Dr. Fenton and Dr. Hefner Selected for National Standards Committee

Fenton and Hefner

Dr. Fenton and Dr. Hefner

The Department of Anthropology is honored to announce that Dr. Todd Fenton and Dr. Joseph Hefner have been selected as inaugural members of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) Subcommittee on Anthropology. This is part of the larger organization, National Institute of Justice and National Institute on Standards and Technology, made up of more than 500 forensic science practitioners and other experts who represent local, state and federal agencies, and are within academia and industry. Dr. Fenton and Dr. Hefner were announced in October 2014 as two initial members of OSAC’s subcommittee on Anthropology, and the first inaugural meeting of the committee took place in January 2015. The Subcommittee on Anthropology is a subsection of Crime Scene/ Death Investigation and part of the new OSAC. The broader goal of the initiative is to develop standards and best practice guidelines for the discipline.

The Subcommittee on Anthropology is an eighteen member committee that includes the top practitioners and researchers within Forensic Anthropology. Within the subcommittee, each member serves as a co-chair on a different best-practice guideline committee. Dr. Fenton is the Executive Secretary and co-chairs the Personal Identification and Trauma Analysis committees, and Dr. Hefner is serving as the co-chair for the Statistical Methods and Ancestry committees. The goal of the subcommittee is to establish best-practice guidelines for the discipline that will become standards for the field. This is an important step in that these standards can be referenced in court, helpful for legislation in the future, and will promote the use of common standards among forensic practitioners. Both Dr. Fenton and Dr. Hefner strongly believe in having these standards not only to improve the methods of discipline, but also to create stronger guidelines for personal and laboratory certification. These documents will set qualifications for who can be considered a forensic expert, promoting more rigorous certification of individuals and training labs, which will further add weight to court testimonials.

It is an honor for Dr. Fenton and Dr. Hefner to have been selected for these position, and is a positive reflection of the broader Department of Anthropology. Their service on these committees for the next four years or more, and will help to improve forensic anthropology as a discipline. The guidelines and standards developed by the Subcommittee on Anthropology will be living documents that will continue to be updated to reflect with new research and advancements. For now, the current goal is to create the first set of standards so that this process can begin.

You can learn more about the Subcommittee on Anthropology, as well as the broader Organization of Scientific Area Committees on their website at: http://www.nist.gov/forensics/osac/sub-anth.cfm

This article is in the Department of Anthropology’s Spring 2015 Newsletter, see the entire newsletter here.