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Edinboro University blends art, anthropology for career preparation

​With scuba training and a passion for archeology, Detroit native Jennifer Martin is taking a deep dive into Edinboro University’s forensic anthropology program.

Since arriving in the Erie County area in December 2013, Martin has already made a name for herself as a forensic anthropology student and artist. It all started when her partner, Adam Stanisz, accepted a position as the chief shipwright of the Flagship Niagara, an Erie-based replica ship from the War of 1812. The pair decided to make the move from their residence in Portland, Ore., to Erie – a move that also allowed Martin to discover the anthropology program at EU.

“I had already planned on going back to school to study anthropology and archaeology – my lifelong passions,” said Martin, who is also working towards a minor in archeology. “I am very glad that I chose Edinboro. The education and experiences I've received has assured me that this is the path I was meant for.”

Martin didn’t wait for her moment to arrive. Instead, she used her connection with the Flagship Niagara and the Erie Maritime Museum to initiate her historical and archaeological study of Lake Erie. After earning her scuba certification, she began exploring Lake Erie below the surface. In conjunction with her studies, Martin attended a course in underwater archaeology survey techniques, which features presenters from the Pennsylvania Archaeology Shipwreck Survey Team (PASST).

“I have stayed involved with PASST and am going to be their illustrator for shipwrecks and artifacts,” said Martin, who is currently showcasing her work at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie.

At Edinboro University, Martin has continued her cross-curricular and interdisciplinary academic career, studying forensic anthropology, the history of food in various cultures and artistic illustration.

“She has just really taken off as a student-anthropologist and artist,” said Dr. Lenore Barbian, professor and director of Edinboro’s anthropology program. “She has hit the ground running and now is focused on graduate school and continuing her underwater studies.”

Not only has Martin found her niche with underwater archaeology, she has also excelled with land-based projects as well. This summer, Martin joined a team of Edinboro students and faculty, including Barbian and Michelle Vitali who serve as fellows for the Institute for Forensic Sciences (IFS), on a trip to Blue Creek, Belize for the Maya Research Program (MRP). Established in 1992, the non-profit project sponsors archaeological and ethnographic research in Middle America regions.

“This gave me real-world experience in all the techniques I've been learning in classes,” said Martin, who previously worked as a chef since 2004, when she earned a culinary degree from Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Mich. “I cannot even put into words the feeling of excavating an artifact and being the first person to touch that item in 2,000 years.”

Prior to her research at the MRP, Martin became interested in artifact illustration through an archaeology course at Edinboro University with Dr. Stacy Dunn, an instructor in the Criminal Justice, Anthropology, and Forensic Studies Department. Following that course and a scientific illustration course with Vitali, who, along with her work in the IFS, is a professor in EU’s Art Department, Martin was thrilled to join the crew for hands-on work in Belize.

In Belize, Martin connected with Dr. Colleen Hanratty, from the MRP, to illustrate a collection of Mayan artifacts. Thanks to her outstanding work, Martin was asked to stay for an additional two weeks as an illustrator at the MRP. At the end of her MRP experience, she produced nearly 65 illustrations for future MRP publications.

“I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity,” Martin said. “This experience and the support of everyone at MRP inspired me to leave my job and establish an anthropological illustration business. I can't wait to see where this venture takes me as I continue to study anthropology and archaeology.”

For more information about Edinboro University’s Institute for Forensic Sciences, visit http://www.edinboro.edu/ifs.