Catarina Coelho’s statement
My name is Catarina Coelho, I am an Anthropologist with a Master’s Degree in Human Evolution and Biology and a post-graduation in Forensic Anthropology, all at the University of Coimbra. From 2015 to 2018 I worked as a manager of the Forensic Anthropology Laboratory at the University of Coimbra and in 2018 I started my PhD at the University of Coimbra with a research grant funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia entitled “A new look for Ancestry” with the reference (SFRH / BD / 129826/2017). My work aims to evaluate metric and morphological methods applied to estimate ancestry through the skull. Most of the samples selected for my investigation are stored in Portugal. Although extremely valuable, I found that some of these selected samples lacked ante-mortem information, only with references about their context of origin, but not ancestry. Thus, as it was essential for the development of this project to analyze identified samples with African origin, in order to validate the data collected in the samples that only present historical information. It was then planned that in September 2020 I would finish my data collection with a trip to South Africa, and analyze the skulls that are part of the Pretoria Bone Collection (University of Pretoria) and the skulls deposited at Sefako Makgatho University. However, in March 2020 Portugal, and the rest of the world, stoped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, I was also forced to interrupt my data collection, delaying my research plan and the possibility of traveling to South Africa became very distant.
In November 2020, the Bakeng Se Africa project organized the virtual intermediate meeting. At this meeting, I had the opportunity to participate as a collaborating student of the project and show my research in a 10-minute presentation. It was a very fruitful meeting, where I learned about the project progress and the various investigations under development simultaneously in the partner institutions of Bakeng se Afrika. It was a very inspiring and educational experience.
And although the impossibility of traveling to South Africa will have a huge impact on my research, as well as on my personal and young researcher experience, since I was looking forward to visiting the African continent once again, I must identify the positive points that this project brought me. Through the Internet it was possible to attend a meeting where people from different continents were present, where valuable information was provided and relevant topics discussed, all in the comfort and security of my home.