Student Spotlight

The students have been busy! Along with their demanding school schedules, they take time to volunteer and help with every aspect of our operations including the upkeep at the facilities and joining in the training courses that are offered. They are definitely the heart of our program! We had two students who completed research over the Summer of 2022 as part of the McNair Scholars Program.

The McNair program is a federally funded TRIO program for first-generation students. It is designed to prepare students for doctoral programs through the involvement in research and other scholarly activities. The Center for Forensic Anthropology Director Dr. Jane Harris and Dr. Philip Yangyuoru (Dept. of Chemistry) teamed up to mentor students with their projects.

Student conducting research at FROST site Katie Durham spent her summer doing research on the effects of maggot masses on body temperatures  out at the FROST site. Her research project was titled, “Calculating Maggot Mass Temperature in Covered and Uncovered Human Remains.” Human decomposition and insect development are highly dependent on temperature, so research that focuses on the relationship between temperatures and human remains is essential. Katie’s research is novel in that she is looking into the effects of the actual insects on body temperature, which could have a significant effect on our calculation of postmortem interval (time since death). 




Student conducting research at FROST site Baylee McLevis spent her summer on a research project titled, “Chemical Analysis of Bullet Degradation as the Result of Exposure to Byproducts of Human Decomposition.” For the purpose of her study, Baylee made small incisions in the tissue of two of our donors and placed copper jacketed bullets inside of the tissue. She collected swabs of the areas over the course of approximately three weeks so she could analyze the concentrations of trace metals as they changed over time. Prior research has demonstrated that there is a relationship between the length of time a bullet spends inside of decomposing tissue and the condition of the bullet. Baylee’s project builds on the earlier research by looking for a chemical explanation for this relationship.