Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Alumna Profile: Dani R. ('08) in Hungary and Chicago

At the completion of my first year as a graduate student in the Anthropology PhD program at the University of Illinois-Chicago, I was invited to participate in the analyses of Copper Age skeletons and grave goods from the Great Hungarian Plain. The intent of this project was to perform a bio-distance study to determine how closely related people were across the Plain. As the Plain was a major path for migration from Asia to Europe, we wanted to see how this migration might have impacted the genetic makeup of the Plain’s peoples. We analyzed over 250 skeletons from 9 cemeteries around the Plain and concentrated on identifying genetic dental traits that could statistically indicate genetic similarities or differences. We also made sure to sex and age the skeletons and we will keep that in consideration when interpreting the material. This summer was spent gathering the information, whereas the upcoming months will focus on carrying out the statistics and the interpretations of the data.

Participating in this project has exposed me to a variety of scientific techniques, facilities (museums and universities), and researchers (American and Hungarian), all of which will aid in my own research in the coming years. However, I would not be where I am today without a strong foundational education in archaeology, which I received at the University of Evansville. I specifically chose UE because it focused on Old World Archaeology, a rarity in the States, and I have never regretted my decision. The continual support from the faculty, both during my years as a student there and after, has helped me to be where I am today and for that I am grateful.

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