X Close

Centre for the Forensic Sciences Blog



MORPH2016: Measuring our models

By Sian E Smith, on 5 July 2016


Morphometric Applications in Archaeology and Anthropology

Our friends in the Institute of Archaeology (IOA) hosted a conference last month- Morph2016 : Morphometric Applications in Archaeology and Anthropology

Geometric morphometrics (GMM) is the quantitative measurement of morphological shape using geometric co-ordinates, rather than just measurements. Using CAD (computer assisted design) methods the geometry of an object can be captured with outline and landmark data, and 3D surface representations. Morphometric-based methods are increasingly used in diverse areas such as molecular genetics and environmental science, but they have become particularly relevant in archaeology and anthropology.

There was a wide variety of speakers including some of our CFS researchers and from the IOA.

Agathe Ribereau Gayon gave a presentation on an important discovery in her research so far. She observed a unique type of trauma on human remains in an oceanic environment; she discussed how she utilised 2D-photogrammetric methods to capture and categorise the geometric data of the trauma.


Agathe presenting her research


I presented a poster on my MRes project; a ‘proof of methodology’ study on the use of 3D-photogrammetry (specifically structure from motion) for modelling and analysing sharp-force trauma on bone. 3D-photogrammetry is commonly used in large-scale modelling of built environments and archaeological sites for example. By using macro lenses and adjusting the lighting conditions I have been able to apply this on a much smaller scale to create interactive models with sufficient details for weapon classification. We achieved a high level of success in distinguishing serrated from non-serrated blade edges, when compared to the current standard method of Scanning Electron Microscopy. 


My research poster

My research poster

Lily Stokoe, from the Institute of Archaeology, has been utilising 3D scanning to study the aetiology of osteoarthritis. This is an enduring mystery for osteologists and medical researchers. Using the 3D scans, she is able to take accurate measurements of the angles in the femur to identify potential biomechanical and lifestyle causes.

Dr Carolyn Rando talked about the challenges of integrating morphometrics into teaching. It has become an important part of how we analyse geometric data in archaeology and anthropology, but if you have a room full of students with different levels of tech skill, how do you make it accessible to all of them? By getting hands on with a simple, structured practical taking measurements from a skull, beginners through to more advanced students can understand where these methods can be beneficial.


Carolyn giving her talk on teaching morphometrics


Since Carolyn started teaching this, the IOA has gone from having very few students working in GMM to having a wide range of Msc and PhD students working on different applications of 2D and 3D imaging methods.

The committee organised a great conference; with the diverse group of speakers the conference explored a range of methodologies, practical applications, and key issues in the field.


Catch up with the tweets from the event with #MORPH2016


Forensic Osteology Module – An MSc Student Perspective

By uctzsh0, on 25 March 2016

On the first day of class, we were examining cadavers. On the second day of class, I was dissecting an arm. On the third day of class, we were boiling, or as it’s called, macerating, a defleshed limb. For the forensic osteology module, we were thrown into the deep end right from day one.


In this module, we learned what the role of a forensic osteologist entails, and their place in a criminal investigation. We also learned the anatomy of the human skeleton, with each student in the class being provided one at their desk for every lecture. Being able to hold the physical bone, instead of just looking at pictures really helps to solidify what you’re learning, as well as be more engaged with the content. We didn’t just work with bones though; we also learned how the whole body can aid a forensic investigation throughout all stages of the decomposition process.

The course culminated with a case study where, in small groups, we were given a bag filled with remains and extra pieces of evidence. Our task was to not only create a biological profile of who these bones belonged to (sometimes more than one person), but also suggest how they died and any other information we could infer from the evidence. This project helped to synthesize the material, and put into practice what I had learned throughout the course.

Forensic osteology was definitely one of my favourite modules this term, no bones about it.

CFS Team at AAFS

By uceeanc, on 18 February 2014

The annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences is currently underway in Seattle. Dr Morgan will be in attendance, accompanied by a group of CFS doctoral students who will be presenting their research.

Helen Earwaker will be presenting her poster titled “Fingermark Submission Decision Making Within a United Kingdom Fingerprint Laboratory: Do Experts Get What They Need?”
Criminalistics Poster Session [Wednesday]

Georgia McCulloch’s presentation is entitled “Is High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) a Useful Addition to Current Geo-Forensic Analytical Techniques?”
Criminalistics Session II [Thursday 1:30pm]

Michaela Regan will be presenting her poster, titled “A Study to Determine the Use of Gunshot Residue Upon Clothing as an Item of Evidence”
General Poster Session [Wednesday]

Sherry Nakhaeizadeh will be giving a presentation on “Cognitive Bias in Forensic Anthropology: Visual Assessments of Skeletal Remains Are Susceptible to Confirmation Bias”
Physical Anthropology [Friday 12:00pm]

Dagmar Heinrich’s presentation is entitled “A “Realistic” Study of Sharp Force Trauma Recognition in Burned Remains: The Forensic Implications”
Physical Anthropology [Saturday 12:15]