.”
“I knew that I wanted to be a college instructor when I was an undergrad student at UCLA. I would come out of my English classes thrilled with the possibilities that language and literature created.”
“I find it gratifying when I stimulate the students' minds and to see how they go beyond what we do in class; some decide to pursue the subject as a future career. It is very rewarding to know that I can make a difference in students' lives.”
“I enjoy seeing my students learn and grow in their skills, knowledge, confidence, dedication and their passion for making a difference in the lives of young children and their families.”
“I assess myself by the quality of the engineer that I turn out. Often, I am contacted by students who say that that their job requires all of those things they complained about having to learn during the program, and that they appreciate me for not backing down.”
“I maintain an open, questioning environment that encourages all reasonable experiments. In addition, I interweave real-world experiences and practical life skills with the subject material.”
“My main goal is to connect with students in a way that motivates them to learn the material deeply, not just to pass a test. And I really enjoy getting to know students on a personal basis and helping them along the path to being an engineer.”
“As an engineering educator, I am in a unique position: I'm educating individuals who will create and use technology that does not exist today.”
“I want to pass to my students my clinical knowledge and abilities to help them to be the best clinician they can be. My goal is to change their lives for the better.”
“My goal is not only to teach the necessary skills involved in treating patients, but to create meaningful experiences where students can grow and develop into true professionals.”
“I want to prepare graduates to be compassionate, critical-thinking professionals who are committed to life-long learning and promote health and the prevention of disease.”
“Teaching is more than transferring knowledge. I truly want students to succeed in life and in our profession.”
“I incorporate an assortment of teaching methods, including multimedia technology, problem-based learning and hands-on/experiential activities.”
“I emphasize that professional nursing education is a continuous, life-long learning process.”
“I love the chance to create special places that people enjoy, and leaving behind work that will grow and evolve with time.”
“I try to share my passion, skills and experiences to help students learn skills, techniques, concepts and teamwork so they are prepared - not only to graduate, but to work in the hospitality field.”
“Helping put students in a position to make a difference in others' lives - that's what makes my job so rewarding.”
“I am passionate about inspiring new students to understand and embrace the rapidly changing knowledge base in the substance-use fields, particularly as it relates to new brain science, strength-based approaches for treatment and evidence-based practices.”
“I love seeing students' minds expand throughout the semester. The students transform through applying philosophical theories and concepts to their own lived experiences.”
“My most memorable teaching experience is to observe a student enter the program with a specific career goal in mind, and after hard work in our program, obtain a specific job working for the company of his or her dreams.”
“I want to help students become problem solvers in the computer information technology field.”
“Teaching allows me to have a profound and lasting positive effect upon the professions in the criminal justice system, especially law enforcement. I enjoyed being a police officer very much, and I strive to pass on my love for the profession through my teaching.”
“While attending high school, I joined my community's rescue squad, and I soon realized that firefighting and rescue work was my calling in life. It's been rewarding to help people who are experiencing some of the worst days of their life.”
“My main goal is to help students understand and appreciate that education is a way of life rather than a journey to a job.”
“What excites me most about teaching is that I get to witness, time and time again, the transformation from student to polished professional.”
“When I was a CLC student, it was such a great experience because the teachers really care about the students. I decided I wanted to teach biology at a community college, and I still can't believe that I am here. It truly is a dream come true.”
“I tell my students that I am successful not when they finish my class but when I hear that they have graduated from an allied health program.”
“I consider the needs of students every time I plan activities and goals for class. As a result, I utilize multiple teaching strategies, from lecture to a small-group critical thinking activity. In addition, I set and communicate high expectations and teach students how to successfully reach these goals.”
“To create the 'aha' moment in students, I always try to connect classroom topics to common life experiences and use labs and demonstrations to reinforce lectures. One learns more by doing than by hearing.”
“I try to relate course concepts directly to real life. For example, there are real-time weather discussions in my meteorology classes, where students see how the course material applies directly to the weather that affects their lives.”
“Teaching is not just about sharing knowledge, but - most importantly - inspiring students and helping them become life-long learners.”
“My main goal is to help students gain a deep understanding of the underlying concepts we are learning and move beyond the memorization of formulas.”
“My main goal is to reduce the number of people who say, 'I'm not good at math.'”
“Mathematics is so much easier to understand when you concentrate on learning concepts, not memorizing procedures. In my classes, we ask and seek answers questions like, 'What does this mean?' and 'Why does this make sense?'”
“I teach using guided notes and a tablet laptop in order to keep students engaged. Writing on a tablet instead of the chalkboard or whiteboard allows me to face my class, so I can see their reactions and more easily promote discussion.”
“My philosophy of teaching can be summed up by, 'Meet students where they are. Help them move forward.'”
“A student who transferred to Northern Illinois University and took calculus classes there emailed me to thank me for teaching her to be a more prepared student and to learn math throughout the entire semester, instead of cramming.”
“My passion for cars started when I was a young boy, holding a drop light for my dad as he worked on the family car. As time went on, I grew up and my Hot Wheels® cars just got bigger and faster.”
“CLC students are trying to be somebody, to make a difference. I want to understand their needs and help them to get the most out of their time here.”
“I'm fascinated with economics' application to everyday life. When we make decisions related to purchases, or when we make choices about what we will do with our time and resources, it relates to the field of economics.”
“In my classes, students learn that history is not a set of static facts, but a dynamic and active process of interpretation.”
“History explains the world to us. CLC offers many opportunities for faculty and students to travel widely in the world. My travels in Jordan, the Netherlands and in several other countries have broadened my experience and helped me to be a better teacher.”
“I seek to make connections between course content and students' lives and to build relationships with and among students in the classroom. Students flourish when working together toward a common goal and when they realize that they can rely on their peers and professors for support and information.”
“I cannot compete with a smartphone in terms of overall information. Consequently, my teaching objective is not just to disseminate information, which students can get from a variety of sources, but rather to assist students in applying this information in real-world situations.”
“I'm fascinated by psychology's mystery as well as its different explanations, theories and philosophical assumptions about human nature. Perhaps most important, the field has the potential to help people live better.”
“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to help students navigate college and make decisions that will have a lasting impact on their lives and families.”
“I want my students to be able to recognize the extent to which society influences most of what we do and think, but that we can also change the course of society. To achieve this goal, I often provide a range of different examples and activities. ”
“I believe my students should be active participants in the learning process, and the material should be directly connected to their outside experiences. At the end of the semester, I hope they leave with the belief that they can change the world!”
“Using genealogy and popular culture allows me to make connections for students to unfamiliar sociological theories, by utilizing something they know (their family history; favorite TV shows, or movies) as a starting point.”
Connect with CLC