Community Celebrates Three Decades of UT Forensic Anthropology

Community members got a firsthand look at the work of UT forensic anthropologists during an open house on Sunday, October 1.

More than 250 visitors—including children, families of donors, and pre-donors who will give their body to the center upon their death—took part in the event, which was hosted by the UT Forensic Anthropology Center.

The open house gave visitors an opportunity to learn about the science behind forensic anthropology and participate in hands-on activities, including learning how to estimate the age and sex of human skeletons. They also toured the center’s laboratory, where they learned about what happens to a donor’s body from the moment it arrives at the center to the decomposition process at the Anthropology Research Facility—commonly known as the Body Farm—to the way the human bones continue as teaching instruments long after they are removed from the Body Farm.

Professor Lee Jantz, middle, shows a visitor a skull during the FAC open house

Sunday’s event commemorated the 35th anniversary of the center’s body donation program and the 30th anniversary of the center itself. The center has been on the forefront of the field of forensic anthropology and has expanded knowledge on human decomposition, working with law enforcement to solve crimes and identify human remains.

The center staff held a ceremony to dedicate a memorial garden honoring donors and their families who have made the Forensic Anthropology Center’s research possible. Founder Bill Bass and current director Dawnie Steadman offered remarks to attendees. Marilyn Kallet, a UT professor of English, shared a poem she had written for the dedication.

WBIR-TV Channel 10 interviewed Steadman about the open house in this story. WATE-TV Channel 6 and UT’s Daily Beacon also highlighted the event.