The New Plan – Weekly Updates!

So I’ve been a bit rubbish with my blog (again!) but Ive told myself that I am going to be better from now on. I guess I haven’t written much as I haven’t felt that there’s much to say. HOWEVER, I am now back volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons and I’m going to start visiting museums to access their collections for my PhD work. That means there should be plenty to talk about so I have no excuse for not keeping up with the blog!
So first things first, I’m back at the Royal College of Surgeons volunteering. It’s been about a year since I was last here but I couldn’t help but come back! I enjoyed working here so much and the people are lovely so I was just waiting for the right time.
Now I’m back I’m doing something slightly different then previously, where I was tasked with creating inventories for a couple of collections. This time I’m packing objects/human remains ready for decanting and moving them to a new site. This is because the building in which the museums department is based is getting renovated and so most of the collections have to be moved off site. So far the boxes of remains I have been working on have been straight forward. This has included sorting a couple of boxes of loose ribs and one half (a complete right side) of a skeleton. I’m having to think about how best to wrap and pack each box so that the bones are safe and secure, ready to be moved. As I said the boxes so far have been relatively simple to sort out, but I’m sure there are going to be some tricky ones coming my way!
So that’s my volunteering stuff, now for a quick update about my PhD. I’m now at the stage where I am contacting museums in search of human remains that would be suitable for my project. At times this has been fairly straightforward. I’ve identified a collection, either from some literature or an online resource, then contacted the museum and have been able to find exactly what I am looking for. On other occasions it’s been a little more complicated. For example, I may have found the original excavation report that identifies a collection but it is then difficult to locate the remains. In these situations I have contacted the most likely institutions or commercial archaeological company and went from there. It’s taken a little bit of time but I now feel that I have identified a good amount of skeletal collections, at least as a starting point.
So what’s next? Well I’m visiting the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and Cirencester museum over the next 2 weeks. Here I  hoping to have a preliminary look at the remains that they have to see how suitable they are for my project. I will (hopefully!) arrange another date to go back and measure any of the remains that can be used in my research. In the mean time I’m going to start contacting the museums that have collections that are appropriate for my work and get some dates for visits in the diary. My aim is to see and measure as many skeletons as possible before April next year, when my PhD upgrade will be. So lots of work to do but I can’t wait to get started with the data collection!
As I said before, now that I’ll be visiting new places and collections, plus the volunteering, I should be able to write an update of my progress and experiences every week! Here’s hoping! Skeleton-Hands-Facebook-Cover

Onto the Next Step….

Outside of the Royal College of Surgeons. Image taken from http://nobelbiocare-eyearcourse.com/fgdp.html.

Outside of the Royal College of Surgeons. Image taken from http://nobelbiocare-eyearcourse.com/fgdp.html.

 

I have just come back off a lovely 2 week holiday and I am now about to start the next chapter/step in my career and life. In one of  my last posts I said I will be starting a PhD at the Univeristy of Southampton looking to imporve the methods used for aging adult human skeletons from their dentition. In order to do this I have had to stop volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons. This came to a natural end as I finished inventoring the last collection I worked with, which included neonatal dentition. I hope to return to the College in the future to volunteer once I’ve settled into the PhD but only if time allows.

I therefore wanted to write a thank you to the Museums Department for giving me the opportunity to work with some incredible human remains collections. It was great to be able to apply the knowledge I had gained at university to good use and I learnt so much. With the first two collections I worked with I was able to appreciate the extent of normal variation that can be observed in the human skeleton and increase my knowledge of neonatal pathology.

The third and final collection I worked with has provided me in good stead for the next step in my education and career. At the end of September I will be starting a PhD in dental morphology and inventorying the Stack collection of neonatal dentition has been a great help. Although my PhD will be using adult dentition to improve current age estimation methods for skeletal individuals having the knowledge base of neonatal dentition will, I’m sure, come in great use.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time volunteering for the museums department and I do hope to come back in the future. Not only has the collections I have worked with been incredible but so are the people. My time at the college would not have been nearly as good if the department wasn’t filled with such lovely, friendly and interesting people.

I will miss coming into the College once a week but I will definitely be going back – I’ve already booked myself onto two lunchtime lectures! So thank you again, it’s been an invaluable experience. 
Now on to the next chapter…