I never learn. Which is ironic considering the sector I work in. Whenever I get asked if I’d give a paper at a conference, I always think “Oh, that’s ages away, literally months away, I’m busy now but it’ll be fine by then…”. But it never is. Such was the case when I was asked by Sabrina Agarwal and Trent Trombley if I’d give a paper on burning at a special symposium of the American Academy of Biological Anthropology in March this year. Unfortunately I…Continue Reading “Biocultural Taphonomies: Teasing apart taphonomic filters in bioarchaeology”

As we all know by now, when it comes to academia, I’m pretty chill. I’m both easy and breezy, and I am hardly vengeful at all. So it takes a lot to make me sit down and type furiously at this keyboard brimming as I am with righteous indignation. Although the fact that an earlier post was exactly that does kinda undermine my argument… Anyway,  a couple of times recently, I’ve been presented with the same frustrating argument that I’ve heard countless times before. And…Continue Reading “That’s my secret, I’m always angry…”

Sometimes, just sometimes, I agree to do something before I’ve fully thought through how I can actually do it. And sometimes, just sometimes, innocent people get caught up in all of this. Now, I either do this because I have a pathological fear of saying ‘No’, or because I have unfaltering confidence in the abilities of my colleagues. Someone once said (Google tells me it was David Ogilvy, whoever he was…) that you should “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them…Continue Reading “I choo-choo choose you!”

I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see the recent Kenneth Branagh version of Murder on the Orient Express, but it’s very watchable. It’s got a great cast, it looks suitably opulent and has some nice lines in it. I’ve seen it twice now – once on my flight to Seattle for the AAFS in Feb, and then again this month at home. The nice thing about doing this is that you get to appreciate the film first as if in the dark,…Continue Reading “My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world…”

I was talking to my wife recently about the ‘Facebook-effect’ of being an academic – whereby people only see the positive things of the work, which results in a sense that everyone else is doing much better than you and that its so much easier for them. For me, I don’t like to go on about how hard it is to do the job well and get a decent work-life balance, because, being terribly British about it, I assume that no-one wants to hear me…Continue Reading “Publication bias”

This month saw our PhD student and resident lover-of-puns, Sam Griffiths take his viva. Readers of our old blog will remember that Sam has spent a number of years investigating the effect of submersion of bone in water. It was a complex piece of research which sought to bring together a range of analytical methods. He did experimental work, field work, scanning, all sorts. Wonderfully, he aced his viva, and is now Dr Sam Griffiths! Sam was based primarily at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton,…Continue Reading “Sibling Rivalry…”

I was delighted to be asked to be a Keynote speaker on the opening day of Teesside University’s 2016 Festival of Learning – a week long event exploring different aspects to teaching and learning. My talk was on the interplay between teaching and research, and I decided to use my group’s excellent work in both areas to highlight the benefits of using research as a hook for teaching. I’ll get the full text up online soon, but it was wonderful to get such positive feedback…Continue Reading “Festival of Learning”

I’m really pleased that the Second Edition of the extremely useful Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine is now out! And even more exciting is that I have four sections in it – all of them are in the ‘A’ section! I’ve whipped up a section on accreditation of forensic science with Brian Rankin, ancestral assessment of the skeleton with Popi Chrysostomou, animal attacks and marks on bones with David Errickson, and anthropological issues surrounding cremation. The book itself is huge and will no doubt be…Continue Reading “Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine (Second Edition)”

An enhanced stipend of £15,000 per annum is offered to a strong candidate for this full time PhD scholarship in the Technology Futures Institute at Teesside University. Episodes of mass violence occur for many reasons, but the treatment of the deceased is often used as a means of humiliating and threatening the victims, their relatives and the groups to which they belong. Forensic investigation of contexts of mass violence is often hampered by the challenging nature of the graves and deposition sites themselves. These may…Continue Reading “Degraded and degrading: understanding diagenetic processes in commingled graves from contexts of mass violence”

It’s graduation week this week – which is always a wonderful time in the academic year. All those students wandering across the stage to shake the VC’s hand, trying not to topple of those insane heels, have worked so hard for so long; it’s a real pleasure to see them again. This year is doubly special though, as Mark Butler graduates with his PhD. Mark is one of us, a member of staff, who has worked tirelessly over 5 years to gain his award –…Continue Reading “Mathematical!”