Department of Archaeology

Isotope Investigators Summer School

In June 2016, the Department of Archaeology and Centre for Environmental Geochemistry at the University of Nottingham teamed up to offer 10 fully-funded places on a week-long University of Nottingham summer school in isotope analysis.

We are investing in the brightest young scholars who want to learn the methods and the full interpretative potential of these scientific techniques and enhance their archaeology degree.

Alongside training in isotope analysis, the 10 students were mentored in terms of their career aspirations and research plans.

The Department of Archaeology's bioarchaeology lab 12178web

Meet the Isotope Investigators

Isotopes Archaeology summer school

Rachel Blevis

Hello, my name is Rachel Blevis and I am a Masters student at Haifa University, Israel.

My thesis subject deals with analysis of fish bones retrieved from different Byzantine contexts in the Negev desert (Israel), including the garbage dumps of Halutza and the houses of Shivta. My thesis is part of the Negev Byzantine Bio-Archaeology Research Program, led by Dr. Yotam Tepper and by my advisor Guy Bar- Oz.

I have a B.S in Biology and Archaeology from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and have always been passionate about the connection between these two fields.

I am excited to learn about the extensive contributions of isotope analysis within archaeological studies. I hope to connect this new field with my group’s research and to continue using advanced bio-chemical methods in future studies.


Joseph Duffy

Hello, my name is Joseph (Joey) Duffy and I'm currently a second year Archaeological Science student at the University of Liverpool, UK.

My main interests of study lie in scientific techniques, osteology, and zooarchaeology, and I am hoping to help in our university's archaeology lab next year where I will be looking at palaeobotany samples.

I am planning on doing my third year dissertation in experimental archaeology and may decide to complete a MSc in either Archaeology or Forensic Anthropology.

I am very excited about the Isotope Investigations Summer School as I will be learning valuable skills for my third year and can't wait to meet other archaeological scientists from all around the country.


Tom Fox

Hey, my name is Thomas Fox, I am a BSc Archaeology student at The University of Nottingham.

My interests lie in Bioarchaeology, particularly in Social Zooarchaeology, though I have a side interest in Archaeometallurgy.

I am currently working as Environmental Assistant at the Bamburgh Research Project and am studying part of the site's Late Saxon animal bone assemblage as part of my dissertation.

I am excited for this opportunity to learn more about the methods and applications of stable isotope analysis this summer, and to meet fellow students in the field. 


Maddy Grant

Hi, my name is Maddy Grant. I'm an undergrad at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. I'm studying a double degree in Archaeology and History, with a split focus on Greco-Roman and cognitive archaeology, and early modern history in Europe.

I'm looking forward to the summer school because the scientific facet of archaeology is not my strong point, so I'm very keen to learn more and, of course, meet everyone.


Hope Hancox

Hi, my name is Hope Hancox and I currently work as a site supervisor for the commercial archaeology unit Border Archaeology. I've worked in field archaeology for a few years since completing my masters in Human Osteology and Palaeopathology at the University of Bradford.

Though currently field based, my main area of interest is biomolecular archaeology, specifically palaeodietary research. Both my UG and PG dissertations focused on the application of lipid analyses in palaeodietary studies.

I am looking forward to getting training in stable isotope analysis, and in particular contributing to a publication.


Raija Katarina Heikkilä

Hi, I am Raija from Tallinn, Estonia. I recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Classical and Near Eastern archaeology from Bryn Mawr College in the United States and I am currently busy applying to Master’s programs in Europe. I wish to continue my studies in environmental archaeology, with an emphasis on zooarchaeology.

My main research interest is food and how our pursuit of food has affected the environment and how (well) we live, particularly since the introduction of animal and plant domestication.

I am very excited to take part in the Isotope Investigators Summer School because I will be able to meet fantastic scholars and learn the basics of a technique that has revolutionized the study of food in archaeology.


Mara Page

I’m Mara Page, a recent graduate of the University of Washington in the United States. I’ll be receiving two bachelor’s degrees, one in Archaeological Sciences and one in Earth Science.

For the last few years, I’ve studied these fields side-by-side and I’ve developed an appreciation for the roles that Earth Science techniques can play in answering archaeological questions. I recently wrapped up a research project where I used stable carbon isotopes to reconstruct the vegetation history at an archaeological site in Australia.

I’m looking forward to learning about more applications of stable isotope analysis, especially in faunal remains, and to gaining an understanding of the field of archaeology as it exists in the UK.


Emily Prtak

Hi, my name is Emily Prtak and I am a second year student at the University of Liverpool. I study archaeology with a minor in ancient history, with a concentration on the classical world.

I am also involved in an excavation as a trainee supervisor on an Iron Age hillfort in north Wales, and hope to develop this interest in prehistory later in my education.

I am very excited to attend the summer school so that I can learn how working academic environments operate, and also to further my knowledge of analytical techniques at the forefront of archaeological research. 


Philip Rawlinson

Second year at the University of Nottingham with a focus on zoo archaeology, paleontological archaeology and evolutionary biology. Integrating biological, environmental and archaeological records to inform on the evolutionary progression of life and cultural behaviours.

The scientific techniques of isotope analysis learnt through the summer school will allow a progression into the Year 3 dissertation, in which the movements and yearly migrations of Rangifer tarandus between Britain and mainland Europe will be explored using geological and climatic data through both Strontium and Oxygen isotopes. 


Elizabeth Sanders

Hi, my name is Elizabeth Sanders, and I just recently graduated with honors from the University of Florida with my Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology.  

My studies primarily focused on forensic anthropology and bioarchaeology, and I am currently planning to pursue a Master’s Degree in either anthropology or forensic science.  

While at UF, I had the pleasure of interning for the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory and working in the Vertebrate Paleontology department of the Florida Museum of Natural History, as well as participating in a semester-long archaeological field school at Orange Lake, Florida.  

I am really looking forward to gaining hands-on experience in stable isotope analysis and meeting everyone in the Isotope Investigators Summer School. 



Application has now closed for the 2016 Summer School

About the Isotopes Summer School

The University of Nottingham has a long history of teaching and research in archaeology, and today we are home to an active and dynamic zooarchaeology research laboratory group in which we focus on human-animal-landscape relationships and how they inform the structure, ideology and practice of past societies across a wide range of geographic and temporal circumstances. 

Where will the summer school take place and what resources will I be able to access?

The summer school will be led by the Department of Archaeology at The University of Nottingham, in collaboration with British Geological Survey. Together we make up part of the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (CEG) - a powerhouse of research, training, and teaching in geoscience.

Throughout the week, as an Isotope Investigator, you will take part in research-led learning on the isotope analyses of zooarchaeological material from the high profile site of Fishbourne Roman Palace. Engaging in every step of the process, you will go from sample selection to data processing, ending with the opportunity to take part in a career-building publication.


What will I do, and what skills and experience will I gain?

  • Monday - you will join us in the Bioarchaeology laboratories at The University of Nottingham, where we will discuss the use of isotopes in zooarchaeology before embarking on our research. You will learn how to select and sample specimens for analysis, getting your selections ready for our work during the rest of the week.
  • Tuesday-Thursday - We will journey to BGS, where we will begin our work in the isotope laboratories. Working with field-leading scientists, we will discover how zooarchaeological samples are analysed, participate in all aspects of the laboratory work, and generate our very own suite of research results.
  • Friday - We will collate our data, bringing together all of our findings to discover our research outcomes. You will be given a masterclass in how to compile, present, and write up the work that will ultimately lead to co-authorship on a peer-reviewed paper. This career building step will leave you on the path to a budding postgraduate career.

Who will be teaching me?

Jane Evans
Professor Jane Evans
British Geological Survey

Professor Jane Evans is Head of Science Based Archaeology at the British Geological Survey, and Honorary Fellow at the Department of Archaeology, The University of Nottingham.

She is a leader in the field of radiogenic isotope studies and has research interests in geo-archaeology, isotope geochemistry, and strontium isotope biosphere mapping.

For a great introduction to our course, why not check out her video on ‘Bowling with Isotopes’

Dr Naomi Sykes
Department of Archaeology, The University of Nottingham

Associate Professor Naomi Sykes of The University of Nottingham is an expert in Zooarchaeology and Visiting Research Fellow at BGS. She focuses on human-animal-landscape relationships and how they inform on the structure, ideology and practice of past societies. Her research integrates animal bone data with other categories of material culture, and with wider archaeological, historical, scientific, and anthropological discussions.

At present, she is running the high profile AHRC Dama International and Cultural & Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions projects.

Angela Lamb
Dr Angela Lamb
British Geological Survey

Dr Angela Lamb is a Research Scientist at the Stable Isotope Facility, British Geological Survey and Honorary Fellow at the Department of Archaeology, The University of Nottingham. Specialising in isotope geochemistry and mass spectrometry, she leads the stable isotope team that is responsible for archaeological research.

Recent highlights of Angela’s work have included multi-isotope analysis of King Richard III and investigating the effects of mummification on isotope values.

Hannah O'Regan
Dr Hannah O'Regan
Department of Archaeology, The University of Nottingham

Assistant Professor Hannah O’Regan of The University of Nottingham has wide research interests. Her previous work included studying the animals from the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London, extinct large carnivores in Europe and Africa, stable isotopes in non-human primates, and lots of papers on early human (hominin) dispersal.

At the moment she is writing a book on human evolution and looking into the archaeology of bears in the British Isles, everything from their extinction to their role in Shakespeare.

Holly miller
Dr Holly Miller
Department of Archaeology, The University of Nottingham

Dr Holly Miller is a Post-Doctoral researcher at The University of Nottingham and Visiting Research Fellow at BGS with 10 years’ experience of isotope analysis on zooarchaeological materials. Over the years she has worked on various projects, producing isotope research on a menagerie of animals including Near Eastern sheep and goats, deer and chickens from across the globe, and cats and dogs from Roman Britain to modern household pets.

Currently, she is using isotope analysis of archaeological animals to investigate the practice of zootherapy – the use of animals, their parts and products in medicinal practices.


Who's eligible, will I need to apply, and will I be assessed?

Archaeology undergraduate students and students majoring in Anthropology (where archaeology is a key component of their course) from any country are eligible to apply for the Isotope Investigators Summer School. The course will include technical information and will take place in English, so a good level of understanding is necessary.

There are only 10 places on the Summer School for June 2016. These places will be assessed via an application form which you can download and email to us, or alternatively complete online. Please note applications for 2016 are now closed.


When will I know whether I've got a place?

The deadline to submit your application is midnight on 25 April 2016. You will be notified of the outcome by 1 May 2016.

Will there be a cost?

Successful applicants will be asked to pay a fully-refundable deposit of £100 to secure their place.

This will be returned at registration. If a successful applicant cannot take up their place, they should request a refund by email to Holly Miller, no less than 7 days before the start of the course (midnight UK time 19 June 2016).

We will endeavour to fill the course place, and in the event that a replacement is found a full refund will be made. If a replacement cannot be found a refund of 50% of the course fee will be made for cancellations made more than 7 days before the start of the course.

No refund will be made for cancellations made less than 7 days before the course start date.

Please note the funding does not cover flights to the UK. Funding covers all of your costs once you arrive in Nottingham on 26 June 2016.


What accommodation will be available and how do I book?

Full Nottingham university accommodation (bed, board, 3 meals, and transport) from 26 June 2016 to 1 July 2016 is provided as part of the course. No booking is required.

Successful applicants will need to travel to Nottingham to take up their places on Sunday 28 June 2016. The course will finish at 4.30pm on 1 July 2016 (no accommodation is provided for that evening).


Connect with us and apply

Application has now closed for the 2016 Summer School

Email your queries

The Department of Archaeology

Centre for Environmental Geochemistry

British Geological Survey

This activity is funded by the University of Nottingham Impact Cascade fund.


CEG logo



Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Contact details