Thursday 28 November 2013

Educating Yorkshire

I very much enjoyed watching the brilliant and inspirational series Educating Yorkshire, on Channel 4 recently. With the moving stories, images and accents from the series in mind, I was looking forward to my own foray into the secondary education establishments of the local communities. In the last few weeks, I have visited Calder HighSchool, Horizon Community College, Barnsley College, Sheffield City College to talk to Year 11’s and Sixth Formers about the principles of forensic science, routes into a forensic science career, what it is like being a Forensic Anthropologist, and interesting cases of mine. All of the students I have met have been enthusiastic, interested and eager to learn, soaking up my anecdotes and case examples. I have been interviewed by panels of students, and interrogated about all aspects of my job, with questions ranging from ‘what does death smell like?’ and ‘how can you tell how long someone has been dead?’ to (more amusingly) ‘what Health and Safety regulations do you observe?’ and ‘how much do you earn?’. Others which that have made me pause and think a little more have been ‘how do you cope with the horrible things you see?’; ‘do you have nightmares?’ and ‘what are the biggest challenges to Forensic Anthropology today?’. However, I am certain about one thing – I have enjoyed every minute of these ‘outreach’ activities, and have found each one very rewarding. I am keen to do more, so if you know a school or sixth form college where the students (and staff) would like to learn about Forensic Anthropology, please let me know!

Monday 11 November 2013

The Mystery of the Burnt Mummy

In case you didn't catch the Channel 4 Secret History documentary about Tutankhamun: The Mystery of the Burnt Mummy last night, there's another chance to see it here. My little bit is about 20 minutes in. It was a real pleasure working with Chris Naunton (follow him @chrisnaunton on Twitter), and learning about his research regarding the possibility that Tutankhamun's anointing oils had lead to signs of charring and burning on his body; and exploring the scenario that Tut's injuries were potentially caused by being run over by a chariot wheel. As we were only involved in a small section of the filming, it was really lovely to watch the entirety of Chris' research come to life. I thought it was a great documentary that showcased how new technology can solve ancient mysteries, which was pitched well for both lay people and academics. Oh, and more information about the really cool autopsy table we used can be found here!