Undergraduates Study Cultural Heritage During Summer Internships

San Diego, May 12, 2013  -- The Calit2 Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) and its NSF IGERT program in engineering for cultural heritage will provide exciting summer research opportunities through three programs.

Anthropology undergrad Aliya Hoff, the lead CISA3 Undergraduate Research Intern (CURI) during the 2012-13 academic year, at a burial site in Jordan. Hoff will be a Calit2 Scholar this summer working on underwater archaeology in the lab of Jules Jaffe at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 
In recent years, undergrads interested in cultural heritage have successfully participated in Calit2's oldest summer undergraduate research program, now entering its 14th year.

Calit2 Summer Undergraduate Research Scholars Program

The Calit2 Scholars program kicks off in June, with two of the 30 Calit2 Scholars slated to work on CISA3 projects. Lillian Wakefield, who is studying environmental chemistry, will focus on the “Development of Analytical Methodologies for the Characterization of Lead White Pigments in Microsamples from Renaissance Paintings,” with Maurizio Seracini as her advisor. Separately, undergraduate Aliya Hoff will explore “Diagnostic Visualization Systems and Methodologies for Underwater Archaeology.” Hoff is interested in biological anthropology, and she will work with advisor Jules Jaffe at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 

NGS-UCSD Engineers for Exploration

2013 is the inaugural year for a new summer program funded through a $380,000 NSF grant under its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in the CISE directorate. The grant went to CSE professor Ryan Kastner, Calit2 research scientist Albert Yu-Min Lin and Calit2 wireless functional manager Curt Schurgers, who run the UCSD-National Geographic Engineers for Exploration program in Calit2. Engineers for Exploration is continually seeking new ways to break down barriers in the world of exploration with UC San Diego’s partners in the program, including National Geographic, Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute, and San Diego Zoo Global. The eight undergrads in the inaugural class – some from UCSD, some from other institutions – will spend their summer in San Diego tackling real-world engineering challenges in exploration and scientific discovery.

As with the UCSD-National Geographic program, the REU grants will match upper-division undergrads to a variety of high-tech research projects overseen by scientists, engineers, and explorers from the university and program partners. “This NSF funding will allow us to expand the Engineers for Exploration program to invite enthusiastic engineering and computer science majors from across the U.S. to come to San Diego to design and test their own research projects in the field,” said PI Kastner. “The undergrads will benefit from the guidance of existing undergraduate leaders in the program, graduate students, professors, and scientific mentors from our partner institutes.”

Check back in January for information on applying for the summer 2014 program at

CISA3 Undergraduate Research Internships

The CISA3 Undergraduate Research Internship (CURI) program offers academic credit to students interested in the interdisciplinary application of science and technology to cultural heritage diagnostics and preservation. The CURI internship is a four-unit independent study course listed as a choice of CSE 199 or Structural Engineering 199, which may serve as a technical elective towards the student's degree. Positions are available for all levels of experience, and each project will be crafted to suit and develop the student’s personal skill set. Current undergraduate research projects include:

   • Digital archaeological illustration techniques and metadata recording applications;
   • Educational outreach about archaeology and technology;
   • Digital documentation (laser scanning, photogrammetry, structure from motion, GIS) of Balboa Park and Old Town;
   • X-Ray Fluorescence and multispectral techniques for cultural heritage diagnostics of artwork and artifacts;
   • 3D printing for cultural heritage analysis; 
   • Creating diagnostic point-cloud maps of mosaics for conservation;
   • Design of cognitively ergonomic user interfaces for augmented reality and visualization in the immersive CAVE systems; efficient systems of visual and “tactile” navigation in virtual space; and
   • Diagnostic imaging techniques and data capture methodologies for underwater archaeology; designing underwater panoramic stereo photography, structure from motion, and LiDAR.

Chemistry senior Lillian Wakefield (Class of '13) in Petra. She will be a Calit2 Scholar this summer, working in the CISA3 lab of Maurizio Seracini. Meanwhile, in late April, Wakefield delivered a talk on x-ray fluorescence in cultural heritage diagnostics, based on work she carried out as a CISA3 Undergraduate Research Intern this academic year.
Five CURI students presented their projects at the 26th annual UCSD Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) on April 27. In the session on Artifacts & Technology, CURIs James M. Darling and Shelby Cohantz presented on "Creating Cognitively Minded User Interfaces for 3D and Augmented Reality Visualizations of Cultural Heritage Spaces and Information." Lead CURI Aliya Hoff, an undergrad in Anthropology, presented on "Diagnostic Visualization Systems and Methodologies for Underwater Archaeology." Fellow Anthropology undergrad Kat Huggins presented her Faculty Mentorship research project on "Breaking the Ingot out of the Mold: A Practice Approach to Technological Ceramics." In a separate session on Materials & NanoEngineering, CURI and chemistry major Lillian Wakefield delivered a talk on "X-Ray Fluorescence in Cultural Heritage Diagnostics." Both Wakefield and Hoff will continue their research this summer as Calit2 Scholars (see above).

On June 2, CURI intern Aliya Hoff is also set to present her research under Anthropology Prof. Margaret J. Schoeninger and Levantine Lab bioanthropology graduate student advisor Melanie Beasley on "Resurrecting the Iron Age Dead: A Case Study in Bioarchaeology." The talk is part of the UCSD Faculty Mentor Program Research Symposium, to be held at the Price Center. 

Related Links

Calit2 Summer Undergraduate Research Scholars Program
UCSD-NGS Engineers for Exploration

Media Contacts

Doug Ramsey, 858-822-5825,