This year, the PiP Student Award has been given to Jennifer Altman-Lupu, an archaeology undergraduate student at Columbia University. Jennifer first worked on the Poggio del Molino excavation during the summer of 2009, and returned to excavate there again during the summer of 2010. As the student award winner, she has returned to the site for a third season this summer.
Jennifer was given the award because of her dedication to the excavation and her contagious enthusiasm for archaeological study. Jennifer arrived at Poggio del Molino in 2009 with no archaeological experience whatsoever, and her four weeks there encouraged her to choose to major in archaeology upon returning to the US. In her online blog, she told her friends and family, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I’m having such an amazing time. I really think I might want to do this for the rest of my life.”
In addition to her contagious enthusiasm and passion for archaeology, Jennifer has been an incredibly helpful and hard-working part of the archaeological team during the past two seasons, both in the field and during free time. During the school year, she presents about the Archeodig field school to Columbia University archaeology and anthropology classes, encouraging other students to come to PdM.
When not excavating in Italy, Jennifer has had number of archaeologically related internships and has excelled in her archaeology classes at Columbia. She has worked as an educator for the Brooklyn Museum of Art, as a research intern for the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, and as a research assistant for a PhD student, sorting and cataloging artifact remains of a colonial site located on the island of Montserrat.
During the upcoming school year, Jennifer will be working on a senior thesis, carefully examining the role of archaeology for the American public. Part of her research for this thesis will be original data collected in interviews with Earthwatch volunteers at Poggio del Molino, conducted during this excavation season. Jennifer hopes to examine the ways in which individuals construct notions of identity and contextualize themselves based on narratives of the past. The PiP Student Award has allowed her to pursue this topic by giving her a full scholarship during this dig season, when she will be conducting her interviews.
In the future, Jennifer intends to go on to graduate school and obtain a PhD in archaeology. Although she is currently undecided about the specific area of the world in which she will ultimately specialize, she hopes to continue to pursue her interests in archaeology’s place in modern society, the intersections between anthropological and archaeological theory, and notions of sexuality and gender in the past.