Quinnipiac University College of Arts and Sciences

Anthropology Studies in London

In Research, Students on September 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm


By Holly Bisset, History Major and Anthropology Student

This summer fellow sophomore Paige Ferreri and I spent two weeks in the heart of London assisting Professor Jaime Ullinger with data collection. The time was truly remarkable, providing me with an opportunity to learn about the many stages of work that go into a research project.

Paige and I became involved in the project because we had both taken Professor Ullinger’s introductory level biological anthropology course and Paige had taken the 300 level osteology course, while I worked in the biological anthropology lab. At the time, I don’t think either of us could have imagined that our interest in anthropology would turn into an opportunity to conduct research abroad though the Bioanthropology Research Institute.

In London, we worked in conjunction with the Museum of London, which houses an extensive collection of skeletons from the greater London area.  Paige and I’s task was to retrieve the correct skeleton from shelves containing thousands of specimens, identify and arrange the bones in correct anatomical position, judge specific cranial characteristics to determine sex, and to take measurements of the bones. Paige and Professor Ullinger gave me a crash course in osteology and by the end of a few days work I felt confident in my ability to identify the different cranial and post-cranial bones. The hands on experience was absolutely crucial to my learning and Paige saw that the practical exams administered in Professor Ullinger’s class were vital in preparation for real field work.

We worked alongside Professor Jerry Conlogue from Quinnipiac’s Diagnostic Imaging Department, who was teaching visiting students from University College Dublin about x-ray technology by taking images of selected skeletons from the museum’s collection. The images Professor Conlogue and his students collected allowed Professor Ullinger and the other anthropologists at the museum a fascinating new way to view the bones. It was incredible to see two different disciplines working hand in hand so well.

One day was spent at the British Museum’s Ancient Near East study room looking at skeletons from their extensive collection. That experience was enlightening because we were working on a different one of Professor Ullinger’s projects which meant learning a new set of markings to look for. One of Professor Ullinger’s colleagues gave us a backstage tour of the museum which was absolutely fantastic. A museum is like a living, breathing organism that is constantly being updated and changed to suit the patrons’ interests.

Aside from the practical experience, we also learned about the logistics behind getting a research project off the ground. Paige wrote a proposal and received funds from a Student Research Support grant, and Professor Ullinger informed us about the planning and paperwork required to receive authorization to work with other institution’s collections. I found this information invaluable because, as a student still in an early phase of my education, learning how to acquire funds and apply for research opportunities will certainly come into play during my time as a student.


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