Michael Scott, a graduate of Trent’s Master of Arts in Anthropology program, is leading novel archaeological research investigating the presence of different biomolecules present in bones.
His research, according to Michael, “has the potential to highlight the consumption of foods that we can’t always detect using other methods.”
“I analyzed bones at Trent, both modern and archaeological, to look at what kind of fat was present,” said Michael. “That there’s actually fat in our bones isn’t something that’s well understood.”
Now, Michael is building on his research at Trent investigating the lipids, or fat, in bones, working towards his PhD in Archaeological Science at Oxford University. Here, he is compiling dietary information based on the chemical composition of bones retrieved from archaeological sites.
“Oxford was very interested in my Trent research and suggested I could expand on it to cover different aspects of bone biochemistry,” said Michael. “As a result, I’ve been working on research that looks for micronutrients from plants that we consume and actually end up being routed into our bones.”
His lab work at Oxford involves extracting bone collagen and subjecting it to stable isotope analysis in a bid to better understand what people ate in the past.
He credits his graduate experience at Trent as being the launching pad for his research success. Michael said the reputation of Trent’s highly regarded Archaeology program was a major factor in his being drawn to pursue his master’s degree here. A particular draw, he adds, was the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Paul Szpak, a Canada research chair in Environmental Archaeology at Trent.
“At Trent, it never felt like there was a limit to how much I could try to do,” says Michael.
“The opportunities to do research in the Trent Environmental Archaeology Lab, and the mentorship I experienced, have had a very positive impact in terms of what I’m doing now at Oxford.