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Active Learning and Research
Active Learning and Research
Professor Rhys Townsend and student Ed Connor searched for archaeological evidence of pirates along the Cilician coast in Turkey.

Meet the researchers: Applying chemistry to art history

A profile of Susan Herringer

Susan Herringer '09 has been back in the United States since Aug. 15; however, she still "has her eye" on the ruins of a temple in Turkey. Herringer spends roughly five hours a week in a chemistry lab at Clark, continuing the research she started this summer for the Antioch ad Cragum Archaeological Research Project.

Antioch ad Cragum is located on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey in the area known in antiquity as Rough Cilicia. It is an archaeological site that dates back to Ancient Roman times. The Antioch ad Cragum Archaeological Research Project is a 10-year project with the main objective of reconstructing an ancient Roman temple that occupies the site.

"To reconstruct, you must first deconstruct; that's exactly what we were doing this summer—we were moving blocks from the mound (with the help of a crane of course!)," wrote Herringer. Herringer's work in the field included sketching the face of each block and producing architectural drafts of the blocks (architectural drafts are needed so that they may reconstruct the temple on paper first).

Herringer, who hopes to become an art conservator, spent five weeks this summer working on the project with three professors (one from Clark and two from the University of Nebraska) and 12 other students (seven of which were from Clark), many of whom had a background in art history.

Because Herringer studies chemistry as well as art history, Rhys Townsend, art history professor, and his collaborators sought her help in determining where and what quarry the marble used in the temple originated.

"Susan's interests and expertise—in both art history and chemistry—are unusual," said Townsend. "That and the fact that she is one of the very best students I have ever taught make Susan an invaluable asset to the project."

Herringer has indeed received recognition for her outstanding academic achievement at Clark. She is the recipient of the Maurine H. Milburn Fund for the Sciences Summer Internship, the Frederick M. and Alice Murdock Summer Science Internship and the Wen-Yang Wen Award for Excellence in Chemistry. This fall, she added another award—the Howard Bonar Jefferson Prize—to this expansive list. The Jefferson Prize, which she received last month at the University's Fall Convocation, is given to a senior who has demonstrated the highest level of academic excellence, breadth of intellectual interests, depth of intellectual commitment, and scholarly or creative achievement.

"Traveling to Turkey and working on this project was an amazing experience," said Herringer, who documented the time she spent abroad in a blog.

"For most of the students, the project is over; but for me, I'm starting a whole new chapter," she wrote.

Herringer will graduate next spring with her bachelor's degree in chemistry and art history, and has already coauthored a paper* with her chemistry research advisor Mark Turnbull. She plans to pursue a master's degree in chemistry through Clark's Accelerated B.A./Master's Degree Program. She is presently involved with the Chemistry Club, the Student Alumni Relations Committee (SARC) and is a Scarlet Key senior interviewer. She is also a member of the Gryphon and Pleiades honor society at Clark.


*Susan N. Herringer; Turnbull, Mark M.; Landee, Christopher P.; Jan L. Wikaira; Synthesis, structure, and magnetic properties of bis(3-amino-2-chloropyridinium)tetrahalocuprate(II) [halide = Cl or Br], Journal of Coordination Chemistry, in publication.

 

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