Five Women Lead Nation's Top Forensic Anthropology Center

April 20, 2021 — The Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) is renowned for its work in studying what happens to the body after death. It is also now run by five forensic anthropologists, all women.

“There’s this idea some people have that too many women can’t work well together,” said Giovanna Vidoli, an associate director for the FAC, in an article published by UTK. “We’re all alphas in some way, which is exactly why we work well together. We trust each other to do the job.”

In addition to conducting national and international forensic investigations and training law enforcement in the identification of human remains, the FAC also oversees the Anthropology Research Facility — inescapably known as the Body Farm.

The FAC is led by a team of five forensic anthropologists: Director Dawnie Steadman, Assistant Director Mary Davis, and Associate Directors Lee Meadows Jantz, Joanne Devlin, and Giovanna Vidoli.

The article published by UTK says that forensic anthropology has increasingly become a women-led field: "Of the nearly 40 graduate students currently workin gin the FAC, only three are men."

Theories shared by the top women of the FAC in the article include the possibility that women are "implicitly or explicitly turned away from the hard sciences," as well as the fact that women are drawn to social issues — and anthropology lends itself to the pursuit of justice for families.

You can read the full article here.

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