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  • Locations: Alcudia, Spain
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description:

Pollentia Undergraduate Research Expedition (PURE)

Applications for UP PURE 2018 will open on November 20, 2017 with a priority application deadline of December 15, 2017

Acceptance Decisions will be announced beginning January 15, 2018. 

The goal throughout has been faculty/student research in a global academic and cultural context. The Pollentia Undergraduate Research Expedition is not a 'program' as such but rather a context or umbrella under which UP faculty and students can undertake discipline specific research projects abroad that correspond naturally to the broad framework of an archaeological excavation that involves professionals, students, and volunteers in all the physical and human sciences that pertain to the study, preservation, and conservation of cultural heritage. While the University of Barcelona brings the archaeological expertise, faculty/student research teams from UP add – always under the direction and supervision of Professors Cau and Álvarez – other discipline specific research agenda that complement archaeological findings.

About the UP Directors: 

  • Rev. H. Richard Rutherford, Ph.D., C.S.C., UP Professor Emeritus of Theology, serves as Director of the Initiative for Christian Antiquity in the Digital Age and as campus coordinator of the Pollentia effort. 
  • Ronda S. Bard, Ph.D., Lecturer, UP Department of Chemistry, is Field Director for UP PURE in 2018. 
  • Valerie Walters, Ph.D., Instructor, UP Department of Chemistry - Assistant Field Director
  • Kara Breuer, M.A.T., Adjunct Instructor, UP Department of Chemistry - Assistant Field Director
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History of UP PURE:

Beginning in Spring 2012 and building on Fr. Richard Rutherford’s study of early Christianity in the Mediterranean, Fr. Rutherford and Pollentia Excavation Co-directors Professors Miguel Ángel Cau, Ph.D. and Esther Chávez Álvarez, Ph.D. proposed a collaborative endeavor whereby the University of Barcelona archaeological field school would host faculty/student researchers from UP at the Pollentia site. The first UP Pollentia Expedition launched in July 2014.

That summer, four UP faculty, six UP alumni, and four volunteers made an exploratory visit to Mallorca to work with the Barcelona team. Our goals were simple and ambitious: survey and map Can Fanals, a long buried sector known to contain a necropolis dating to Christian Antiquity and the Roman Empire; undertake a trial excavation of the mapped cemetery; and explore the potential for such faculty/student teams to conduct research at Pollentia. Upon return in August 2014, reports of success on all three fronts were submitted to all levels of stakeholders of what came to be termed informally UP’s own Pollentia Expedition. With strong administrative support, Fr. Rutherford decided to return in summer 2015 with faculty/student research teams.

In summer 2015, twenty-one UP faculty, students, and volunteers made the journey to Aludia, Spain, and the Pollentia site. Research teams in chemical, biological, and environmental studies analyzed key discoveries such as pottery, grave goods, and human skeletal remains. Other projects addressed educational goals of the ArchaeoSpain high school field school at Pollentia (in collaboration with ArchaeoSpain leadership) and the development of a digital collection documenting the work of UP faculty and students in a global educational context. UP schools represented in the summer’s efforts included the College of Arts & Sciences, Clark Library, and the School of Education.

For summer 2016, twenty-eight UP faculty, students, and volunteers – with Fr. Rutherford and Dr. Ronda Bard at the helm – returned to Pollentia to form a tight knit community of scholars and an impressive team of Yankees in local Alcúdia. Together with the large group of faculty, students and others from the University of Barcelona, we were some 60 diggers at the Pollentia archeological site. The UP group focused our work at the same Can Fanals necropolis—the site where we launched the program in 2014:
  • Team DNA: Dr. Ami Ahern-Rindell (Biology) and four UP research students excavated graves and gathered long bones from earlier excavations in preparation for an ongoing DNA study.
  • Team Shiley: Dean Sharon Jones, Prof. Nikki Schulz, and two civil engineering students worked with Spanish colleagues on the Pollentia GPS system.
  • Team Chemistry: Dr. Ronda Bard and Dr. Valerie Walters (both UP Chemistry), Dr. Julio DePaula (Lewis&Clark, Chemistry), and UP alumna Gisela Gonzalez-Montiel performed archaeometric studies with two UP students and a Lewis&Clark student. Projects included analyses of pigments in a medieval painting housed at the local parish museum, pigment traces discovered on a wall in the Roman forum at the Pollentia site, and soil samples from graves and other areas in the necropolis.
  • Team Enviro: Father Ron Wasowski, C.S.C. (Environmental Science) applied his knowledge of remote sensing to document the dig from the air using both his drone and aerial flights. Fr. Wasowski (deceased November 2016) also collaborated with a UP student in Environmental Policy student in a study of local ecotourism.
  • Team Micro: Dr. Angela Hoffman, O.S.B. (Chemistry) collected soil samples from site layers dating to the Roman Republic, Late Antiquity, and medieval times in her ongoing search for undiscovered microbes that might make useful antibiotics as secondary metabolites.
The most interesting finds of summer 2016 had to be the nearly intact skeleton of a 7- or 8-year-old child from ancient Roman times who was buried carrying a small jug (amphora) into the netherworld, and an undisturbed cremation urn, also from those two millennia ago. These finds will provide much new information about the people of ancient Pollentia and their history.

Most recently, the 2017 UP PURE team of 3 faculty, 1 UP staff person, 5 UP students, and 5 volunteers introduced the five new students and three new volunteers to the rigors and rewards of archaeological field work. Among the faculty, Fr. Mark Ghyselinck, C.S.C., UP Instructor, Performing & Fine Arts, served as pastoral resident and artist-in-residence. Chemistry faculty Valerie Walters (UP PURE site director for 2017) and Kara Breuer led four chemistry students in these archaeometric studies:
  • Analysis of Roman coins unearthed at Pollentia 2014-2016 using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy and LIBS (laser induced breakdown spectroscopy);
  • Analysis of pigments used by artist Rafael Mòger to paint an altarpiece triptych in 1420; spectroscopic studies using XRF and Raman spectroscopy and microscopy using both UV and infrared light sources allowed identification of several original pigments, along with one or two pigments applied in modern restorations.
  • A remote sensing survey of the Can Fanals site using a Phantom quadcopter drone and visual and thermal infrared photography.
A fifth student who is majoring in Environmental Ethics & Policy worked remotely with David Turnbloom, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, UP Theology, to study archaeology as a means of formation for liturgy and ethics, within the UP PURE community. 

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To Learn More About UP PURE:

Student presentations of results of research outcomes from summer 2017 began November 2017, with the UP Summer Research Poster Presentation program. Poster and oral presentations will continue through the Murdock College Science Research Conference, the Linus Pauling Award Symposium, the Sigma Xi Student Research Conference, Dundon-Berchtold presentations, and UP Founders Day. Please contact Dr. Bard for updated schedules of student presentations related to UP PURE 2017.

A rich source of information about the participants, communities, field experience, research, and cultural explorations of all our UP PURE expeditions resides at our Pollentia WordPress site, A face-to-face resource is the Pollentia lunch tables, hosted by Fr. Rutherford and Dr. Bard on 2nd and 4th Wednesdays on the quiet side of Commons, 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM; our next luncheon dates include these Wednesdays: Nov. 8, Nov. 22, and Dec. 6th. We hope to see you there!

Finally, we present a magnificent new opportunity for informing yourself of archaeology related to Pollentia. In Spring 2018, UP Adjunct Assistant Professor Mario Ramírez Galán will teach a one-time course: HST 391 Public History through Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (3 credits). Look for HST 391 in the MW 1730-1855 time slot, included in the Banner Spring 2018 schedule since Monday, November 6.
HST 391 Course Description: Public History brings the study of cultural heritage into the public forum of museology, government, industry, & heritage tourism. This course addresses public history through archaeology, including fieldwork, remote sensing, archaeometry, cartography, etc. with a focus on the Roman & Late Antique Pollentia (Mallorca). Students will explore ongoing UP contributions to research & management of this Spanish heritage site.
Expenses of the Expedition:
The program fee for UP PURE Summer 2018 program is $3000 per participant. This fee includes housing, study abroad insurance, food for breakfasts and field breaks, two dinners out per week, archaeological expertise, access to laundry supplies and facilities, etc. Students should expect additional out-of-pocket expenses of about $2500, including round trip airfare, passport fees, and food for all lunches and for five dinners weekly. The Studies Abroad application to UP PURE includes more detailed projections of expenses.
In the past, UP student participants have helped to cover out-of-pocket expenses with funding from the College of Arts and Sciences SURE grants, Shiley School of Engineering faculty-student research grants, CISGO seed grants, the Provost’s Undergraduate Initiative, and, via the UP Christian Antiquities Research fund, significant gifts from generous benefactors. Two students have received Gilman Foundation Scholarships, and another received a Dundon-Berchtold grant to support ethics research. For 2018, the Pamplin School of Business Administration is funding two internships in Heritage Marketing. Please contact Fr. Rutherford, Dr. Bard, or Dr. Walters to discuss resources and strategies for covering expenses of UP PURE 2018; watch for updated lists of possible external sources of funding posted to the Studies Abroad application site for UP PURE.

Contact Information:

For further details, please contact:
  • Pollentia Coordinator Fr. Richard Rutherford at or 503-780-1619
  • UP Field Director Dr. Ronda Bard at or 503-943-8823

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.