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

Current News

Rhy McMillan Receives AGU Outstanding Student Presentation Award

January 2020

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 and his winning poster at the AGU Fall Meeting, 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.

Rhy showing xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) community members Larry Grant and Victor Guerin a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer at Musqueam101.

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 here.