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Temples at Bagan, Myanmar


New Canada Research Chair in Environmental Archaeology Builds Outstanding Environmental Leadership at Trent University

Anthropology professor Dr. Paul Szpak becomes eighth CRC at Trent; Dr. Aaron Slepkov renewed as CRC in Physics of Biomaterials for second term

Ever wondered how humans interacted with the environment over 5,000 years ago? Or what makes up the composition and functionality of materials such as starch, cellulose, bone, and dyes? Thanks to a combined $1 million in federal funding, two of Trent University’s leading faculty members will work to answer these questions as Canada research chairs (CRC).

Dr. Paul Szpak, a new anthropology professor at Trent, was named a tier 2 Canada research chair (CRC) in Environmental Archaeology at the University, in an official announcement made today by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, minister of science, which also included the renewal of Dr. Aaron Slepkov as a tier 2 Canada research chair in the Physics of Biomaterials for a five-year term.

“Today marks an important day for Trent University’s future success in the field of archaeological isotope studies with the appointment of Dr. Paul Szpak as CRC. Highly productive in his field of study and regarded as a leader in environmental archaeology academia, Dr. Szpak will contribute significantly to Trent’s graduate programming with his specialized human-environment interactions research,” said Dr. Neil Emery, vice-president, Research and Innovation at Trent. “Additionally, and on behalf of research colleagues at Trent University, I would like to acknowledge the privilege of continued scholarly collaborations with Dr. Aaron Slepkov as his CRC term in the Physics of Biomaterials is renewed.  With our position in university research standings now clearly established amongst the top, Trent is home base for eight remarkable CRCs.”

As the new CRC in Environmental Archaeology, Professor Szpak will receive $500,000 over five years to create a record of how humans have impacted the environment and, how humans have been influenced by the environment throughout time. The unique long-term perspective method that Prof. Szpak will use, will allow a better assessment of the many changes seen today such as those caused by climate change or human impact on marine ecosystems and fisheries.

“I am thrilled to hold a CRC at Trent in the department of Anthropology, which already has a stellar reputation for conducting archaeological research,” says Prof. Szpak. “I am looking forward to continuing my research, which uses chemical analyses of bones from archaeological sites to help us learn about how the environment has changed over thousands of years.”

As the renewed CRC in Physics of Biomaterials, Professor Slepkov will receive $500,000 over five years to continue his research using of state-of-the-art microscopy techniques that will allow for rapid three-dimensional imaging of the structure and dynamics of biomaterials, vital for biomedicine and advanced materials science.

Trent University’s number of CRCs is exceptionally large for a University of its size. Trent’s eight chair holders advance teaching and learning through their leading edge explorations in diverse disciplines, and include the following:

  • Dr. Julian Aherne, Canada research chair, Environmental Modelling
  • Dr. Céline Guéguen, Canada research chair, Aquatic Science and Biogeochemistry
  • Dr. Dennis Murray, Canada research chair, Integrative Wildlife Conservation
  • Dr. May Chazan, Canada research chair, Feminist and Gender Studies
  • Dr. Mark Skinner, Canada research chair, Rural Aging, Health and Social Care
  • Dr. Paul Wilson, Canada research chair, DNA Profiling, Forensics and Functional Genomics  
  • Dr. Aaron Slepkov, Canada research chair, Physics of Biomaterials
  • Dr. Paul Szpak, Canada research chair, Environmental Archaeology

The Canada Research Chairs Program invests approximately $265 million per year toward research across science and the humanities to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. The CRC program has positioned Canada as an international leader and destination of choice in research and development.

Posted on December 2, 2016