Dr Marit Van Cant is a bioarchaeologist with a research focus on the prevalence of (infectious) disease, trauma, demographic data and the musculoskeletal system in late medieval to early modern human remains from archaeological sites in Flanders, Belgium.
She holds a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Archaeology from the VUB (2008-2012) and was an Erasmus student at the University of Sheffield (2011-2012) where she specialized in human osteology. She completed her PhD research on the impact of the environment and occupational activities assessed in six churchyard populations covering various regions and contexts (coastal, inland, rural, small urban, low- and high- status), which was a joint PhD between the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the University of Sheffield, and funded by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO).
In 2019, she was granted a Belgian American Educational Foundation (B.A.E.F) Postdoctoral fellowship to work as a visiting research scholar at the Seetah Lab at Stanford University (US) to study the interplay between diet and disease of late medieval to early modern populations by using biomolecular methods such as ancient DNA and stable isotopes. She also received a grant (2020-2021) from the Center for Bioarchaeological Research at Arizona State University (US) to investigate the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and treponemal disease at the Stone Lab. By studying ancient diseases in historical communities, she seeks to address how these groups adapted to their environment and responded to epidemics by integrating historical and medical sources to understand the prevalence, frequency and evolution of diseases in the past.
During her PhD research in Belgium, she collaborated several times with the federal police in forensic crime scene investigations, and was invited to disseminate her bioarchaeological research through various media projects (radio, TV, newspapers) and scientific outreach activities to the general public. She was awarded the annual science communication prize by the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB) in 2015 for public outreach during the osteological analysis of the Deinze skeletal population. In 2016, she was the physical anthropologist in Arnout Hauben’s acclaimed documentary series Ten Oorlog: Onder Vlaamse Velden on World War I casualties in Ypres.
Over the past ten years, she participated in archaeological fieldwork in Belgium, Italy, UK and as a PADI-certified diver, she completed the maritime archaeology field school in Pensacola, Florida (University of West Florida).
Dr Van Cant currently resides in the US and Mexico with her Native American Apache husband.