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Anna Pendley ’09 Awarded Keck Geology Consortium Project Fellowship

Anna Pendley ’09 has been named Keck Geology Consortium Project Fellow for 2008. The fellowship is awarded by the Keck Geology Consortium, an independent, multi-college collaboration based at Franklin & Marshall College focused on enriching undergraduate education through research experiences.

Pendley, a double major in anthropology/archaeology and geology, will spend late June-late July with a team of students and faculty researching the geoarchaeology of the Poggio Colla near Florence, Italy. She will build on her summer research in her geology thesis next year, and present her work at the annual Keck Geology Consortium Undergraduate Research Symposium next spring. Her research will also be published in the Keck journal.

“Each of the seven students involved will develop an individual project based on his or her own interests,” said Pendley. “Because I am a geology and archaeology double major, this project is literally the perfect marriage of my academic passions, and I hope to develop a project that reflects my interest in both areas. I would like to study the soil samples collected at the site, or perhaps survey the geomorphology of the area to better understand why this was chosen as an area of settlement and what natural processes have helped shape the region.”

Pendley attributes her interest in geology to a spring term introductory course taken her freshman year. “Professor David Harbor made the six-week course extremely challenging, but also more interesting than I could have ever imagined,” she said. “Throughout the course of the class we took many field trips to sites in the Lexington area. Each and every one of them took my breath away.”

Her enthusiasm led to her enrollment in an archaeology class, and eventually a double major.

“I began taking nothing but classes for my majors,” Pendley said. “I even delved into independent studies that, with a little guidance, I was able to develop into whatever I desired.

“One of those studies, overseen by Bernard Means, was the first introduction I had into the field of geoarchaeology,” she continued. “I was able to travel to a Monongahela Indian village site in Pennsylvania and perform basic geological investigations. Based on my research and prior archaeological research performed in the 1930s and 1940s, I was able to speculate on the formation of that odd landform. I presented my research at the Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference in March in Ocean City, Md.”

“Anna epitomizes the ideal liberal arts college student,” said Means, visiting assistant professor of anthropology at W&L. “She approaches her double majors with unbridled enthusiasm. I’m pleased that I could introduce Anna to the interdisciplinary field of geoarchaeology, where she is already pursuing her twin interests simultaneously. I could not be happier to play a small role in guiding this emerging scholar.”

A native of Pekin, Ind., Pendley is a dorm counselor and a member of Chi Omega sorority, SPEAK and the Generals Christian Fellowship. She will be the assistant head dorm counselor in charge of programming for 2008-09.

Following her graduation in 2009, she hopes to work in archaeology or geology for a short time before pursing a graduate degree.

“As very few geoarchaeology graduate programs exist in the United States, I may have the opportunity to build my own course of study,” she said. “With all the academic training and support I have received at Washington and Lee, that certainly should not be a problem!”

David Harbor, head of the geology department and Pendley’s advisor, believes that the fellowship will position her for a bright future in geoarchaeology.

“The Keck Geology Consortium project in Italy is a perfect match for Anna’s interests and experience in archeology and geology,” he said. “Her experience in both will certainly put her in the thick of discussions and activities in the field, and I am certain that the research experience and the thesis follow-up will give her the confidence and knowledge to pursue many exciting possibilities where geology and archeology meet.”