UT Assistant Professor Who Helped Identify Victims of 9/11 to Speak Friday

KNOXVILLE—Amy Z. Mundorff, assistant professor of anthropology, will kick off this season of science forums at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with her own harrowing story of being at the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks and sorting through the aftermath to help identify victims.

The brown-bag lunch talk will take place from noon to 1:00 p.m. Friday in Dining Room C-D of the Thompson-Boling Arena. It is free and open to the public.

Mundorff was working in New York City’s medical examiner’s office in 2001. She was part of the team summoned to the site when an airplane hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

Before they could begin assessing the situation, however, the South Tower began to crumble upon itself, sending a tidal wave of debris crashing down, engulfing the entire area, and throwing Mundorff against a wall.

She escaped with only two black eyes, a cracked rib, and cuts on her legs, and she managed to return to work after taking one day off to begin processing the thousands of human remains brought to the office to be identified.

Mundorff’s knowledge of the human skeleton and anatomy made her indispensible to the effort, as she was able to notice subtle variations in skeletal structure and body composition in order to piece together each victim’s age, origin, and characteristics.

“It’s a different side of the 9/11 story,” Mundorff said about her upcoming talk. “It’s the behind-the-scenes identification aspect about going through the remains from such an event. The process takes so much time and is actually still going on today.”

All UT Science Forum presentations are held from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Fridays in Dining Room C-D of the Thompson-Boling Arena.

Attendees are invited to bring their own lunch or purchase lunch at the arena. A 40-minute presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer period.

Future science forums are:

September 16

David B. Clarke, director of the Center for Transportation Research, will present “High-Speed Rail: Can America’s Train Leave the Station?” Clarke is a transportation researcher and will speak about how trains could impact travel in the U.S.

September 23

Joshua P. Emery, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences will present “NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission to Return Samples from an Asteroid.” Emery is actively engaged in a mission to gather physical samples of an asteroid and bring them back to earth to be studied.

September 30

No meeting. Fall break

October 7

Dave Icove, research professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will present “Dying for Dollars: A True Case from the Forensic Engineering Files,” talking about a case he worked on involving a car accident, a dead man inside, and the large life insurance policy at stake.

October 14

Shane Foister, assistant professor of chemistry, will present “Catalyzing a Sustainable Future.” Foister is on the leading edge of researching how to chemically turn plant sugars into alcohol to make biofuels and is dealing with how to make it as economical as possible in order to be competitive with the oil industry.

October 21

Michael Best, associate professor of chemistry, will present “Bioorganic Chemistry: Advancing the Frontiers of Medicine.” His research focuses on how chemistry is applied to medicine, specifically involving the design and synthesis of organic molecules, which can be used to understand biological processes relevant to disease.

October 28

Ruth Anne Hanahan, statewide co-director of the Tennessee Yards & Neighborhoods Program, will present “Going with the Flow: Tennessee Yards & Neighborhoods’ Stormwater Strategies,” a talk about what individuals and communities can do to be environmentally conscious about rainwater and how it can be used to save money.

November 4

Chris P. Stephens, research assistant professor of laboratory of regenerative medicine at UT Medical Center, will present “Helping the Body to Regenerate through Tissue Engineering,” about his work in growing tissue that can be transplanted into bodies as skin grafts and to repair organs.

November 11

Tricia Redeker Hepner, associate professor of anthropology, will present “Experiencing Forced Migration: Eritrean Refugees in Africa, Europe, and the US.” Hepner works with refugees around the world and those seeking asylum in the US.

November 18

Larry Townsend, Chancellor’s Professor & Robert M. Condra Professor of Nuclear Engineering, will present “The Fukushima Disaster and American Nuclear Power,” about the four Japanese nuclear reactor units that were damaged by an earthquake in March and how that is affecting consideration of America’s nuclear power.

November 25

No meeting. Thanksgiving.

C O N T A C T :

Stephanie Dixon (865-974-2125, sdixon7@utk.edu)

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)

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