Sydney Yeager


Innovation powered by empathic insights and data-driven decision-making.  As a digital anthropologist, I synergize qualitative and quantitative research to deliver insights into human experience that shape problem-solving and tech-led futures. I am an expert at sense-making and contextualizing diverse datasets into human-centered solutions.


AcreTrader, Fayetteville, AR — UX Researcher

AUGUST 2022 – JANUARY 2023

  • Investment Platform – User Conversion and Investor Engagement
  • Stand Up UX Research Organization
  • Established Research Processes, Cadence, and Documentation
  • Conducted UX research end-to-end
  • Prioritized research to align with product goals and company objectives
  • Collaborated with internal stakeholders to generate UX goals
  • Self-initiated, planned and executed generative and evaluative research 
  • Built deep foundational knowledge of users and the product
  • Established continuous discovery process
  • Taught others how to apply a range of UX research methods 

Rollins College, Winter Park, FL — Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Global Health

AUGUST 2021 – JULY 2022

  • Taught mixed-methods research and supervised 170 projects

Yeager-Wright Digital Marketing, Remote — Co-Founder


  • Digital Transformation: marketing, community outreach, user experience, market research, and managing cross-functional team for startups, small businesses, and nonprofits

Preventice Solutions/Boston Scientific, Remote — Product Management Intern

DECEMBER 2020 – JUNE 2021

  • Software Development Life Cycle in an Agile Environment
  • Developed and Evangelized a Product Vision and Road Map
  • Workstreams: Development of New Portal, Internal Operational Changes, & Patient Engagement Channel

University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR/Remote — Adjunct Lecturer of Anthropology, Sociology, and Honors

JANUARY 2019 – MAY 2021

  • Taught research methods and supervised 281 research projects

Hendrix College, Conway, AR — Adjunct Lecturer


  • Taught mixed-methods research and supervised 66 projects

Society for Medical Anthropology — Webmaster


  • Web design, social media, digital content, tech support


Neurodivergence, Identity, & Social Media – Lead Researcher

Beginning in 2021, I began observing multiple neurodivergent communities, studying their self-identification and identity curation on social media. Generative research focused on understanding neurodiverse experiences including participant observation in online communities and hashtag ethnography.

COVID Denial and Distrust in the Ozarks – Lead Researcher

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, I began research on the impact of heightened distrust of government and media in the Arkansas Ozarks on public health outcomes, collecting data on digital participation in disinformation and distrust on Facebook. This work includes interviews with community members, healthcare providers in the region, and discourse analysis of social media posts, primarily on Facebook.

Mourning Practices on Facebook: Facebook Shrines and Other Rituals of Grieving in the Digital Age — Lead Researcher

Defended and published in 2021 for SMU, I conducted ethnographic research on the impact of mourning on Facebook users’ experiences. This digital health project investigated social support networks and community building in social media spaces. I conducted interviews with Facebook users, local religious leaders, mental healthcare providers, and educators. I combined the qualitative insights from my interviews with quantitative data from my online survey of Facebook users and visual and discourse analysis of Facebook posts with mourning content.

Acting in America — Research Assistant

From 2015 to 2016, I transcribed interviews, created metadata, and curated digital data for the Library of Congress’s Occupational Folklife Project.

Joseph Campbell Foundation — Research & Scientific Editor

In 2016-2017, I researched the science of dates and made edits for accuracy for the republication of The Complete Works of Joseph Campbell. I edited the works to update the content to include the most recent findings from archeology, paleoanthropology, and human biology.

Making School Consolidation a Win-Win – Consultant

In Fall 2014, I consulted with the same school district while it was planning its consolidation with the long-standing revival school district of a neighboring community. I provided insights into the community tensions and priorities, based on past generative research and participant-observation and focus group interviews during the early consolidation talks. I delivered a two-year strategy for a peaceful consolidation, which was followed with great success.

Smartphone Awareness, Absorption & Anxiety – Consultant

In March 2013, this research project focused on smartphone use in relation to anxiety and identity among teachers and students in South Arkansas. I interviewed teachers, administrators, parents, and students in addition to participant-observation in the community and school. I also surveyed teachers and admins and presented my findings to the school administration which directly shaped the introduction of their new cellphone study.

Irish Cures and Faith Healing – Lead Researcher

In 2012, I conducted generative ethnographic research in the Republic of Ireland, focused on alternative healing, ethnomedicine, and religion.

The Embodiment of Birth – Lead Researcher

In 2011, 2016, and 2017, I conducted generative research into the natural birth movements in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. I shadowed Doulas and Hypnobirthing Educators in their training seminars, at workshops they gave to expectant parents, and interviewed the birth educators and participants.

Good Roots: An Ethnography of Storytelling, Healing, and Family in the Ozarks – Lead Researcher

From 2007 to 2009, I conducted generative research including interviews, participant-observation, and collected genealogical data relevant to my ethnographic research on traditional healing and kinship in the Ozarks. This work was presented to the community, as guest lectures, at academic conferences, and utilized to write my honors thesis.

Conserving Arkansas Agricultural Heritage – Research Assistant

From 2008 to 2009, I managed event planning and logistics for the first annual Seed Swap. I interviewed participants, collected samples of heirloom seeds, and organized data collected for the CAAH’s Seed Bank, establishing protocols for data collection and training other research assistants. 


Digital Anthropology

  • Empathy
  • Ethnography
  • Thick Data
  • Ethics
  • Teaching


  • Generative Research
  • Market Research
  • Research Design
  • Human-Centered Research
  • Digital Methods
  • Mixed-Methods
  • Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Online Surveys
  • Decision Modeling
  • IRB & Research Ethics
  • Research Management
    Data Analysis


  • Digital Innovation
  • Branding Strategy
  • Go to Market Strategy
  • Digital Marketing
  • Product Management
  • Financial Modeling
  • Concept Evaluation
  • Prioritization
  • Business Analysis
  • Membership Recruitment
  • Networking


  • Web Design
  • Course Design
    Process Design
  • Ideation


  • Public Speaking
  • Presentations
  • Writing
  • Content Editing
  • Data Visualization
  • Social Media
  • UX Writing



  • Research Proposal & Roadmap
  • Insight Report
  • Presentation / Slide Deck / Video
  • Personas / Archetype
  • Use Cases & User Needs
  • Decision Tree
  • Engagement Data Analytics
  • Mockups and Wireframing
  • User Journey Map
  • Mapping Pain Points
  • Swimlane
  • Workflow
  • High Level Data Flow
  • Financial Model / ROI Forecast
  • Product Vision & Roadmap
  • KPIs & Evaluation Criteria
  • Conversational AI Scripts
  • Websites


Southern Methodist University
Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology
MA, Cultural Anthropology

University of Central Arkansas
Bachelor of Science in History


Digital Anthropology Interest Group (DANG)
Co-Founder 2012-Present
Chair 2015-Present
Social Media 2012-2015

UNESCO & LiiV Research Center: Digital Innovation in Anthropology Initiative Collaborator 2021 – Present

American Anthropological Association (AAA)

Member 2011 – Present

National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA) Member 2021 – Present

EPIC Member 2022 – Present

Society of Medical Anthropology (SMA) Exo Board Member, Webmaster, Communications Committee, 2017-2021

Society of Anthropology of Consciousness
Exec. Board & Communications Chair 2013-2021
Program Chair 2016-2018

Fulbright: Afghanistan Fall Enrichment Seminar Program Ambassador 2016 & 2017

Happy Halloween!


ducks dress up

Halloween is such a fascinating holiday to consider from a cultural perspective. During Halloween season we revel in breaking taboos and dancing with danger. We celebrate life by mocking death. We look our fears in the face and find a way to laugh. While we spend the rest of the year doing our best to avoid the topic of death, on Halloween we look it in the face and say not today.

The liminality of the holiday lends itself to liberation of appearance and identity, two things Americans take very seriously the rest of the year. Halloween is a day to dress up literally anyway you want. Children dress up for candy. Adolescents dress up for a night of pranks and mayhem. But why do adults dress up?

So your friendly neighborhood anthropologist wants to know:

What are you dressing up as for Halloween? Why? (Please Post Pics in the Comments)

In hopes of digging a little bit deeper, I’m asking this question to people on through my social media accounts. Look for an update over the weekend.


How to Develop Sherlock Holmes-Like Powers of Observation and Deduction

This is an amazing little article about Observation and Deduction. I’d recommend anyone considering going into anthropology to give it a read. It’s also a great little refresher on the power of observation packed with helpful reminders and links to tools for improving your skills for any anthropologist in the field.

Let Your Let Shine #UnitedWeStand #PrayfortheWorld

Let your light shine in the face of terror, hatred, and evil. Only if we stand united in love, will our inner light be able to banish this great darkness from the world. Not just the “Western world,” but the entire planet. Violence, suffering, and hate spread like a sickness throughout of planet.

Solidarity in the Face of Terror- Let Your Light Shine

We must stand in solidarity not just with France, but with all those who have been attacked. Terrorism is bred of hatred. Violence begets violence. It longs to cast its darkness upon the world. It is the evil not of one religion or race or nation, but of those who love violence and cling to their blind hatred above all else. It murders and violates the innocent. It drives families from their homes. If allowed, it will poison humanity, brother against brother. Standing in solidarity with one another, we can lend each other strength to brave this darkness together.

Seeing places like Paris or New York or London hit by terrorism provokes more attention because we have grown painfully numb to daily battles faced by the innocent citizens of the Middle East. But we have to realize that an attack on humanity anywhere is an attack on us all. How can we claim inalienable rights, given to us by God, if we allow those human rights to be continuously violated?Pray for

Terrorism wants to strip away our sense of home. Home. What does that word mean? Yes, it is a space you live in, but it is so much more. It is our shelter, our security. It is a place we share with our family. The place we invite our friends. Stealing a person’s home, forcing them out with violence and fear. It takes away the person’s sense of security and disrupts their family. It violates the sacred space meant to shelter you from the outside world. In the end, this leaves in those still in their own homes in a state of fear.

Pray for the World


These deaths, this violence, and chaos do not honor God, Allah, or Yahweh. The God who brought order into the universe in the act of creation, who gave law to his people, who taught love and forgiveness. No the only god honored by terrorism is the god of darkness, bloodlust, and chaos who sows evil into the heart of men. Intoxicated with power, blinded by hatred, people have been led astray feeling justified in their self-righteousness. But in the end their lives are claimed by this violence too.

Good people with good hearts, we need to stand together. We are stronger united. Standing against violence and injustice. Terrorism violates rights to life, liberty, and home. It extinguishes all hopes of happiness, replacing them with fears. Global solidarity standing together against terrorism isn’t the perfect solution for ending acts of violence and hatred around the world, but it is the answer to defeating terrorism.

Terrorist win when we are living in terror. Feeling cut off, alone, in constant danger. While changing your Facebook status or my making social media post may seem futile, these are powerful symbolic tools amplifying our voice. We can share love and respect, standing together in solidarity against this violence and hatred strengthens all of us. We fight the darkness by letting our light shine. Together we can light the world.

we are all in this together

What Halloween Masks

A very thoughtful consideration of Halloween from the eyes of little children. Perhaps because I have spent the past two days at grief workshops, this article made me wonder if forcing little children to confront death and danger while playing at adult roles and power serves a greater function or at least has the opportunity to. The power inversion of being “grown up” for a day and the freedom of taboo and prohibition breaking is empowering, perhaps, empowering enough to help prepare youngesters to face the danger and death they are forced to confront. Does confront death and danger in this controlled fashion (it may not seem controlled to the kid but it definitely is) help prepare them for facing death and danger the rest of the year? It would definitely be interesting to study why children choose to dress up as whoever or whatever. I think there is are a lot of ethnopsychology questions that could be asked in this arena as well.

The Anthropologist’s Disclaimer

Many people I meet, even people I talk to on a regular basis, do not have background knowledge of anthropology, and I think that is fairly typical. Anthropology isn’t taught in the American public school system and most people have only had a limited introduction to one of Anthropology’s subfields.   Archeology or Forensic Anthropology are commonly brought up as points of reference. Indiana Jones and the tv show Bones being the most famous, albeit fictional, anthropologists today. These are indeed crucial parts of the holistic endeavor to understand human beings, but the methodology employed is so drastically different that I think people are still left wonder what exactly it is that I do.

Anthropology is the study of what it means to be human, and the wealth of variation of culture and physiology that includes. Cultural anthropologists are primarily focused on cultural groups and cultural issues around the globe as they pertain to currently living people; as you might imagine this takes an incredibly wide range of forms.  From studying HIV clinics in Bolivia to urban development in China to Forestry and Sustainability in the Philipines to grieving practices on Facebook, anthropologists do research anywhere humans are. This research is most commonly referred to as ethnographic fieldwork or sometimes ethnography for short, but an ethnography is really the written product produced documenting anthropologist’s cultural observations. The two most important methodological tools of ethnographic fieldwork are participant observation and ethnographic interviews.

The exact type of hard data each anthropologists documents during this ethnographic experience may vary, but one pattern repeats–tried and true. This method yields incredible, invaluable insight into the culture group being studied, allowing anthropologists to properly situate other more tangible data within its cultural context. Additionally, living with those we study and participating in their daily lives has offered anthropologists countless serendipitous opportunities for uncovering deeply insightful findings. These might come as a chance encounter, an illegal cock-fighting match, a midnight conversation, even in one case a late night police raid on the village an anthropologist was residing in (Greetz 1977; Bernard 2011). Such serendipitous events provide the researcher with an anecdotal stories that exemplify or illuminate key aspects of the human condition, which are frequently worth more than the several months of diligent pursuits of other methods. Other times such as serendipitous event is an experience that provides a unique perspective on the issue being studied, situating the researcher to have both the outsider objectivity and a momentary shared insider experience.

It is fair to say that participant-observation isn’t entirely well-defined even by and for anthropologists who employ it. How do you know when you are doing participant-observation? How do you know you are doing it correctly? These questions have probably haunted anthropology graduate students since the beginning of American Anthropology. Participant-Observation was invented when anthropology first shifted from an armchair discipline to one that required going to the “field.” Now part of the authority of the anthropologist claims comes from actually being there.  This later came under critique, as did the anthropologist’s authority, in general, but the necessity of going to field to gain firsthand insight into a culture weathered the storm.  In essence, participant-observation is about achieving the same type of organic first-hand exposure to a culture that language learners seek from language immersion programs.

Participant-observation might be defined as the process of living in a culture, alternately with the community of people you are studying, while keeping a detailed record of your observations of public events, daily life, and casual conversations. As anthropologists live in their field site, every communal activity, and human interaction offers the potential to yield insightful information. Anthropologists learn through immersion, living in the same cultural context as the people we are studying. We call it participant-observation occasionally even deep hanging out in an attempt to over emphasize the causal nature of one of our greatest tools. But the point remains the same; we need to absorb the social context while simultaneously analyzing the layers of that social reality and how they might affect the situation being studied.

However, the third vital gift of participant-observation is that it is the perfect set up for ethnographic interviews both formal and informal. Anthropological literature talks a lot about building rapport. What this really means is that you need to establish a relationship with your participants and your community. While informed consent in its strictest sense isn’t required, during the participant-observation stage of research, this is the ideal time to inform community members about your research. They need to know who you are, why you are there, and hopefully after you’ve shared some real genuine human interaction you can begin to build a relationship and trust. Being a part of the community, rather someone that just shows up one day out of the blue wanting to ask questions helps. Informal ethnographic interviews, in all honestly, are really just casual conversations. In participant-observation settings, think community social events, these can actually be allowed to start organically and on equal terms. Once the anthropologist has the lay of the land, after conducting participant-observation for a while (the length of time is always up to the researcher), then she can start looking for people who are willing to be interviewed in a more formal setting. But again, it helps here that the people already either know her or know people who know her. I still like to refer to these as ethnographic interviews albeit formal ethnographic interviews to emphasize that the interview is informed by participant-observation unlike for example interviews of randomly selected college students participating in a psychology survey or a sociological questionnaire.

Cultural anthropologists may also employ a host of other data collecting methods: household surveys, kinship charts, taxonomies, ethnographic decision models, photography, videography, cartography, online questionnaires, and even analysis of digital data like tweets.  But participant-observation and ethnographic interviews are our bread and butter.

I have explained them thoroughly to give you my warning, or disclaimer if you will.  Once you start conducting participant-observation and ethnographic interviews, you’ll never actually stop.  Sure, an anthropologist isn’t always keeping detailed notes about all of life’s observations. But come to think of it, even when I’m not on field note taking duty I still make notes about all my “Fascinating!” observations as soon as I can get to my nearest notebook, cell phone or laptop. After I tell someone or write it down, it keeps the idea percolating in my head and it helps me remember. But that’s not the important part. The important part, it that once you learn how to do participant-observation and then follow it up with thoughtful ethnographically charged questions, well… you sort of can’t turn it off.  These tools of inquiry become part of how you think and engage with the world. I was in the mountains on retreat with my friends last weekend and I caught myself doing it, but I didn’t realize what I was doing until I’d already asked the question. It wasn’t in any way related to my dissertation research or really any topic that I’ve directly studied, but I was curious. Then it happened again while I was in a fitness class on Monday. But that is the thing isn’t it, ALL of Human Diversity and what it means to be human, that is what I study.  So if you are human and you are talking and doing your thing, whatever your thing is, I’m probably unintentionally studying you. Dear friends, family, communities in which I live, my apologies and warning in advance.

An anthropologist is always conducting research to some extent. Once you learn the tools of anthropology, you cannot simply turn them off because you are at the dinner table with your in-laws or in dance fitness class or listening to someone tell you about their yarn store. I can’t possibly wipe out informed consent forms every time I get inspired, plus I think it might start freaking out those close to me.

So for my friends and family, this is a friendly reminder, I’m an anthropologist and this is what I do. Before I actually publish any stories directly about you, I will always try to go back and ask your permission and give you a chance to preview it. Don’t worry I always change names to protect the not so innocent. Excepting some of the members of my family, of course, who chose to be identified in previous research as it pertained to family history.

For all my past, current and future research participants reading this, I hope this gives you some insight into what anthropology is and what I do with it. I always want you to feel like we are collaborators in the research projects you work with me on. I want you to feel proud reading what I write especially when it pertains to you. I plan to always publish a public audience version of all my material well in advance of any academic publications. If there is anything that concerns you, please feel free to contact me at

What Anthropologists Do

The strength of anthropology is that we are always learning, gathering data isn’t something we do in a lab or even something we can easily shut off. We learn through immersion, living in the same cultural context as the people we are studying. We call it participant-observation occasionally even deep hanging out in an attempt to over emphasize the causal nature of one of our greatest tools. However, the point remains the same; we need to absorb the social context while simultaneously analyzing the layers of that reality and how they might affect the situation being studied. Then when the moment is right, we start asking thoughtful questions. Sometimes formally in a pre-planned interview setting and sometimes informally while sitting on a couch in someone’s living room or at a local fair in the park. One thoughtfully worded question, placed in the right setting and time, can reveal far more insightful information than a thousand questions asked without context. That is the argument of our discipline.

AAA & CASCA To Hold Joint Conference in 2019

AAA & CASCA To Hold Joint Conference in 2019.

#AAA2019 The American Anthropological Association annual conference will be held in conjunction with the Canadian Anthropology Society/Société canadienne d’anthropologie in Vancouver, British Columbia.

My husband and I are already excited about this, yet at the same time….  2019?  Doesn’t that year still sound like it should take place in the still far distant future?

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