Skeletal Biology and Forensic Anthropology Research Group

Skeletal Biology and Forensic Anthropology Research Group

The Skeletal Biology and Forensic Anthropology Research Group conducts research that relates to the study of ancient and modern human skeletal and dental remains. This includes sub-fields of biological anthropology such as bioarchaeology (osteoarchaeology), palaeopathology, forensic anthropology, and biology of the human skeleton.

Our research in bioarchaeology investigates how our ancient ancestors weathered large-scale transitions such as the adoption of agriculture and the rise of social inequality. We do this by exploring the evidence for ancient human behaviour, demography, stress, and disease that is captured in human remains from archaeological contexts. Our work is primarily focused on Southeast Asian and European populations.

Our forensic research focuses on developing new and more accurate methods for identifying recent human remains, estimating time-since-death, and approximating circumstances of death.

Our analyses combine macro- and microscopic technical approaches in the lab, survey and recovery in the field, and advanced statistical analyses.

Professor Marc Oxenham’s chief research focus centres on understanding ancient human biological responses to major lifeway shifts in Southeast Asia, Scotland, and Ireland. 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. Most recently, he was awarded a four-year British Academy Global Professorship which he has taken up at the University of Aberdeen. 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 Stacey Ward’s principal research interest is investigating the impacts that large-scale social transitions had on ancient human health, with a particular focus on how these impacts varied among marginalised peoples in prehistoric and protohistoric Southeast Asia. Additional research interests include exploring educational best practice in bioarchaeology; spatial analysis of bioarchaeological data; and repatriation of Indigenous human remains in Australia and New Zealand.

We are an active group with several PhD, Masters and Honours research students engaging in projects ranging 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 Professor Oxenham ( or Dr Ward ( Please note Professor Oxenham is currently based at the University of Aberdeen where he is completing his British Academy Global Fellowship (2020-2024).

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.

Research Group members

Prof Marc Oxenham – Professor of Bioarchaeology, British Academy Global Professor

Dr Stacey Ward - Lecturer in Biological Anthropology

Dr Jarvis Hayman – Visiting Fellow

Dr Christine Cave – Visiting Fellow

Chelsea Morgan – MPhil Student

Karen Cooke – PhD Student

Tahlia Stewart – PhD Student

Alejandra Henriquez – PhD Student

Don Matthews – PhD Student

Catherine Fitzgerald - PhD Student

Felicity Gilbert – PhD Student

Nicole McFarlane – PhD Student

Heloisa Mariath - PhD Student

Juliet Meyer – PhD Student

Lindsay Watson – PhD Student

Ellen Murphy – Masters Student


Previous Research Group Members:

Gina Basile – Honours Student

Liv Beatty – Honours Student

Keelan Goodisson - Honours Student

Britta Van Tiel - Honours Student

Alex Wulff - Honours Student

Emma Spencer – Masters Student

Tianyi Wang – Masters Student

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Updated:  13 September 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications