Paul Szpak

Canada Research Chair in Environmental Archaeology
Assistant Professor

Office: DNA C227

Phone: (705) 748-1011 x6373Photo of Paul Szpak

Fax: (705) 748-1613

E-Mail: paulszpak@trentu.ca


BA (McMaster)
PhD (Western)

Current Research

Environmental archaeology; historical ecology; stable isotope analysis; palaeoecology; applied zooarchaeology; human-environment interactions; bone chemistry; palaeodiet; animal management; human impacts on the environment; Peru; Arctic; British Columbia; Channel Islands (California)


Paul Szpak joined the department in 2016. His degrees were earned at McMaster University (BA, 2007) and Western University (PhD, 2013) and he subsequently completed SSHRC (2013-15), Killam (2013-15), and NSERC Banting (2015-16) postdoctoral fellowships at the University of British Columbia. He is an environmental archaeologist specializing in stable isotope analysis that studies the long-term interactions between humans and their environment – how the environment influenced human behaviour and how humans may have impacted their environment. This research helps to provide long-term ‘baselines’ for assessing how humans are impacting the environment today. He has conducted research all over the world but his primary areas of interest are the North American Arctic (Canada, Alaska, western Greenland), coastal British Columbia, Peru, and the Channel Islands (California).

Recent Publications

SZPAK, P., Millaire, J.-F., White, C.D., Bourget, S., Longstaffe, F.J., 2016. Life Histories of Sacrificed Camelids from Huancaco (Virú Valley). In: Klaus, H.D., Toyne, J.M. (Eds.), Reconstructing Sacrifice on the North Coast of Peru: Archaeological Studies of Ritual Violence in the Ancient Andes, University of Texas Press, Austin, pp. 319-341.

Guiry, E.J., SZPAK, P., Richards, M.P., 2016. Effects of lipid extraction and ultrafiltration on stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic compositions of fish bone collagen. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 30, 1591-1600.

Jaouen, K., SZPAK, P., Richards, M.P., 2016. Zinc Isotope Ratios as Indicators of Diet and Trophic Level in Arctic Marine Mammals. PLOS One 11, e0152299.

Enk, J., Devault, A., Widga, C., Saunders, J., SZPAK, P., Southon, J., Rouillard, J.-M., Shapiro, B., Golding, B., Zazula, G., Froese, D., Fisher, D., MacPhee, R., Poinar, H., 2016. Mammuthus Population Dynamics in Late Pleistocene North America: Divergence, Phylogeography and Introgression. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 4, 42.

SZPAK, P., Millaire, J.-F., White, C.D., Lau, G.F., Surette, F., Longstaffe, F.J., 2015. Origins of Prehispanic Camelid Wool Textiles from the North and Central Coasts of Peru traced by Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopic Analyses. Current Anthropology 56, 449-459.

SZPAK, P., Chicoine, D., Millaire, J.-F., White, C.D., Parry, R.,

Longstaffe, F.J., 2015. Early Horizon camelid management practices in the Nepeña Valley, north-central coast of Peru. Environmental Archaeology.

Orchard, T.J., SZPAK, P., 2015. Zooarchaeological and Isotopic Insights into Locally Variable Economic Patterns: A Case Study from Late Holocene Southern Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. BC Studies 187, 107-147.

SZPAK, P., 2014. Complexities of Nitrogen Isotope Biogeochemistry in Plant-Soil Systems: Implications for the Study of Ancient Agricultural and Animal Management Practices. Frontiers in Plant Science 5, 288.

SZPAK, P., Longstaffe, F.J., Millaire, J.-F., White, C.D., 2014. Large variation in nitrogen isotopic composition of a fertilized legume. Journal of Archaeological Science 45, 72-79.

SZPAK, P., Millaire, J.-F., White, C.D., Longstaffe, F.J., 2014. Small scale camelid husbandry on the north coast of Peru (Virú Valley): Insight from stable isotope analysis. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 36, 110-129.