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July 12, 2018

Working with plants in the present and the past, Ph.D. candidate Gabby Purcell has split her summer between dissertation research in the lab, and an internship with the UNC Edible Campus program. Her dissertation research involves looking at charred plant remains from Cherokee sites in the Appalachian Mountains to determine how Cherokees adopted European-introduced foods during colonization. To accomplish this, she is analyzing flotation samples collected from several sites in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Her interests in using modern plants to understand those in the archaeological record is also complementary with her Edible Campus internship. Edible Campus ( is a program of the North Carolina Botanical Garden that creates edible gardens across the UNC Chapel Hill campus to facilitate student engagement in topics of food and agricultural sustainability. As manager of the main garden behind Davis Library, Gabby is in charge of planning which crops are grown, harvesting vegetables, and maintaining the garden. You can come by the garden to see what’s growing, and Gabby will tell you which plants in the garden are also showing up in her archaeological samples!

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