Arts & Culture

UWF forensic anthropologist uses expertise in Science Magazine, will host lecture on forensic anthropology in UWF Downtown Lecture series

Dr. Allysha Winburn, assistant professor of anthropology, has dedicated the past 15 years as a forensic anthropologist, applying human skeletal and dental expertise to investigations of personal identity and circumstances of death. Winburn uses her knowledge of human variation at a global level to help answer questions of medicolegal significance. 

Dr. Allysha Winburn, UWF Assistant Professor of Anthropology.

Dr. Allysha Winburn, assistant professor of anthropology, has dedicated the past 15 years as a forensic anthropologist, applying human skeletal and dental expertise to investigations of personal identity and circumstances of death. Winburn uses her knowledge of human variation at a global level to help answer questions of medicolegal significance. 

Winburn was recently highlighted in an online feature in Science Magazine that discusses whether anthropologists should measure skulls of human remains to predict their continental ancestry and racial category. She weighed in on a debate over ancestry estimation in the article, titled “Forensic anthropologists can try to identify a person’s race from a skull. Should they?” The article includes a study by Winburn and a colleague about the accuracy of ancestry estimation and Winburn’s opinion on whether current racialized approaches to human variation should be changed to population-affinity approaches, recognizing more local, fine-grained social and biological groups.

“Human skeletal variation does not cluster within social races or continents,” Winburn said. “If forensic anthropologists utilize these categories in our work, we may be doing more harm than good, and reinforcing the incorrect, outdated idea that there are meaningful biological differences among these groups.”

Members of the community will have the opportunity to hear from Winburn and learn about the field of forensic research at the next installment of the UWF Downtown Lecture Series experience which will be held virtually this week on Nov. 18 from 6 to 7 p.m. It will be hosted by the UWF College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. Participants will enter the lab, field and crime scene with Winburn as she shares her diverse experiences in this rewarding and challenging profession. The lecture is free, but registration is required in advance.

Winburn received a bachelor’s degree in archaeological studies from Yale University, master’s degree in anthropology from New York University, and doctorate in anthropology from the University of Florida. In addition to her work in academia, Winburn is the consulting forensic anthropologist for the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and provides field-recovery services for law enforcement agencies throughout Florida and Alabama. Winburn also directs a five-week forensic anthropology summer field school.

To learn more about the UWF anthropology program, visit uwf.edu/anthropology. For more information about UWF Downtown Lecture Series, visit uwf.edu/downtownlectures.

NOTE: The remains photographed are artificial and soley used for simulation and educational purposes.