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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Get To Know LATIS’s Samantha Porter


Name: Samantha Porter

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? I grew up in St. Louis Park, just west of Minneapolis. I moved to New York City for college, but moved back to the Twin Cities in 2010 for graduate school. Having spent some time away, I’ve really grown to appreciate all the things the Twin Cities have to offer.

What is your educational background? I received my B.A. from NYU in 2009, where I double majored in Anthropology and Urban Design and Architecture. I’ve been at the U of M since 2010 pursuing a PhD in Anthropology.

When did you start at UMN? I officially took my first class at the U in 2003 while in High School as part of the College in the Schools Program. The class was Microeconomics and I got a B-. I came back to the U in 2010 as a graduate student, and began working here full time earlier this year.

What is your current job title and describe what you do? Digital Preservation Specialist. I help faculty and students use advanced imaging technologies such as 3D scanning, specialized photography, and virtual reality to enhance their research and teaching.

What brought you to your current job? A large part of my archaeological research has involved various imaging technologies. A few years ago, I was able to apply these skills as a graduate fellow in the Digital Content Library (DCL). That year, myself and other graduate students, faculty, and staff  from LATIS and a number of departments came together to submit a grant to start what is now the Advanced Imaging Service for Objects and Spaces (AISOS), a part of LATIS Labs. I’m thrilled to now be a full time member of the LATIS team!

What is your best/more amusing U-related memory? Every year, the Anthropology department has an event called the Paleo Picnic. We make our own stone tools, then use them to butcher an animal. Everyone gets to take some meat home with them. It’s both fun and a great hands-on learning experience, albeit a bit messy.

What was your worst or most unusual job? I’ve worked on archaeological excavations for over ten years. In practice, archaeology isn’t so much about running from boulders and using whips to swing across chasms. It’s more about spending countless hours sorting tiny bits of 40,000 year old hyena poo from limestone. I wouldn’t give it up for anything though!

Before I die, I would like to: Visit all seven continents. I’m really lucky, in that I get to travel a lot of cool places as part of my work. Four down, three to go!

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