Archaeology graduate student Soren Frykholm at Monte Albán, in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Next in the Museum’s Student Research Spotlight series is Soren Frykholm, a first-year Ph.D. student from Colorado College, who earned a bachelor's degree with a major in romance languages and a minor in journalism.

Frykholm’s interest in anthropology began long before his college years.

“When I was younger, my family moved to South America and we lived in Santiago, Chile, for a year,” Frykholm said. “That was a really formative experience for me. I came back attuned to the fact that people all over the world had different life experiences than my own and that really fundamentally interested me.”

He continued to spend time in Latin America, studying abroad in Salvador, Brazil, and traveling when possible. These early experiences inspired his honors thesis, which he described as “very anthropological”—in it, he investigated racism and social class in Brazil.

Shortly after graduating, Frykholm went to Oaxaca, Mexico, to work on an archaeological project at a Mixtec site for several months. While there, he had what he calls an epiphany moment: “Seeing the ways that all my interests align in archaeology—my interests in history, culture, and geology.”

Since then, he has pursued archaeology as a career. He chose to come to UMMAA in part because his interests align with those of Museum curators Joyce Marcus and Kent Flannery.   

This summer Frykholm will return to Oaxaca to excavate at Atzompa, a site associated with Monte Albán, where Marcus and Flannery completed some of their pioneering research. In many ways, Frykholm looks to contribute to themes that carry through their research, intending to investigate the relationship between the emergence of complex societies, social hierarchy, and social stratification. Specifically, he is interested in how and why we differentiate and categorize as humans and why, when we get together, we need to create inequality.

Regarding his time at UMMAA so far, Frykholm noted how engaging the coursework has been. For him, this confirms that he is in the right place, studying the right thing. He also enjoys the supportive and collaborative community.