Undergraduate Profiles

In this section, you will find the profiles of exceptional undergraduate anthropology students who have or currently are in the process of fieldwork or research.


william wadsworth photo

Year of Study: 3rd

Program (Department, major, minor, specialist, etc.): Archaeology (Specialist) and Biological Anthropology (Major)

Research Project Title and Topic (or equivalent):

Forgotten Souls of the Dawn Settlement

Faculty Supervisor: Drs. Katherine Patton and Charly Bank (Earth Science)

Description of research, project, and/or learning opportunity.

This research project investigated the Dawn Settlement, a mixed community, which was situated in Dresden, ON and primarily comprised of fugitive American slaves who escaped via the underground railroad. The settlement was founded by abolitionist and former slave, Rev. Josiah Henson, who sought to make the area a place where freedom-seekers could regain their lives. The site is currently owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust, and we are working in collaboration with the Trust’s lead archaeologist, Dena Doroszenko. This project used geophysical and archaeological surveying techniques to identify unmarked graves at the British American Institute (a manual labour school) cemetery. 

How has this experiential learning contributed to your academic, professional, and personal learning and growth?

Although it is still far from over, this project has been a wonderful learning experience. Albeit somewhat different than my interest in bioarchaeology, this project has opened my eyes to the new technologies which may be used to investigate and solve problems and in this case, locate unmarked graves. With regards to personal growth, the application of archaeological techniques on distinctly Canadian issues has always fascinated me. Although many people consider archaeology to be researchers flying off to different countries and finding extraordinary artifacts, this experience only further proves to me that there is still a lot to be done and understood even in Canada. Although not as sexy, I believe the beauty is in its subtly. This further confirms for me that this is really “what I want to do when I grow up”.

Favourite thing you did/learned/participated in:

By far, my favourite thing was meeting descendants of these freedom seekers in Dresden, Ontario. Hearing their stories and the stories of their ancestors was truly inspiring.



Year of Study: 4th

Program (Department, major, minor, specialist, etc.): Archaeology and Anthropology (General) Double Major, Latin American Studies Minor

Research Project Title and Topic (or equivalent):

Independent Research Project on Mortuary Practices of the Chachapoya


Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Justin Jennings

Description of research, project, and/or learning opportunity.

Chachapoyas is a region located in the northeast of Peru, at the frontier of eastern Andean cordilleras and the Amazon basin. Archaeological study in this region has been stunted by its relative isolation and challenging environment; however, research has revealed a fascinating complex of mortuary practices. Burials have been uncovered from caves within cliff faces and mausoleum-like burial chambers constructed into these cliffs. I am interested in the placement and treatment of the dead within these mortuary landscapes. These mortuary practices may provide insight into social structures, belief systems, trade networks and distinct cultural traditions of various groups known today as the Chachapoya.

How has this experiential learning contributed to your academic, professional, and personal learning and growth?

Although I am only part way through my Independent Research Project, it has been a learning experience. I often get very excited about my studies and I end up going on tangents which are difficult to evidence when I have to base my arguments on the research of others. Staying focused and supporting my arguments were two academic skills that I have had to develop, and these skills will definitely be applicable for my personal goals as well.

Favourite thing you did/learned/participated in:

My first field experience in Peru will forever remain the biggest highlight of my undergraduate education. Through Prof. Edward Swenson’s Huaca Colorada Project, I was able to affirm my academic and personal interests. From this experience, I developed the academic and personal skills that lead up to an exciting post-undergrad opportunity. In June, I will be joining a team for two months of survey work in Chachapoyas. The dream is to repel down a Chachapoya cliff face and explore the fascinating honeycomb caves!