Todd W. Fenton

  • Associate Professor
  • Director, MSU Forensic Anthropology Laboratory


A419 East Fee Hall

Research Interests

  • Physical Anthropology
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Human Osteology

Biographical Info

TODD FENTON is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the MSU Forensic Anthropology Laboratory. Dr. Fenton is a physical anthropologist who specializes in forensic anthropology. His interests focus on the analysis of skeletal trauma as well as techniques in human identification. He recently completed his second National Institute of Justice funded research project titled “Pediatric Fracture Printing: Creating a Science of Statistical Fracture Signature Analysis” with co-PIs Dr. Roger Haut and Dr. Anil Jain (NIJ 2011-DN-BX-K540). Both of his NIJ grants have focused on understanding the biomechanics of pediatric cranial fracture, including fracture initiation, propagation and patterning. Additionally, the effects of energy level, interface compliance, impactor shape, and head drops versus entrapped impacts have been investigated using an infant porcine (pig, Sus scrofa) model. In addition to his work on pediatric cranial fracture interpretation, Dr. Fenton is currently focusing on adult cranial fracture interpretation via experimental biomechanical impacts. In terms of bioarchaeology, Dr. Fenton has ongoing, long-term collaborative projects in Italy. In 2014 he began his collaborative work on the Alberese Project, a Roman excavation in Tuscany directed by Dr. Sandro Sebastiani, Dr. Inge Hansen, Elena Chirico and Matteo Colombini. For the summer of 2015, he begins a new collaborative project analyzing the skeletons from the nearby Roman town of Rusellae. Additionally, he is continuing his collaboration with Dr. Paul Arthur of the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy on the analysis of the human remains from the medieval village of Apigliano. Dr. Fenton is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Forensic Sciences Foundation, and Board Member of the NIST OSAC Anthropology Subcommittee.


(In press) The Role of Interface on the Impact Characteristics and Cranial Fracture Patterns Using the Immature Porcine Head Model. DeLand TS, Niespodziewanski E, Fenton TW, Haut RC. Journal of Forensic Sciences. Expected publication date March 2016.

(In press) Human Identification via Lateral Patella Radiographs: A Validation Study. Emily Niespodziewanski, M.A., Carl N. Stephan, Ph.D., Pierre Guyomarc’h, Ph.D., Todd W. Fenton, Ph.D. Journal of Forensic Sciences. Expected publication date of January 2016.

2013 Fracture characteristics of entrapped head impacts vs. controlled head drops in infant porcine specimens. Powell BJ, Passalacqua NV, Fenton TW, Haut RC. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 58, No. 3, May 2013.

2013 “Personal Identification in Anthropology”. Carolyn V. Hurst, Angela Soler and Todd W. Fenton. In: Siegel JA and Saukko P, eds. Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences, 2nd edition. Elsevier.

2012 “Developments in Skeletal Trauma: Blunt Force Trauma”. Nick Passalacqua and Todd W. Fenton. In Dirkmaat, ed. A Companion to Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology. Blackwell Publishing.

2012 “Human Identification Using Skull-Photo Superimposition and Forensic Image Comparison”. Norman Sauer, Amy Michael, and Todd W. Fenton. In Dirkmaat, ed. A Companion to Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology. Blackwell Publishing.

2012  Powell BJ, Passalacqua NV, Baumer TG, Fenton TW, and Haut RC. Fracture Patterns on the Infant Porcine Skull Following Severe Blunt Impact. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 57, No. 2, March 2012.

2012 Osteological and Molecular Identification of Brucellosis in Ancient Butrint, Albania. Mutolo MJ, Jenny LL, Buzek AR, Fenton TW, and Foran DR. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Feb;147(2):254-63.

2011 Malone CA, Sauer NJ, and TW Fenton. A Radiographic Assessment of Pediatric Fracture Healing and Time Since Injury. Journal of Forensic Sciences. Vol. 56, No. 5, September 2011.

2011  Burt NM, Sauer N, and Fenton T. Testing the Demirjian and the International Demirjian Dental Aging Methods on a Mixed Ancestry Urban American Subadult Sample from Detroit, MI. Journal of Forensic Sciences. Vol. 56, No. 5, September 2011.

2010 Baumer T, Passalacqua NV, Powell B, Newberry W, Smith W, Fenton TW and Haut RC. “Age-Dependent Fracture Characteristics of Rigid and Compliant Surface Impacts on the Infant Skull-A Porcine Model.” Journal of Forensic Sciences.

2010 Baumer TG, Nashelsky M, Hurst CV, Passalacqua NV, Fenton TW, and Haut RC. “Characteristics and Prediction of Cranial Crush Injuries in Children.” Journal of Forensic Sciences.

2009 Baumer T, Powell P, Fenton TW, and Haut RC. “Age-Dependent Mechanical Properties of the Infant Porcine Skull and a Correlation to the Human.” Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, Vol. 131, no. 11, 111006.

2009 Fenton TW. Book Review of: “The Analysis of Burned Human Remains.” Journal of Forensic Sciences, January 2009.

2008 Fenton TW, Heard AN, and Sauer NJ “Skull-Photo Superimposition and Border Deaths: Identification Through Exclusion and the Failure to Exclude”. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 53(1).

2008 Birkby WH, Fenton TW, and Anderson BE. “Identifying Southwest Hispanics Using Nonmetric Traits and the Cultural Profile”. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 53(1).

2006 Lorenc Bejko, Todd Fenton and David Foran “Recent Advances in Albanian Mortuary Archaeology, Human Osteology and Ancient DNA,” in L. Bejko and R. Hodges eds. New Directions in Albanian Archaeology. International Centre for Albanian Archaeology Monograph Series No. 1, Tirana, 2006

2005 Rennick SL, Fenton TW, and Foran DR. “The Effects of Skeletal Preparation Techniques on DNA from Human and Nonhuman Bone”. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 50, Issue 5, September.

2005 Rautman AR and Fenton TW. “A Case of Historic Cannibalism in the American West: Implications for Southwestern Archaeology”. American Antiquity, 70(2), pp. 321-341.

2005 Fenton TW, Stefan V, Wood L, Sauer NJ. “Symmetrical Fracturing of the Skull from Midline Contact Gunshot Wounds: Reconstruction of Individual Death Histories from Skeletonized Human Remains”. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 50, Issue 2, March.

2005 Koot M, Fenton TW, and Sauer NJ. “Radiographic Human Identification Using Bones of the Hand: A Validation Study”. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 50, Issue 2, March.

2003 Fenton TW, DeJong J, and Haut R.  “Punched With a Fist: The Etiology of a Depressed Cranial Fracture”. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 48, No. 2, 277-281.

2003 Fenton TW, Birkby WH, and Cornelison JC.  “A Fast and Safe Nonbleaching Method for Forensic Skeletal Preparation”. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 48, No. 2, 274-276.

1998  Green, T., Cochran, B., Fenton, T., Titmus, G., Tieszen, L., Davis, M.A., and S. Miller. The Buhl Burial: A Paleoindian Woman from Southern Idaho. American Antiquity, July 1998.

1995  Soren, D., Fenton, T. and W. Birkby.  The Late Roman Infant Cemetery Near Lugnano in Teverina, Italy: Some Implications. Journal of Paleopathology 7 (1): 13-42.