Hi, my name is Vivian Steindal, and I am a graduate student working towards a Master’s Degree in Paleoanthropology at California State University, Northridge, with a particular focus on Neandertals. I have always been fascinated with human evolution and archaeology. My earliest encounter with an ancient human was seeing the Tollund Man in Denmark when I was 5 years old (pictured). Look at that face! It looks like he is sleeping. I was horrified and fascinated at the same time. That experience never left me. In recent years I have read books on human evolution and ancient humans (I was a bit obsessed with Otzi for a while). And finally, yearning to actually study science in a formal way, I decided to go back to school. It’s been quite an experience.
I come to this field in a roundabout way, with an undergraduate degree in Acting from Syracuse University. My previous life includes years of experience acting, directing, stage managing, producing, and writing plays, and traveling with touring companies. I am especially passionate about comedy and in particular improv, with over 20 years experience in performance, studying, teaching, and coaching. More recently, I have delved into the world of stand-up, and I’m always looking for a good Neandertal-walks-into-a-bar-joke.
How do these fields fit together? To me it seems obvious. I see paleoanthropology as merely a different way to do what I have always loved to do – being a part of the perpetual process of telling the human story.