Forensic anthropology and the ‘Stories in the Bones’

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Forensic anthropology and the ‘Stories in the Bones’

Bones can tell more than one story about a person. The skeleton, teeth and hair can give insight into a person’s life and help determine the cause of an individual’s death. Forensic anthropologists can even use their research and expertise to determine where a person was born.

“Stories in the Bones,” a forensic anthropology lecture, will be presented by Fresno State professor Dr. Chelsey Juarez from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan.31, at the Alice Peters Auditorium on campus. The event is free and open to the public.

“Being able to track an individual’s life through their hard tissues, such as their skeleton or teeth, can help us build a profile,” Juarez said. “That profile can then help track how an individual lived and also help us find out how they died.”

She described forensic anthropology as the study of human remains such as bones, teeth, fingernails and hair that is produced for a medical or legal context. A forensic anthropologist can assist a medical examiner to help identify an individual or understand the circumstances surrounding a death and determine the time since death.

Juarez believes this work is important because specialists in the field assist law enforcement and medical examiners in identifying individuals, provide resolutions for violent deaths and help give closure to families. Oftentimes, a forensic anthropologist will testify as an expert witness in court for a deceased individual to help provide justice.

This spring, Juarez will have six student interns in the forensic lab on campus learning the inner workings of the job. She plans to establish a caseload at Fresno State by bringing forensic anthropology cases to campus and working on them with her students.

“I want my students to understand all standard operating procedures of how to go about analyzing a case and maintaining a lab,” Juarez said. “I want to teach them how to asses whatever is being asked of us by medical examiners and how to write reports and produce the paperwork.”

For more information, contact Lucero Benitez at 559.278.4381 or lbenitez@csufresno.edu.