Forensic Anthropology
A. Midori Albert, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Forensic Anthropology Home


Anthropology Home

Education and Career Planning Recommendations

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)


What can I as a high school, or junior high school student, do to prepare for my future studies in
forensic anthropology?

If you can take classes at your school in anatomy and physiology, then that would be great. Many secondary schools don't offer anthropology as a class, though some do. Typically, the anthropology class taught involves cultural anthropology or archaeology (for more detailed descriptions of these areas, click here.).

Classes in biology, chemistry, and physics are good because they get your brain functioning in an analytic manner. Understanding how bones develop and grow relies upon biology and chemistry. Understanding how bones break, move, and the biomechanics of the skeleton relies on principles from physics.

Inasmuch as forensic anthropologists need to understand bone growth and development when assessing the age at death of human remains, or when checking for disease or abnormalities (which can help identify someone), or when analyzing trauma from sharp or blunt force injury or gunshot wounds, etc., these classes in biology, chemistry, and physics become important and extremely relevant. By learning the basics in junior high and high school, the classes will be all the more easy at the college level, and when you apply principles from those classes to osteology, you'll have a super level of comprehension, which will make you an incredible forensic osteologist.

I often though classes in junior high and high school seemed unrelated to anything that mattered in today's world. It wasn't until much later that I truly appreciated what I'd learned. Of course, it would be really fun to learn to physics in relation to how bones move and break, but that's not always possible. And, it would be cool to learn biology in the context of how bone cells enter a site of injury and "clean up" the wreckage, then study how other bone cells enter the scene and deposit osteoid, which fills in the cracks and later ossifies and calcifies...Plus, to learn about how hydroxyapatite crystals form bone in a chemistry class--now that would be neat. But, all that fun stuff has to wait until you take an anthropology class in human osteology. Yet, I think this provides the connection of why science classes NOW are important for LATER. At least I hope it does.

Instead of classes that would give direct information on forensic anthropology, you can always read some books on the subject and continue to explore webpages like mine. Here's a great book for starters: "Dead Men Do Tell Tales", written by my mentor, the late Dr. William R. Maples. This book is published by Doubleday, and it came out in 1994. You can get it at any retail bookstore, or they can order it for you.

Dr. Albert's homepage