Undergraduate Student Spotlights
A recent initiative through the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships (OUR&F) and the department will provide four anthropology undergraduate students with the opportunity to participate in research projects with faculty this spring. A fifth student received a research award from the OUR&F through a longstanding program. These awards provide financial support and training to the students while contributing to faculty research goals. Awardees will present on some aspect of their projects in August 2022 at the annual Discovery Day poster event, or in spring 2023 in the Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA) Poster Competition.
Timothy Vollmer is working with Associate Professor Kandace Hollenbach to process, analyze, and report on samples of plant remains recently collected from the Boathouse Pond Site, a Woodland to early colonial Indigenous village site on Virginia’s Northern Neck. Professor Barbara Heath and graduate students Rebecca Webster, Elizabeth Tarulis, and Bear Gibbs excavated shell midden deposits at the site in December, and uncovered additional features that they hope to investigate in summer 2022. Timothy will also prepare information based on the analysis to be shared with the Wicocomico Nation Heritage Association, descendants of the historic Sekakawon who lived at the site in the 17th century.
Tessa Carter and Luke Massongill join Research Associate Professor Giovanna Vidoli and Distinguished Lecturer Joanne Devlin to investigate whether sex estimations, based on specific size and shape attributes of human skeletal elements, are possible through the use of cremated human remains. The William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection contains more than 100 eligible donors for this investigation. Tessa and Luke are identifying and scoring the remains of skulls and pelvic features.
Sara Anderson is working with Distinguished Lecturer Lee Jantz and Forensic Anthropology Center Research Associate Mary Davis to consider breadth measurements of joint areas from donors in the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection. The collection contains more than 1,600 eligible donors for this investigation. Sara is using previously-collected measurements, examined in light of antemortem records of height and weight of the donor, to determine if the joint measurements are correlated with body size, and whether body size impacts the use of these metrics to estimate the sex and ancestry of the deceased.
Axel Huichapa is conducting research with Professor Barbara Heath on violence at the Coan Hall site in the 17th and early 18th centuries in Northumberland County, Virginia, using artifacts as proxies. He is surveying artifact collections from four areas of the site and identifying, cataloguing, and analyzing artifacts associated with firearms and other weaponry if present. By looking at artifacts associated with discrete archaeological features, he can potentially discern areas where the use of weapons concentrated, and changes or continuities in particular types of weaponry across the period of study.