Lab Liaisons: Anthropology

Professor Esteban Parra
Friday, August 1, 2014 - 9:05am
Carla DeMarco
Unearthing and Uncovering

From ancient civilizations to Vitamin-D studies and excavating human remains, the latest Lab Liaisons, highlighting the Department of Anthropology at U of T Mississauga, covered a lot of ground.

On Wednesday, July 30, staff and faculty were treated to a special showcase of work being done by three Anthropology faculty members, Professors Parra, Smith and Rogers, in the Research Office’s annual Lab Liaisons.

After a brief introduction by Vice-Principal, Research Bryan Stewart, the researchers were welcomed to the lectern to enlighten the audience about their work and respective laboratories.

Once again this event demonstrated the diversity and breadth of the research conducted within a single department. Molecular anthropologist Esteban Parra, archaeologist David Smith and forensic anthropologist Tracy Rogers provided members of the audience with an overview of the kinds of projects they are working on and the lab spaces that house their unique research needs and activity.

While Professor Parra is looking at genetic markers and risk factors associated with various diseases, Professor Smith is studying the cultural and environmental implications related to ceramics from southern Ontario and southeast China, and Professor Rogers is immersed in the details of analyzing human remains and investigating crime-scene sites using various technologies.

All three researchers presented slides and graphics to show what their labs look like and to emphasize the importance of their respective work spaces being well maintained to preserve the integrity of their research experiments, specimens and artifacts.

The presentations also helped to give a fascinating overview of their work and also, in the case of Rogers, to dispel some myths that get fuelled by Crime-Scene-Investigation-type television, which glamorizes her field of study. Rogers also emphasized the importance of the education and outreach activities undertaken by the Forensic Science Program.

“We do a lot of training and workshops for middle-school kids, Forensics Science camp for high school and all kinds of students,” said Rogers. “It’s really important to us that that space is usable and safe, and so I just wanted to thank all of you for your help to keep us safe during these activities and throughout the whole year.”