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Tanzania Summer Research: Revelations in Olduvai Gorge

Earlhamites in Geology get first-hand research experience in Tanzania

Since 2014, teams of students from Earlham have traveled to one of the richest archeological locations in the world, Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, to work side by side with scientists excavating the site.

Capturing roughly two million years of history in its layers of strata, Olduvai Gorge continues to reveal clues about how some of the earliest human ancestors lived. Earlham students collect and analyze data there under the auspices of an international group of researchers, The Olduvai Paleoanthropology and Paleoecology Project (TOPPP).

“I gained experience actually working in the field with professional researchers. That’s something I never expected to experience during college. Flying overseas to work with people who have large grants to work on this kind of thing was an eye-opening experience.”

— Gavin Curry ' 17

About Cynthia Fadem


Associate Professor of Geology Cynthia Fadem teaches a wide variety of courses and has participated in research projects in places as far flung as Armenia, Croatia, Tanzania and the western United States. She routinely includes students in her research.

Cynthia says, “I'm from St Louis via Philadelphia and New York City. I love museums and music. I enjoy video games, soccer, and playing violin. I see the Earth as a book waiting to be read and humanity's imprint on its surface as a puzzle waiting to be solved.”

Fadem was featured recently on NerdScholar’s “40 under 40: Professors Who Inspire” list.

“The best professors do more than teach. They leave impressions on our lives that change the way we think, work and view the world around us,” says NerdScholar, an educational resource website based in San Francisco. “These 40 professors are doing just that, demonstrating the difference between good and great.”

EPIC Advantage

The Tanzania experience is just one of the experiences students will have as part of the EPIC Advantage.

Earlham is one of only a handful of colleges and universities in the United States to offer funded internships and research experiences to all students. These opportunities take place during the summer, prior to a student's junior or senior year, and funding may include travel expenses.

This opportunity is a key component of EPIC (Earlham Program for an Integrated Curriculum) and is a permanent feature of the Earlham Experience.

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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.