Megan Valley | February 23, 2017
Notre Dame junior Katie Portman spent summer 2015 doing archaeological fieldwork while living on the M.V. Pitsiulak, a 50-foot longliner, off the coast of subarctic Canada.
Despite weather issues, engine malfunctions, and permit-related delays, the experience caused her to fall in love with—and major in—anthropology.
“It’s an interdisciplinary field that combines rigorous hands-on exploration with stimulating intellectual inquiry,” Portman said. “All these subjects I’m interested in—geology, geography, chemistry, history—come together in this.
“It’s also a very tangible interaction with the past. Being able connect that to the present and the future is so powerful.”
Portman, a Glynn Family Honors Scholar who also has a supplementary major in applied and computational mathematics and statistics, focuses her studies on biological anthropology and archaeology.
In 2015, she was awarded Notre Dame’s annual Smithsonian Internship, which began with four weeks of archival work in Washington, D.C., followed by six weeks in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
“The internship helped me engage with what I’m learning in the classroom and completely changed what I want to do with my career,” she said. “My research experiences have taken my education to another level that I wouldn’t get otherwise.”