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MORPH2016: Measuring our models

Sian ESmith5 July 2016

MORPHLogo

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.

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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.

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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

 

Careers Event

MariaSchizas3 June 2016

There are a variety of career paths that you can pursue after completing one of the MSc courses in the Department of Security and Crime Science. However, choosing a career path becomes more complicated when you are unsure about what you actually want to do, or completely lost as to your future (which is mainly why I attended this careers event!).

http://www.integritystaff.com/files/2014/10/your-caree.jpg

http://www.integritystaff.com/files/2014/10/your-caree.jpg

This career’s event aimed to firstly provide an opportunity to network with former students. Secondly the event enabled us to get insight into the experiences of the alumni since completing their degree and get guidance from their experience in pursuing their chosen careers, as well as picking up some essential tips. Thirdly, it opened up our minds to considering careers we had not thought of before.

The event resembled ‘speed dating’, so we each got about 7 minutes with five former students of the department who are now working in different fields, including the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, Metropolitan Police Cyber Unit, Forensic Outreach, and business development. The alumni talked about what they do and we then got the opportunity to ask them anything we wanted. It was helpful to ask about how they came across the opportunity, what they do during their day-to-day, and what they truly think about their jobs. They all really enjoy what they do and feel that the course they completed at UCL has helped them get to where they are now. Afterwards, there was an opportunity to ask any further questions. As always, drinks and snacks were provided, which helped to break the ice!

This experience showed me that the transferable skills you gain by working in our department and networking can be used in pursuing different career paths. The event had a great mix of people, with different backgrounds and interests within crime and forensic sciences. Finally, the sky is not the limit, and this careers event really inspired me. A big thank you to all the alumni who came back!