Left Image: Me at ~14 years old with the family horse, Elmes Diamonte (Monty, for short)
Center images: Right talus, fractured in 2017 (equestrian accident); Left midshaft tibia and fibula, fractured at 15 years old (equestrian accident), and medial and lateral malleoli fractured at 16 years old (car accident).
Right Image: Me with Monty in 2016.
I am a biological archaeologist, someone who studies human skeletal material from archaeological sites. I grew up in Penticton, British Columbia, and I wanted to do this job for as long as I can remember; when I was 13 years old, I delivered a presentation for my 'Career and Personal Planning' class on 'how to be an archaeologist', with illustrated trowels and everything! Little did 13 year old me know that I would eventually go on to work as a bioarchaeologist and archaeologist, and excavate sites in Oman, Fiji, Italy, Austria, and the UK.
Prior to my academic studies I was a Rotary Youth Exchange student to Vienna, Austria. During my exchange, I learned to speak German and was further inspired by history and archaeology - especially Carnuntum, a Roman settlement outside Vienna. I returned home where I completed my first year of university at Okanagan University College; while here I had the amazing and valuable opportunity participate in my first fieldwork (albeit geological). I then transferred to Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada and pursued my Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Archaeology degree (2008). Once at SFU, I completed an original research project on forensic scatology by preparing canid and felid carnivore scat from the Vancouver Zoo to quantify the bone fragmentation and content.
After my undergraduate degree, I obtained an Austrian work permit and a job with Archaeologie Service, Wien - I finally had the chance to excavate at Carnuntum! I moved from Austria to the UK, where I completed my Master of Science with distinction at Durham University, UK (2010). Through my Austrian employment opportunity, I had the chance to build a fantastic (lifelong) network of Austrian archaeological colleagues - with my Master's degree, they helped me expand this to include Roman archaeologists and anthropologists in the neighbouring Budapest, Hungary. My interest in the Roman frontier provinces was growing. During my Master’s I went to Budapest, Hungary to complete a study of Roman fractures in Pannonia, a peripheral province of the Roman Empire.
My own life experiences have greatly informed my research trajectories. I myself have broken quite a few long bones (rollerblading, horseback riding, snowboarding….). So I was very curious as to how fractures might impact a person throughout their life, not just at the moment of injury, but in the years afterward. In my Master’s degree, I began to explore the possibility of looking for disuse bone loss related to injuries. I carried this idea forward to my PhD at McMaster University (2017), where I employed biomechanical techniques to quantify long bone changes associated with fractures and long-standing impairments. In most cases, I found that these Roman people generally managed to resume activity even after fairly serious-looking injuries. This is quite a positive outcome for many of us looking to recover from our own fractured bones!
I am currently an Assistant Professor at Mount Royal University. It is exciting to be able to work with students to help them pursue their own bioarchaeological questions and research, as many of my own professors encouraged me. My own work is developing to include 3D data, as well as new projects from other time periods and even living humans - I believe that the work I do on impairment associated with fractures (and other pathological conditions) has the potential to help us recover today! Also, despite all the broken bones, I am still happily an equestrian.