Jess Munkittrick

Previous Education

M.A. (Archaeology), Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2016
B.A. (Archaeology & History), University of New Brunswick, 2013


Dr. Vaughan Grimes


Bioarchaeology, stable and radiogenic isotope analyses, childhood, North Eastern North America, Caribbean, health, historical archaeology, medical history.

Research Statement

My doctoral research is a regional analysis of childhood lead exposure in Northeastern North America and the Caribbean from the 17th to 19th centuries and how this relates to health, cultural affiliation, and migration. Lead is a toxic metal that was present in many cultural materials such as lead glazed ceramics, and people were also exposed through atmospheric contamination from smelting or the combustion of coal. The mixing of sources resulted in relatively homogenous or ‘culturally focused’ isotopic ratios within a population. This has been examined in the European, particularly British context, but not in North America.

For my research, I will analyze lead concentration and lead isotope ratios of tooth enamel of human remains from migrant, settled, and military populations in North Eastern North America and the Caribbean. I will also examine stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotopes in human remains to determine their geographic origins during childhood exposure. My Ph.D. research will employ a multi-isotopic and multi-tissue approach to understand changes to lead exposure and their sources in a region with minimal anthropogenic lead contamination. By sampling teeth that form at different periods during childhood, we can examine how the exposure changed over the period of a child’s life and the impacts that this might have had on their development and social integration.