January 26, 2016 at 11:49 am

Seniors Present with Patton at Sustainable Foodscapes Conference

By Cameron Fortin ’16

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Dr. Paul Patton, along with two undergraduate students (myself included), presented at the Bridging the Past, Cultivating the Future food studies conference at Chatham University in Pittsburg, PA this past summer, June 24-28, 2015.

The theme that guided this year’s conference was “Exploring Sustainable Foodscapes.” As the only anthropologists at the conference to focus on archaeological research, we decided to present as a panel entitled “Prehistoric Food Culture in the Ohio Valley,” with the aim to connect our archaeological research to the broader goal of sustainable food and agriculture. I asked both of them to reflect on their experiences at Chatham University.

These events are essential for disseminating new ideas, as well as providing an opportunity for students to learn the inner workings of an academic forum. This is especially true for an interdisciplinary event such as the Bridging the Past, Cultivating the Future conference.

From data collection and analysis to the utilization of ethnographic sources, to compiling the finalized paper, the three of us took many months to prepare our individual research for the conference. Additionally, a great deal of planning went into make sure our content worked in a cohesive way for the panel presentation.

Dr. Patton, presented “Earliest Evidence for Plant Domestication in Eastern North America?” and praised the way that the conference unfolded, noting that, “The interdisciplinary nature of this conference was very beneficial to students presenting at an academic conference for the first time.” He went on to say that “[having] conference experience as an undergrad helps students to prepare for graduate level research.”

Amanda ‘Mandy’ Cumpston, an undergraduate senior studying anthropology and plant biology, presented “Agriculture, Foraging and Climate Change in the Late Prehistoric Period: Evidence from Patton Cave and Facing Monday Creek Rockshelter, Hocking Valley, Ohio.” She comments, “I presented on archaeobotanical remains from two rock shelters in Southeastern Ohio. It was my first conference experience and even though I went over my allotted timeslot, I managed to keep the audience engaged and interested.”

She continued, “I met a lot of people, including graduate students, professors, and deans. They were interested in comparing food studies programs across the country and around the world to better their own program.”

The research I presented was entitled “Food for the Dead: Evidence of Mortuary Feasting at The Plains Mound Center, Hocking Valley, Ohio.” The focus of the study was funerary ceremonialism in the Hocking Valley as it relates to food studies. I collected data through the analysis of botanicals excavated from The Plains Mound Center, an earthwork site outside of Athens, Ohio.

I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity.” I feel that I am much more prepared for conducting and presenting future research.

Mandy concluded reiterating her experience at Chatham University, “It was a great opportunity to meet and greet with a huge number of scholars and students daily to network. It allowed for regular conversation of what panels were going on, as well as creating an opportunity to discuss future research ideas with those of different academic backgrounds.”

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