"Bones" Character Has Much in Common with Baylor Forensic Anthropologist

Sept. 12, 2005

by Julie Carlson

She has been lowered into a well to recover a body; walked straight to a cadaver when infrared cameras failed to locate it; has been known to order sickened law enforcement agents to leave a grisly crime scene for fear of contamination; and has munched on a ham sandwich when examining human remains.

While this might sound like the character of Temperance Brennan in Fox Network's new drama "Bones," these actually are situations that have happened to forensic anthropologist Susan Wallace, director of Baylor University's forensic science program.

Wallace has aided numerous law enforcement agencies, such as the Texas Rangers and FBI, in the recovery of decomposed and skeletal remains. Some of her more high-profile work includes recovery of the body of the first victim of serial killer Kenneth McDuff and working with the remains of a woman who had been mutilated beyond recognition.

But the personable Wallace also is a popular instructor who was the 2004 Collins Outstanding Professor, an award selected by Baylor students.

Wallace earned her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Texas. She received a master's certificate in death investigation at St. Louis Medical School and studied forensic photography at the Dade County Medical Examiner Department and is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic.

Her research has been published in "Journal of Forensic Science," and she has lectured at the Canada Association of Physical Anthropologists, the American Academy of Forensic Science and at seminars for Texas Rangers. In 1999, she received a certificate of honor from then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush for her work in forensic anthropology and the aid she has provided in crime investigations.

Although Baylor's forensic science program is one of the newest academic units, it also is one of the most popular. Started in 1999, there now are 300 declared majors, making it one of the larger programs on Baylor's campus. Subjects taught include all the premedical requirements, as well as forensic entomology, forensic anthropology, forensic toxicology, psychological profiling, hostage negotiation, crime scene investigation, criminology, death scene investigation, firearms evidence, medicolegal investigation and forensic pathology.

To contact Wallace, call (254) 752-9284 or email her at Susan_Wallace@baylor.edu .

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