Analyzing Murder Cases, Teaching Biology

Ann Ross’ lab would look perfectly normal were it not for the skeletons on the tables.

There are three skeletons laying flat on separate tables. Two are fairly in tact, lined up from head to toe. The third comprises several charred bones, burned after death.

Ross runs the North Carolina Human Identification & Forensics Analysis Laboratory, which contracts with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for forensic anthropological casework statewide. She examines the remains of humans to help determine how they died and, if unknown, who they were. As a professor of biological sciences at NC State, she teaches students how to do the same. 

“This is an active forensics lab,” Ross said. “It’s not your normal research lab.”

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