Lecture to Discuss Forensics, Genocide Investigations

By Victoria Bean '14

The departments of Anthropology, Biology and Chemistry at St. Lawrence University will host two talks by forensic scientist Michael Sandholzer, who will speak about the analysis of burned human remains to support forensic and archaeological investigations and the challenges of identifying victims of genocide and mass disasters. Both lectures will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 28, and Tuesday, April 29 in Carnegie Hall room 010. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Trained in biology, bioanthropology and forensic dentistry, Sandholzer is currently based at the Medical Research Council in Oxford, United Kingdom. His current research focuses on the application of high-resolution imaging, real-time analytical methods and synchrotron radiation in biomedical and forensic research.

“There is a big forensic interest on campus," said Mindy Pitre, assistant professor of anthropology. "I’m especially excited because I’m teaching Forensic Anthropology in the fall. What a great way to get students interested in the topic. Also, I’m currently teaching Bones of Contention, and I have several students in the course who are interested in forensic anthropology.”

Students are also eager. Melanie Swick ’16 said being able to hear a well-established forensic anthropologist from Oxford is a testament of just how good St. Lawrence is at networking.

“I'm super excited to hear his lecture ‘Evidence from the Ashes’ and to hear about the techniques a specialist would use to identify human remains in a real life situation,” Melanie said. “This lecture is something that applies to what I want to study, since I plan on becoming a bio-archaeologist.”

The talk on Monday, April 28 is titled “Evidence from the Ashes: The Analysis of Burned Human Remains.” The lecture will provide an overview of the effect of fire on the human skeleton and outline the identification process involved. Sandholzer will present case reports, discuss recent advances in human remains analysis and their implications for forensic anthropology.

The talk on Tuesday, April 29 is titled “To Know Where the Lie: Identifying the Victims of Genocide and Mass Disasters.” The lecture will provide an overview of the biological and chemical methods used in the identification process and will outline current and future trends in disaster victim identification. Frequent challenges in this field will also be discussed.

For more information, contact the Department of Anthropology at 315-229-5106.