CSU, Chico News

Chico Forensics Conference Geared to Public and Professionals

Date: 10-31-2012

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs

The ninth annual Chico Forensics Conference at California State University, Chico is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 3. The conference, organized by the Anthropology Graduate Students Association, is bringing four eminent forensic anthropologists to Chico to share their expertise and specialized experience.

Although the majority of the 250 to 300 expected attendees will be anthropology students, professors and other professionals in the field, the organizers stress that most of the lectures are tailored for the general public. One of the goals of the conference is education and community outreach, so there is no cost and anyone interested is encouraged to attend.

Forensic anthropology is an important, growing field within anthropology and the forensic sciences. The conference will extend valuable forensic techniques and trends, as well as familiarize the public with the discipline.

The conference begins with a meet and greet at 8:30 a.m. The conference schedule, with speakers, topics and bios, is below:

Conference Schedule

8:30-9: a.m. Meet and Greet

9:00-9:15 a.m. Introduction

9:15-10:30 a.m. Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat , Ph.D., DABFA

New Perspectives in Forensic Anthropology

Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat is a professor of anthropology and teaches courses in physical anthropology, human skeletal biology and forensic anthropology at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania. Dr. Dirkmaat is a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (No. 50) and has conducted over 300 forensic anthropology cases for nearly 30 coroners, medical examiners and the state police in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He participated as a primary forensic anthropologist during mass fatalities in Pittsburgh (USAir Flight 427 crash in 1994), the island of Guam (Korean Air Flight 801 crash in 1997) and Rhode Island (Egypt Air 990 crash in 1999) and is currently a member of the national Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. In September 2001, he served as the primary scientific advisor to Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller during the recovery and identification of victims of United Flight 93.

10:30-10:45 a.m. Break

10:45 –noon Dr. Krista Latham

Twisted: A Closer Look at Forensic DNA Analysis

Dr. Krista Latham is a biological anthropologist with a research focus on molecular and forensic anthropology at the University of Indianapolis. Dr. Latham’s current research includes investigations of prehistoric population movement and human biological variation through an analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers. Dr. Latham recently co-edited a book entitled Age Estimation of the Human Skeleton (CC Thomas, 2010). She currently serves as a consulting forensic anthropologist for police, coroners and pathologists in the midwestern United States and has delivered numerous lectures for state and local agencies around the country. Dr. Latham also serves as a DNA expert in the U.S. Federal Court System and is the director of the University of Indianapolis Molecular Anthropology Laboratory, a space dedicated to the purification and analysis of skeletal DNA.

12:00-1:30 p.m. Lunch Break

1:30-2:45 p.m. Dr. Angi Christenson

Forensic Anthropology at the FBI Laboratory and Skeletal Blast Trauma

Dr. Angi Christensen is one of two full-time forensic anthropologists who staff the FBI Laboratory Division's new Forensic Anthropology Program (FAP). The FAP was established to provide both laboratory analysis and field assistance for cases involving skeletal remains. Prior to working for the FBI, Dr. Christensen’s master’s thesis provided support for leading scientific theories attempting to refute the spontaneous human combustion myth. Dr. Christensen’s doctoral dissertation examined the reliability of a particular forensic identification technique using the frontal sinuses. By examining X-rays and applying statistical analysis, she demonstrated that the shapes of frontal sinuses are unique to each individual. Dr. Christensen has been routinely deployed to assist law enforcement organizations and medical examiners in the recovery and analysis of human skeletal remains.

2:45- 3:00 p.m. Break and Raffle

3:00-4:15 p.m. Dr. Debra Prince Zinni, Ph.D., DABFA

(Title of lecture to be announced)

Dr. Debra Prince Zinni is a forensic anthropologist at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) Central Identification Laboratory (CIL). Dr. Prince Zinni is a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (No. 85) and joined the scientific staff at the Central Identification Laboratory after serving as the state forensic anthropologist at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine from 2009 to 2011. Prior to her work and research in Boston, Dr. Prince Zinni was an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) postdoctoral fellow at the JPAC-CIL from 2005 to 2009. During her ORISE Fellowship, she served as a recovery leader for several recovery missions to Laos, performed osteological analyses and was responsible for the Korean War Unknowns Project.

4:15-4:45 p.m. Wrap-up and Questions

This conference is supported by Associated Students Instructional Related Activity Fees; the Department of Anthropology; California State University, Chico; and several Chico businesses.

For more information, go to http://www.csuchico.edu/agsa/forensic.html or email ChicoForensicConference@gmail.com.