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Forensic Anthropology Center

Making a Difference: Forensic Anthropology Center

The Mission

The mission of the Forensic Anthropology Center (FAC) is to achieve excellence in research, training, and service in forensic anthropology and closely-related forensic fields. The FAC provides service to law enforcement and medical examiners by recovering and identifying human remains, interpreting traumatic injuries and estimating the postmortem interval. The FAC also provides training to law enforcement and medicolegal personnel in the form of short courses throughout the year. These courses include outdoor skeletal recovery techniques, field methods, osteology, trauma, pathology, and fire scene investigation. Agency-specific training for law enforcement is also provided by request. The FAC also helps deliver the National Forensic Academy training by providing one-week subject matter expertise in forensic anthropology and skeletal recovery.

The Forensic Anthropology Center also conducts outreach in the local communities. In 2011 the FAC initiated the Forensic Files, a popular high school program in which Center faculty have enriched the current forensic science curriculum in over 90 high schools by providing lively presentations and hands-on forensic anthropology exercises to high school students interested in forensic science. Each semester the FAC also provides dozens of outreach lectures to school children and civic groups from around the country.

In 2014 the FAC initiated the High School Internship Program aimed at Knox County high school junior and senior students interested in forensic science.The two week after school program provided students with lectures and hands-on laboratory activities to expose them to human and non-human osteology as well as personal identification methods. Students worked with forensic anthropology graduate student mentors to develop and conduct research projects that students presented to their parents, teachers and university community on the last day of the internship.

FAC digThe Partners

Community partners include the Knoxville Police Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knox County Medical Examiner’s Office, Rural Metro Corporation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Texas Department of Public Safety, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Knox County Schools. University of Tennessee, Knoxville partners include the College of Arts & Sciences and the Department of Anthropology. (Institute for Public Service/Law Enforcement Innovation Center?)

Impact on UT

The Forensic Anthropology Center has been at the forefront of forensic anthropology research and training for over three decades. The Anthropology Research Facility (ARF) was the first natural outdoor laboratory for the study of human decomposition and serves as the model for newer facilities throughout the country. UT graduate students are involved in case work and benefit from professional interactions with law enforcement and medical examiners. UT anthropology students involved in the Forensic Files education program for local schools benefited by seeing first-hand the value of outreach service; gained experience from interacting and teaching high school students, and enhanced professionalism through public presentations.

Impact on Community

Law enforcement and crime-solving efforts across the U.S. have improved from the research conducted at the Anthropology Research Facility and the Bass Donated Skeletal Collection. Law enforcement professionals benefit by receiving professional training that improves crime scene investigation and evidence recovery and also receiving continuing education credits. Many Knox County high school students have benefited from engaging with UT faculty and advanced undergraduate and graduate students through hands-on experience in anthropology and forensic science.

Related Story: From Under the Pall, a Science is Born>>



Knoxnews: Law Enforcement Travel to UT’s Body Farm
FAC on ABC News: Decomposing Bodies Studied Outdoor Forensic Lab
TnToday: FAC Holds Internship for High Schoolers
Knoxnews: High Schoolers get Crash Course in Forensics
WBIR: High School Students Learn Forensics in New Program
Knox County Schools and FAC
Mental Floss: FAC Article
Quest and FAC
Popular Science: 10 Most Awesome College Labs of 2013


FAC Homepage

Click here to read about more Partnerships that Make a Difference.