Social media spotlight: Emily Blackwood

Hometown: Auburn, Maine

Emily Blackwood, a quaternary and climate studies master’s student, received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from UMaine in 2015. This past summer she traveled to Peru to excavate and gather information from an archaeological site with UMaine faculty members Daniel Sandweiss, Alice Kelley and Paul “Jim” Roscoe, as well as Bangor attorney Jim Munch, and Gloria Lopez Cadavid of CENIEH (Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana). The site, known as the Ostra Collecting Station, has been dated at ~6,000 years old.

“I developed a protocol and methodology to collect data to reconstruct the site in virtual reality to create a visual representation of what the site looked like while it was in use. Archaeological data are often difficult to visualize mentally due to the vast quantities collected, but reconstructing a simulated virtual environment of the site pulls all the information together in one place. The data we collected will be used to reconstruct the site in terms of use and spatial layout, which will allow us to analyze different perspectives of the site without having to be there physically. This type of research also creates a preserved archive of the site that is accessible to other researchers and the public alike. Most importantly, virtual reality provides a platform to share archaeological research and discovery with the world. This research is part of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, in which I plan to continue after defending my master’s thesis by the end of the semester. I’m lucky enough to be able to work in a discipline where I love what I do; my research allows me to be outside, to travel the world and to transfer knowledge back to society about our shared collective past. Fieldwork is arguably the best part — as you dig through the layers of time you’re gaining a glimpse into past ways of life. Come wintertime you can find me at Sugarloaf thoroughly enjoying the snow. UMaine has allowed me to find my passion and the VEMI Lab (through which I have my assistantship) has fostered and supported my pursuit of continued education.”

See posts featuring Blackwood on UMaine’s Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages.