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AAA Internship at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command

Today’s guest blog post is brought to you by AAA Intern Jeff Emerson. Click here to learn about all of the AAA Interns this summer.

Hello everyone,

My name is Jeff Emerson and I am one of the AAA’s summer interns.  I have spent the past five weeks working at the AAA’s headquarters in Arlington, VA, and in the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) of the Naval History and Heritage Command at the Washington Navy Yard.

Jeff1I attended Luther College in Decorah, IA, for a B.A. in anthropology and chemistry, with additional classes in biology and participation in multiple music ensembles.  Several opportunities have led me to interests in the fields of archaeometry, archaeological oceanography, and conservation science.  Work in 2010 with the National Park Service at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska, and an internship in summer 2012 with the Nautilus Exploration Program, locating and investigating ancient shipwrecks in the Black Sea, have contributed most to my ongoing search for a specific interest and career.  My introduction to marine archaeology and notification of the Nautilus and AAA/UAB internships were provided by Dr. Dan Davis, to whom I give a big shout-out.  My ethnographic interests have been focused on two trips to northern Tanzania, where I most recently volunteered in 2012 at a private secondary school serving the Maasai pastoralists by contributing to the establishment of a sustainable soapmaking cottage industry that utilizes traditional herbal and medicinal knowledge and Permaculture design.

While on the Nautilus expedition, I assisted Dr. Michael Brennan with geochemical research of the Black Sea’s stratified water column and the underlying sediments.  This investigation became the core research for my senior capstone project, which seeks to better understand the chemical processes within the Black Sea’s water column and sediments, and how they influence the deterioration or preservation of archaeological sites left in situ.  I have taken advantage of my location in DC to do research at the Library of Congress and will submit my paper this fall.

My Internship Experience

While at the AAA, my main project has been to investigate funding data from the National Science Foundation’s various grant programs, especially as it concerns anthropological research, and to identify trends and ways in which the AAA can utilize this information to advocate for the profession.  Part of my time has also been spent helping a fellow intern contact recipients of the AAA’s Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program to conduct interviews.

At the office: Fellow AAA interns/housemates Rachel Nuzman and Jalene Rengassa.

At the office: Fellow AAA interns/housemates Rachel Nuzman and Jalene Rengassa.

The USS Huron or one of the other two steamer-schooners of its line circa 1874-75.

The USS Huron or one of the other two steamer-schooners of its line circa 1874-75.

At the UAB, I have focused my efforts in the conservation lab.  After a few days of orientation and reading assignments to familiarize myself with the Branch’s mission, I began background research on the USS Huron, a post-Civil War gunboat, and one of the last military ships to navigate by both sail and steam.  While en route to Havana, Cuba, for a scientific expedition in November 1877, she encountered a storm and ran aground off Nag’s Head, NC, where the ship later sank, sending 98 of her 134 crew, mostly Sailors and Marines, to a cold grave.  Nearby U.S. Life-Saving Service stations were closed for the winter.  The resulting public outrage over this and another nearby wreck led to more government investment in the LSS, which eventually merged with another coastal service to become the modern US Coast Guard.

Because the costs involved in recovery, conservation, and display of an entire shipwreck are prohibitive, the UAB currently encourages in situ preservation, except in rare cases where the site is seriously threatened by natural or anthropogenic causes.  The Huron, like most shallow-water sites, is under constant threat of illegal salvage.  One treasure hunter tried to sell several artifacts on eBay, but was caught by NCIS, who then forwarded the acquired material to the UAB.  Our job is to clean and stabilize these artifacts, and then return them to the Marine Corps.

At the UAB: Changing a desalinization bath for the Howell Torpedo used by the US Navy.

At the UAB: Changing a desalinization bath for the Howell Torpedo, one of the first self-propelled torpedoes used by the US Navy.

In order to help fulfill this work, I focused my efforts on a brass epaulette by: 1) obtaining a digital 3D scan and 2) photographing the epaulette prior to conservation, and then 3) assessing its current state of preservation and 4) devising a conservation plan.  Copper, the main component of brass, is a nobler metal than iron, so it stands up better to corrosion.  This particular piece is in relatively good shape, showing some bending and denting, but little corrosion that would affect its structural integrity.  During this last week, I hope to begin cleaning the epaulette.  Unfortunately my internship is coming to an end, so I likely won’t have time to complete the entire process.  Besides this project, I have spent significant time troubleshooting our NextEngine 3D Scanner and adding to scanner and photography user manuals for future interns.

Brass epaulette with encrustations and corrosion residues from the USS Huron wreck

Brass epaulette with encrustations and corrosion residues from the USS Huron wreck.

Possible appearance of the original artifact.

Possible appearance of the original artifact.

At the lab: Much of my internship was spent tinkering with this nifty 3D scanner.

At the lab: Much of my internship was spent tinkering with this nifty 3D scanner.

A warehouse at the Navy Yard. Hmm...this seems familiar...

A warehouse at the Navy Yard. Hmm…this seems familiar…

Click on the image to view the video clip or visit: http://youtu.be/Fdjf4lMmiiI

That’s it. Click on the image to view the video clip or visit: http://youtu.be/Fdjf4lMmiiI

Life in DC

jeff10

jeff11When not at work, I have tried to make the most of my time living on Capitol Hill.  Living with twelve other interns can sometimes feel claustrophobic, so I often tried to escape the house by visiting one of the outstanding Smithsonian museums, cheering on the Nats, going for an evening run on the National Mall, or checking out a new restaurant or café.  My favorite activity was an evening kayaking on the Potomac and beaching on Theodore Roosevelt Island, one of the few peaceful locations in DC.  Less relaxing but equally enjoyable was a weekend excursion to NYC, where I sought out tasty, exotic-flavored Chinese ice cream, took a jaunt over the Brooklyn Bridge, people-watched in Times Square, and reflected solemnly at the 9/11 Memorial.  The friends I have made during these weeks will hopefully stick with me for a long time.

Take me out to the ballgame! Nationals vs. Pirates

Take me out to the ballgame!
Nationals vs. Pirates

The Bill Cosby Special at Ben's Chili Bowl - Best chili dog you will ever have.

The Bill Cosby Special at Ben’s Chili Bowl – Best chili dog you will ever have.

A bunch of greenhorns in NYC.

A bunch of greenhorns in NYC.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my short time in DC, and given the opportunity, I think I could even make it my home for a time.  The learning and networking opportunities afforded by these internships are invaluable, and it is possible my next steps will lead directly from this experience.  I highly recommend this internship program to any juniors or seniors with interests related to the various locations listed on that website.   I also wish to gratefully acknowledge the member-donors who made this possible for me and the supervisors and advisors who have guided me.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions about my internship or my other experiences.  I would be happy to share.

All the best,

Jeff Emerson

emerje01@luther.edu

AAA Student Summer Internship – Call for Applications

The American Anthropological Association is pleased to offer two internship opportunities funded by member donations and one internship opportunity funded by the Association for Feminist Anthropology for the summer of 2013.

Internships are six weeks in length from June 30 through August 17, 2013.  Internships are unpaid however; interns will be provided housing and a meal/travel stipend.

Interns will spend approximately 40 percent of their time working onsite at the AAA offices in Arlington, Virginia, and the other 60 percent of their time working on-site at one of three locations described below.

Eligibility:

  • Undergraduate students in their junior or senior year
  • First Year Graduate students (completing the first year of graduate work by June 2013)

Visit the AAA Summer Internship Program webpage for the application. Application deadline is March 15, 2013.

Click here to support this Internship Program through a financial contribution.

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New Appreciation for Professional Anthropology

Today’s blog post is by one of our two summer interns, Eric Rodriguez. This is the second year of the AAA Summer Internship Program. Learn more and support the program today!

Eric Rodriguez here, one of two 2012 AAA summer interns. I am just reaching the midway point of my dual internship with the AAA and the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) located in Washington D.C.

Reflecting on the first half of these internships, it amazes to me to see how far I have come in a short time span. Whether it is primarily the social or work environment, my understanding of Washington and professional anthropology has matured and increased my love for both the city and this career field.

These first weeks of the AAA internship have embedded a better understanding of the publishing and outreach programs of anthropology. As Susannah and I continue to work on our summer project, I have come to a personal understanding of the detail that is required to launch a nationwide campaign. When I review a budget or revisit proposals for the National Association of Student Anthropologists, I realize the inner workings of professional anthropology and how I can potentially see myself entering this area of anthropological work.

Conservation lab at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

My new found appreciation for professional anthropology can be best captured by my time at the Naval History and Heritage Command. In the first weeks at the Naval Yard, my time was focused on more clerical work rather than conservation. I have had the opportunity to continue primary document research for the USS Scorpion and to assemble a lesson plan for high school students to learn about the opportunities and technologies that are available in maritime archaeology. I have also been able to continue sharpening my ArcGIS skills by assembling lithology, podology, and topographic maps for the USS Penobscot project in Rhode Island. While I highly enjoy working on these projects, I hope to spend the second half of the internship in the conservation lab directly working with the artifacts. I am especially excited to be working with Meshlab and Scanstudio softwares, as I have not been able to sharpen my skills with them since working with Dr. Davide Tanasi in Siracusa, Italy. The NHHC experience has only increased my desire to work in maritime archaeology whether it may be in an academic setting or in a professional atmosphere. The advice given to me by my supervisors has provided venues and potential job opportunities to continue practicing archaeology before enrolling in the MA—Maritime Archaeology program at the University of Southampton next fall.

Artifact storage center of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Living and working in DC has brought a new appreciation of the city. Growing up close to the DC area, I would often make family trips to the see the museums and tourist attractions of the city. While my family loved the area, I never fancied DC itself. However, my current experience here has changed that. Not only has the amazing work experience led to this realization, but also the opportunity to explore the various districts. One habit I have acquired is walking to and from my internships, trying never to take the same path twice. This choice has allowed me to appreciate the beautiful architecture and neighborhoods of Washington. Urban exploring always reveals the soul of a city and what I find to be the more enjoyable aspects of larger urban environments, cultural districts. By myself or with friends, I take great efforts to visit hole-in-the-wall restaurants and shops. A favorite of mine has been Busboys and Poets located in Columbia Heights, a must for anyone looking for a restaurant with a great atmosphere, open mic nights and fantastic cuisine. Thanks to venues such as this, I think it’s safe to say that this city has finally charmed me over.

As I continue to work and explore DC, I hope to continue gaining insight into professional archaeology and Washington as I may one day find myself working in this field and in this city once again. Until then, I will continue enjoying the rest of my time here both inside and outside of the workplace.

Ciao for now!
Eric Rodriguez

AAA Interns Share Their Experiences on Living and Working in the Nation’s Capital

This summer, AAA is hosting two interns: Melissa Campbell-McIntosh and Juliana Bennington. In this blog post, Melissa shares her feelings about her first week in Washington, DC.

Hi, my name is Melissa and I am one of the two interns selected to work for the American Anthropological Association (AAA) this summer. I would like to start by briefly introducing myself. I am entering into my senior year at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, CA, located in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. My major is Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology. I am particularly interested in Maritime Archaeology, Collections Management, and Cultural Resource Management. I have worked for the past two years as an assistant to the Archivist at my school. This has allowed me to apply my scholarly interests in a practical setting.

Once I heard of the internship being offered by the AAA in partnership with the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) of the Naval History & Heritage Command (NHHC), I knew I had to apply. I was confident that I was well qualified for this opportunity; however, I was not going to allow myself to get my hopes up until I knew for sure. I had never applied for an internship before and I figured at the very least I would walk away from this with some much needed practice in applying for future internships or research grants. Getting my congratulatory e-mail was one of the most thrilling experiences, second only to being accepted at Saint Mary’s.

Being accepted to this program brings with it a fair amount of pressure. Working for the AAA and the UAB entails representing these organizations, my school, the Anthropology Department, and my professors. I also wish to use this experience to enrich my knowledge base and gain more skills I can use in the future.

Since arriving in Washington, D.C and beginning my internship on July 6, 2011, I have been exposed to a wide variety of tasks and experiences. Working at the AAA offices has afforded me the opportunity to utilize social media outlets to promote my passion for all things Anthropology. This experience has allowed me to bring awareness to the processes of governmental funding which can greatly impact scientific research within the social sciences.

The other portion of my internship takes place at the Navy Yards where I work with Archaeologists and Conservationists at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History & Heritage Command. This organization is responsible for acting in stewardship of all naval aircraft and vessel wreck sites that remain underwater and for preserving and housing all artifacts that have been excavated. Excavations of sites are only undertaken when intervention is required to preserve artifacts that are under threat; this can be due to environmental instability or human interference of the site.

I have been able to assist in the inventory of artifacts, conservation of artifacts, and promotion of the projects that are currently underway using social media outlets. On Monday July 18, I will be headed out to the field for the first time. The UAB is excavating the USS Scorpion, a War of 1812 ship that is located beneath the Pawtuxet River in Maryland. I will be able to aid the divers from atop a research barge and document any artifacts that are brought to the surface. Once the excavation team returns to base we will begin processing the artifacts to ensure that proper conservation methods are initiated immediately.

I would like to thank Saint Mary’s College and my professors for preparing me so well, I would not be where I am today if it were not for the remarkable educational experience I have had. I would also like to thank Damon Dozier and the entire staff at the AAA; I know that my future is much brighter now that I have been able to expand my horizon through gaining practical experience within a field which is so dear to me: Anthropology.

AAA Student Internship Deadline Reminder

The May 1st deadline to apply for the AAA Student Internship Program is quickly approaching.

AAA is pleased to offer two internship opportunities funded by member donations for the summer of 2011.  In partnership with host organizations in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, one placement will focus on cultural resource management, historical preservation and artifact conservation, the other on international development and gender rights.

Internships are six weeks in length from July 5 through August 12, 2011.  Internships are unpaid however; interns will be provided housing and a meal/travel stipend.

Interns will spend approximately 40 percent of their time working on-site at the AAA offices in Arlington, Virginia, and the other 60 percent of their time working on-site at one of the two partner agencies.

Eligibility: 

  • Undergraduate students in their junior or senior year
  • First Year Graduate students (completing the first year of graduate work by June 2011)

Click here for application and program details – Applications are due on May 1, 2011.

AAA Student Summer Internship – Deadline May 1, 2011

The American Anthropological Association is pleased to offer two internship opportunities funded by member donations for the summer of 2011.  In partnership with host organizations in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, one placement will focus on cultural resource management, historical preservation and artifact conservation, the other on international development and gender rights.

Internships are six weeks in length from July 5 through August 12, 2011.  Internships are unpaid however; interns will be provided housing and a meal/travel stipend.

Interns will spend approximately 40 percent of their time working onsite at the AAA offices in Arlington, Virginia, and the other 60 percent of their time working on-site at one of the two locations described below.

Eligibility: 

  • Undergraduate students in their junior or senior year
  • First Year Graduate students (completing the first year of graduate work by June 2011)

Click here for application and instructions - Applications are due on May 1, 2011

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