Dr. Rachel Gabrielle Witt

Rachel, the daughter of Donna Witt, was valedictorian of her class at Johnson County High School. She graduated from Vanderbilt University with departmental honors in anthropology and a second major in art history. She served as president of the Anthropology Club, and participated on the Arts and Science Undergraduate Advisory Board. Her honors thesis was titled, “The Health Profile of a Mortuary Skeletal Sample from Hualcayan: A Bioarchaeological Perspective of a Middle Horizon tomb from the North-Central Highlands, Peru.: Her paper, “The Painted Programs of Alexandrian Tombs” was published in the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal.

Rachel is a doctoral candidate in the biological anthropology program at Tulane University. She received two grants from the Rust Family Foundation and a Lambda Alpha Honors Soceity Research Grant to carry out her first year of bioarchaeological field work in Peru, for her dissertation. She has worked as an adjunct and a graduate assistant. She has served as the president of TASA: Tulane Anthropology Student Association and is a board member of the academic advisory committee for WISE: Women in Science and Engineering. She has received grants from the J.E. Land fund for School of Liberal Arts and Stone Center Tinker Foundation. She received honorable mention from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Rachel also served as a K-12 STEM outresearch workshop leader for Tulane’s School of Science and Engineering.

Rachel received a $20,000.00 National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant for her dissertation research in Peru.  With this grant, she was able to conduct a second field season at her site, where they continued to document examples of human sacrifice carried out 500 years ago by the Chimu Empire on the north coast of Peru.  She defended her dissertation in late March 2023 and passed.  She will graduate with her Ph.D. in May.  She has accepted a visiting assistant professor position at Tulane University for the next academic year.  Rachel resides in New Orleans, Louisiana.

    The Niswonger Foundation was established in 2001 to make a positive and sustainable difference in education in Northeast Tennessee. This dream was envisioned by Scott M. Niswonger, who founded Landair Transport, Inc. and Forward Air Corporation. These companies were the first two Greeneville-based companies to be taken public in the history of Greene County, Tennessee. Jointly, the companies have combined annual revenue of over one-billion-dollars and employ more than 5000 people.


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