Western Carolina University Plans New Forensic Anthropology Research Facility

According to ABC News Western Carolina University is planning on creating a new forensic anthropology research facility to study how the environment in North Carolina affects the decomposition of human remains:

Soon, Williams will have a new place to conduct his research a well-hidden location near Western Carolina’s campus where he and students studying the science of the human skeleton and human remains can watch cadavers decompose in the mountainous environment of western North Carolina.


“They’ll be involved with the daily observation process. Very early on, you are examining that body daily, because the changes initially go very quickly,” Williams said. “They’ll learn how to observe as scientists.”

The facility will be modeled after the one at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville created by William Bass. I, personally like the last two paragraphs from the article:

More than anything, Williams said, the new Western Carolina facility will help students learn whether they literally have the stomach for a field that many choose based on having watched the popular “CSI” television shows.
“‘CSI’ paints this picture of this sterile, perfect world, where there are no, for example, smells, and even the sights TV flattens out,” Williams said. “One of the first thing I want our students to be exposed to is the real thing, so that they don’t spend a portion of their life learning this and then go on their first case and … realize, ‘I can’t handle this.'”

It also goes without saying that forensic science (which is what they do on CSI) and forensic anthropology (which is kind of what they do on “Bones”) are two different, but related, disciplines (if you really want to watch a show that gives a good sense of what forensic anthropology is all about watch ‘Skeleton Stories”).
At any rate, this is a good thing and I am happy to see it…
Added Later: Here is a press release from Western Carolina University. Note at the bottom that Texas State University is planning a similar facility…Cool Stuff!

7 Responses

  1. Wow, that is great news – and Cullowhee, NC, is just an idyllic place just at the border of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Hmm…perhaps they might need an adjunct professor to speak to the chemistry of toxic natural products???

  2. Yup, I’m wondering if they won’t need some sort of facilities supervisor – perhaps someone who regularly blogs about anthropology on SB…

  3. That is a great school in a great town. Their Biology department has some fantastic people as well. I am so happy to hear about this.

  4. I’m glad to hear it is a good school. Just goes to show, you don’t have to be Harvard to give a sound education…Meantime, how about those jellyfish?

  5. Don’t know…but everyone in the family except me is going to Murtle Beach today. I don’t think I have seen more than 2-3 jellyfish total over about 15 years of semi-regular going to Wrightsville Beach, though.

  6. Someone proposed a “body farm” recently in Northern Iowa. It must be a real, uh, ‘growth industry’.

  7. Cool!

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