This summer, Anna Hardin’s interest in biological anthropology took her to England for two weeks to research chimpanzee and gorilla skulls, the latest step in a collaboration with anthropology professor Scott Legge.
“At a big university I would probably never have had the opportunity to work one-on-one with a professor. This has made my academic experience at Macalester completely unique.”
When classes are back in session this fall, Anna Hardin ’12 will have some good stories about her summer. Thanks to a student-faculty research grant, she spent two weeks at an English museum taking high-resolution photos of more than 60 juvenile chimpanzee and gorilla skulls. Next, she’ll analyze data and prepare a poster to present at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in Montreal in November.
That work is the latest step in Hardin’s collaboration with anthropology professor Scott Legge, who encouraged her to apply for a student-faculty research grant last spring.
This summer’s trip to England accelerated the hands-on nature of the research, given England’s Quex Museum’s enormous collection of chimpanzee and gorilla skulls. “It was exciting to work with actual teeth,” Hardin says, noting that previously she had worked mostly with photographs and had handled only a few skulls. “Data collection is really reliable with photographs, but it's much more real when you can hold the skull and feel the bumps and pits on a tooth.”
Now she’s hard at work on that Montreal conference poster and preparing a paper for publication in the journal Dental Anthropology. Hardin will also draw on this research for her senior honors project, which will compare dental traits in various geographic groups of primates.
This research experience has truly shaped her education at Mac, she says. “I took Professor Legge’s Biological Anthropology class and realized instantly that this is what I wanted to study,” says Hardin, who has connected with professors in graduate school programs through her research. “At a big university I would probably never have had the opportunity to work one-on-one with a professor. This has made my academic experience at Macalester unique.”