Renowned Forensic Scientists To Discuss Experiences at Forensic Forum

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Skeletal sketches
Jan. 24, 2008

Renowned forensic scientists will discuss their experiences and unveil mysteries hidden within bones during the "Forensic Forum: Real Science...Real Experts" to be held Jan. 24-26 at the Mayborn Museum Complex on the Baylor University campus. The lecture series is sponsored by the Mayborn Museum, in conjunction with Baylor's department of anthropology, forensic science and archaeology.

The forum complements the Mayborn Museum's current traveling exhibit, "Bones: An Exhibit Inside You™," which is featured at the museum through Feb. 17. The exhibit from the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is presented nationally by Eli Lilly and Co., and supported in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Research Resources.

The "Forensic Forum" will feature three lectures on current forensic research, as well as on famous forensic cases and the well-known "Body Farm" at the University of Tennessee. All lectures will take place in the SBC Theater at the Mayborn Museum. Individual lectures are $10 for non-members and $8 for members and students. Combined lecture tickets (includes all 4 lectures) are $35 for non-members and $30 for members and students.

For more information and reservations, contact Frankie Pack at (254) 710-1202. Space is limited.

The Forensic Forum will open with a lecture on "Zooarchaeology and Forensic Science" at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, by Dr. Benjamin Arbuckle, an archaeologist and assistant professor of archaeology at Baylor.

Arbuckle' area of expertise is zooarchaeology, the analysis of animal bones from archaeological sites. His research focuses on using animal remains to reconstruct the organization and evolution of systems of animal exploitation in the ancient world. Specific topics of interest include the origins of animal domestication, the role of hunting in prehistoric societies, the use of herds for milk and wool or hair, and the social and political role of pastoralists and pastoralism in the development of early complex societies.

Arbuckle received his bachelor's degree in anthropology at the College of William and Mary and both his master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard University. He previously has conducted work in North America and Pakistan and is currently involved in research in the Republic of Turkey with the Central Anatolian Pastoralism Project in which he is studying the origins, development and changing social and political roles of pastoralism in the region from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. He also is currently working on several major projects with organizations in America, Paris and Turkey and will soon join a large field expedition to central Turkey in the near future.

On Friday, Jan. 25, the Forensics Forum will feature a special lecture on forensic science and bones at 6 p.m. by Dr. Steven A. Symes, assistant professor in the anthropology and applied forensic sciences departments of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa.

Symes has been involved with hands-on forensic anthropology since 1979. After earning his master's and doctoral degrees in physical anthropology from the University of Tennessee, he served on the faculty at UT's Center for Health Sciences-Department of Pathology. In addition, he spent 16 years as forensic anthropologist for the medical examiner's office at the Regional Forensic Center in Shelby County, Tenn., and nearly two years as the morgue director for Davidson County.

Symes's research interests involve human skeletal biology with an emphasis on forensic tool mark and fracture pattern interpretation in bone. His expertise is in sharp force trauma, as well as burned, blunt force, ballistic and healing trauma in bone. He is a sought-after consultant in criminal cases and has been qualified as an expert for both the prosecution and defense in the fields of forensic anthropology, trauma analysis, tool mark analysis and bloodstain pattern analysis. He has lectured, examined and testified on trauma cases around the world. In 1997, based on his personal and professional record, Symes received the 57th certificate in North America admitting him as a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology.

On Saturday, the Mayborn Museum will present two lectures: Dr. Lee Meadows Jantz, coordinator of the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee, will speak at 10 a.m. on the center's "Body Farm" program, and Dr. Doug Ubelaker, the Smithsonian Institution's renowned forensics expert, will speak at 1 p.m. on some of the most famous forensics cases in which he has been involved.

Jantz received her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in anthropology from the University of Tennessee. As coordinator of the Forensic Anthropology Center, she is responsible for the body donation program and curation of the William M. Bass Donated and Forensic Skeletal Collections. She is an instructor in the department of anthropology at Tennessee, the National Forensic Academy and the Human Identification Courses offered through the Forensic Anthropology Center. She consults with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on human identification cases. Her research interests include skeletal biology (past and recent populations), forensic anthropology, and human growth and development.

Ubelaker is a curator and senior scientist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., where he has worked since 1971. He received doctorate in 1973 from the University of Kansas. He has published extensively in the general field of human skeletal biology with an emphasis on forensic applications. For three decades, he has served as the primary consultant in forensic anthropology for the FBI Laboratory now located in Quantico, Va., reporting on more than 780 cases and testifying in numerous legal proceedings.

Ubelaker's current research projects include assembling a Latin American digital craniometric and morphometric database, bioarcheological analysis of human remains within Roman period tombs in ancient Greece, a detailed study of biocultural temporal change, geographic variation and related issues within ancient Ecuador, global developments within the general field of forensic anthropology, and complexities in applications of forensic anthropology to human rights investigations globally.

He also is deeply involved in organizational and policy aspects of key organizations within his field of interest, especially in his current role as vice president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

At 3 p.m., the forum will conclude with a Research Roundtable in the Mayborn Commons area.

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