Anthropology Student Conklin Participates in NSF-Funded Research Experience for Undergraduates

Posted on 7/9/2013 11:32:13 PM

Samantha Conklin, a junior Anthropology major, was chosen to participate in an NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program organized by the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology at Indiana University–Bloomington.

This project, “Angel Mounds REU Site: Multidisciplinary Training for Students in Environmental and Social Sciences through Archaeological Research” (NSF Award No. 1262530), is an eight-week program that includes five weeks of fieldwork at the Angel Mounds State Historic Site in southwestern Indiana. The Angel Mounds site is a late Pre-Columbian town and National Historic Landmark site occupied during the Mississippian cultural period (A.D. 1050–1450) and highlighted by 11 earthen mounds and a series of palisades.

This REU program focuses on the anthropogenic transformation of the landscape at Angel Mounds, a late prehistoric town along the Ohio River. Each of the 10 students in the program has their own research question to analyze, and each will create a poster presentation for the Mid-west Archaeological Conference in fall 2013, designed to explore their own research interest. The students are from different disciplines,, including anthropology, earth science, geology, and related fields.

Samantha Conklin and  excavation partner Andrew Walker, a student at the College of William and Mary
Samantha Conklin (r) and Andrew Walker, a student at the College of William and Mary

As Conklin describes the program, “First, we spent five weeks in the field doing data recovery through excavation, remote sensing, and hands-on use of geophysical instruments. This week, we will be moving into the lab, where we will be trained in different analysis techniques, such as geochemistry and GIS, in order to assemble and disseminate our results.”

One of the mentors for students in the program is Erica Ausel, who graduated from the IUP Anthropology Department and is now a Ph.D. student in the Anthropology Department at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Samantha Conklin and Erica Ausel at Angel Mounds
Samantha Conklin (l) and Erica Ausel at Angel Mounds

According to the program website, “The goal of the REU is to foster a new generation of scholars that can work across disciplinary boundaries to craft cogent, meaningful and empirically sound interpretations. Nationally recruited undergraduates from the environmental and social sciences and humanities, as well as other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines will be provided with field and laboratory training in archaeology, geophysics, geoarchaeology and geochemistry. Over the program’s three years, REU participants will conduct original research on the Native peoples that inhabited Angel Mounds through investigation of earthwork construction, reconstruction of the paleoenvironment, and exploration of the timing and relationship between fortification construction, settlement development and subsequent site abandonment.”

Department of Anthropology