Anthropology undergraduate Levi Webb: Passion for the stars and the people below them

Levi Webb’s academic advisor suggested he add a minor in computational modeling or mathematics, a more “typical” pathway for an astrophysics major, but after taking anthropology-based ISS courses on different cultures and perspectives, Webb decided to follow his passion.

“As someone who earned an International Baccalaureate Diploma in high school and, thus, came to MSU with a considerable amount of credits, I ambitiously decided to fully major in a second field that (for the most part) has nothing in common with my first field of study,” he said. “The bonus is that I get to learn about two of my most significant interests!” 

Webb is currently a junior astrophysics and anthropology major with an undecided anthropology subfield. 

“I’ve taken a very wide sample of classes in each field of anthropology, so it’s hard to say that I’ve liked one above the rest,” he said. 

This past summer, Webb participated in the MSU Archaeology Field School.

“Dr. Camp’s field school this past summer was very well-rounded,” he said. “Students got experience with many archaeological processes, such as survey, excavation, archival research, and artifact photography and cataloging. I feel honored to have had such an experience in an incredibly welcoming and open-minded environment, and I had a ton of fun!”

This semester, Webb is working in Dr. Stacey Camp’s Kooskia Lab with artifacts from World War II Japanese internment camps in Kooskia, Idaho. Dr. Camp is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, Director of the Campus Archaeology Program, and new department undergraduate director. 

“Because this archaeology is relatively recent history, I know that my work is important to the living relatives of the people whose belongings are in the collection,” Webb said. “Dr. Camp has talked to me about people who reach out to her about the importance of the database she’s creating of artifacts. That connection encourages me to do excellent work in the lab.”

In addition to his work at the Kooskia Lab, Webb also works in the MSU Observational Research Program (MORP), and he is involved in multiple physics clubs across campus such as Astronomy Club and the Society of Physics Students.

“I’m the vice president of MSU’s high-powered Rocketry Club, and I attend LGBT social gatherings whenever I have time,” he said. “This semester, I’ve also been attending a lot of physics and astronomy seminars/colloquia, and I have been getting more involved in anthropology, too, through discussions with professors and grad students.”

Involved in many courses, programs and clubs, Webb has important advice for students:

“Stressing out only makes everything harder, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Just remember that your professors are people too, and they’ll most likely be understanding if you’re struggling and need help. And, a lot of anthropology professors really like talking to students, even if you don’t need help!”

Webb plans to begin stellar astrophysical research on supernovae, and plans to get his Master’s in anthropology and his doctorate in astrophysics. He hopes to inspire other students to create their own path. 

“You know yourself best. Judge your limits based on where you know them to be set – aim above the expectations of people who underestimate you and don’t let their perceptions of you alter your sense of self.”