Forensic Anthropology Skeletal Biology

Chloe McDaneld, Grady Early Forensic Anthropology Research Laboratory

For my internship my main project was casting. Casting is the process where molds are first made of the particular trait of a bone.  Then from the molds, Smooth Cast is added to form the solid cast.  Casts of pubic symphyses, rib ends and clavicles that are still fusing can be used in classrooms to help teach students the methods of aging an individual.  Also it prevents any unnecessary damage to the actual bone that may arise from multiple people touching and picking up the bone.  In addition, casts are made of every donation we can just in case something happens to the actual bone.  We also keep all the molds we make so that we can make as many casts as we want.  This also helps with preserving the actual bone especially from the students who fail to take good care of the bones.  Also for schools that do not have access to real human skeletons they can buy casts of an entire skeleton or just parts and use those in the necessary classes.

I made casts of pubic symphyses of the os coxae, sternal ends of the fourth rib and clavicles if they were still fusing.  The reason why we cast these specific skeletal elements is because they can be used to determine age of an individual.  For example, in clavicles of younger individuals the medial end has not fully fused yet this is because it is the last bone in the body to fuse and we know around what age this occurs so it helps with age estimation.

From both volunteering and interning, I have learned many skills that can be used at other laboratories like casting and processing human and animal remains.  My experience of seeing how FACTS is run and how the atmosphere around the lab is will prepare me for other laboratories like it.  From this internship I also got hands on experience that will be helpful for graduate school.  My next step for my career goals is to go to graduate school for forensic anthropology.

My advice for students who want an internship at FACTS is to volunteer first.  This is so you can make sure there is something that interests you at FACTS.  Also by volunteering you get to know the people there and get a better understanding of what you’ll be doing all semester.

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The Internship Coordinator

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