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Jordan Guerra ‘18
Anthropology and Human Evolutionary Biology double major

At the age of eight, Jordan Guerra crossed the Mexican border and trekked through the desert to get to the United States. In 2001, he was granted Temporary Protection Status (TPS) because El Salvador, his country of origin, had just experienced a series of natural disasters. Since 2001, Jordan has been a TPS recipient, allowing him to live and work legally in this country. Learn more about Jordan’s journey as a student at SBU.


Why Stony Brook University?
I first studied at Stony Brook from 2010-2012, and then from 2015-2018. I initially applied to SBU because growing up, I wanted to be a doctor and I knew they had a medical school. After taking a few years off, I came back, this time with the intention of studying Anthropology, since evolution had always been a topic that has fascinated me. I knew of SBU’s affiliation with the Turkana Basin Institute, and that interested me.

On his majors:
Initially, I was a biology major on the pre-med track. I picked biology because I initially thought it was necessary in order to be pre-med, but I later learned that was not the case.

When I came back to SBU in 2015, however, I knew that I wanted to study Anthropology, and so I declared an intended double major in Anthropology and Human Evolutionary Biology (EBH). Some of the courses I had already taken as a biology major were part of the EBH curriculum,  and because I want to pursue research as a career path, having a BS would give me a great background in preparation for graduate school.

On his favorite classes:
Nearly every course I have taken for my majors has been crucial in my training to become a biological anthropologist. From learning about human and primate anatomy to the composition and development of bones, and the evolution of behaviors and intellect, I can say that all my upper division classes have been my favorite. Not only because of the content, but also because of the instructors in this department.

Interests and accomplishments:
My academic interests include the evolution of hominids. Through my research, I hope to explore questions relating to the evolution of many if not all of the known hominids from our last common ancestor.

I am also very interested in functional anatomy. I like to use comparative and morphological methods and experimental animal models to examine the evolution of locomotion in animals, and use this information to make inferences about the evolution of primates.

Through my research I have been able to perform tests and gather data on some really awesome questions about the evolution of primate locomotion, and this data has been used in scientific publications. Being involved in these projects and knowing that I was part of the scientific process behind them is a phenomenal feeling.

I was also a co-author on two poster presentations that were presented at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) annual meeting in New Orleans in 2017 and also had the abstracts of those posters published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (AJPA).

Awards & Accolades:
I was awarded a competitive scholarship for the 2017 IDEAS (Increasing Diversity in Evolutionary Anthropological Science) Workshop at the 2017 American Association of Physical Anthropologists annual meeting in New Orleans, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Since my return to Stony Brook, I have been on the Dean's list every for all but one.

Greatest achievement:
My greatest achievement is returning to Stony Brook and doing a complete 180. My first semester back, Dr. Russo gave me the opportunity to join her lab as a lab assistant. It was exactly what I needed to boost my confidence; she gave me a second chance at being an academic. Since then, I began working on my "comeback," until I was able to get out of conditional probation with the school and get back into good academic standing.

Three years ago I would have never thought that I would go on to be a recipient of a prestigious scholarship to attend an AAPA meeting, become a published researcher, or even be recognized by my Department for this showcase!

Post graduation plans:
I plan to attend graduate school and get a PhD in biological anthropology or a related field.

At the moment, I will continue working in Dr. Gabrielle Russo's Functional Morphology Lab during the Spring 2019 semester since graduate programs do not begin until the fall. I will continue to work on some of my ongoing research projects, looking at the morphology of rabbit lumbar spines and the basicranium of rats made to walk bipedally!

Career aspirations: 
I want to become a professor at a university so that I can pass down the education I received from my mentors and help train the next generation of researchers as I was trained.


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