Junior Year: Studying Abroad in Peru

Zoe McKenzie, class of 2013, began her UVM studies in the fall of 2009 as a declared anthropology major. In her introductory TAP physical anthropology class with Professor Deborah Blom, Zoe’s interests developed quickly for the field of bioarchaeology. During the summer after her sophomore year, with the help of Professor Scott Van Keuren, Zoe attended an archaeological field school in Mule Creek, New Mexico through the University of Arizona in conjunction with Archaeology Southwest. Through this experience, Zoe gained valuable excavation and laboratory skills as well as knowledge of the inner workings of an archaeological excavation. In her junior year, Zoe got to work more closely with both Professors Blom and van Keuren as a teaching assistant in Primates and Anthropology and Prehistoric Archaeology.

Zoe McKenzie Zoe exclaimed, "It was my junior year osteology class with Dr. Blom that ignited my interest in bones and I was hooked!" Through a colleague of Professor Blom’s from Vanderbilt, Zoe was given the amazing opportunity of taking part in the dissertation project of Ph.D candidate Matthew Velasco in the southern highlands of Peru in the summer of 2012. The project involved excavation of burial tombs as well as intensive analysis of human crania.

Pictured at left, clockwise from the top right corner: Zoe gives a brief lecture on cranial analysis to local National University of St Augustin of Arequipa (UNSA) students; Zoe excavates a chullpa (above ground burial chamber) in Coporaque, Peru; and Zoe dressed in native costume.

It was through the osteology class and excavation and lab work in Peru that Zoe gained the necessary skills to ensure success on her senior honors thesis involving the Tipu Mayan skeletal collection housed at Plattsburgh State University of New York. Zoe is well on her way to obtaining full funding for her thesis travel and project supplies through a mini grant offered by the Office of Undergraduate Research as well as a future application for the APLE grant offered by the College of Arts and Sciences.

While working on her honors thesis, Zoe has been attending her internship at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner learning the medical and legal processes behind certifying a death. Of the experience Zoe said, "Working at the Medical Examiner’s office has been the most interesting and exciting opportunity I have had thus far at UVM and I will sorely miss interning there once the fall semester is over. I am confident that my UVM experiences will position me well for graduate school. I could not have achieved so much without the help and guidance of both Professor van Keuren and Professor Blom.”