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SURE Scheme Project: Dental Microwear As Evidence of Human Diet In Iron Age Boiotia: A Pilot Study
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

Why did you decide to do a placement? I decided to do this placement because I had relatively little research experience and knowledge about all the involving aspects while conducting a study in a short period. Another reason why I decided to do a placement was to improve and to gain new skills. Fortunately, I was able to achieve my goals, and by the end of the 5th week, my attention regarding research increased significantly, especially my autonomy to solve problems as well as the knowledge during the different stages of analysing Archaeological remains changed dramatically.

How did you find your placement/internship?

SURE Scheme

Application process

The application process was quite simple since all the information regarding the SURE Scheme is provided directly by the University. The main important points to apply, which I had to take into account where: (1) I had to have a real presentable a self-contained project that I could report on by later summer. (2) I had to submit a joint application with an academic supervisor. (3) I had to fill out a form where I stated the reasons why my participation at the SURE project would benefit me and my career.

Main responsibilities

My primary responsibilities during my placement were to categorise and label the selected teeth according to their anatomical position in the human mouth and to assess their state of preservation and thus suitability for microwear analysis. Secondly, I was responsible for casting using a model casting technique using a dental modular A-silicone system, which adapts to any impression technique. This advanced modular print system enables prints with extremely high precision, a significant recovery from deformation, and a long lasting dimensional stability, without damaging the original tooth. By using this modern method, I was able to draw on the experience acquired and techniques developed in a previous research project on sheep and goat microwear.

Typical day

During my placement, my work day would start with a short walk in the sun to the Institution. Then I would start to categorise and analyse human teeth and label them. After lunch, I would start to work in the lab, by taking the classified teeth and preparing them for casting. For the completion of this task, I would do some basic chemistry by mixing two acidic components to produce a particular binding product, that I could use as a resin. After this important step, I usually would go to another lab and perform microscopy on the teeth. My day would typically end with an excellent ice cream while reading scientific papers on High Dynamic Range Imaging applied to photographs of animal dentition as well as on resolution in dental microwear analysis. Which was significant for me to understand the costs and benefits of different approaches to the work I was undertaking.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

What I most enjoyed about my placement, was the research for which I was responsible, but also the country in which I conducted my research. My work had an impact on the understanding of the archaeological remains of a group of people in the north of Greece. In which a new research approach never tested on human dental remains enabled to discover significant traces of their past.

Challenging aspects

The first pilot study of this project phase requires further study, to achieve an entirely positive result. However, even with the first challenges faced while identifying traces of microwear, the current result obtained from fifty dental microwear images were surprisingly promising.
Another challenge was the language while working abroad.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

Critical Thinking
Independent Working
Laboratory Skills
Literature Searching/Reviewing
Organisational Skills

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

My involvement in this placement gave me new skills as well as a different learning approach towards science. It also helped me to understand the importance of active participation, collaborative and reflective learning while researching. My work placement also had an impact on the expansion of my Archaeological knowledge as well as the importance of this research field. My involvement with the employer mentioned above gave me more confidence, and it improved my academic interests, which helped me to consider research as a career for the future.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

Be persistent and curious throughout your placement. Ask questions constantly and show your employer that you are capable of working independently and efficiently.
Be 100% confident, even if sometimes things don't turn as expected.

Form completed: 31 Aug 2017

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