Dr. Joe Hefner of the MSU Forensic Anthropology Lab, housed within the Department of Anthropology, was recently featured on ABC 12 News, a local Mid-Michigan subsidiary. When human remains are found by the Michigan State Police, they are brought to the MSU Forensic Anthropology Lab for identification, as was the case this fall when remains were found in both Saginaw and Flint. Hefner and his team of colleagues and graduate students work tirelessly to create a biological profile of the unidentified individual so that comparisons can be made to existing medical records. These comparisons allow both a positive identification of the body to made and a cause of death determined so that the family can be notified. Their job “is to provide closure for the families first and foremost,” says Hefner.
To watch the full interview on ABC 12, click here.
This is not the only job of the lab however. Contained within the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University, their facility is a teaching area where students come from far and wide to learn forensic and human remain identification techniques. Dr. Hefner and his colleagues hold teaching and research positions as well as the work they do for the Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies. The graduate students that work in the lab with him also attend the university full time as anthropology graduate students, completing Master’s and PhD.s and hold part time assistantships as teaching assistants for classes across the university in areas like anatomy, biology and anthropology.