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Featured Alumnus: Robert Skoro

Alumnus Robert Skoro ('11) uses applied anthropology for business research and strategy.
October 30, 2015

Alumnus Robert Skoro graduated the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts with an anthropology BA in 2011. He went on to earn his master's degree in both nutrition and community nutrition in 2013. Although this was a natural progression for Skoro, he didn't attend college right out of high school. In fact, Skoro dropped out of high school at 18, and played bass guitar professionally until he was 26. After eight years of touring across the country (and playing once with The Decemberists), he discovered his passion: the culture of food. Following his passions, Skoro decided to go back to college and double majored in anthropology and food science & nutrition.

"Push your interests as far as you can
and connect them to a broader range of
people. Celebrate those interests;
become really passionate about them.
When you are asked to learn something
new in a short amount of time, you can
use that passion to understand new
information with the same attention to
detail."

From there, Skoro found himself working in the business world as an applied anthropologist. He started off as a research strategist at Fusion Hill, where he was able to utilize his qualitative research skills to help recommend strategies to clients in healthcare, financial services,and consumer packaged goods. After working at Fusion Hill, Skoro was hired as senior anthropologist for Olson Agency in Minneapolis. At Olson, Skoro has had the opportunity to apply his acquired academic skills to real world scenarios. Today, Skoro works as a strategist for Zeus Jones, Ltd.

Skoro believes his liberal arts degrees help him approach research in a unique and innovative way that complements traditional research practices since anthropology teaches students to think critically, analyze, make connections, and determine overall cultural practices through ethnography.

In his studies, Skoro also learned that culture, politics, and biology all intersect and interact with food. Certain cultural values and traditions affect what we put into our bodies. For example, for a long time cholesterol was seen as something bad for our consumption—think about Cheerios' low-cholesterol equals heart healthy campaign. Over time, scientists realized that our bodies process cholesterol way faster than our bodies can consume it. Consuming cholesterol isn’t necessarily bad for us—whereas oxidized fats (fried foods) are bad for our bodies.

When asked what advice he has for anthropology students, Skoro says, "Push your interests as far as you can and connect them to a broader range of people. Celebrate those interests; become really passionate about them. When you are asked to learn something new in a short amount of time, you can use that passion to understand new information with the same attention to detail."

In Skoro’s opinion, there is a great need for social scientists in market research. He feels that since anthropology is a human-centered discipline, it is a great resource to draw from when determining how consumers purchase goods.