HRAF Welcomes 2020-2021 Melvin Ember Interns

Melvin Ember Internship 2020The Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) at Yale University is pleased to announce our Melvin Ember interns for 2020-2021: Benjamin Gonzalez and Daniel McCloskey. Melvin Ember was President of HRAF from 1987 until his death in 2009.

The internship in his honor is intended to give recent graduates of anthropology the opportunity to learn about cross-cultural research through practical experience.

Please join us in welcoming Benjamin and Daniel to HRAF. You can read more about their research interests and their current HRAF projects below.


Benjamin Gonzalez

Benjamin graduated with honors from Trinity University in 2020 with a B.A. in Anthropology. His undergraduate thesis investigated lead abatement policies in San Antonio and how they construct an ideal notion of the qualified applicant for state-funded assistance with environmental health. Ben’s prior experience includes producing research at the University of Texas at Austin’s Population Research Center in 2019, where he studied health insurance coverage rates between Latinx and White populations in Texas. Benjamin’s other interests include healthcare policy, mental health, political anthropology, journalism, British soccer leagues, video editing, and film.

Intern Benjamin GonzalezI’m so excited for the opportunity to work with HRAF this year! I graduated in May 2020 from Trinity University (San Antonio, TX) with a B.A. in Anthropology, focusing in medical anthropology. My interest in anthropology grew after I had the opportunity to study abroad in Nicaragua in 2018 [pictured below], where I spoke with community health organizers and the national policies subjecting them to unsafe practices. The trip gave me a new perspective on global health issues and a passion for fieldwork and ethnographic research, especially related to health. Since then, my research focus has centered on the interactions between health policies and the people they are supposed to serve. This culminated in a senior thesis about San Antonio’s lead-based paint abatement policies and how they benefit residents based on their status as “qualified” applicants to the city program.

This past spring, I applied to the Melvin Ember Internship because I was interested in working with such an extensive record of ethnographies and was excited by the prospect of contributing to original research. I am currently working on adding new cross-cultural research to the Explaining Human Culture database and producing educational modules and exercises to be posted on eHRAF’s website. Going forward, I hope to attend graduate school within the next few years for either public health or anthropology. In the meantime, however, I plan to gain more experience and exposure to research and better discern my research interests. I can’t wait to accomplish this through my work at HRAF this year and see where this experience takes me!

Daniel McCloskey

Daniel graduated with high honors from the University of Connecticut in May 2020. He received a B.A. with a double major in Anthropology and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and a minor in Human Rights. He was also a part of the Honors, University Scholar, and IDEA Grant programs. His thesis involved a semi-ethnographic study of fraternity men and surrounded topics of gender, masculinity, homosociality, and sexual violence. He feels that cross-cultural work, the examination of commonality and diversity, is paramount to the work of anthropologists.

Additional work includes examining the role of race and coloniality in the construction and performance of masculinities as well as the role of masculinities and feminism in the modern political Left. In addition to his academic interests, he is interested in finding ways to communicate feminist concepts to men and to work with men to develop healthy masculinities.

Daniel McCloskeyAs a student of anthropology, it has always been apparent to me that building cross-cultural understanding about the range of human diversity, similarity, and difference is paramount to work in the field.  However, as I learned it became apparent that doing this type of research on a large scale was easier said than done.  This was one of the reasons why when I heard of HRAF and the tools that it offers I was so excited.  Needless to say, when I found out that I could contribute to this work through the Melvin Ember Internship, I jumped at the chance!

While we have only been working for a little under a month, Ben and I have already been hard at work compiling cross-cultural research that has been conducted on the topic of marriage and searching for examples of different types of nuptials throughout the world’s cultures.  Eventually we will group all of the information that we have reviewed and compiled into a summary on the topic for Explaining Human Culture.

In the Fall of 2021, I hope to begin working on my PhD.  While I am not yet sure where I will be doing this, I am excited to continue work on the qualitative methods that I learned during undergrad and with the quantitative methods that I will have learned from my time here at HRAF.  I believe that the unique exposure that I am already gaining through this internship will enrich my scholarship in graduate school and throughout my career as a scholar.

A very warm welcome to our 2020-2021 HRAF Melvin Ember Interns!