Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology Lab

The Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology Laboratory, directed by Jennifer Byrnes, is a recently established (2019) research space dedicated to the analysis of modern and historic human remains. Forensic anthropology as a field of study is the application of methods and theory in biological anthropology to questions related to the medicolegal significance of human remains (see NIST Anthropology Subcommittee and American Board of Forensic Anthropology).  Members of the lab assist in consult cases for the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner (CCOCME) under the supervision of the lab director. Assistance includes lab analyses and field recoveries. New research projects include the investigation of the reliability and validity of positive identifications generated from medical imaging, examining issues of public health and structural violence utilizing forensic anthropology case demographics, and paleopathology/trauma analyses from data collected on the Erie County Poorhouse Cemetery (1851-1913). Undergraduate and graduate students interested in participating in any of these research or service endeavors should contact Dr. Byrnes directly to discuss how they can participate as a lab member.

Current Students Affiliated with the Lab

Adrianne Dizon

Adrianne Dizon

Undergraduate Senior

Pronouns: She/Her

Position: Undergraduate Research Assistant, Mentee

Adrianne is a senior biological sciences major and family studies minor. Her background is in human sexuality and gender. Her research interests are gender/sexuality studies, family studies, and human development. She is currently working a research project using the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) database where she will help to understand interpersonal violence done to transgender individuals. She hopes to gain knowledge about this population while learning more about the research cycle by working with her graduate student mentor. 

Amanda Dolan

Amanda Dolan

Undergraduate Senior

Pronouns: She/her

Position: Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Amanda is in her final year of undergraduate studies pursuing a degree in anthropology with a minor in history. Her interests include bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology. Amanda will be assisting the team in research involving the identification of remains using medical imaging. After graduation in the Spring of 2022, Amanda intends on furthering her education beyond an undergraduate degree.

Aerrow Cruz

Undergraduate Senior

Pronouns: She/Her

Position: Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Aerrow is an undergraduate student majoring in Criminal Justice with minors in Anthropology and Psychology. She is interested in a holistic approach to understanding individual's involvement in forensic deaths and investigations, as well as how forensic analysis is conducted. Currently, Aerrow is assisting on a project that is analyzing antemortem and postmortem radiographs used for positive identification. In the future, she intends to use her interests and experience to pursue a graduate degree in Forensic Anthropology. 

Taylor Flaherty

Taylor Flaherty

Second Year Ph.D. Student 

Pronouns: She/They

Position: Laboratory Director, Graduate Student Researcher, Mentor

Taylor is a second year doctoral student with a primary focus in forensic anthropology. They have two Master of Science degrees from the University College London in Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology and Musculoskeletal Science. While completing these degrees, their research focused on taphonomic processes affecting sharp force trauma and subchondral bone regeneration in injured knee joints, respectively. Taylor's Ph.D. research focuses on gender inclusivity in forensics. Ultimately, this research will analyze the structural violence, systemic marginalization, and post-death treatment of transgender and gender variant individuals in forensics. Taylor also plans to analyze the effects of hormone therapy on traditional skeletal sex indicators used in forensic anthropology, and to catalyze research that enhances post-mortem care of transgender and gender variant decedents. Additionally, Taylor is a RAMP mentor for a project utilizing the Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) database, is affiliated with Trans Doe Task Force, is working on a project with the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner radiograph identification database and she is analyzing rib trauma in individuals interred at the Erie County Poorhouse. 

Katherine Gaddis

Second Year Ph.D. Student 

Pronouns: She/Her

Position: Graduate Student Researcher, Volunteer and Mentor

Katherine (Katie's) background is in bioarchaeology and she is primarily interested in how individuals and societies have experienced health and disease in the past. She is currently working as a field osteologist for two active medieval bioarchaeology research sites located in Poland, where her recent research has focused on taking an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of skeletal biomarkers of stress in order to form a more comprehensive understanding of frailty in medieval Prussia. Currently, her PhD research involves exploring biocultural theories of ageing as they relate to health across the lifespan in order to better understand the lived experiences of elderly adults in both bioarchaeological and forensic contexts.

Liam Johnson

Liam Johnson

First Year Ph.D. Student

Pronouns: He/His

Position: Graduate Student Researcher and Volunteer 

Liam is a first year PhD student studying biological anthropology with a background in forensic anthropology and geospatial analysis. Prior to attending UNLV, Liam researched 3D computational age-at-death techniques on a modern Portuguese skeletal population. He has more recently conducted research on the spatiotemporal distribution of missing persons cases from Louisiana to aid investigative agencies and recommend spatially informed locations of where to strategically host community centered missing and unidentified persons events. Liam intends to further explore the intersections between unidentified and missing persons, public health, advocacy, and community engagement.

Sydney Layne

Sydney Layne

Undergraduate Junior 

Pronouns: She/Her

Position: Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Sydney is an undergraduate student double majoring in anthropology and psychology.  Her primary focus is on biological anthropology, and her research interests include forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, skeletal trauma, paleopathology, and medical anthropology.  Sydney's current research intends to analyze hand trauma within a 19th century cemetery institutionalized setting for the purpose of examining impairments and disabilities caused by hand trauma during the industrial revolution.  

Dayanira Lopez

Dayanira Lopez

First Year Ph.D. Student 

Pronouns: She/Her

Position: Graduate Student Researcher and Volunteer

Dayanira has a Master of Science degree in Forensic Studies with a concentration on Human Identity & Trauma analysis from Florida Gulf Coast University. Prior to beginning her studies as a doctoral student at UNLV, her training, education, and experience was centered around fragmentary human osteology and forensic anthropology. Her previous research includes the effects of hydrochloric acid on human remains while documenting the pattern of dissolution observed; best practices in curation of human skeletal remains; skeletal manifestations of developmental defects (Goldenhar – Gorlin Syndrome); and postmortem alligator scavenging on human remains. In the future, she hopes to focus on issues related to violations of human rights of marginalized groups in Central America.

Silvio E. Mirabal Torres

Undergraduate Senior

Position: Undergraduate Research Assistant

Silvio is an undergraduate student interested in health and disease, both in modern and ancient populations. Silvio is especially focused on how cultural and biological evolution shape the human body as a response to disease, and how human behavior both influences and is influenced by evolution. Additionally, Silvio is concerned with the possible application of theories on modern human behavior related to health and disease to ancient populations, in an attempt to highlight human agency in the past. Within this lab, Silvio's research is trying to identify signs of tuberculosis in the skull in a poorhouse cemetery in Buffalo, NY from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Katharine Woollen

Katharine Woollen

Second Year Ph.D. Student 

Pronouns: She/Her

Position: Graduate Student Researcher, Volunteer and Mentor

Katharine has a background in both biological and forensic anthropology. She has worked extensively with prehistoric human skeletal remains. Katharine has also conducted taphonomic research exploring the variations that occur to remains when subject to winter weather conditions. Currently, her PhD project focuses on health disparities and violence directed toward women and children residing at county poor houses during the 19th and early 20th centuries. She intends to analyze the skeletal remains belonging to the Milwaukee County Poor Farm Cemetery (MCPFC), as well as data from the Erie County Poorhouse (ECPH). Her hope is that this research may provide a better understanding of how women and children’s bodies are regulated by social and societal organizations/institutions.