Dawnie of the Dead

The agenda for my first full meeting as president of the FBI Knoxville Citizens Academy Alumni Association was a hit with the members. Our guest speaker was Dr. Dawnie Steadman of the Forensic Anthropology Department at the University of Tennessee. After Dr. Steadman’s remarks, the group got a tour of the William M. Bass Forensic Anthropology Building, led by none other than Dr. Bass himself.

FBIKCAAA meeting at William M. Bass Forensic Anthropology Building - photo montage by Pat Payne Dr. Steadman began her presentation by welcoming us to the “House that Bass Built” and telling us about her background. As a specialist in the bioarchaeology of past conflicts, she has traveled the world excavating mass graves and assisting in forensic human rights investigations. In her new role at UT, she has set goals for expanded inter-disciplinary research, technological advances and incentives for ABFA candidates.

The Forensic Anthropology program deals with all aspects of skeletal biology. They train students and professionals in the medico-legal community to respond to the following questions:

  • How long ago did the person die?
  • How long has the body been there?
  • What do the insects tell us? How do we collect them?
  • How can we get fingerprints from the deceased?
  • How long is DNA viable in tissue?
  • What happens when you put a body in _____?
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