Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research
Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences,
The University of British Columbia

PCIGR student Rhy McMillan successfully defends PhD

On Feb 27, 2020, Rhy successfully defended his dissertation, entitled “Micro-Analytical Geochemical and Spectroscopic Investigations of the Original Context and Condition of Archaeological Biominerals and Mineraloids,” supervised by Dominique Weis. Congratulations on an excellent defence, Dr. McMillan!

Rhy with Marg (left) and Dominique (right) after the defence.
Rhy receives congrats (and beer) at the post-defence after party.

PhD candidate Evelyn Freres’ research profile featured in Geochemical Society news

PCIGR student Evelyn Freres, a PhD candidate with Dominique Weis, is featured in this week’s Meet The Scientist segment of the Geochemical Society’s news page (February 24, 2020). In this Q & A session, Evelyn provides insight into her work on the multi-collector ICP-MS and why she finds her research so fascinating.

Evelyn working meticulously in the lab.

Access the article here:

View Evelyn’s profile here:

Dominique Weis awarded the CFES Mentorship Medal

Dominique has received the 2020 Mentorship Medal from the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences. The award is made in recognition of her passion for helping students to achieve their potential and her transformative vision for enriching student training. Throughout her career, she has kept an exceptional track record of mentoring over 60 students and many more early career researchers. The award was created by the CFES in 2008 to recognize the sustained and inspirational mentorship of colleagues and employees including peers, graduate students, undergraduate students and technicians.

Details here:

Rhy McMillan Receives AGU Outstanding Student Presentation Award

PhD Candidate Rhy McMillan received the AGU Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA) for his poster, “Identifying long-distance transport of obsidian across the North American landscape in antiquity based on Indigenous-led research initiatives,” presented at AGU’s Fall meeting in December 2019.

Rhy worked in partnership with xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), an Indigenous community in modern-day Vancouver, BC, to investigate the geographic origins of small (<1 cm) fragments of obsidian excavated from c̓əsnaʔəm (Marpole), a key xʷməθkʷəy̓əm village site. Using a unique combination of non-destructive and minimally invasive analytical techniques, the obsidian was shown to likely originate from at least two volcanic sources as far as 1,000 km away. This evidence for long-distance trade and exchange supports the oral history and continuity of complex xʷməθkʷəy̓əm social and material networks, which still exist today.

The prestigious OSPA promotes and recognizes students for high-quality research in the Earth and space sciences, and is only granted to the top 5% of student participants. Rhy’s abstract is available at

Rhy showing xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) community members Larry Grant and Victor Guerin a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer at Musqueam101 (
Rhy and his winning poster at the AGU Fall Meeting, December 2019.