Matthew Go participated in an archaeological field school in Peru, where he helped unearth a Moche priestess’ chamber tomb.

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Voracious undergrad researcher starts doctoral studies next

June 08, 2015
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By Carol Thorbes

There appears to be no limit to Matthew Go’s dedication to research, even though he has curtailed his interests to three disciplines.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Go, 22, leaves SFU this spring with a bachelor of arts (honours) in archaeology, a minor in biology and a Certificate in Forensic Studies

You’d think that before heading to the University of Illinois to pursue doctoral studies in biological anthropology next fall he’d want to enjoy some rest and recreation.

Instead, Go has already contacted his doctoral supervisor to discuss possible research papers and projects that could be accomplished this summer.

Two summers ago, Go attracted international media attention. He was the only Canadian among a group of nine archaeologists who unearthed an ancient Moche priestess’ chamber tomb in northwest Peru.

At the time, he was teaching and digging in a field school program to collect data for his honours thesis, under SFU archaeologist Deborah Merrett’s supervision, on spinal degenerative joint disease in Late Moche (400-850 AD) skeletons.

He later presented his finished thesis and findings at two national academic meetings.

“Peru was my first real introduction into archaeological fieldwork and research,” says Go, who dreams of becoming a forensic anthropologist.

Like a hound dog after its prey, Go has a nose for any research that will advance his critical thinking in experimental design and execution.

“I would seize any opportunity that directly contributes to my learning of the scientific process, which I want to apply to the betterment of people’s lives and the restitution of the dead or forgotten.”

That’s why he has worked in entomologist Gerhard Gries’ biology lab, co-authored a paper on the evolution of human diseases with evolutionary biologist Bernard Crespi, and helped forensic entomologist Gail Anderson maintain her lab. And under archaeologist Dongya Yang’s guidance, he has helped further research interests at the SFU-Jilin University (SFU-JLU) Joint Centre for Bioarchaeological Research.

Ultimately, says Go, “I hope to launch a forensic investigative organization in the Philippines and Southeast Asia to help recover the remains of the victims of the many natural disasters that plague the region.”