Skip to main content

Steph Halmhofer

In Situ Anthropological Consulting
Steph Halmhofer | Bioarchéologue
Steph Halmhofer | Bioarchéologue
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

Steph Halmhofer is a Bioarchaeologist for In Situ Anthropological Consulting.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Steveston, British Columbia, Canada

I now live in: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I completed my training/education at:I first earned a degree in Criminology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I then split a degree in Physical Anthropology and First Nations Studies between the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta.

I study human skeletal remains from archaeological sites (also known as osteoarchaeology). I look for evidence of age, sex, height, disease, trauma, modifications/variations, nutritional defects, and work/stress-related abnormalities to develop a profile of what peoples lives were like in the past.

What I do at work

The great thing about my work is that every day is different. Sometimes I'm working in the lab. I'll be photographing and cataloging artefacts from a variety of different sites, or I'll be working with skeletons building their profiles. Through my knowledge of the human skeletal system and basic medical sciences I can put together a profile that will include age, sex, height, and any medical conditions that person may have suffered from, sometimes through DNA studies but mostly through visually looking at the skeletons. I can also get a good idea of what kind of job they had, what kind of food they ate, and what kind of status they held in their community. When I’m not in the lab I'll be out in the field with my trusty trowel, screen, and shovel. Sometimes I’m out surveying the forests and beaches for archaeological materials.

Other days I’m on a construction site, monitoring the construction activities. If there is a known archaeological site on that property I need to be able to communicate with the construction workers to make sure that site does not get destroyed. I also need to be able to identify archaeological materials where there is no known site and communicate with the construction workers if they need to stop their work or if they are allowed to continue. And finally, sometimes I get to excavate an archaeological site. I have to be able to not only decide where my team and I are going to dig our units and how deep they will be, but also be able to identify the artifacts and features we uncover. By the end of the excavation and study of the artifacts we uncover we have a great understanding of what that site was used for and what it meant for the people who lived there in the past.

My career path is

When I began my post-secondary education I had absolutely no idea what bioarchaeology was. I had every intention of becoming a police officer. Part way through my Criminology degree I had the opportunity to take classes in forensic anthropology and archaeology and I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to be doing with my life. Bioarchaeology (or physical anthropology at most universities) is a tough educational route to follow. Not many post-secondary institutions offer enough courses in physical anthropology to specialize in it. Beyond that, hands-on experience is incredibly important and extremely difficult to find!

I had some great professors who offered me a lot of advice along the way and through that I was able to find the education I wanted. I was also given many opportunities for hands-on training through field schools and jobs, both paid and voluntary, in archaeology laboratories. It was a long, sometimes frustrating road, but in the end I managed to get into the career I loved.

I am motivated by

Being a bioarchaeologist allows me to learn about people’s lives in the past from the very people who lived them! Your skeleton records your entire life story and it’s always very exciting to learn. I get to meet so many different people and learn about so many different lives just through their skeletons. I also get to see the products of their lives through the many different artifacts they leave behind.

Imagine being the first person to see an arrowhead or a basket or a carving in 5000 years. Or meeting people who lived 3000 years ago. How cool is that?! Being an archaeologist is a physically challenging career, but there is nothing I would change about it. If you’re like me and enjoy being outside, travelling to amazing locations, don’t mind getting dirty, and you like working in a team, than archaeology might be the job for you!

How I affect people’s lives

My career can have great impacts on other people’s lives. Sometimes a First Nations community wants to better understand where and how their ancestors lived, sometimes for legal purposes. Other times my work can greatly affect a construction project, whether it is a house or a massive building. I need to be able to make my decisions confidently and knowledgeably to ensure that if my work does impact someone else it’s for the right reasons.

Outside of work I

Outside of work I enjoy reading and watching movies while I recover from some physically tough days in the field. I also really enjoy horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, gardening, and hanging out with family and friends.

My advice to others

Don't give up! Challenges arise for all of us. Archaeology is a field where practical hands-on experience counts for a lot. Volunteering your time is a fantastic way to get your foot in the door and learn about the challenges you'll face in the field and how to overcome them.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Computer Science
  • History
  • Native Studies/Languages
  • Science
  • Other: Criminology
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Liked reading
  • Played video games
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Didn't really care about grades
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
  • Learned best by doing

Explore Career Profiles

  • Allison Guitor in her lab at McMaster University.

    Allison Guitor

    PhD student (antibiotic resistance)

    I study antibiotic resistance, which is what makes bacteria able to live in the presence of antibiotics.
  • Dr. Harpreet Kochhar at standup computer station in his office.

    Dr. Harpreet Kochhar


    I am the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
  • Isabel Hilgendag in the fileld collecting samples in the Arctic

    Isabel Hilgendag

    MSc Student (Biology)

    I look for heavy metals, such as mercury, in Arctic marine animals, to ensure they are safe to eat.
  • Manpreet Kaur in her lab

    Manpreet Kaur (She/Her)

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    I work on research projects to discover drugs to treat infectious diseases.
  • Ryan Mitchell headshot

    Ryan Mitchell

    Hatchery Supervisor

    My job is to supervise the daily workflow at our salmon hatchery.
  • Daryl Lawes in front of one of Seaspan’s many tugboats supporting marine transportation.

    Daryl Lawes

    Environment Manager

    I am responsible for all aspects of environmental protection, performance, and regulatory compliance for Seaspan Shipyards.
  • Corie HOuldsworth headshot

    Corie Houldsworth


    I perform inspections of worksites where radiation is used, stored or transported.
  • Terra MacDonald at aquaculture site holding farmed salmon.

    Terra MacDonald (she/her)

    Veterinarian and Fish Health Manager

    As the veterinarian for Mowi Canada West, I care for the salmon at all life stages, from egg to harvest.
  • Isha Berry Headshot

    Isha Berry


    I look for patterns in disease outbreaks and health outcomes in populations across the world.
  • Clair Poulin hiking near wetland area

    Claire Poulin

    Zebrafish Researcher/Pre-Med Student

    I am researching how Zebrafish respond to lower oxygen levels in their environment.
  • Jasmin Chahal headshot

    Jasmin Chahal

    Assistant Professor

    I teach in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at McGill University.
  • Lynn Henderson with German Sheppard dog

    Lynn Henderson (she/her)

    Veterinarian, Clinician, and College Professor

    I am a small animal veterinarian serving animal health in a variety of capacities.
  • Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk headshot

    Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk

    Science and Innovation Lead, Health Beyond Initiative

    I explore ways in which science and technology can provide solutions to healthcare problems in space and on Earth.
  • Hayleigh Conway laying on map of NWT and pointing to Inuvik on the map. Taken on GIS Day 2017.

    Hayleigh Conway (she/her)

    Geomatics Technician

    I make maps that help answer questions about the health of the environment in the Western Arctic.
  • Megan Katz headshot

    Megan Katz

    Prosthetic Technician

    Megan is a prosthetic technician who makes and repairs artificial limbs.
  • Dr. Jackie Dawson doing field research on Beechy Island, Nunavut.

    Jackie Dawson (she/her/they)

    Professor and Canada Research Chair

    I work with large teams of academics, Inuit knowledge holders, and decision makers to understand the risks and solutions to environmental change.
  • Katie Harris essayant une combinaison spatiale de simulation au Centre européen des astronautes.

    Katie Harris (she/her)

    Medical Student/Prospective Aerospace Medicine Specialist

    I am working towards a career as an aerospace medicine specialist - a doctor who works with astronauts and keeps them healthy for long missions!
  • Chris Derksen en train de faire ses recherches sur le terrain en Arctique.

    Chris Derksen (he/his)

    Climate Scientist

    I use satellite data and climate models to understand how climate change is impacting snow and ice across Canada.
  • Shari Forbes à l'extérieur du centre de décomposition humaine

    Shari Forbes (she/her/elle)

    Forensic Scientist

    I conduct research to understand how the human body decomposes in our unique Canadian environment.
  • Viviana Ramirez-Luna dehors en hiver

    Viviana Ramirez-Luna (she/her)

    Environmental Entrepreneur

    I founded (and run) a consulting company to help businesses, communities, and organizations reduce the waste they produce