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Undergraduate Research

Summer 2014

Marissa Bovie was awarded a CUGR summer fellowship for a project in Croatia this summer concerning landscape change and human agency (project advisor: Greg)

Eliza Kane, dual degree in Anthropology and Earth Sciences and our 101/102 TA this year, has just been awarded a summer 2014 fellowship to participate in an NSF REU research program centered on geoarchaeology and the intersection of humans, climate, and environment in the Illinois and Ohio River valleys. This competition was nationally competitive, and she will be working with a team at Indiana University for a period of eight weeks.

Spring 2014

Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) 5th Annual Showcase

FourĀ  undergraduate students displayed there Anthropology posters this spring:

Sam Hatch & Emily Blackwood CUGR Poster 2 - Sam Hatch and Emily Blackwood presented their pollen analysis from Machais Bay excavations and received best poster at the Academic Showcase out of 77 entries! (project advisor: Brian Robinson)


Marisa Higgins CUGR  Poster 4-1-2014

- Marissa Higgins presented a portion of her honors thesis concerning cultural properties protection and armed conflict (project advisor: Darren Ranco)




Joe Goodin CGUR Poster 4-1-2014- Joseph Goodin presented an analysis of shell and bone from Waterside Shell Heap (project advisor: Brian Robinson)




Anthropology Undergraduates Participate in Exciting Research

Laura Labbe Peruwork

Laura Labbe studied soil samples in Peru. Jessica Sleeth searched for archaeological remains in Machias Bay. And Jamie Wren separates animal bones in the University of Maine Zooarchaelogy Lab.

Research opportunities are keeping UMaine anthropology students busy and happy, enriching their classes, allowing them to see how anthropologists work, and helping them decide on a career.

Students said they are grateful to UMaine for providing these unique and exciting activities to them as undergraduates. They were pleasantly surprised at how accessible the opportunities were.”All I had to do was ask,” said Laura Labbe ’10 who spent a month in the summer of ’08 in Ilo, on the southern coast of Peru, working with anthropology Professor Gregory Zaro. Their job was to test the soil for metals associated with copper smelting to see whether there had been industrial activity in the area during the last 1,000 years and whether that activity may have had an impact on the desertification of the region.

“People at the anthropology department were very enthusiastic and went out of their way to help me find a research opportunity that would allow me to experience first-hand the entire scientific process, from data collection to write-up,” said Labbe.

The work was hard, but fascinating.”Each morning at 7 a.m. we’d get in our old Datsun truck and then drive 30 minutes to an hour on a bumpy dirt road. We’d hike up to summits so high into the fog that I couldn’t see the coast even though it was less than a mile away. We collected soil samples along the stretch of coast at three different elevation levels. Back at the apartment we separated the samples and weighed and labeled them. We had to bring all this dirt back into the U.S., so we had to make sure everything was properly recorded.”

When Labbe returned to UMaine she learned how to separate the soil samples in the Sawyer Environmental Chemistry Research Lab. She and Professor Zaro plan to write a paper about their research and subsequent results.

“This opportunity opened up so many doors for me and helped me grow as a person,” said Labbe “I got to see first-hand the work of anthropologists and be part of a great team. I gained a level of independence that I know I only could have gained by working in a foreign country alongside professionals.”

After participating in UMaine’s Machias Bay Archaeological Field School last summer, Jessica Sleeth ’11 said she is “more sure than ever that archaeology is something I really can do as a career.”

Held at sites associated with prehistoric rock engravings, the field school is directed by professors Brian Robinson and Lisa Neuman, and conducted in cooperation with the Passamaquoddy Petroglyph Project.

“We looked for remnants of weapons and tools, trying to see if there was evidence of native American and European cohabitation in the 17th century,” said Sleeth, who was among about a dozen students who participated in the field school based at the University of Maine at Machias.

“Each of us had our own assigned area to excavate with trowels. We’d lie on our stomachs, digging down around two feet. We found a number of ‘flakes’, which are basically chips of stone that come off when people were trying to make a projectile point. We also found a number of bifaces – preformed blades with two worked sides.”

One of the reasons she chose to attend UMaine was because it offered a variety of hands-on research opportunities to undergraduates, said Sleeth. “The anthropology department is really good about getting the word out both in class and through email. It’s a fantastic opportunity. You get college credit and it’s free, so that was another bonus.”

When he first came to UMaine, Jamie Wren thought he wanted to teach high school history.

“Then I took an introductory course in anthropology with Dr. Kristin Sobolik, and I ended up falling in love with the subject,” said the sophomore who promptly changed his major to anthropology. He spends 15-20 hours each week in the zooarchaeology lab in South Stevens Hall, helping catalogue animal specimens brought in by professors, archaeologists, researchers, law enforcement officials, community residents, and others.

“I take the animal remains, boil them down, and remove their bones which I then clean, label, and catalogue, so that they may be accessioned to the collection. We’ll use them when we need to identify bones and animal remains from archaeological sites.”

“I feel really lucky that I have this opportunity – it will help me carve out my future career,” said Wren, who has been enlisted to help UMaine’s forensic anthropologist Professor Marcella Sorg open a new lab in South Stevens Hall for teaching and for work she does as a consultant for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

“I’ll help organize the lab, make it functional for everyday use, and develop a system to catalogue skeletons,” Wren said.