María Serrano Ruber

Laboratory Technician and osteoarchaeologist

I am a specialist in osteoarchaeology (the analysis and study of human remain) with a particular focus on metabolic disease. I hold a BSc in archaeological science and an MSc in human osteoarchaeology, during which I had ample experience in handling and macroscopically analysing skeletal material, as well as with undertaking chemical analyses on bone and teeth.

My research interests lie mostly in metabolic disease, especially focusing on vitamin C deficiency, or scurvy. In my previous research I have examined this condition in a post-medieval rural Dutch population at the University of Leiden (The Netherlands), with the goal to examine its prevalence rate in a time period severely affected by malnutrition and food shortages. The results showed very elevated rates of scurvy in the population, painting a dire picture of what life in rural Holland might have been like for those with restricted access to resources. This research is of particular interest to the Tobacco Health and History project, as scurvy may partly develop as a consequence of tobacco consumption, and can even serve as a way to observe effects of second hand smoke on children and non-smokers.

As a part of the Tobacco Health and History project, I will be supporting the research associates with their roles in conducting paleopathological analyses and metabolomic experiments, as well as working on maintaining laboratory organisation and administration.


  • BSc Archaeology, 2018 (University of Reading)

  • MSc Human Osteology, 2019 (Leiden University)

Key research interests

  • Bioarchaeology
  • Paleopathology
  • Metabolic Disease
  • Scurvy
  • Isotopic Analysis

Research projects

  • Serrano Ruber, M., Burrell, C. L. & Schrader, S. A. 2019. The Dutch Distemper: Testing a New Diagnostic Method for Scurvy in a 19th Century Rural Dutch Population. Leiden University Faculty of Archaeology.

  • Serrano Ruber, M., Müldner, G. & Fremondeau, D. 2018. Investigating Birth Seasonality in Roman Exeter Through Stable Isotope Analysis of Sheep Tooth Enamel. University of Reading Department of Archaeology.


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