Roanoke College

RC students’ spring break dig gets national attention

  • RC students’ spring break dig gets national attention

  • 03/15/11
  • Probably safe to assume that the spring break activities of most college students don't find their way into the pages of one of the nation's largest daily newspapers.

    But Roanoke College sophomore Jordan Hutton and senior Laura Kellam are featured in a March 15 Washington Post story about a paleontological dig near an old rock quarry south of Fredericksburg, Va. The dig, which took place during spring break week, was led by Dr. Alton Dooley, a paleontologist at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. With Dooley were four college students, including Hutton and Kellam.

    Hutton and Kellam learned about the dig from Dr. Dorothybelle Poli, assistant professor of biology at the College. Poli also is a research curator for the Virginia Museum of Natural History and collaborates with Dooley on paleobotanical work.

    So while some of their classmates were vacationing in tropical places or joining Mardi Gras revelers in New Orleans, Hutton and Kellam were elbow-deep in dirt and mud, plucking whalebones, dolphin vertebrae and carbonized wood from the soil at what is known as the Carmel Church quarry site.

    And that was completely "cool" with them.

    "The first thing I found was a shark's tooth," Hutton said in a video interview on "Even though it was common to the site, it's still new to me. You're digging up 14-million-year-old material, and you're the first person to ever touch it."

    Said Kellam, "Doing work in the field instead of listening to it in class makes a big difference."

    To read more about Laura Kellam and Jordan Hutton's spring break dig, and view a video link, visit


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