Carolyn Isaac

  • Assistant Professor
  • Director of the MSU Forensic Anthropology Laboratory


117b Giltner Hall

Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

    Forensic Anthropology
    Human Osteology
    Fracture Histomorphology
    Bone Histology
    Fracture Healing
    Positive Identification
    Mass fatality management

Biographical Info

I am a physical/biological anthropologist that specializes in forensic anthropology. My main research focus is the histological progression and stages of cranial fracture healing and how this can be used to determine the age of an injury. The goal of this project is to generate baseline empirical data on the cells and tissues involved in fracture healing at different stages and to provide forensic practitioners with a method to estimate the age of a healing fracture. Such estimations can aid in determining whether an injury contributed to death, whether there are multiple injuries of various ages indicting a pattern of abuse, and may directly contribute to the manner of death classification (homicide, suicide, accident, natural, or indeterminate).

Current Research Projects

-Investigations on the Cellular and Morphologic Characteristics of Cranial Vault Fracture: Research and Development of a Time Since Fracture Protocol and Database
-Consortium for Integrated Forensic Applications, Collaborations, and Technology Systems (IFACTS): Machine Learning Methods for Death Investigation and Human Identification


Isaac CV, Cornelison JB, Devota CJ, Bailey K, Langworthy J. 2022. A Method for the Development of Cranial Fracture Histology Slides. Journal of Forensic Sciences.
Armelli K, Christensen E, Isaac C, Cornelison J. 2022. Steam Kettle Skeletal Preparation: An Efficient Method for Processing Human Remains. Forensic Anthropology.
Cornelison JB, Isaac CV, Devota CJ, Billian J, Brown TB, deJong JL, Douglas EA, Fisher-Hubbard AO, Lackey-Cornelison WL, Prahlow JA, Shattuck BL. 2022. A Comparison of Three Decalcification Agents for Assessments of Cranial Fracture Histomorphology. Journal of Forensic Sciences.
Isaac CV, Cornelison JB, Prahlow JA, Devota CJ, Christensen ER. 2022. The Repository of Antemortem Injury Response (REPAIR): An Online Database for Skeletal Injuries of Known Ages. International Journal of Legal Medicine.
Beatrice J, Fenton TW, Isaac CV, Jenny L, Wankmiller J, Mutolo M, Rauzi C, Foran D. 2020. The Human Skeletons from the Triconch Palace and the Merchant’s House. In: Bowden W, editor. Butrint 5: Life and Death at a Mediterranean Port: The Non-Ceramic Finds from the Triconch Palace. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Soler A, Isaac CV, Beatrice J, Fenton TW. 2019. The Human Skeletons from Vrina Plain. In: Greenslade S, editor. Butrint 6: Excavations on the Vrina Plain, Volume 2: The Finds. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Morgan LO, Johnson M, Cornelison J, Isaac C, deJong J, Prahlow JA. 2019. Two Novel Methods for Enhancing Postmortem Fingerprint Recovery from Mummified Remains. Journal of Forensic Sciences 64(2): 602-606.
Isaac CV, Cornelison JB, Castellani RJ, deJong JL. 2018. A Unique Type of Birth Trauma Mistaken for Abuse. Journal of Forensic Sciences 63(2):602-607.
Isaac CV, Cornelison JB. 2018. The Practical Application of Forensic Anthropology. In: Biswas G, editor. Recent Advances in Forensic Medicine and Toxicology. New Delhi, India: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers Ltd.
Fenton TW, Hurst CV, Vollner JM. 2015. L’analisi dei resti scheletrici umani. In: Arthur P, Leo Imperiale M, and Tinelli M, editors. Apigliano: Un Villagio Bizantino e Medievale in Terra D’Otranto. Lecce, Italy: Progetto In-Cul.Tu.Re.
Isaac CV, Cornelison JB, deJong JL. 2014. An Investigative Tool for Detecting Elder Abuse. Academic Forensic Pathology 4(4):524-531.