Sydney Yeager is a Digital Anthropologist with over 15 years of experience as a mixed-methods researcher, focused on making sense of human behavior and experience. She has a passion about solving the right problem and believes human-centered research is the key to doing that in the most ethical and efficient way. She earned her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at Southern Methodist University, specializing in the intersection of medical anthropology and the anthropology of religion within digital cultural spaces. She utilizes a digital mixed-methods approach to gain a stronger understanding of human behavior and experience and the webs of meaning that shape our lives.
She is a graduate of the Norbert O. Schedler Honors College at the University of Central Arkansas where she received her BS in History with minors in Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies in December of 2009. She obtained her MA in Medical Anthropology in 2012 at SMU. In the fall of 2012, She continued at SMU for her Ph.D. Sydney’s dissertation focused on the impact of online mourning on user experience on Facebook and other social media platforms. She researches the use of social media platforms in response to health crises and death, a global phenomenon that she examines within the context of urban centers and rural areas in the Southern United States. Her current work in this area includes neurodiversity activism and support groups, responses to COVID-19, health crisis status updates, grief support, and Facebook as kinwork.
Sydney was a founding member of the Digital Anthropology Interest Group of the American Anthropological Association. She is passionate about bringing digital innovation into the academic discipline of anthropology. Serving first as the social media chair from 2012-2015 and then as DANG’s Chair and Conference Convener from 2015 to the present, Sydney has campaigned Digital Anthropology, promoting its methodologies and scholarship. Beginning in fall 2021, Sydney began collaborating with UNESCO and the LiiV Research Center on their Digital Innovation in Anthropology initiative. The aims of the initiative are to bring the insights of digital anthropology into conversations with data science and tech innovation in both the public and private sectors to deliver empathic and ethical solutions to the problems facing the world today.
“If you are human, Anthropology matters!” While an undergrad, anthropology ignited Sydney’s innate curiosity and her drive to understand what people think, believe, do, and create. It allowed her to begin her quest to understand the big “why” driving human behavior, shaping human history, and our current lived experiences today. She is passionate about the value of human diversity and the ability of anthropology to reduce ethnocentrism (the subconscious culture-based humans have from growing up in a culture).
Sydney has four years of teaching experience and is passionate about teaching students ethnographic methods and having them reflect on ethics and the biases of ethnocentrism. She teaches her students to utilize quantitative data sets to clarify the who, what, when, where, and how and then utilize the power of ethnography and AnthroVision to drill down to the why. Her courses have covered everything from early human evolution to the latest in social media trends. She is passionate about human innovation and sees culture as humanity’s greatest tool.
Sydney is transitioning into a career as an innovation consultant focused on research and design drawing on her experience as a digital anthropologist, market researcher, and product manager. She has a diverse range of professional experiences guiding small businesses and nonprofits through digital transformations and working with publicly traded international companies targeting rapid growth to deliver quality healthcare at scale. From patient engagement to membership recruitment to community buy-in, Sydney is a researcher that delivers empathic insights that can bring people together and build organic growth while also improving efficiency, increasing customer base, and delivering ROI. She is ready to focus full-time on tackling digital innovation, research, and design full-time and is open to full-time and contract offers.