Laure Spake receives Dean's Convocation Medal

June 25, 2021

Dr. Laure Spake receives Dean’s Convocation Medal

As one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Faculty of Environment, Dr. Laure Spake is recognized with the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal. On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. Spake on her outstanding achievements.

June 22, 2021

Dr. Laure Spake’s doctoral thesis, Using anthropometrics and dental formation stages of contemporary children to investigate the impact of biological mortality bias on interpretations of past population health focused on developing new techniques to enhance the study of growth and health in the archaeological populations.

Using medical images from children in Australia and the US, Spake studied growth differences between groups of children. Her research has implications for how archaeologists study children and their health in past populations.

“This is a very important piece of research and has the potential to add greatly to the discipline and feed into the debate on hidden heterogeneity and frailty in the past, with a particular emphasis on child growth profiles. Laure is to be commended on an excellent body of research,” says external examiner, Mary Lewis, University of Reading.

Spake completed her MA and her PhD theses one term ahead of the expected time for completion while also teaching a number of lab and lecture courses as a Teaching Assistant and Laboratory Instructor. She also participated in a number of other SFU projects in her supervisor’s lab, including supervision of undergraduate and graduate students, managed her supervisor’s forensic osteology laboratory in the Centre for Forensic Research, and contributed to forensic case-work analysis. She received over $135,000 in funding from SFU and Mitacs Canada to support her PhD research During her time at SFU, she also co-edited a volume on collaboration and repatriation with two SFU PhD candidates, Chelsea Meloche and Katherine Nichols, published this year by Routledge.

Her supervisor, Hugo Cardoso says, “Given all of the commitments and achievements described above, which also include teaching, one wonders how it was possible for her to complete both of her degrees, not in the expected time, but ahead in record time! In my experience, this track record of publications and scholarly work at the time of graduating exceeds that of many early-career Assistant Professors in the field.”

“The level of inter and intra-department collegiality at SFU allowed me to explore a range of interests during my graduate studies. I am grateful for the kindness and support of my supervisor, my committee members, and several other faculty and staff members during my graduate studies,” says Spake.

She is a trained forensic anthropologist, and has worked with the BC Coroner's Service and the RCMP to help recover and identify human remains found in British Columbia. Dr. Spake is now a Research Fellow at the University of Otago, where she is investigating how religion impacts family dynamics and child outcomes.