"Make connections with your cohort and professors. There will inevitably come a time when you will need either their guidance or support. It makes it so much easier to come to them with your questions when you have already built a relationship."

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Student Profile: Deanna Smith

Archaeology master's student in the Faculty of Environment

March 02, 2021
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WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I always had an intense interest in forensic science, from an early age I began learning the many facets of the field and landed on archaeology a couple years later. From that time on I inherently knew I wanted to be an archaeologists working in the forensic or humanitarian sector. When the time came that I had to choose which university to attend, I began researching the different archaeology/anthropology departments across Canada and the US. I was really drawn to the Archaeology department here at SFU as it is pretty unique in its educational structure. Additionally I had been living on the west coast for most of my life and wanted to choose a university that is close to my family and friends.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

I am broadly interested in age estimation methods, particularly those pertaining to juvenile human remains. I also have an interest in human rights violations and how archaeology plays a role in these kinds of investigations. Juvenile human remains are common in mass graves investigation involving human rights violations in developing nations, my research explores how often, in what circumstances, and what ages estimation methods are used and the limitations in their application when investigating child deaths in human rights abuse situations.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

The archaeology department is full with so many great people! I have made some amazing connections with students that I am sure will be lifelong friendships. Everyone in the department is extremely welcoming and supportive. Evidence to the above statement: I was lucky to be part of an international field school during the summer of 2018. At this time I was 7 months pregnant, and let me tell you, if you think it is easy excavating in 30 degree weather with a big old belly, let me tell you it is not! Nevertheless, everyone else participating was so helpful and encouraging, that I came out with an even deeper appreciation for the collectiveness of the Archaeology student body, and department as a whole. Fast forward two months, and I had given birth to my son and was taking him to class with me. He was not even a week old and already attending classes and labs with me. I feel that shows something spectacular about the program, we are like a big family, always there for one another,, supporting each person in the way they need it most.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

I was the recipient of an award from Indspire in 2018 as well as a VPR Undergraduate Student Research Award in the fall of 2019.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM/POSTDOC POSITION TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM OR POSTDOC POSITION?

Make connections with your cohort and professors. There will inevitably come a time when you will need either their guidance or support. It makes it so much easier to come to them with your questions when you have already built a relationship. I cannot count the number of times I have received help from both, and am exceedingly grateful to all the people who have offered me their advice or lent an ear to the many hours I spent practicing speeches and what not during my undergraduate honours degree.

Contact Deanna: deanna_smith_2@sfu.ca