Give fifteen Knox County high school students a hip bone and they can tell you if the person it belongs to was male, female, young, middle-aged, or old.
The students learned these skills while participating in the first-ever high school internship opportunity at UT’s Forensic Anthropology Center.
The two-week internship has run every day after school since November 10. The final research presentations will take place tomorrow with an open house for parents and teachers at the William M. Bass Forensic Anthropology Building.
The interns were selected by a committee of a UT professor and four graduate students.
The program offers students unique hands-on exposure to human osteology and forensic anthropology, the chance to work with experts in the field, and research experience.
“There is no longer a forensic science curriculum in Knox County high schools, so this program fills a void in their curriculum,” said Giovanna Vidoli, research assistant professor in anthropology and project coordinator. “It exposes students to forensic anthropology and forensic sciences in general. It also helps them develop research skills which will benefit them in any field they pursue.”
The first week focused on learning osteology and forensic anthropological methods to estimate biological profile and trauma analysis. In addition, students toured the molecular DNA laboratory and saw a DNA extraction. The second week focused on finalizing group research projects, collecting data, and working with graduate students that serve as their mentors.
Students get the added benefit of interacting with graduate students who have been through the college application process and can provide practical advice from their personal experiences, said Tiffany Saul, anthropology graduate student and project coordinator.