Sunday, July 18, 2010

SLU Fellowship, Overview and Plan for Week 8

At St. Lawrence, there is a program in which students can apply for a St. Lawrence University Fellowship. This is a research fellowship in which students work closely with a faculty member on a research topic of their choice for up to nine weeks in the summer. The fellowships are highly competitive (only 30 are awarded) and students are given a $3,500 stipend to do research at the university during the summer break.

Most students think of the fellowships as a bit biased towards bio, chem, and econ majors. I don't know if it is or not, but of the students here this summer, a good number fit into those three majors. My project, titled "Indianization and Material Remains: Glass Bead Analysis and State Formation in South and Southeast Asia" is a bit different. As an anthropology major with a focus on archaeology, I am using a GIS database to map sites yielding glass beads from 500 BC to the present. These maps concentrate on any category I can fathom for the beads, such as subtype, color, chronology, chemical composition, and the like. I'm going to turn this into my honors thesis for undergraduate, then eventually my MA thesis and PhD dissertation (just in larger, more structured, and hopefully more comprehensive forms).

I am currently on week eight of nine for this fellowship, and I have produced 123 pages of analysis to date. In the next two weeks, I must write a brief synopsis of what I accomplished this summer with a not eon why my research was important, condense that synopsis into a 500 word summary for the administrative powers on campus, and create a poster which synthesizes my research on a three by four foot sheet of paper so that I can present it at Family weekend in the fall. I'm not sure how that's going to work with 123 pages of information, but as my advisor likes to remind me, "Anything can be written in any number of pages."

So the plan for the next week is to try to work on the poster, but I have a feeling that in creating the poster, I will be forced to work on the synthesis as well. In fact, the two will probably evolve simultaneously rather than following one after the other. Either way, that is what the week holds, so life will be a world of colorful backgrounds, pretty maps, and bullet points.

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