CURRENT FORENSIC SCIENCE GRADUATE STUDENTS
Theresa De Cree
B.A. Honors Anthropology, Minor in Creative Writing
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
I studied at the University of Pittsburgh, where I earned my B.A. in Anthropology with a concentration of physical anthropology. There I completed an Undergraduate honors thesis project looking at the trauma patterns in a nomadic versus sedentary groups. In my sophomore year, I was rewarded the schools Summer Undergraduate Research Award (SURA). For this research I investigated the development of sexually dimorphic traits in subadults in conjunction with hormonal changes during puberty, and theorized the potential impact of hormone replacement therapies for Trans individuals implemented at these times and their possible effects on bone morphology. I also assisted a graduate student working with the UPMC lab for Middle Ear Research on a project on Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD). During my last semester I interned at the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office (ACOME) in the autopsy and death investigation units. At Mercyhurst I hope to cultivate the skills needed for doing casework. I hope to continue on to obtain my Ph.D., and continue doing casework and research.
B.A. Honours Anthropology, Minor in Political Science
McMaster University, ON, Canada
My interest in forensic anthropology began in my junior year of my undergraduate degree, at which point I was still working toward a cultural anthropology specialization. After taking an introductory course in forensic anthropology, I applied for a field school with ADBOU in Denmark where we had the opportunity to excavate a medieval parish cemetery and learn about transition analysis. After this point, I focused my specialization on physical anthropology and archaeology. In the summer and year after graduation, I worked with a Ph.D. candidate from Tulane University on an excavation of burials in the Peruvian Andes. I also completed an internship with the District 12 medical examiner’s office in Sarasota, Florida. After honing my casework and research skills at Mercyhurst, I hope to pursue more education in the form of a Ph.D. or medical degree to advance in the field of forensics.
B.A. in Anthropology
California State University, Northridge (CSUN)
I graduated with honors from CSUN where I earned my B.A. in Anthropology. Throughout my college career I’ve been interested in all four fields of anthropology, but I became passionate about archaeology and forensic anthropology after spending summers abroad. I have been to Belize for an archaeological field school, interned at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and have been with the Odyssey Field School in Limassol, Cyprus for experience with osteology, bioarchaeology, and forensic anthropology. Additionally, I have conducted my own research through the Odyssey Field School. My research interests include osteological evidence of violence, taphonomy (specifically in application towards mass graves), ballistic and blunt force trauma analyses, and skeletal biomechanics and morphology. After obtaining my M.S. I aspire to go to a Ph.D. program to continue my education in regards to forensic anthropology and pursue a career in academia.
B.S. Biological Sciences, Minors in Chemistry and Anthropology
Rowan University, New Jersey
I earned my B.S. in Biological Science with minors in Chemistry and Anthropology from Rowan University. I was first introduced to forensic and biological anthropology when I took a forensic anthropology course during my Junior year. I was immediately fascinated with the discipline and I began to gain more experience in anthropology and bioarcheology. During undergrad, I worked at the Archaeological Museum of La Serena, Chile (Museo Arqueológico de La Serena). Here, I conducted conservation and bioarcheological analyses on archaeological skeletal remains. The individuals that I studied were Native South Americans that lived approximately 500-3000 years ago. I focused on paleopathologies in these populations and conducted a case study on a unique case of osteomyelitis of the hard palate. In addition, I presented at several conferences including Sigma Xi at Saint Joseph’s University, and the Bioarchaeologists’ Northeast Regional Dialogue. I look forward to building upon these experiences at Mercyhurst University. I plan to pursue a career involving both casework and research.
B.S. Applied Forensic Sciences, Forensic Anthropology Concentration
Mercyhurst University, PA
I earned my Bachelor’s degree from Mercyhurst University. During my time as an undergraduate I had the opportunity to work as a department work study, where I gained experience with our donated collections, processing both zooarchaeological and human remains. I also had the chance to work as a summer fellow for the department, gaining administrative and casework experience. My experience with forensic casework continued throughout my senior year, as I worked on both recoveries and lab analyses. In the summer of 2018, I worked for Duke University’s Talent Identification Program (TiP) as a teaching assistant for the forensic science course. I continued my teaching experience by assisting faculty with Mercyhurst’s undergraduate Human Osteology and Biological Profile classes. I had the opportunity to assist graduate students in their research and conduct my own research, where I studied partial crania of Hispanic individuals and how they are misclassified in FORDISC 3.1. The following year I took this project and expanded it, using specific measurements to replicate partial crania from known individuals to assess the accuracy of FORDISC 3.1. Both projects were presented at the Mercyhurst Illumination Symposium in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Outside of academics, I play hockey for Mercyhurst’s ACHA hockey team. Returning to Mercyhurst, I look forward to expanding my existing research and working closely with faculty to explore other research areas, including stable isotope analysis, forensic taphonomy, trauma analysis, and the use of 3D scans in estimating the biological profile.
B.S. Anthropology, B.S. Forensic Science
Arizona State University, Arizona
I have always loved science; I took every course I could in high school. For college, I started at Arizona State University where I planned to earn a B.S. in Forensic Science. I quickly found an interest in my anthropology electives there. I decided to earn a B.S. in both areas after learning more about forensic anthropology at a special lecture. In that time, I also volunteered at the county medical examiner’s office and completed my honors thesis studying animal alteration to remains. I also instructed biology and genetics lab courses at Arizona State University for a year before being accepted to Mercyhurst. While here, I hope to continue learning all that I can through classes and hands-on casework. I ultimately plan to go into death investigation after earning my master’s degree.
Holly Armstrong (certificate student)
M.S. Criminal Justice, Forensic Science
Ashford University (Online)
B.S. Double Major, History and Criminology
University of South Florida (Sarasota, FL)
I have always been interested in the medical field, criminology and forensics, so the Graduate Certificate Program in Forensic and Biological Anthropology at Mercyhurst University is a dream come true! I took several pre-nursing courses at Jamestown Community College including Anatomy and Physiology I and II and Nutrition. I moved to Florida in 2009 and graduated from the State College of Florida in Bradenton in 2010; I then transferred to USF in 2011 to pursue criminology. While there, I participated as an event planner in the Criminology Club, contacting local and federal organizations to request their involvement in our criminology career expo. I also participated in a research study conducted by Dr. Fawn Ngo in which I coded data sets. I graduated in May 2013, several months after moving back to Pennsylvania, and eventually became certified with a Child Development Associate credential, acting as director of Prihoda Children’s Center daycare and early learning center, where I am currently employed. After several years, I enrolled at Ashford University, graduating with an M.S. in Criminal Justice and a specialization in Forensic Science in March 2019. My goal is to work in the field of death investigation.
B.A. in Archaeology, Minor in Geology
The College of Wooster, Ohio
I have loved science since I was young, and from an early age I was interested in marine biology and archaeology. In 2015, I received an NSF-REU grant to conduct ceramic porosity analysis from the Wari citadel of Cerro Baúl. I spent three months living and working in Moquegua, Peru, conducting this research as well as excavating the domestic and agricultural site of Las Peñas. This research became the topic of my junior thesis. Six months later, I studied abroad at PUCP in Lima, Peru, working at the multicultural site of Huaca Pucllana and becoming fluent in Spanish. Ceramics did not suit me as I had hoped, so I changed topics for my senior thesis, attempting to compile a list of all known Paleoindian skeletal remains in the Americas. Using secondary data, I argued for a minimum two-wave migration into the Americas at the Terminal Pleistocene. I presented this research at the 82nd annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Vancouver, BC, Canada. After graduation, I completed an internship at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. At that time, I knew I was not yet ready for graduate school, so I took two gap years to work in Cultural Resource Management and at a local library. Additionally, I have been a FindAGrave photo volunteer since 2017, documenting historic and modern graves in various states. My desire to master the human skeleton, utilize archaeology, and contribute to others' lives has been a natural transition into forensics. After taking time off and allowing my interests to evolve naturally, I am now ready to achieve my MS at Mercyhurst and later work in the field of medicolegal death investigation.
B.S. in Anthropology, Minors in Bioethics & Humanities and Peace & Justice
Michigan State University, Michigan
I graduated with honors from Michigan State University, where I earned my B.S. in Anthropology (minoring in both Bioethics & Humanities and Peace & Justice). As an undergraduate, my classes ranged from physical, cultural, to medical anthropology. To ‘kickstart’ my exploration of forensic anthropology and human identification, I studied abroad in London, England during the summer of 2018, and was able to attend a week-long bone lab at Bournemouth University. Deeply fascinated in the field, I began taking graduate seminars in anthropology at my home institution, including a bone photography/radiography lab under the direction of Dr. Todd Fenton. During the summer leading into my senior year, I traveled to southern Tuscany, Italy for the Monteverdi Archaeological Field School. Here, I got to learn hands-on about archaeological excavation and documentation through our work. This training prepared for to pursue my master’s degree at Mercyhurst where I will continue to receive hands-on-training in the field of forensic anthropology.
B.A. in Anthropology, B.A. in French Language and Culture, Minor in Global Studies, Certification in Global Competencies
Washington State University, Washington
During my time at WSU I worked to earn dual degrees within the Honors College through research, studying abroad, and completing a thesis. I earned several scholarships and grants, including the 2019 Sigma Xi Research Grant and various departmental fellowships to fund my programs abroad and thesis research. During my junior and senior years, I worked on my thesis, titled “An Isotopic Examination of Dietary Niche Partitioning between Lynx canadensis and Lynx rufus in a Range Edge Environment”, with Dr. Erin Thornton analyzing stable isotopes in hair samples. I also completed an internship under Dr. Thornton, where I worked in WSU’s osteology laboratory to measure, 3D scan, and catalogue the collection of unidentified human remains in the university’s possession. In the spring of my senior year I presented my work as an intern and my thesis project in WSU’s undergraduate research showcase. Building, completing, and presenting these projects solidified my want to work in forensic anthropology, specifically osteology. Following graduation, I attended the Slavia Field School in Drawsko, Poland, where we performed an archaeological excavation of a 17th century burial site. I took a gap year after field school, where I continued studying and researching the osteological collection at WSU while I worked and applied to graduate programs. I’m excited to begin casework at Mercyhurst and work more in stable isotope analysis, osteological pathology, and mass disaster identification. I hope to continue in the field of forensic anthropology, earning my Ph.D. and potentially working in academia
B.S. in Forensic Science, B.A. in Criminal Justice, Minor in Chemistry
Long Island University C.W. Post, New York
While at Post, I participated in a range of marine biology research projects including working with the Scallop Restoration Project operating in the bays of Long Island, the Stony Brook Southampton Marine Station, and a graduate research project out of Post. During my four years working on the water I wrote a paper on the forensic applications of GC-MS in tracing back oil spills to their origin ship. In my senior year I published a thesis on the effects of lead on the neurological synapsis in the brain, the resulting cognitive disorders, how these disorders correlated with crime and a possible solution to the effects of lead exposure using ascorbic acid. In my junior year I interned with the county clerk at the Suffolk County District Court. Despite my love for biology and chemistry, I have always known that I wanted to pursue a career as a forensic anthropologist, with my love of bones stemming from consistent visits to the American Museum of Natural History. My goal of becoming a board-certified forensic anthropologist lead me to the fantastic program at Mercyhurst. After completing my degree at Mercyhurst, I plan to obtain a Ph.D. and gain board certification. I would like to pursue a career with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, recovering and identifying remains from the Vietnam War.
B.S. in Anthropology, Minors in Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology
Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee
My interest in forensic anthropology grew out of archaeology in general. At MTSU, I was fortunate to be trained in the four subfields of anthropology, but in my junior year I focused on forensic anthropology specifically. The program at MTSU allowed me to work with archaeological remains, such as NAGPRA, and forensic casework remains. While there, I was a member of the Forensic Anthropology Search and Recovery Team led by Dr. Hugh Berryman, D-ABFA and Dr. Tiffany Saul which I contribute much of my training to. On the team, I assisted in cases ranging from burials, surface scatters, and fire scenes. I also assisted at the Davidson County Medical Examiner’s Office in relation to estimating a biological profile for skeletonized remains. In my senior year, I worked with Dr. Saul in her stable isotope laboratory conducting research on stable isotopes in relation to the skeleton, determining if we could reach the same results by using different elements of the skeleton from the same individual. I obtained my certification for the Portable X-Ray Fluorescence tube while doing this research. I studied craniometrics by using the digitizer, photogrammetry, hand-held metrics, and 3-D scanning. My research interests include ancestry estimation, sex estimation, sexual dimorphism, 3-D scanning, craniometrics, radiology, forensic archaeology, forensic osteology, juvenile osteology, and stable isotope analysis. Once I complete my master's degree, I intend to pursue a Ph.D. program in biological anthropology and obtain my board certification from the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. My career interests involve working for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, but also combining academia and forensic casework.
B.S. in Anthropology, Forensic Concentration, Minor in Biology
Washburn University, Kansas
My college career began at Cottey College, a small women’s college, pursuing an associate’s degree in Science. While there I completed a semester of research analyzing the protein structure of the sections of DNA that demonstrate Fragile X Syndrome. I realized I did not enjoy biochemistry as I thought I would so after graduating I transferred to Washburn University and enrolled in the forensic anthropology program. During my two and a half years at Washburn, I conducted forensic casework alongside Dr. Alexandra Klales. While there, I studied the case process, participated in research, co-published an article and book chapter, and assisted as the forensic anthropology laboratory assistant. Prior to enrolling in the program, I did not actually know if I would enjoy forensic anthropology, but I thought it might be a good mixture of science and anthropology, something I was interested in. It ended up being the perfect fit for me. I learned much during my undergraduate degree and knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in this field. After completing my master's degree at Mercyhurst I plan to complete a Ph.D. and then obtain board certification with the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. I hope to practice forensic anthropology involving human right’s violations and mass disaster identifications.
B.S. in Anthropology, Minors in Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology, Honors
Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee
I was fortunate to gain a wide variety of experience during my undergrad and had the opportunity to work with prehistoric, historic, as well as modern human remains. I gained bioarchaeology experience with both NAGPRA remains as part of MTSU’s collection in addition to prehistoric remains as part of the bioarchaeology field school in the Brazilian Amazon. As a member of Dr. Berryman’s Forensic Anthropology Search and Recovery (FASR) team, I conducted outdoor skeletal recoveries and searches and assisted at the medical examiner’s office. I gained forensic aviation archaeology experience through the field school and Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) mission conducted in Austria excavating a WWII crash. My thesis research consisted of a comparative taphonomic analysis between remains found inside and outside of Black Cat Cave. I completed workshops on Commingled Remains, Identifying Unknown Mandibles, and The Human Skeleton in Forensic Anthropology and Medicine. My research interests include forensic taphonomy, forensic archaeology, and forensic aviation archaeology. As a veteran, the DPAA mission is very dear to me and my future plans include working at the DPAA and eventually pursuing a Ph.D. in order to become a board-certified forensic anthropologist. In my free time, I worked with the Rutherford County Archaeology Society on the preservation of the Old City Cemetery and as an officer of the Middle Tennessee Anthropology Society, I participated in the education efforts of the Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology.
A.S. in Biology, B.S in Forensic Science, Minors in Chemistry, Biology, and Criminal Justice
County College of Morris (New Jersey) & Centenary University (New Jersey)
I started at the County College of Morris in my hometown and earned an A.S. in Biology. I then transferred to Centenary University where I earned a B.S. in Forensic science with a minor in biology, chemistry, and criminal justice. I have always loved bones, science, and the criminal justice system and a career in forensic anthropology was the perfect opportunity to combine all three. During my undergrad, I completed a capstone project where I dissected processed and rearticulated an equine skeleton. This gave me hands-on experience with maceration and other bone cleaning methods. Additionally, I did an internship at a hospital morgue and worked alongside the county medical examiner. That was my first exposure to medicolegal death investigation. As of now, my interests are medico-legal death investigation, zooarchaeology, human rights investigations, and odontology. I hope to work within these specialties or pursue a Ph.D. program to one day become a board-certified forensic anthropologist.
B.A. in Political Communication, Minors in German and Biological Anthropology
George Washington University (Washington, D.C.)
I became interested in forensic anthropology after taking a class on the subject at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History through my undergraduate institution. I was studying politics at the time, but I discovered that I loved osteology and decided to switch career paths. My research interests are in human rights investigations and trauma analysis, and I hope that I can pursue a career that mixes anthropology, activism, and human rights.