Help Anthropology Students Solve Cold Cases

anthropology students examining bones
110% Funded
  • $3,290.00 Donated
  • $3,000.00 Goal
  • 44 Donors

About the Campaign

The Anthropology program at SEMO is seeking to raise $3000 to fund specialized forensic analyses as part of our work on a number of cases of unidentified human skeletal remains cases from the region. Thousands of sets of human skeletal remains sit unidentified in crime labs, coroner’s offices, and other institutions across the nation. Older cases are sometimes overlooked as public agencies focus their limited resources on cases of more recently deceased people. In our lab, we work to apply cutting edge anthropological and forensic science approaches specifically to older skeletal remains cases with three interrelated goals: 1) identifying remains and returning these individuals to their families, 2) helping resource-strapped public agencies clear their cold case backlogs, and 3) providing a unique and hands on opportunities for our students to apply the skills they learn in the classroom to real cases.

Not only is this a project aimed at the greater good of bringing resolution and closure to families who have been missing their loved ones for decades, but it also serves as an important learning opportunity for the next generation of forensic scientists. Students learn valuable, real-world lessons about project planning, working with law enforcement, and collaborating with other experts and students. For example, we work with Dr. Amy Michael and her students at the University of New Hampshire on bone microstructure analysis, and Dr. Leslie Fitzpatrick at Mercyhurst University on isotope analysis to help us learn more about geographic origins of these unidentified people. We also work closely with Dr. David Mittelman and his team at Othram, a lab at the forefront of genomic sequencing, which is especially important when we are working with older cases for which the DNA is often badly degraded.

Working as part of a team helps us make these identifications, but to keep doing this work, we need funding. By donating to our campaign, you will help us make progress on the five active cases we have in our lab right now—people whose remains were recovered in some cases more than 40 years ago. Thanks for considering a donation to this project.