Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sara Quandt, June 27, 2016

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:07 - Childhood

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Partial Transcript: Uh, my name is Susan Abbott-Jamieson and I am, uh, interviewing Sara Quandt, uh, in the home of John Van Willigan in Lexington, Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Quandt talks about her childhood and her family. She explains how her parents met during World War II and her father moved back to run a family business. Quandt says her father's side of the family was very into education. Her mother, and her grandmother on her father's side, were very different people, Quandt explains.

Keywords: Education; Fathers; Grandmothers; Inspiration; Mothers; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War II; World War Two

Subjects: Anthropologists; Anthropology; Childhood; Families.; World War, 1939-1945

00:05:07 - Early influences

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Partial Transcript: Uh, and so what were some of the influences from your--uh, from those early years that may have influenced you to become an anthropologist?

Segment Synopsis: Quandt talks about her early influences to explore anthropology. The first was her father who would deliver anti war sermons at the church they visited. As a businessman her father was also very into marketing and wondering why people do what they do. Her father even said he wished he could have been an anthropologist. Another possible influence early on was the realization that the city was near an Indian reservation, despite no one ever mentioning it.

Keywords: Churches; Indian reservations; Native American reservations; Sermons; Vietnam War

Subjects: Anthropologists; Anthropology

00:10:57 - Education in anthropology

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Partial Transcript: Um, so I kind of went to cla--uh, to college and started taking classes.

Segment Synopsis: Quandt says she initially thought she wanted to go to school for biology because she was into science. When the class was too full, she took general anthropology instead and that's what eventually led her to become an anthropologist. Quandt says it took her until senior year to realize that she was interested in research. Quandt says another formative moment was when she was in high school and her father sent out a survey about community housing. When her father left, she went through the replies and organized it into tables and graphs despite her not really being taught how to do so. Quandt talks about some particular professors who helped her in her undergrad.

Keywords: Colleges; Communities; Social issues; Undergraduates

Subjects: Anthropologists; Anthropology students; Anthropology--Research; Education, Higher

00:24:42 - Graduate school

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Partial Transcript: So where did you go?

Segment Synopsis: Quandt talks about choosing to attend Michigan State University because she could claim to be a resident. She got into ethnographic analysis and the instructor would ask them to read a book a week and write a paper on the book. She got burnt out doing ethnographic analysis so she tried physical anthropology, specifically food and medical anthropology and the use of food as medicine around the world. She talks about the importance of food to bring people and families together.

Keywords: Ethnographic analysis; Graduate schools; Medical anthropology; Nutrition; Nutritional anthropology

Subjects: Anthropologists; Anthropology; Anthropology students; Ethnology; Michigan State University

00:32:13 - Applied anthropology / Role models

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Partial Transcript: Uh, could you talk a little bit about what role, uh, application and practice played in your anthropological education?

Segment Synopsis: Quandt says that applied anthropology was never even spoken about during graduate school. Nobody was interested in application outside of the field of anthropology and it required a good knowledge of methods. Quandt says she did not have one role model in particular but instead looked up to the whole group of nutritional anthropologists.

Keywords: Graduate schools; Nutritional anthropologists; Qualitative data; Quantitative data; Research methods

Subjects: Anthropology--Fieldwork; Applied anthropology

00:40:06 - Teaching at Penn State University

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Partial Transcript: So, you finished your doctorate--

Segment Synopsis: Quandt says her first job was a temporary lecture position but she ended up getting hired for two years. She was hired because of her knowledge of nutritional anthropology. They even asked her to teach graduate classes.

Keywords: Lectures; Penn State University; Professors; Teachers

Subjects: Anthropologists; Anthropology; Anthropology students; Pennsylvania State University

00:49:00 - Basis for success

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Partial Transcript: You've really been a very productive researcher during your career and you've been especially successful in obtaining funds for research...

Segment Synopsis: Quandt said one way she was able to be successful was because she got good at writing grant proposals. Quandt says this is a good skill because you don't only get money but you also get good at expressing your ideas clearly. Quandt met her husband while writing grants for multiple projects.

Keywords: Grant proposals; Grants; Projects; Writing

Subjects: Anthropologists writings; Anthropology publishing; Anthropology research and developments

00:55:41 - Effective proposals / Community partners

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, uh, how do you write effective proposals?

Segment Synopsis: Quandt talks about what it takes to write an effective proposal. It must have a clear and consistent objective all the way through, says Quandt. It also must have a genuinely intriguing question that people will find useful. You cannot ask for money to study anything you want, Quandt explains. Quandt also talks about the importance of community partners. Quandt has also helped Congress with specific cases, like housing for farmers or effects of tobacco crops.

Keywords: Communities; Community partners; Congress; Farmers; Grant proposals; Proposals

Subjects: Anthropologists; Anthropologists writings; Anthropology; Applied anthropology

01:06:54 - Research projects and their influence

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Partial Transcript: So what research project of yours, uh, do you think, uh, is the most noteworthy or best, and why?

Segment Synopsis: One of the projects that Quandt remembers is when she was testing the effects of green tobacco. She had no idea about it so she started reading papers on nicotine to learn. Quandt realized before anyone else did that it was the nicotine in the tobacco that was creating those effects. They enlisted the help of a few hundred farmers and collected their spit and few other things to see if the nicotine was in their system. Through their research they were able to prove that green tobacco illness was not a skin condition but an illness caused by nicotine in the plants. Quandt realized it was the way that the farmers were holding the tobacco that was making them sick. Their underarm skin would absorb dangerous amounts of nicotine. Quandt says students are intrigued by these projects because it shows that there are real world uses of anthropology.

Keywords: Community partners; Farmers; Field research; Field work; Green tobacco illness; Laborers; Tobacco

Subjects: Anthropology research and developments; Anthropology--Fieldwork; Applied anthropology; Tobacco farmers; Tobacco workers; Tobacco--Harvesting

01:19:55 - Tips for junior anthropologists

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Partial Transcript: Well, what advice do you have for junior colleagues as they start their careers...

Segment Synopsis: Quandt gives tips to junior anthropologists. She suggests writing to make it accessible to a wide audience. She suggests that students, when leaving academia, need to realize the difference and not write like they are in school. Quandt also suggests a broad knowledge of research methods. She also suggests students do internships to get real world experience. Quandt also says she never expected to have to know leadership skills until she had to lead a project.

Keywords: Anthropology; Community partners; Field studies; Internships; Publishing; Students; Suggestions; Tips; Undergraduates; Writing

Subjects: Anthropologists; Anthropologists' writings; Anthropology students; Anthropology--Fieldwork