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Professor receives grant, starts summer program

Anthropology professor Dr. Rhonda Quinn has recently received a $450,000 career grant from the National Science Foundation that she will be using to enhance laboratories and begin a short summer program here at Seton Hall. Along with the grant given by the NSF, Quinn has been given a smaller grant from the Louis Leakey Foundation, which is a private foundation that looks for and awards grant and research money to researchers working in the broad perspective of human evolution. Quinn, who received her undergraduate degree in anthropology and geology from the University of Florida, said that her lab experience in college is what gave her the inspiration to revamp laboratories at Seton Hall. “The job that I had (in college) was very flexible. The job was on campus, I was in a lab, I was trained in laboratory techniques, and I had free passage 24/7 to swipe into the labs. In my brand of work, that is a key component. It was a nurturing environment and it gave me a lot of the confidence that made me think that I could do this for a living.” Quinn said. Money from the grant is going to be used to develop an anthropological isotope lab, which would be able to process samples more efficiently. “Right now I have a small, workable lab, but I’m still kind of usually borrowing equipment from my research affiliate from Rutgers University,” Quinn said. Seton Hall will soon have the facilities to process basically any type of sample, which would then be taken to be placed in a mass spectrometer at Rutgers. Not only are there going to be advancements in the labs, but a short summer program specializing in anthropological research and technique is being made available to five Seton Hall students and four high school students in Project Seed and in North Star Academy Charter School. “Students in the program learn the ins-and-outs of lab work and are basically going to do their own pilot project. We then are going to take those results and have an exhibition at the Petersheim Exposition, Quinn said. “If I have interested parties who want to do a senior thesis and want to push their research forward with a broader question, then this program enables them to do it.” Ruth Dorton, a junior anthropology major and Anthropology Club President for 2015-2016, plans to take the program during the summer. Dorton wanted to learn hands-on skills and possibly develop a senior thesis through her research from the course. “Dr. Quinn is a very good professor. She’s very energetic and you can tell she knows a lot about the field. She does a whole bunch of research and she makes sure to incorporate examples that students are able to understand because this is a very conceptual, kind of mathematics based field.” Dorton said. “She has just worked really hard to make sure that students who come to her can actually achieve something with a very specific purpose. She had undergraduate research, which I know was a really large motivator for her, and I really appreciate that we now have the opportunity at Seton Hall to have the same experience.” Ashley Turner can be reached at


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