Spotlight on Students
Nathan Rokke, a UND history graduate with a passion for digging up the past, recently got the chance of a lifetime on a project in Iceland.
Already well versed in the subject of history, Rokke still wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do until he connected with Dennis Toom, a UND research archaeologist. In 2010, Rokke worked for Toom as a paid professional on a large-scale excavation project in Montana.
“It really got my interest going in archaeology,” said Rokke, a native of Newfolden, Minn. “After that, I took as many archaeology-related classes that were available to me while pursuing my history degree.”
Then he got the Nordic bug in his last year at UND.
Rokke decided to combine his two interests: archaeology and Nordic culture. He applied for and was accepted into an exclusive international field school for archaeologists in Iceland. The school was sponsored by the University of Aberdeen (Scotland). During his field experience, Rokke unearthed a Norse game piece, garnering a lot of attention in the process. The find, resembling a large checkers game piece, is from the 12th century and made out of whalebone with a ring-and-dot pattern — very distinctly Scandinavian.
“It was probably from a medieval game called Hnefetafl, which was a precursor to modern chess and checkers,” he said.
As a result of that find, Rokke realized he really enjoyed being part of an archaeological dig. He now works for Toom as an archaeological assistant in anthropology, doing archaeological surveys in North Dakota.
Rokke plans to return soon to Iceland for more archaeological fieldwork.
Matthew Dinger, a Wisconsin native and a Master of Science degree candidate, won first place in the student research poster competition of the North Dakota Geographic Information Systems Users Conference, held in Grand Forks in October. The award was for his poster titled “Identifying Locations of Highly Eroded Areas using GIS Terrain Analysis, Devils Lake, N.D.” For that same research, Dinger also won second place in the student oral presentation competition at the 2011 meeting of the West Lakes Division of the Association of American Geographers, held earlier this month at
DePaul University in Chicago. His advisor is Gregory Vandeberg, associate professor.
Rhonda Fietzek-DeVries, a Jamestown, N.D., native, won second place in the student research poster competition at the Great Plains/Rocky Mountains Division of the Association of American Geographers, at the University of Colorado-Denver. The same poster also won second place at South Dakota State University’s 43rd Geography Convention in Brookings, and third place in the Geography Awareness Week professional poster competition sponsored by the St. Louis Region of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing and Northwest Missouri State University. Her poster was titled “Is Theodore Roosevelt National Park at Risk? Analyzing Historical Climate Data, 1895-2010.” Her advisor is Paul Todhunter, professor.