Mercyhurst University

Sara Getz, Ph.D

Visiting Assistant Professor of Applied Forensic Sciences

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Dr. Getz began her academic career as a Biological Anthropology major at Penn State University. Her undergraduate honors thesis research investigated low-information age-informative traits throughout the skeleton and set the stage for her next decade of research. In 2011, Dr. Getz earned her Master’s degree in Biological and Forensic Anthropology from Mercyhurst College (now Mercyhurst University) and returned to Penn State to complete her doctoral degree in anthropology, with a an emphasis in bioarchaeology. Dr. Getz returned to the Mercyhurst family in Fall 2017 as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Applied Forensic Sciences.

As a researcher, she is broadly interested in the factors affecting variability in the human skeleton, how variation can be described and quantified effectively, and what it can help us to say about individuals in forensic and archaeological contexts.  She has worked with more than 4,000 modern, historic and archaeological skeletons from many of the world’s well-documented collections, both individually and as part of an international research team. She has also previously held short-term positions as an undergraduate summer intern at the C.A. Human Identification Lab at the University of Florida, a museum aide at the Smithsonian Natural History museum moving physical anthropology collections, and a Visiting Scientist at The Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City (NYC OCME).


While at Penn State, she her Graduate School Teaching Certificate and Certificate in Online Teaching the World Campus. At Mercyhurst, she currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, including human osteology, human skeletal profile methods, forensic anthropology, research design, and proposal writing. She is also active in advising and mentoring where she helps students to explore courses, majors, career options, identify research interests, develop CVs, and apply for internships, jobs, and graduate schools. Work on forensic anthropology cases received by the department is a daily activity and plans to apply for American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA) certification when she is eligible in several years. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, and rock climbing with her husband, Patrick, and their black lab, Biscuits.