Principal Investigator

Ph.D. Western University, 2013

B.A. (Honours) McMaster University, 2007

Paul Szpak has worked at Trent University as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Environmental Archaeology since 2016. 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's current research focuses on applying chemical analyses, especially stable isotope analysis, to archaeological and historic materials to better understand how humans interacted with and may have impacted their environment. 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).


SSHRC Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-)

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. 

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.


Postdoctoral Fellow (2019-)

Ph.D. Western University, 2017

M.A. Western University, 2010

B.Sc. (Honours) Laurentian University, 2005

Project: Exploring ancient human diet using isotopic analysis and novel biomarkers. 

Matt began his post-secondary studies at Laurentian University, completing a B.Sc. (Honours) in Biology and specializing in Forensic Science, a field that has been a life-long interest to him. Matt completed a Master's Thesis at Western University, titled: Testing the Efficacy of Aspartic Acid Racemization for Aging Adult Human Skeletal Remains. He continued his graduate studies at Western, completing a dissertation focused on identifying the prevalence of osteoporosis in a past population using micro-CT (µCT) analysis of the first metatarsal. His current post-doctoral research is aimed at applying fatty acid analysis to the same population, as well as humans from the Cape Region of Baja California Sur, in order to compare the two desert populations and their vastly different subsistence strategies. In the future, Matt is looking to continue applying both the previous methods he has learned, and his newfound skills to develop a long-term research project concerning the health and life histories of the ancient peoples of the Baja Peninsula, who represent some of the earliest ancestors of humans in the Americas. When not in the lab, Matt enjoys reading fiction, cooking, movies, and playing and watching sports. His knowledge of hockey has allowed him to assemble a compelling list of reasons why the Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup this year. He posits that only a catastrophic meteor strike is likely to stand in their way.


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

M.A. Western University, 2003

B.Sc. (Honours) Trent University, 2000

Kate Dougherty is a PhD candidate in the Environment and Life Sciences program at Trent University. Kate’s research focuses on diet shifts between the Middle to Early-Late Woodland period around the Kawartha Lakes. To conduct this research Kate analyzing organic residues obtained from pottery samples using gas chromatography/mass-spectrometry. Kate completed her Bachelor of Science degree in anthropology and computer science at Trent in 2000. She went on to the University of Western Ontario where she completed a Master of Arts degree in anthropology, focusing on biological archaeology. Her Master’s thesis project involved reanalysis of a burial mound at Cameron’s Point, a Middle Woodland site on Rice Lake. Leading up to her current research, her experience has mainly been in historical archaeology and skeletal biology. Professionally, Kate works as the full-time Curator and Demonstrator/Technician for the Department of Anthropology at Trent University. She is an essential resource to everyone in the department.


Anthropology M.A. Student (2019-)

B.A. (Honours) The University of British Columbia, 2019

Project: Exploring camelid wool trade networks through carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis of archaeological textiles from the Atacama Desert, northern Chile

Tessa's interest in archaeological science began when she took a class in nutritional archaeology at the University of British Columbia. Thus inspired, she went on to take both an ethnographic and archaeological field school during the summer of 2018. Tessa's field school experience working alongside Sts'ailes First Nations excavating house pits in a terraced village site fostered her desire to use analytical techniques to answer community-posed research questions. Her undergraduate thesis put these analytical techniques to practice when she used X-Ray Fluorescence on Coast Salish weavings to identify mordants (metallic compounds that bind dyes to fibers) which impact the blankets' preservation and optimal curation environments. Tessa is excited to be learning the intricacies of light stable isotope analysis through her M.A. research as well as having the chance to explore Ontario's assortment of carnivorous plants in her spare time.


Anthropology M.A. Student (2018-)

B.Sc. (Honours) Trent University, 2018

Project: Exploring the life histories of sacrificial victims in the Virú Valley (northern Perú) through isotopic analyses of multiple tissues.

Corrie Hyland graduated from Trent University in 2018 with an Honours B.Sc in Archaeology. In her final year of undergraduate study, she worked in the TEAL lab as an undergraduate research assistant. At the same time, 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 continues to work at TEAL as a research assistant while she completes her MA in anthropology. Her research is focused on the use of scientific and quantitative methods to understand past human cultures. Her thesis project will use stable isotope analysis to understand the diet and migration of humans that were sacrificed during the Late Intermediate Period (A.D. 1100-1476) at the site of Huaca Santa Clara in northern Peru. 

While not analyzing stable isotopes, Corrie enjoys hiking in both the Peterborough and Oshawa Region and discovering new local festivals. If you ask Corrie what a good treat after a long lab day would be, she will probably answer you with her contagious smile, "A good muffin that has chocolate chips!"


Anthropology M.A. Student (2018-)

B.Sc. (Honours) Trent University, 2018

Project: Palaeoenvironmental study focused on the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in Mongolia.

Jen is currently in the second year of her graduate studies, having previously completed a B.Sc. (Honours) in Anthropology at Trent University. Jen's main research interests involve the use of stable isotope analysis for paleoclimate reconstruction. During her undergraduate degree, Jen was involved in research that utilized stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis to examine the impacts of changing sea ice conditions on polar bear ecology in Lancaster Sound (Canadian High Arctic). For her MA thesis project, Jen has performed stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope analyses on ostrich eggshells from the Gobi Desert to determine the importance of climatic shifts in the local extinction of this species from this region.


Anthropology M.A. Student (2018-)

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

Project: Exploring the potential of lipid biomarkers in skeletal tissues as palaeoecological indicators.

Michael Scott completed his Honours BA in Archaeology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. His honours research focused on the analysis of weaning practices in the Central Zagros Mountains of Iran interpreted on the basis of stable isotope measurements of juvenile human remains from a Chalcolithic site. Michael is currently in the second year of the MA program in Anthropology at Trent University, having chosen the program because of the department's strong reputation for biomolecular research. His current research focuses on investigating the nature of bone lipids in relation to other organic tissues and assessing their suitability for palaeoecological studies. Following the completion of his MA, Michael hopes to continue his research and learn new techniques and expand upon approaches in archaeological science in novel ways. When not doing research, Michael can be found making creative "labels" in the lab or buying new pants.


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. 

© 2020 by Paul Szpak. 

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