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Principal Investigator

Ph.D. Western University, 2013

B.A. (Honours) McMaster University, 2007

Paul Szpak is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Canada Research Chair in Archaeological Science at Trent University. As an undergraduate Paul worked at the Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Laboratory at McMaster University and performed isotopic research on Pleistocene mammoths and marine fauna from British Columbia. Paul completed his doctoral studies in the Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science at Western University in 2013. His dissertation involved isotopic applications in the Andean region, specifically related to plant ecology, controlled studies examining fertilizers, and animal management practices. Paul held SSHRC, Killam and NSERC Banting postdoctoral fellowships in the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia from 2013-2016 using isotopic analysis to investigate the palaeoecology of Arctic marine ecosystems. Paul has worked at Trent University since 2016 and became Director of the Trent Water Quality Centre in 2021.

Paul directs a diverse research program centered on stable isotope analysis, supported by several major grants from the Tri-Council, which includes a SSHRC Insight Grant to investigate agricultural intensification and animal management practices in the Andes (2019-2024), an NSERC Discovery Grant supporting research into long term variation in Arctic marine ecosystems (2020-2025), and a SSHRC Insight Development Grant to advance our understanding of the diet and mobility of the ancestors of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes in the American Plains (2020-2022). These projects correspond to Paul’s broader research focus on applying chemical analyses to archaeological materials to better understand the interactions between humans, animals, plants, and their environments. He is involved in isotopic research all over the world, but presently focuses on two geographical areas: the Andean regions of northern Peru and Chile and the North American Arctic (Canada, Alaska, Greenland).

TEAL Awards and Honours

2018 Lowest δ15N Value

2018 Highest δ15N Value

2017, 2018 Lowest δ13C Value

2017, 2018 Highest δ13C Value

2017, 2018 People's Choice Award (Sample of the Year)

2021 Lab Olympics Silver Medal: Parafilm Shot Put

2021 Lab Olympics Silver Medal: Microbalance Speed

2021, 2022 Lab Olympics Gold Medal: Pipette transfer

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Postdoctoral Fellow (2019-)

Ph.D. Western University, 2017

M.A. Western University, 2010

B.Sc. (Honours) Laurentian University, 2005


TEAL Publications

Dolphin AE, Teeter MA, Szpak P, 2023. The role of status, diets, and mobility in understanding the impacts of urbanization in early medieval Bergen, Norway (St. Mary's Church): Insights from stable isotope analyses. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. doi: 10.1002/oa.3216. [DOWNLOAD .pdf]

Matt’s academic journey began at Laurentian University, where he completed a B.Sc. (Honours) in Biology, specializing in Forensic Science. For his M.A at Western University, Matt performed uHPLC analysis of Adult Human teeth evaluating aspartic acid racemization as a means for determining age-at-death of an Individual. He also completed his doctoral studies at Western, carrying out for his dissertation on micro-CT (µCT) analysis and metric measurements of the first metatarsal to evaluate changes in bone density with increasing age of an ancient skeletal population from the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt; this research aimed to be a straightforward method for diagnosing osteoporosis prevalence in ancient skeletal populations. Presently, Matt is starting his fourth year as a postdoctoral fellow at TEAL and his third year as a course instructor in forensics and anthropology at Trent. His current projects involve stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses on bone collagen, tooth dentine, and hair of human remains from Baja, Mexico; Fortress of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia; and a monastery in Gurat, France. He is also investigating the diet and mobility of modern sheep from Mongolia, using carbon, nitrogen, and strontium isotopes. Recently, Matt started a new role as the Business Manager of the Water Quality Center. As a senior member of the TEAL team, Matt has begun the task of bringing the younger generation up-to-speed on essential pop culture references: All 40 seasons of The Simpsons, the Dumb and Dumber movies, pre-2000s action movies, and Ghostbusters. At the 2021 lab awards, Matt won Sample of the Year for analyzing a 42,000 year-old blue wildebeest - proving that he does in fact have the tools and talent. Matt despises cats and for that reason, he adopted his basset hound/beagle mix Winston. Winston has aspirations of joining the team as a junior lab mascot and helping Matt get over his aversion to cats. Bio by Nicole Hultquist.

TEAL Awards and Honours

2020 Lowest δ15N Value

2021 Lab Olympics Gold Medal: Parafilm Shot Put

2021 Lab Olympics Gold Medal: Microbalance Accuracy

2021 Sample of the Year

2022 Lab Olympics Bronze Medal: Reagent Weighing

2022 Lab Olympics Silver Medal: Parafilm Shot Put

2022 Corrie Hyland Award for Productivity

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Environmental & Life Sciences Ph.D. Candidate (2016-)

M.A. Western University, 2003

B.Sc. (Honours) Trent University, 2000

Project: Organic Residues in Middle to Early-Late Woodland Ceramics in the Kawartha Lakes Region.

Kate is a founding member of the TEAL Lab and a PhD candidate in the Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program. Her doctoral research involves the analysis of organic residues in ceramics, to explore if they correspond with the food history of a vessel, and ultimately to analyse the diet and food practices in the Great Lakes region in the Middle Woodland to Early Late Woodland transition. Kate completed her M.A. at Western University, with a project that re-analysed the demographics and mortuary patterning of a Middle Woodland burial mound located on Rice Lake. She has a long time relationship with the Anthropology Department at Trent and holds the position of Curator and Demonstrator/Technician. In her free time, Kate is a keen crafter and a dabbler at heart. Some of her hobbies include sewing, knitting, gardening, and playing D&D, although she is constantly on the search for new pastimes. She is also a very talented baker, indulging all the TEAL members with delicious cakes and good tasting vegan treats (that takes A LOT of skill!). Her love for cats lead her to create an exclusive side-group within the lab called "TEAL Cat Chat", making the dog people clench their teeth in jealousy. Bio by Anahi Maturana. 

TEAL Awards and Honours

2021 Best Analytical Session (Shared with Jen Routledge)

2021 Special Recognition for Achievement in Social Media (Lab Coat of Arms)

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Environmental & Life Sciences Ph.D. Student (2020-)

M.A. Student (2018-20)

M.A. Trent University, 2020

B.Sc. (Honours) Trent University, 2018

TEAL Publications

  • Hyland C, Scott MB, Routledge J, Szpak P, 2021. Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Variability of Bone Collagen to Determine the Number of Isotopically Distinct Specimens. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. doi:10.1007/s10816-021-09533-7. [DOWNLOAD .pdf]

  • Louis M, Routledge J, Heide-Jørgensen MP, Szpak P, Lorenzen ED, 2022. Sex and size matter: foraging ecology of offshore harbour porpoises in waters around Greenland. Marine Biology 169, 140. doi:10.1007/s00227-022-04123-x. [DOWNLOAD .pdf

  • Rey-Iglesia A, Wilson T, Routledge J, Skovrind M, Garde E, Heide-Jørgensen MP, Szpak P, Lorenzen ED, 2022. Combining δ13C and δ15N from bone and dentine in marine mammal palaeoecological research: insights from toothed whales. Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies, 1-12. doi:10.1080/10256016.2022.2145285.

Project: Sulfur isotopes in Arctic marine ecosystems.

Jen is a third year PhD candidate in the Environmental and Life Sciences program. She has a B.Sc. (Honours) and M.A. in Anthropology from Trent University. As an undergraduate student, Jen was involved in research using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis to examine the effects of changing sea ice conditions on polar bear ecology in Lancaster Sound (Canadian High Arctic). Her MA thesis used stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope analysis of ostrich eggshells to research the range, commodification, and local extinction of Asian ostriches from the Far Eastern Steppe. Presently, Jen studies spatial, temporal, and inter-species variation in sulfur isotopes in Arctic marine environments. Her research also seeks to refine the quality control criteria for stable sulfur isotope measurements of ancient bone collagen. In her free time, Jen enjoys glamping (not camping), travelling, and watching comedy. Jen is the reigning axe throwing champion, having defeated Eric Guiry in the finals of the 2019 competition. Fun fact: Jen has never been convicted of a criminal offence for which a pardon has not been granted. Bio by Alex Derian. 

TEAL Awards and Honours

2019 Lowest δ15N Value

2021 Lab Olympics Gold Medal: Bone Cutting

2021 Matt Teeter Award for Most Glassware Broken

2021 Best Analytical Session (Shared with Kate Dougherty)

2022 Best Sample Replicate

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Environmental & Life Sciences Ph.D. Student (2022-)

B.A. Simon Fraser University, 2020; M.A. Simon Fraser University, 2022

Project: Historical and Palaeoecology of Arctic Fox

Alex is currently in her first year of the Environmental and Life Sciences Ph.D. program. She completed her B.A. and M.A. in Archaeology at Simon Fraser University. For her Master's research, Alex conducted zooarchaeological analyses of faunal assemblages from archaeological sites in the Interior Plateau of British Columbia, exploring land use and subsistence practices through the Holocene. Alex's Ph.D. project will use stable isotope analysis to examine the diets and life histories of Arctic foxes in the Inuit Nunangat (Inuit Traditional Territory). The goal of this project is to gain a better understanding of the relationship between Arctic foxes and humans in the region over the last 2,000 years. Alex studied acting before becoming an archaeologist, and has been case in a number of plays and independent films - she even has an IMDB page! Outside of the lab, Alex enjoys physical activities like rock climbing and hiking, and also loves to cook and read. Bio by Brooke Driscoll. 

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Anthropology M.A. Student (2021-)

B.Sc., Trent University, 2021

Project: Palaeodiet of Arctic Canids

Brooke is entering their second year of their M.A. in Anthropology at Trent. As an undergraduate student at Trent, they completed a BSc in Archaeology with a minor in Biology. Their current research is investigating the diet and life histories of canids from a number of sites in the North American Arctic to better understand human-animal-environment interactions over time. When not analyzing arctic dogs and wolves, they play on the varsity women’s volleyball team and are starting their 6th year on the team as an assistant coach. Less athletic endeavors include embroidering, listening to true crime podcasts, and reveling in the fact that both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette wish they could have them. Bio by Alexis Rausch. 

Listen to Brooke talk about their thesis research here on the Trent Radio/DISSertation Track podcast hosted by Egan Henderson.

TEAL Awards and Honours

2021 Special Recognition for Social Media (Lab TikTok, Shared with 2021-22 MA Students)

2022 Lab Olympics Silver Medal: Bone Cutting

2022 Eric Guiry Award (1,530 samples analyzed for δ13C and δ15N)

2022 Sample of the Year Award

2022 Best Analytical Session (September 23, 2022)

2022 Lowest δ15N Value (Shared with 2021-22 Graduate Class)

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Anthropology M.Sc. Student (2021-)

B.Sc., University of Maryland, 2021

Project: Strontium Isotopes and the Geographic Origins of Ritually Sacrificed Llamas from northern Peru

TEAL's early bird (hello 4am EA-IRMS starts!) Nicole got her wish of experiencing a true Canadian winter and is now in the second year of her MSc. Her anthropology and chemistry undergraduate degrees at the University of Maryland combined with her love of learning new things has led her to become the TEAL team lead on strontium isotope analysis using the MC-ICP-MS. Her strontium isotope data will be used to explore the geographic origins of llamas sacrificed at three sites on the north coast of Peru (Huaca Santa Clara, Huaca Gallinazo, and Huancaco), and by extension allow her to address questions about the economic foundations of early states especially in the Early Intermediate Period through the Late Middle Horizon. In her spare time, she is a devoted servant to her cats Decaf and (London) Fog. Past hobbies she has enjoyed include pottery, furniture upcycling, piano, and quilting, but she is currently learning how to crochet. One of the greatest triumphs of her time in TEAL to date is getting Paul and Matt to not only watch Twilight, but to intently and vehemently discuss it for almost sixty minutes during lab meeting. Bio by Kate Dougherty. 

TEAL Awards and Honours

2021 Special Recognition for Social Media (Lab TikTok, Shared with 2021-22 MA Students)

2022 Lowest δ15N Value (Shared with 2021-22 Graduate Class)

2022 Eric Guiry Award (576 δ13C and δ15N analyses, 607 Sr isotope analyses)

2022 Special Recognition for Social Media (Shared with Julia McCuaig)

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Anthropology M.Sc. Student (2021-)

B.A., Universidad de Chile, 2012

Project: Isotopic Perspectives on Agricultural Practices at San Pedro de Atacama

Originally from Chile, Anahi is now in the second year of her master’s degree here in Canada, and has been working on her thesis involving stable isotope analysis of plant remains from the Middle Period and Late Intermediate Period from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Prior to undertaking her master’s, Anahi received her B.A. in Physical Anthropology from the University of Chile. She has also worked in various archaeology-related fields, including museum work, cultural resource management, and bioarchaeological research in the Atacama Desert. Outside of research, Anahi spends a lot of time knitting (like, a lot of time), as well as learning new languages. Currently she speaks English, Spanish, and German fluently, and is working towards learning Italian. With an impressive streak of over 600 days on the language learning app Duolingo, it would be no surprise for her to be fluent in Italian before her degree is done! Bio by Olivia Hall. 

TEAL Awards and Honours

2021 Special Recognition for Social Media (Lab TikTok, Shared with 2021-22 MA Students)

2022 Lab Olympics Bronze Medal: Microbalance Accuracy

2022 Lowest δ15N Value (Shared with 2021-22 Graduate Class)

2022 Highest δ13C Value

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Anthropology M.A. Student (2021-)

B.A., University of Lethbridge, 2019

Project: Palaeoecology of Pinnipeds from Northern Labrador

Mariah grew up in Lethbridge, Alberta. While attending the University of Lethbridge, Mariah majored in Archaeology and Geography –  all while captaining the Women’s basketball team. It was during this time that she developed an interest in faunal analyses and the Canadian arctic and sub-arctic cultures. In pursuing these interests further, Mariah joined TEAL for her master’s degree for which Mariah has conducted isotopic analyses of seal remains from archaeological sites in northern Labrador. When Mariah isn't running the EA-IRMS, she is usually at home watching nerdy movies like Star Wars (or Star Trek, is there any difference?) and Lord of the Rings, with her two cats: Dain and Thorin (can you guess who she named them after?). If you ever need a new show or movie recommendation, Mariah is the right person to ask. She competed in the 2022 summer lab Olympics, taking home 2 medals in microbalance speed and accuracy. Hopefully next summer she will take home the gold! Bio by Julia McCuaig.

TEAL Awards and Honours

2021 Special Recognition for Social Media (Lab TikTok, Shared with 2021-22 MA Students)

2022 Lab Olympics Silver Medal: Microbalance Accuracy

2022 Lab Olympics Bronze Medal: Microbalance Speed

2022 Lowest δ15N Value (Shared with 2021-22 Graduate Class)

2022 Early Worm Award

2022 Tess Wilson Award for Perserverance in the Face of Instrumental Adversity

2022 Matt Teeter Award

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Anthropology M.Sc. Student (2022-)

B.Sc. Thesis Student (2021-22)

B.Sc. Trent University, 2022

Project: Agricultural Intensification at Galindo, Moche Valley

Julia is working on her MSc in Anthropology and is excited to return to the lab. She holds an Honours BSc in Anthropology with a minor in Biology. Julia previously worked with Dr. Szpak and the TEAL crew when completing her undergraduate thesis on reconstructing camelid management practices at the archaeological site of Cerro de Oro in the Cañete Valley, Peru. She hopes to make connections in the lab to collaborate on more projects and is aiming to complete a PhD. In her free time, Julia loves to crochet and she recently adopted an adorable cat named Gimli. Bio by Jenna Milner.

TEAL Awards and Honours

2021 Corrie Hyland Award for Positivity

2021, 2022 Lab Olympics Gold Medal: Microbalance Speed

2022 Lab Olympics Silver Medal: Pipette Transfer

2022 Lowest δ13C Value

2022 Special Recognition in Social Media Award (Shared with Nicole Hulquist)

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Anthropology M.Sc. Student (2022-)

B.Sc. Thesis Student (2021-22)

B.Sc. Trent University, 2022 

Project: Quantifying variation in bone collagen turnover rates among species and skeletal elements using bomb curve dating

Originally from King City, Ontario, Olivia completed her honours degree in Anthropology in 2022. Olivia’s capstone research project involved the dietary reconstruction, through stable isotope analysis, of archaeological dog remains from Cerro de Oro, Peru – some of which were ritually sacrificed! Olivia really enjoys listening to music and attending concerts, but there is one rule… ABC (Anything But Country). As far as movies are concerned, Olivia has recently been loving the horror genre, specifically movies and shorts by Ari Aster. Not one to let their mind idle, Olivia spends unsettling amounts of time learning fun facts about serial killers, monster lore, and ghost stories. Olivia started her Master’s degree with TEAL in the Fall of 2022, and will be looking to solve a long-standing archaeological problem… What is the turnover rate of bone within, and among different, skeletal elements? Olivia will be using a novel approach involving radiocarbon dating and atomic bomb-pulse data to answer this very important question. When not in the lab this year, Olivia will be playing squash, painting, gardening, and baking, and of course, picking up fun tidbits about everyone’s favourite mass murderers. Bio by Matt Teeter.

TEAL Awards and Honours

2022 Best New Taxon

2022 Lab Olympics Bronze Medal: Bone Cutting

2022 Highest δ15N Value

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Anthropology M.Sc. Student (2022-)

B.A. Grand Valley State University, 2020 

Project: Isotopic Perspectives on the Life Histories of Victims of the 1847 Typhus Epidemic in Kingston, Ontario

Alexis joined TEAL in 2022 to start her MSc. She is from Ohio, which makes her the second American who is currently working in the lab. She received her bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University in Michigan where she majored in Anthropology and minored in Archaeology. If that wasn’t impressive enough, she also minored in French during her undergraduate degree, which has prepared her to easily read both sides of product labels in Canada. For her master’s project, Alexis will be conducting a stable isotope study of teeth from Irish emigrants excavated from a 19th century archaeological site in Ontario. Although Alexis loves lab work, she has very cool hobbies that include Dungeons and Dragons, video games, and crafting. She also enjoys martial arts and petting all the cute animals she can find! Bio by Mariah Miller.

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Jenna Milner

BSc Student (2022-)

B.Sc. Archaeology, Trent University, 2022 (Expected)

Project: Optimizing the length of time in the refluxing step in bone collagen extraction.

Jenna joins the lab this year as an honour’s thesis student. She is in the fourth year of her BSc, majoring in archaeology. Jenna enjoys the research process and is looking forward to working in the lab and conducting a study of her own. Looking ahead, she would like to carry on in academia, to a master’s degree and eventually a PhD. Outside the lab and classroom, Jenna is a violinist with 13 years experience. She is suspicious of birds but not all birds. Some birds are fine, others are sketchy. Bio by Jen Routledge.

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Lab Mascot (2017-)

No known degrees

Project: Diet-tissue discrimination factors for canids provisioned with a wide range of meats and cheeses.

Joy's past is shrouded in mystery but she joined the group from Istanbul, Turkey in 2017. She has a cauliflower ear and a friendly disposition. Her favourite piece of anthropological literature is "How Dogs Dream" by Eduardo Kohn, although she admits that she doesn't really understand it. Her primary research interests include the anthropology of sleeping and laziness, experimental archaeology focusing on the taphonomy of large mammal bones exposed to carnivore gnawing, and the behavioural ecology of squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits. Her main contribution to the lab is the initial processing of animals bones that are used in methodological studies such as the VIP and DATA graduate class projects.

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