Skip to main content

When the body can’t be recovered after a death, loved ones can’t get closure. And in cases of murder or genocide, perpetrators go unpunished without a recovered body.

Neal StewartProfessor of Plant Sciences Neal Stewart is part of a team that also includes anthropologists and soil scientists, all studying how trees and shrubs may change their chemistry, biology, and physical appearance in response to cadavers—cues that may be able to help investigators searching for bodies. His work builds on his earlier research using genetic engineering to create plants that can sense and report diseases and other conditions.

Working at UT’s renowned Forensic Anthropology Center—more commonly known as the “Body Farm”—the team is learning how to read the influx of nitrogen and other changes that take place as plants respond to the presence of a decomposing body. Read the full article on The Conversation.

UT is a member of The Conversation, an independent source for news articles and informed analysis written by the academic community and edited by journalists for the general public. Through our partnership, we seek to provide a better understanding of the important work of our faculty.




Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375,