Savannah Holcombe, Biological Anthropology

Savannah Holcombe analyzing scapula bones

When she first learned about forensic anthropology, Savannah Holcombe found that the field instantly resonated with her. At MSU, Holcombe followed her interests in forensic anthropology and became actively engaged in the MSU Forensic Anthropology Laboratory (MSUFAL) working with Dr. Joseph Hefner. In addition to her anthropology classes and experiences in the MSUFAL, Holcombe highly valued her coursework for her minor in African American and African Studies.

As an undergraduate research assistant, Holcombe worked with Dr. Hefner in the MSU Macromorphoscopic Laboratory on several projects. She received a College of Social Science Dean’s Assistantship to support a study that investigated sexual dimorphism in the human shoulder girdle through geometric morphometric analysis of the scapula. Holcombe’s research on quantifying sexual dimorphism in the morphology of the scapula contributes to efforts of estimating biological sex from the skeleton, which can aid in the identification of unknown human remains. Under the mentorship of Dr. Hefner and PhD student Micayla Spiros, Holcombe compared two methods of measurement to investigate which had the lowest error rates for sex estimation of the human scapula. She presented her research at the annual University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) and is preparing an article for publication.

In the fall, Holcombe will begin the master’s program in Forensic and Biological Anthropology at Mercyhurst University, where she is looking forward to expanding her knowledge, gaining more hands-on experience, and delving further into her research interests. After earning her master’s degree, she intends to pursue a PhD and ultimately teach at a university while dually consulting on forensic casework.

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