The Mountain, Desert & Coastal Forensic Anthropologists Meeting

Mountain Desert and Coastal Forensic Anthropologists logo, green with a puzzle of a skull missing its last piece

Tomorrow we leave for the Mountain, Desert & Coastal (MD&C) Forensic Anthropologists meeting being held in Boulder City, NV on the shores of beautiful Lake Mead.  Jessica, Erica, Ryan, Justin and I will be traveling to present about our work on migrant death and interact with other forensic scientists involved in the same type of human rights work.  Cheneta is currently enrolled in a class for the first summer semester and unfortunately will not be able to join us.

 At this year’s MD&C meeting we will give a presentation on the skeletal analysis of the unidentified migrants we are currently analyzing in the University of Indianapolis Archeology & Forensics Laboratory.  This will allow us the opportunity to present the challenges associated with the identification of these individuals to the forensic science community.  In addition, we will get to interact with other forensic anthropologists working with issues of migrant death.  Dr. Lori Baker, who is directing the identification efforts in Brooks County, will be at the meeting.  Dr. Bruce Anderson of the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (PCOME) who works with unidentified migrants in AZ and Robin Reineke of The Colibrí Center for Human Rights will also be in attendance.  This will provide an invaluable opportunity to discuss the various approaches and challenges to migrant death issues with other individuals who work with these types of cases on a constant basis.

The University of Indianapolis will be well represented at the meeting this year. In addition to the presentation on human rights in South Texas, Jessica, Erica, Justin and Ryan each have a second presentation focusing on forensic casework or projects at UIndy, giving us a total of five presentations this year (An Interesting Case Study from Indiana by Jessica Campbell & Stephen Nawrocki, A Case of Dismemberment in Northern Indiana by Erica Christensen & Krista Latham, Over the River and Through the Woods by Justin Maiers & Krista Latham and No Bones About It: Projects at UIndy Outside of Forensic Anthropology by Ryan Strand) .  I will be moderating this year and organized the conference schedule. UIndy alum Meg Madonna will be handling fundraising.  The conference raises money for student travel and research grants.   Justin is coordinating the annual bone quiz, which tests the skeletal knowledge of its attendees.  Jessica is in charge of organizing the conference center and Ryan and Justin will be the grill masters at our annual Buffalo Chip dinner.

Many people on top of a rock hiking
Hiking near Lake Mead. Photo from the 2013 MD&C meeting.

In addition, the students will get to interact with some of the founders of the field of forensic anthropology and meet award winning author Aaron Elkins.  We will have time for some fun while we are there as well. We will get to do some climbing, swimming and sightseeing.  It will be a nice mix of work and a little relaxation before we leave for two hard weeks of digging in the Texas sun.

 Dr. Krista Latham