Past Student Research Projects

 

Samantha Ascoli

My Koobi Fora Experience

The Koobi Fora Field School taught me vital archaeological, geological, ecological, and survival skills; it was hard, but some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Due to the individual project based curriculum of the field school, I was able to combine my interests of archaeology and geology to better understand hominin raw material selectivity at FwJj52. Samantha Ascoli was a two time recipient of the Cheryl L. Wase Memorial Fellowship awarded by the Society of American Archaeology!.

Project Title

An Analysis of Raw Material Selection in Stone Tool Technology within the Turkana Basin, Kenya

 

Ella Beaudoin

My Koobi Fora experience

The KFFS was the best thing I have ever done. It showed me that this is what I want to do in life. Ella was awarded an NSF-REU Fellowship in 2015 to conduct research in South Africa. Ella is now working for the Smithsonian Institution as part of their Human Origins program

Project Title

Evidence of early fire? Spatial patterning and stratigraphic anomalies at FxJj20Main-Extention-0

 

Maryse Biernat

Koobi Fora Experience

The Koobi Fora Field School was a life changing experience where I not only learned more than I imagined, but also made life-long friends and professional connections. Working on a specific research project gave me the opportunity to take a project from start to finish all while studying something I was interested in and gaining field experience. Maryse worked as an intern at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in their Human Origins Program. Maryse is now a graduate student at Arizona State University as part of the Institute of Human Origins.

Project Title

Understanding landscape variability from stable carbon isotope ratios of paleosols and enamel: a case study from East Turkana, northern Kenya.

 

Chloe Daniel

My Koobi Fora Experience

My first time out in the field was with KFFS, and I really enjoyed the opportunities that came with it. Between the ecology portion being at Mpala Ranch and being able to work on projects outside your own interests made it a diverse, educational and fun experience. Chloe was awarded a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellowship to conduct research in South Africa. Chloe is now a graduate student at the University of Indiana, Bloomington, Center for Research on First Technologies.

Project Title

Color Analysis of Fired and Unfired Basalt Artifacts

 

 

Kelly Fetchenhier

My Koobi Fora Experience

At the Koobi Fora Field School, I was fortunate to work with Dr. Stephen Merritt analyzing zooarchaeological data gathered from a potential butchery site. I gained valuable hands-on field experience, learning how to excavate, identify fossil specimens, and communicate with fellow researchers. Kelly is now pursuing a degree in Biology.

Project Title

Preliminary zooarchaeological and taphonomic analysis of FwJj70, a butchered bone surface assemblage from the Okote Member of Koobi Fora, Kenya

 

Sarah Himes

My Koobi Fora Experience

The Koobi Fora Field School supplied me with the opportunity to explore my otherwise broad interests in paleoecology, while challenging me to both learn and employ new concepts in the field by constructing and executing my own research design. Despite some of the challenges associated with living in the deserts of Kenya, the learning experience I received as the result of this undertaking was priceless, and will follow me throughout my undertakings as an aspiring PhD candidate and beyond. Sarah has been working as research assistant at Texas State for the past year and is pursuing a Masters degree in Geoarchaeology.

Project Title

Landscape Stability & Paleoecology at East Turkana, Northern Kenya: A spatial and temporal analysis of paleosol gross morphology during the Upper Burgi, KBS, and Okote Members (2-1.4 Ma.)

 

Katherine Martinez

My Koobi Fora Experience

The KFFS has been a wonderful experience for me; the mentors have provided invaluable advice and numerous opportunities that have been instrumental to help me decide where I want to work, and how I can continue my interests beyond my summer study abroad and onto graduate school. 

Project Title

Preliminary Study of Ichthyofauna Remains from an Early Holocene Site [FxJj 108] in Koobi Fora, Kenya. 

 

Melissa Miller

My Koobi Fora Experience

 The field school curriculum allowed me to both tailor my experience towards the aspects of paleoanthropology in which I was already interested and to learn new skills and knowledge. It was a great opportunity to work on the ground in Africa at one of the most important locations in paleoanthropology. Melissa conducted research at the site of Wonderwerk for her dissertation research and the University of Tulsa. 

Project Title

The effects of water flow on surface deposits in the Okote of Koobi Fora

 

Jana Muschinski

My Koobi Fora Experience

KFFS was my first time in the field and I am very thankful for the experience at large and especially for the great mentors I got to work with. It was a packed 6 weeks with many new experiences and lots of learning. Jana is graduating from Cambridge with a Master's in Archaeology in 2017. Jana is currently pursuing a degree in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University .

Project title

Assessing the fracture patterns of thermally altered stone: Experimental evidence for distinct fracture patterns

 

Joel Torgeson

My Koobi Fora Experience

The Koobi Fora Field School and the IRES Fellowship have changed the way I see the world, modern and archaic. The fantastic instruction and research-oriented design have prepared me for work in a variety of contexts and projects. Joel conducted research at the site of Rusinga island in the summer after his KFFS IRES experience. 

Project Title

Chasing Phantom Hearths: Statistics, Lithics, and the Evidence for Fire at Koobi Fora.

 

Alex Velez

My Koobi Fora Experience

My time at Koobi Fora was invaluable, both for the experience in conducting scientific research and for all the amazing things I was able to see and learn. It wasn’t all easy, but it was really worth it and will definitely help in the future. Alex conducted research at the site of Atapuerca in the summer after his KFFS IRES experience. Alex is pursuing a Phd at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Project Title

Down by the River: A Paleoecological Study of Water Dependence in Koobi Fora

 

Julia Arenson 

My Koobi Fora Experience

I had a great time meeting students and faculty from outside my program.  It was terrific to get first-hand experience working and living in the field, and especially in an area famous for its amazing fossil discoveries. Julia is pursuing a Phd at the New York Consirtium for Evolutionary Primatology. 

Project Title 

Primate abundance in the Koobi Fora Formation: A comparison of the Turkana Public Database and surface survey data

 

 

Lorena Benitez 

My Koobi Fora Experience

This field school gave me valuable skills for conducting field work, scientific writing, presenting, and project design, but also amazing friends and mentors who will help me further my research career.  Lorena is spending the next year in Namibia and pursuing a degree at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Project Title

The Implications of Bovid Abundance for Pleistocene Paleoenvironments in the Turkana Basin, Kenya

 

Meredith Carlson  

My Koobi Fora Experience

My time in the field with KFFS was just about the best thing I could have done to forward my studies in paleoanthropology. The research-based program challenged me, helped me to focus my interests, and allowed me the unique opportunity to take a project from start to finish for the first time. Meredith is pursuing a Phd at the UNiversity of California, Davis.

Project Title

An experimental and archaeological investigation of the role of edge angle in lithic artifact damage: Applications to the Koobi Fora Formation, Kenya

 

 

Elly Cordiner  

My Koobi Fora Experience

My time in the field with KFFS was just about the best thing I could have done to forward my studies in paleoanthropology. The research-based program challenged me, helped me to focus my interests, and allowed me the unique opportunity to take a project from start to finish for the first time. Elly will be returning to Koobi Fora to pursue further research in the summer of 2018. Elly is now pursuing a degree in Archaeology in at York University in England.

Project Title

An experimental and archaeological investigation of the role of edge angle in lithic artifact damage: Applications to the Koobi Fora Formation, Kenya

 

Alyssa Enny

My Koobi Fora Experience

Attending the Koobi Fora Field School was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had.  I learned invaluable skills used for conducting field work, began and completed a personal research project, and made some amazing friendships along the way. KFFS allowed me to grow as a researcher and push myself outside of my comfort zone. Alyssa will return to Koobi Fora in the summer of 2018 to pursue further research interests in paleoecology.
 

Project Title

Exploring the impact of collection strategies on interpretations of faunal abundance: a case study from the Koobi Fora Formation (Pleistocene, northern Kenya)

 

Courtney Jirsa  

My Koobi Fora Experience

The Koobi Fora Field School is the most challenging and most rewarding thing I have ever done. The ability to partake in individual & collaborative research truly illuminated for me the many facets of paleoanthropology as the field I hope to be a part of for the rest of my life. Courtney will be pursuing a Masters in Archaeology at Boston University.

Project Title

Assessing Edge Damage in MSA Lithic Assemblages: Experimental Proxies for the Analysis of Use and Post-Depositional Damage

 

Catherine Llera

My Koobi Fora Experience

KFFS was an amazing opportunity. I learned many essential skills for my future career as an anthropologist, I got to meet some really great people, and I was able to see and experience one of the most beautiful places in this world. Attending this field school was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Catherine is pursuing a Phd at the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Project Title

Subregion-scale heterogeneity of bovid abundance in the Koobi Fora Formation

 

 

Caroline McKinney

My Koobi Fora Experience

The Koobi Fora Field School helped me grow my interests and skills as a researcher. I was able to work and make connections with current and future members of the field. KFFS exposed me to a diverse set of skills and opportunities which will serve to make me a more comprehensive researcher. KFFS was one of the best and most enjoyable experiences of my life.

Project Title

Applications of Multispectral Imagery to the Archaeology of Human Origins 

 

Kara Peters

My Koobi Fora Experience

I would go back to Kenya in a heartbeat! I had an amazing time on the field school learning new things about myself and the world around me. Not only did I gain a lot of valuable academic knowledge, but I also gained life experiences that I'll never forget- ranging from swimming in Lake Turkana, to having a monkey climb on my shoulders, to witnessing the breath-taking equatorial night sky, to learning a new language from the local Dassanach children, and of course to making new friends. I even got to butcher an animal with stone tools the way our ancestors might have. Never before have I felt more connected to the natural world and our evolutionary history. Kara is currently an intern at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History.

Project Title

Experimental butchery: Behavioral and specimen fragmentary analysis

 

 

Kristen Tuosto

My Koobi Fora Experience

The Koobi Fora Field School was not like anything I was expecting, however, it was everything I wanted. The field school challenged me to learn and conduct research in areas I was unfamiliar with, such as stone tools, site formation, and ArcGIS. While the field school did not change my true passion for skeletal biology, it did make me a more well-rounded human paleobiologist who is now confident in discussing and contributing to the subject areas mentioned above. This experience has also provided me with new perspectives and analytical methods that I can apply to my own research in skeletal biology. Krisen is pursuing a Phd in Human Paleobiology at George Washington University.

Project Title

On the Other Side of the Gauss-Matuyama: Site Formation and Evidence of Stone Tools Older than 2.58 Ma

 

Michael Ziegler

My Koobi Fora Experience

Conducting research in Kenya allowed hands-on experience working in the famed localities that have been instrumental in the Paleoanthropological field. For me, The Koobi Fora Field School was a prestigious academic experience that enabled me to gain field experience excavating archeological pits for fossils and lithic artifacts, digging geologic trenches to record stratigraphic sections, identifying faunal remains in the field, and carrying out a research project from initial inquiry to scientific report. During the field school, enduring personal and academic relationships were forged between the students, field school staff, and local peoples. Michael is pursuing a Masters degree in Geology at the University of Florida

Project Title

Site Formation Analysis of Locality GaJj17 in the Koobi Fora Formation, Northern Kenya