Skeletal Biology and Forensic Anthropology Research Group

Skeletal Biology and Forensic Anthropology Research Group

The Skeletal Biology and Forensic Anthropology Research Group conducts research in three main biological anthropology research areas: bioarchaeology, forensic anthropology, and biology of the human skeleton. Our research in bioarchaeology is primarily focused on Southeast-Asian and European populations, aiming to reconstruct ancient human lifeways, behaviour, health, and disease by studying human skeletal remains from archaeological contexts. Our forensic focus is on developing new and more accurate methods of identifying (e.g. estimating stature) recent human remains, and estimating time-since and manner of death. Finally, we study the anatomy, structure, variation, and metabolic processes involved in skeletal growth and function in humans and animal models, to further our current understanding of human skeletal biology. Our analyses combine macro- and microscopic technical approaches.

Prof Marc Oxenham’s chief research focus centres on understanding ancient human biological responses to major lifeway shifts in Southeast Asia. His work in Japan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam (in particular) has been funded from a number of sources, with the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and Australian Research Council providing the bulk of support. His secondary research focus is elucidating the processes, patterning and rate of soft and hard tissue decomposition in a range of media (surface, sub-surface, and aquatic) in order to develop more precise models for estimating human time since death in Australian conditions.

Dr Justyna Miszkiewicz’s primary research interest is to reconstruct past human adaptation (mainly behaviour/mechanical loading history/overall lifestyle) from ancient skeletal remains (bioarchaeology). Secondarily, she aims to further our understanding of skeletal growth and metabolism in humans and other vertebrates (skeletal biology). Her methodological specialism lies in hard tissue histology, but she also has experience in experimental biomechanics, X-ray imaging, and micro-CT.

We are an active group with several PhD, Masters and Honours research students who engage in projects that range from lab-based skeletal biology and experimental forensic anthropology to field based bioarchaeology. If you are interested in pursuing a research project in our lab, please contact either Prof Oxenham ( ) or Dr Miszkiewicz (

Equipment and facilities

We have standard Osteology research and teaching lab facilities (Bio-Anthropology Teaching Lab Banks 239 and Bio-Anthropology Research Lab Banks 249) with anthropometric equipment, two fume cupboards, and a freezer, which are suitable for gross anatomical examination of human and animal model skeletal specimens. We house an extensive collection of human juvenile and adult skeletal cranial and post-cranial casts, as well as specimens representing a range of skeletal abnormalities.

We also have specialised facilities for microstructural analyses (thin sectioning and confocal topography) of hard tissues. Our Histology (Banks 229) lab is equipped with a cutting saw with a diamond blade, an Olympus BX53 with Olympus DP74 camera high powered microscope, and a Buehler EcoMet 300/AutoMet 300 Pro Touchscreen grinder-polisher. A desktop confocal microscope Olympus OLS5000 (funded by the Major Equipment Grant from the ANU) is also located inside the Histology Lab Banks 229.

Our "library" of thin sections is growing day by day. The lab is set up for processing of archaeological and palaeontological vertebrate skeletal (bones and teeth) samples, as well as modern teeth (of forensic or clinical origin with ethics clearance per project). We do not process fresh bone, only dry and highly mineralised skeletal samples. Please contact Dr Justyna Miszkiewicz ( ) for tissue processing training, protocols, and expertise.

Low powered dissecting microscopes with microscope cameras are also available.

Research Group members


Prof Marc Oxenham – Professor of Bioarchaeology

Dr Justyna Miszkiewicz - Lecturer in Biological Anthropology

Dr Jarvis Hayman – Visiting Fellow

Dr Christine Cave – Visiting Fellow

Chelsea Morgan – PhD Student

Madeleine Green – PhD Student

Karen Cooke – PhD Student

Tahlia Stewart – PhD Student

Bonnie Clark – PhD Student

Alejandra Henriquez – PhD Student

Don Matthews – PhD Student

Catherine Fitzgerald - PhD Student

Felicity Gilbert – PhD Student

Clare McFadden – PhD Student

Nicole McFarlane – PhD Student

Heloisa Mariath - PhD Student

Juliet Meyer – PhD Student

Ken Ross – PhD Student

Lindsay Watson – PhD Student

Kate Phillips – Masters Student

Meg Walker – Masters Student

Lloyd Pieper – Masters Student

Tara Mann – Honours Student

Image gallery

Updated:  13 February 2019/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications