Entrance: 2019

Theresa De Cree

B.A. Honors Anthropology, Minor in Creative Writing

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

I studied at the University of Pittsburgh, where I earned my B.A. in Anthropology with a concentration of physical anthropology. There I completed an Undergraduate honors thesis project looking at the trauma patterns in a nomadic versus sedentary groups. In my sophomore year, I was rewarded the schools Summer Undergraduate Research Award (SURA). For this research I investigated the development of sexually dimorphic traits in subadults in conjunction with hormonal changes during puberty, and theorized the potential impact of hormone replacement therapies for Trans individuals implemented at these times and their possible effects on bone morphology. I also assisted a graduate student working with the UPMC lab for Middle Ear Research on a project on Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD). During my last semester I interned at the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office (ACOME) in the autopsy and death investigation units. At Mercyhurst I hope to cultivate the skills needed for doing casework. I hope to continue on to obtain my Ph.D., and continue doing casework and research. 

Vicki Lamond

B.A. Honours Anthropology, Minor in Political Science

McMaster University, ON, Canada

My interest in forensic anthropology began in my junior year of my undergraduate degree, at which point I was still working toward a cultural anthropology specialization. After taking an introductory course in forensic anthropology, I applied for a field school with ADBOU in Denmark where we had the opportunity to excavate a medieval parish cemetery and learn about transition analysis. After this point, I focused my specialization on physical anthropology and archaeology. In the summer and year after graduation, I worked with a Ph.D. candidate from Tulane University on an excavation of burials in the Peruvian Andes. I also completed an internship with the District 12 medical examiner’s office in Sarasota, Florida. After honing my casework and research skills at Mercyhurst, I hope to pursue more education in the form of a Ph.D. or medical degree to advance in the field of forensics.

Holly Armstrong

M.S. Criminal Justice, Forensic Science

Ashford University (Online)

B.S. Double Major, History and Criminology

University of South Florida (Sarasota, FL)

I have always been interested in the medical field, criminology and forensics, so the Graduate Certificate Program in Forensic and Biological Anthropology at Mercyhurst University is a dream come true! I took several pre-nursing courses at Jamestown Community College including Anatomy and Physiology I and II and Nutrition. I moved to Florida in 2009 and graduated from the State College of Florida in Bradenton in 2010; I then transferred to USF in 2011 to pursue criminology. While there, I participated as an event planner in the Criminology Club, contacting local and federal organizations to request their involvement in our criminology career expo. I also participated in a research study conducted by Dr. Fawn Ngo in which I coded data sets. I graduated in May 2013, several months after moving back to Pennsylvania, and eventually became certified with a Child Development Associate credential, acting as director of Prihoda Children’s Center daycare and early learning center, where I am currently employed. After several years, I enrolled at Ashford University, graduating with an M.S. in Criminal Justice and a specialization in Forensic Science in March 2019.  My goal is to work in the field of death investigation.

Sarai Colon

B.A. in Anthropology, Minor in East Asian Studies

New York University

I earned my B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in East Asian Studies from New York University. As an undergraduate student, my classes ranged between courses in physical anthropology and cultural anthropology. I volunteered at the NYU Center for the Study of Human Origins where I worked with casts of primate teeth and helped my advisor with her research while conducting 3D scans. I studied abroad in Shanghai, China where I was able to conduct research on international relations between China, North and South Korea, and the United States. After taking a course in Forensic Anthropology, I realized that I wanted to continue my studies in the field while also incorporating my other interests in international relations and cultural anthropology. My research interests include histology, mass graves, taphonomy in regards to soil chemistry, and evidence of trauma in victims of war crimes or abuse. After completing my M.S. at Mercyhurst I plan on obtaining a Ph.D. or a law degree and ultimately working at the U.N. 

Emily Brooks

B.A. in Anthropology

California State University, Northridge (CSUN)

I graduated with honors from CSUN where I earned my B.A. in Anthropology. Throughout my college career I’ve been interested in all four fields of anthropology, but I became passionate about archaeology and forensic anthropology after spending summers abroad. I have been to Belize for an archaeological field school, interned at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and have been with the Odyssey Field School in Limassol, Cyprus for experience with osteology, bioarchaeology, and forensic anthropology. Additionally, I have conducted my own research through the Odyssey Field School. My research interests include osteological evidence of violence, taphonomy (specifically in application towards mass graves), ballistic and blunt force trauma analyses, and skeletal biomechanics and morphology. After obtaining my M.S. I aspire to go to a Ph.D. program to continue my education in regards to forensic anthropology and pursue a career in academia. 

Arianna Sofka

B.A. Anthropology

State University of New York (SUNY), New Paltz

I knew that I wanted to work with skeletal remains in a forensic setting since I was a preteen and began collecting faunal remains in my free time. As an artist I began drawing remains when I got older, with the goal of creating a drawing that somebody could learn from. Graduating with my B.A. in Anthropology in 2018 from SUNY New Paltz, I focused on biological anthropology and began attending field schools to gain experience in the field. I had my first experience in bioarchaeology while attending a field school in Italy dedicated to excavating cholera victims and monks at a now-abandoned church. Eventually, I attended another field school in Ohio with the same team, also dedicated to excavating a forgotten cemetery in the hope of identifying the victims of cholera. Lastly, I attended a general archaeology field school at SUNY New Paltz. Excavating remains in Ohio was one of the most rewarding aspects of my fieldwork to this date, and drove me to be determined to continue my education in Forensic Anthropology. My goals are to work with crime scene recovery, and delve more into my interests in skeletal trauma and medical drawing.

Kristine Kortonick

B.S. Biological Sciences, Minors in Chemistry and Anthropology

Rowan University, New Jersey

I earned my B.S. in Biological Science with minors in Chemistry and Anthropology from Rowan University. I was first introduced to forensic and biological anthropology when I took a forensic anthropology course during my Junior year. I was immediately fascinated with the discipline and I began to gain more experience in anthropology and bioarcheology. During undergrad, I worked at the Archaeological Museum of La Serena, Chile (Museo Arqueológico de La Serena). Here, I conducted conservation and bioarcheological analyses on archaeological skeletal remains. The individuals that I studied were Native South Americans that lived approximately 500-3000 years ago. I focused on paleopathologies in these populations and conducted a case study on a unique case of osteomyelitis of the hard palate. In addition, I presented at several conferences including Sigma Xi at Saint Joseph’s University, and the Bioarchaeologists’ Northeast Regional Dialogue. I look forward to building upon these experiences at Mercyhurst University. I plan to pursue a career involving both casework and research.

Anthony Lanfranchi

B.S. Applied Forensic Sciences, Forensic Anthropology Concentration

Mercyhurst University, PA

I earned my Bachelor’s degree from Mercyhurst University. During my time as an undergraduate I had the opportunity to work as a department work study, where I gained experience with our donated collections, processing both zooarchaeological and human remains. I also had the chance to work as a summer fellow for the department, gaining administrative and casework experience. My experience with forensic casework continued throughout my senior year, as I worked on both recoveries and lab analyses. In the summer of 2018, I worked for Duke University’s Talent Identification Program (TiP) as a teaching assistant for the forensic science course. I continued my teaching experience by assisting faculty with Mercyhurst’s undergraduate Human Osteology and Biological Profile classes. I had the opportunity to assist graduate students in their research and conduct my own research, where I studied partial crania of Hispanic individuals and how they are misclassified in FORDISC 3.1. The following year I took this project and expanded it, using specific measurements to replicate partial crania from known individuals to assess the accuracy of FORDISC 3.1. Both projects were presented at the Mercyhurst Illumination Symposium in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Outside of academics, I play hockey for Mercyhurst’s ACHA hockey team. Returning to Mercyhurst, I look forward to expanding my existing research and working closely with faculty to explore other research areas, including stable isotope analysis, forensic taphonomy, trauma analysis, and the use of 3D scans in estimating the biological profile.

Elizabeth Brooks

B.S. Anthropology, B.S. Forensic Science

Arizona State University, Arizona

I have always loved science; I took every course I could in high school. For college, I started at Arizona State University where I planned to earn a B.S. in Forensic Science. I quickly found an interest in my anthropology electives there. I decided to earn a B.S. in both areas after learning more about forensic anthropology at a special lecture. In that time, I also volunteered at the county medical examiner’s office and completed my honors thesis studying animal alteration to remains. I also instructed biology and genetics lab courses at Arizona State University for a year before being accepted to Mercyhurst. While here, I hope to continue learning all that I can through classes and hands-on casework. I ultimately plan to go into death investigation after earning my master’s degree.

Entrance: 2018

Kora Dueno

B.A. Anthropology, Forensic Anthropology Concentration

Certificate of Forensic Studies

University of Montana (Missoula, MT)

My enthusiasm and drive to be a forensic anthropologist began when I was in 5th grade when I connected with a substitute teacher that was close friends with Dr. Diane France, a successful forensic anthropologist. Wholeheartedly inspired, I pursued my dream by moving to Missoula, MT where I earned my bachelor’s degree in anthropology at the University of Montana in May 2018. Dabbling outside of anthropology, I was fortunate to acquire microbial ecology experience as a laboratory assistant with the Holben Microbial Ecology Laboratory from 2015 to 2018. In the spring of 2017, I worked in tandem with Dr. Ashley Kendell and fellow graduate students on evaluating cold cases sent in by the Missoula County Coroner’s Office. The following summer I attended the Slavia Field School in Mortuary Archaeology in Drawsko, Poland, and gained experience in archaeological excavation and osteological analysis. This unique experience not only taught me that I enjoyed being in both the field and the laboratory, but also solidified my forensic anthropological interests, which led me here to Mercyhurst University. My research interests include skeletal trauma, pathology, mass disaster recoveries, and skeletal identification.

Kelly Galvin

B.S. Anthropological Science

PG.Dip. Forensic Science

University of Auckland (Auckland, New Zealand)

Coming from New Zealand, I attended the University of Auckland where I gained a Bachelor of Science in Anthropological Science and a Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Science. While there, I took part in a one-year exchange to the University of Texas at Arlington, as well as a field school at Great Mercury Island, a site of significant Māori occupation in New Zealand. Before I came to the United States, I also worked as a Teaching Assistant and an Assistant Research Fellow for the University of Otago (looking at the CSI Effect on Education, specifically in a New Zealand context). I decided to come to the United States so that I could get a more focused Forensic Anthropology degree and I chose Mercyhurst for the combination of both theory and field work available to graduate students. My interests predominantly lie in human rights investigations and mass disaster recoveries and after earning my master’s degree at Mercyhurst, I would like to work within these specialties before pursuing a PhD in the subject.

Amelia Juneau

B.A. Anthropology, Minor Sociology

Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA)

I earned my B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in Sociology from Louisiana State University (LSU). During my time at LSU, I had the opportunity to work in both the Digital Imaging and Visualization in Archaeology (DIVA) Lab, where I learned 3D imaging technologies and artifact preservation, and the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Lab. As a student worker for FACES, I worked with the donated collection, participated in forensic casework, and in 2016, assisted in the efforts to identify burials disturbed by the historic flooding in Baton Rouge that summer. I spent the summer of 2017 as an intern at the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State (FACTS) in San Marcos, TX where I gained experience in the curation of research collections at the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility (FARF). I was also a member of LSU’s Ogden Honors College and as part of the honors program, I conducted a research project that culminated in an honors thesis. For my thesis, I compared tooth wear in a contemporary non-US population to the same in a contemporary US population to determine the validity of tooth wear as an indicator of geographic region of origin. While at Mercyhurst, I hope to develop my skills and pursue my interests in forensic archaeology, trauma, skeletal identification, skeletal variation, investigation of human rights atrocities, and mass disaster recovery. Ultimately, my goal is to earn my PhD and pursue a career where I will be able to combine academia, research, and casework.

Laura Lucero

B.A. Anthropology

B.A. Biology

University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)

I attended The University of San Diego where I earned a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.A. in Biology. At the beginning of my undergrad I took a course in biological anthropology and I fell in love with the discipline. I completed a senior thesis researching the morphology of the hominin Homo naledi. In this research, I identified features on the hand fossils that related to precision grip and compared them to modern humans to understand their capabilities. This research involved using new imaging technology as well as 3D printing and I hope to integrate this technology in my future research.  I have also interned at a zooarchaeology laboratory at the San Diego Natural History Museum and performed field work at a paleontological site near Choteau, MT. These experiences confirmed my interests in human osteology and my desire to apply my skills to forensic anthropology. My interests are primarily in juvenile osteology, trauma, and skeletal identification. In the future, I plan to pursue a PhD and conduct research to further the field.

Anna Posthumus

B.A. Anthropology

University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)

I have wanted to pursue a career in anthropology and forensic science since eighth grade, so at the University of San Diego I earned my B.A. in Anthropology (concentrating on biological anthropology) with a minor in Biology. During my undergraduate years, I conducted an independent study analyzing and casting tooth marks and fracture patterns on animal remains. Moreover, I attended a few Mercyhurst summer short courses, which gave me more experience with archaeological excavation and fragmentary osteology. I learned about Mercyhurst in high school and have always wanted to be a part of this graduate program. After obtaining my master’s degree, I would like to work as a medicolegal death investigator and eventually go back to school to earn a PhD.

Caitlin Sachsenmeier

B.S. in Forensic Science, Forensic Biology Concentration

B.S. in Biology, Minor Sociology

West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV)

I graduated from West Virginia University in 2015 with dual degrees in Forensic Biology and Biology. I went to WVU because I wanted to pursue a career in forensics to give a voice back to the dead and let them tell their story. I interned at the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office in Phoenix, AZ during the summer of 2014, where I was able to assist with autopsies and fingerprinting decedents. I completed two capstone projects involving how varying levels of decay affect variation on soil microbial communities and determining change in percent reflectance of blow fly pupae using video spectral comparator. After graduating, I worked in CVS pharmacy as a pharmacy technician and completed the medical post baccalaureate program at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. My interests for research include post mortem interval, trauma and the relationship between soft tissue and bone. After completing the master’s program here at Mercyhurst, I would like to pursue either a PhD in Anatomy or an MD degree to become a medical examiner.