SSHRC Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-20)

Ph.D. The University of British Columbia, 2016

M.A. Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2012

B.Sc. (Honours) Lakehead University, 2009

Project: Historical ecology of the Lake Ontario Watershed.

Select Publications

  • Guiry EJ, Buckley M, Orchard TJ, Hawkins AL, Needs-Howarth S, Holm E, Szpak P, 2020. Deforestation caused abrupt shift in Great Lakes nitrogen cycle. Limnology and Oceanography. doi:10.1002/lno.11428. [DOWNLOAD .pdf]

  • Guiry E, Royle TCA, Matson RG, Ward H, Weir T, Waber N, Brown TJ, Hunt BPV, Price MHH, Finney BP, Kaeriyama M, Qin Y, Yang DY, Szpak P. 2020 Differentiating salmonid migratory ecotypes through stable isotope analysis of collagen: Archaeological and ecological applications. PLOS One 15:e0232180. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0232180. [DOWNLOAD .pdf]

  • Guiry EJ, Royle TCA, Orchard TJ, Needs-Howarth S, Yang DY, Szpak P, 2020. Evidence for freshwater residency among Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) spawning in New York. Journal of Great Lakes Research. doi:10.1016/j.jglr.2020.05.009. [DOWNLOAD .pdf]

  • Guiry EJ, Szpak P, 2020. Quality Control for Modern Bone Collagen Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Measurements. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 11, 1049-1060. doi:10.1111/2041-210X.13433. [DOWNLOAD .pdf]

  • Guiry EJ, Szpak P, 2020. Seaweed-eating sheep show that δ34S evidence for marine diets can be fully masked by sea spray effects. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 34, e8868. doi:10.1002/rcm.8868. [DOWNLOAD .pdf]

Eric Guiry came to Trent as a SSHRC Banting postdoctoral fellow in 2018. He previously completed a SSHRC posdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia where he also earned his PhD in 2016. He has a diverse range of research interests, but primarily focuses on applying stable isotope analyses to animal remains from archaeological sites. His previous research has emphasized dogs, rats, and pigs, and how isotopic data can be used to better understand human behaviour in the past. More recently, his research has focused on the historical ecology of the Great Lakes watershed and the application of isotopic techniques to modern, historic, and ancient fish remains. Eric is an impressively prolific writer and he has published extensively on a diverse range of subjects where stable isotopes, archaeology, and animals intersect. Eric was first runner up in the 2019 end of the year axe throwing party and is the current champ for number of samples analyzed in the lab. He made a strong showing at the 2019 lab awards with the highest and lowest δ13C values recorded in the calendar year: a sheepshead at −5.67 ‰ (TEAL-7334) and a yellow perch at −29.45 ‰ (TEAL-5420). Eric remains a close friend and collaborator of the lab group.

Eric is currently a Lecturer in Biomolecular Archaeology at the University of Leicester


Anthropology M.A. Student (2018-20)

M.A. Trent University, 2020

B.Sc. (Honours) Trent University, 2018

Thesis Title: Why fish when you could farm? A stable isotope analysis of changing diet and ritual killing in the Viru Valley, Peru.

Corrie began working in the TEAL lab as an undergraduate research assistant in her final year of undergraduate study, making her the first student of the TEAL lab. While an undergraduate, she completed an honours thesis analyzing the diet of arctic foxes through stable isotope analysis to assess the impacts of human culture on fox ecology.
Corrie’s M.A. thesis utilized stable carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotope analysis, as well as strontium isotope analysis to understand the diet and mobility of ritually killed humans in the Viru Valley of northern Peru during the Late Intermediate Period (A.D. 1100-1476). During her M.A. research, Corrie had many exciting experiences, including a chance to work on the tissues of mummified human remains and visit her study sites of Huaca Santa Clara and Huaca Gallinazo in Peru. She was able to present her research in a wide variety of ways, including at the 2019 Northeast Conference on Andean and Amazonian Archaeology and Ethnohistory at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and even on television. Corrie’s work has also been featured in the Canadian Association of Physical Anthropology's newsletter. Corrie holds the all-time record for highest δ15N value measured in the lab, +25.25 ‰ for a ~650 year old polar bear from Somerset Island that was analyzed in July 2017 (TEAL-46). She also prepared SRM-14, one of our most unique internal reference materials derived from a polar bear rib bone.
Following her M.A., Corrie is pursuing her DPhil at the University of Oxford, continuing her passion for archaeological science. Her work will be testing the capabilities of compound specific stable isotope analysis for quantifying the consumption of freshwater resources by hunter-gatherers in the Lake Baikal region. She is also excited about the potential of this research to address the effects of freshwater reservoir effects on radiocarbon dating.
Now that Corrie has moved on to Oxford, she is going to have to revise her list of top 10 restaurants in Peterborough, Ontario to match her new setting. Corrie has said that what she will miss most about her time at Trent, is the copious amounts of cheese wontons during lab outings to sushi restaurants and Kawartha Dairy ice cream (particularly the Banana Boat flavour), but is optimistic she will have a chance to try lots of new cuisine - if there is one thing the British are known for, it is their cuisine.


Anthropology M.A. Student (2018-20)

B.A. (Honours) Simon Fraser University, 2018

Thesis Title: Chew the fat: An examination of the preservation of fatty acids in archaeological bone.

Michael joined the TEAL lab to pursue a master’s degree after completing his BA Honours in Archaeology at Simon Fraser University. During his undergraduate degree at SFU, Michel first began working with stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis to analyse ancient weaning practices in the Central Zagros Mountains of Iran.

These skills would become invaluable as he worked as a TEAL research assistant during his master’s degree. In addition to cataloguing, preparing, and analysing countless samples in his research assistant role, Michael was an inaugural member of the master’s research project: “Variations in Isotopes Project” or VIP for short. For this project, over 400 bone collagen samples were prepared and analysed to examine intra-individual and inter-individual isotopic variation across a wide variety of animals.

Michael’s master’s research investigated the nature of bone lipids in relation to other organic tissues and assessing their suitability for palaeoecological studies. Using the Trent Water Quality Center GC-MS, he examined the intricacies of how fatty acids preserve in archaeological bones.

During his time in TEAL Michael became well known for his creative “labels” in the lab which he hopes will inspire and entertain future lab members in the years to come. Other notable achievements included swimming across the Otonabee River and winning the coveted “2019 People's Choice Award”, given to the coolest sample analyzed in a calendar year as voted on by lab members. This sample was a double tusked narwhal that he prepared. Upon receiving this award Michael was quoted to have said, “I haven’t even begun to peak yet!”. Michael also holds the records for most pairs of pants damaged by concentrated sulfuric acid and most polypropylene pour rings obliterated in a muffle furnace.

Michael's future does indeed look bright as he begins his studies as a DPhil Archaeological Science graduate student at the University of Oxford. His new research project will use compound-specific stable isotope analysis and new metabolic techniques to explore novel dietary biomarkers (particularly polyphenols) for paleodietary reconstruction.


Archaeology B.Sc. Student (2018-19)

B.A. (Honours) Trent University, 2019

Thesis title: Assessing Camelid Management Practices in Northern Chile: Evidence from Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Analyses.

Melissa Mertsis completed her undergraduate Honours thesis as part of her BSc degree in Archaeology in 2019. Her thesis research utilized stable isotope analysis to examine camelid (llama and alpaca) husbandry practices in the far north of Chile.

Melissa is pursuing a Masters Degree in Museum Studies at the University of Toronto.

© 2020 by Paul Szpak. 

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