Forensic Anthropology Summer Short Courses

The Department of Applied Forensic Sciences (DAFS) at Mercyhurst University is offering four Forensic Anthropology short courses during June of 2015. Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat, director of DAFS, has been offering these courses since 1992. Each course will be taught by several expert instructors in their respective disciplines and each course provides extensive hand-on learning opportunities.

Death Scene Archaeology: Field Methods in the Location Recovery & Interpretation of Human Remains in Outdoor Contexts will be held June 1-5. The course will focus on the application of Forensic Archaeological principles and methodologies to the recovery of human remains encountered in outdoor contexts. Students will participate in the search, excavation, mapping, and recovery of a mock surface scatter and burial using state of the art equipment and techniques.

Fragmentary Human Osteology will be held June 8-12. This course is designed to familiarize participants with fragmentary human skeletal remains (adult and sub-adult), while also covering forensic significance, human variation, and trauma, taphonomy and pathology. The Mercyhurst Forensic Anthropology Laboratories contain thousands of human bone fragments, a large comparative faunal collection, and an extensive collection of taphonomic and trauma altered human bone that students will be working with.

Analysis of Bone Trauma in Suspected Violent Deaths will be held June 15-19. The goal of this course is to acquaint participants with trauma timing, differentiation, interpretation, and reporting. Numerous case studies and real bone specimens will supplement lectures and demonstrations.

Documentation and Interpretation of the Fatal Fire Scene will be held June 22-26. Emphasis for this course will be placed on the application of Forensic Archaeological techniques to the recovery of victims from fatal fire scenes. Students and professionals will participate in a mock fatal fire recovery using protocols developed as part of a National Institute of Justice of funded grant awarded to DAFS in 2008. Modification of human remains by fire will also be covered.

For more information contact Kathi Staaf (814.824.3119) or visit

To register, visit the website listed above.