Devon Howell ’17 is passionate about anthropology. So much so that after obtaining his B.A. in Anthropology (Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area), Devon enrolled in the University’s Master of Science in Anthropology program. Discovering the roots of ancient Maya civilization
For his master’s thesis, Devon focused on dental anthropology, an area of study within biological anthropology. Specifically, Devon completed pathology profiles of dental remains excavated from Ka’Kabish, an ancient Maya city in Belize. The dental specimens were exported to Canada where, at a lab located at Trent University Durham GTA, Devon conducted tooth identification research on several hundred loose teeth.
Making an impact in the field
Based on the data he collected, Devon was able to assess how dental remains can be utilized to reconstruct ancient human populations. The biological anthropologist says his research findings also have a wider scope for anthropological literature. “Ultimately, I was able to demonstrate how to work with precarious types of excavated assemblages,” says Devon. “My thesis acts as a guideline for researchers in this area of study to determine the methods that are best used to achieve overall research project goals.”
Gaining expertise through mentorship
Devon attributes much of his academic success at Trent to his mentors, Dr. Helen Haines, associate professor of Anthropology and Dr. Jennifer Newton, assistant professor of Anthropology. From the moment he arrived at Trent as an undergraduate student, Devon recalls Professor Haines and Professor Newton as being incredibly giving of their time and knowledge. "I would not have had the same opportunity for an abundance of one-on-one time with professors at a larger university," he says. Prof. Haines was Devon’s thesis supervisor, thus playing a critical role in his journey towards earning his M.Sc. in Anthropology.
Keeping ties with Trent
Devon is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Promotion at Western University, however, he hasn’t forgotten his academic origins.
"Trent is where I developed my research skills,” says Devon. “I apply the frameworks and theories I used while studying for my master’s to inform my postdoctoral research.” Acquiring transferable skills is not the only way that Devon is maintaining close ties to Trent and the Department of Anthropology. He continues to conduct research for Prof. Haines out of the Trent Durham lab facilities and he has been invited to be a guest lecturer in the department. “For as long as I am in academia, Trent will be a part of my academic life.”