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Emily Vella

Balancing nature and culture in southeast European landscape evolution and integrated legacies


MSc Digital Archaeology and World Heritage Cum Laude (Leiden University, Netherlands), 2018.

Honours BA Archaeology and Heritage Studies (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada), 2017.

Host University: Uppsala University, Sweden

Primary Supervisor: Karl-Johan Lindholm

Country of Origin: Canada


Languages: English, French

About Me

I’m a Canadian currently living in Sweden and working on my PhD with Uppsala and TerraNova. Like many Canadian families, my family comes from numerous other countries but my cultural identity is uniquely Canadian.

I completed my Honours BA back home in Canada over the course of 4 years where I got to work with some amazing people and completed a field school in Greece. During my MSc at Leiden (link to thesis below), I focused on the digital aspect of archaeology, gaining experience using programmes like Agisoft Photoscan, QGIS, ArcGIS, and Blender. I hope to continue to improve these skills and expand on this list over my 4 year PhD.

My research will be focusing on land-use, human-environment interactions, and the human impact on fluvial systems in Romania, specifically looking at the Danube Delta. I will be drawing from an extensive list of digital tools and methodologies. My research is rooted in my values. The most important aspect of my research is to do ‘good science’. I define this as using the best tools for the job and the best tools available, allowing my research to be replicated, being transparent and accessible, and publishing my results. Secondarily, I aim to be sustainable. My research interests include landscape archaeology, digital archaeology, FOSS, and data management.

Over the years I have often received the title of “resident techie” which is both a term of endearment and a great honour.  A resident techie is someone who is always willing to help out in technical matters. I have set up speakers, microphones, music, and lighting for events, ran projectors to and from classrooms around campus, rebooted computers, installed software, helped set up and edit websites (such as this one), and done an endless amount of troubleshooting and problem-solving.

When I’m not happily sitting at my desk sifting through data or writing, I can probably be found at home with good food and a good book. I like to think that my cooking skills come from the Italian side of my family. My favourite genres include fantasy, science fiction, or anything weird and I’m always accepting new book recommendations. I will also accept music recommendations; my go-to is mid-2000s pop-punk (ie. Blink 182, Green Day, My Chemical Romance, etc.). I also consider myself an amateur artist and enjoy painting (acrylic or watercolour) when I can find the time and inspiration.

Back home I have an adorable senior dog who still loves long walks and an amazing support system of friends and family.


Emily Vella, 2018. Foss Forward: Using Open Data and Free and Open Source Software to Document the Terraces in the Lower Engadine, Switzerland. Master Thesis, Leiden University

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