"His thesis-directed research has profound implications in conservation biology and resource management practices of fisheries today."

Dongya Yang

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Dr. Thomas Royle receives Dean’s Convocation Medal

As one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Department of Archaeology in the Faculty of Environment, Dr. Thomas Royle is recognized with the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal. On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. Royle on his outstanding achievements.

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By Sarah Close-Humayun
June 01, 2022

Dr. Royle’s thesis, “Ancient DNA analysis of archaeological fish remains: Methods and applications” examines the relationships between Indigenous peoples and fish in the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes through the DNA analysis of ancient fish bones to.

Dr. Royle’s research required the development of new genetic methods that improve researchers’ ability to determine ancient fish bones’ species and sex.  In a recent application of these methods, Dr. Royle was able to show ancestral Tsleil-Waututh fishers sustainably harvested chum salmon for centuries prior to colonization by preferentially harvesting males.

Dr. Royle’s contribution extends well beyond his written thesis. Along with many academic achievements and publications, Dr. Royle is the recipient of a a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, Roy L. Carlson Graduate Scholarship in Prehistoric British Columbia Archaeology and most recently a Save Our Seas Foundation Small Grant and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant.

Dr. Dongya Yang of SFU’s Faculty of Environment explains that Dr. Royle “has not only applied DNA-based species and population identification to archaeological fish remains in his research projects, he has also developed new and cutting-edge DNA-based sex identification methods for salmon species (Royle et al., 2018).”  

“To our knowledge, this is the first time that sex of archaeological fish remains were accurately identified. His thesis-directed research has profound implications in conservation biology and resource management practices of fisheries today,” says Yang.

Of his time at SFU, Dr. Royle says, “Being the only Canadian archaeology department situated in an interdisciplinary Faculty of Environment, the SFU Department of Archaeology provided me with a unique opportunity to explore past human-environment relationship using perspectives and techniques drawn from a variety of disciplines. The world-class labs in the Department provided the space and equipment needed to conduct cutting-edge research, while faculty and department events, such as the weekly department seminar, provided the opportunity to network and develop projects with other researchers”  

Dr. Royle is a Postdoctoral Fellow at SFU where he is studying human-animal relationships in northeastern British Columbia.