Keele students study at specialist forensic facility in the USA

Students from Keele University’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences recently visited the University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropology Centre and Anthropological Research Facility, also known as a body farm, in Knoxville.

Over 30 second-year forensic science students took part in a bespoke five-day course that covered aspects of forensic anthropology, entomology and taphonomy, providing them with the valuable opportunity to practise forensic investigation skills on human remains, both within the body farm and the laboratory setting.

The students took the trip to Knoxville as currently there are no similar facilities in the UK, with the research facility allowing them to study decomposition in a variety of settings, potentially opening up new avenues and career possibilities.

During the ten-day visit to the States, students spent a week at the Forensic Anthropology Centre with the rest of their time spent exploring the city of Knoxville, also taking a trip to Gatlinburg, the gateway to the Smoky Mountains National Park.

Dr Vivienne Heaton, Lecturer in Forensic Science, said: “The course was a unique opportunity that allowed students to build on what they’ve learnt in class this past year. Not only did they get to work with a modern skeletal collection, they were fortunate enough to hear from experts in the field of forensic anthropology and entomology, work on case studies in the lab and complete a recovery exercise outside in 30°C heat and torrential rain!”