Portrait of Jessica Small

Jessica Small

PhD student
Biological Anthropology

About

PhD project: The forensic anthropology of burnt human juvenile teeth: a histological and scanning electron microscope approach

Estimating age of death is a fundamental step when creating a biological profile, and enamel histology has been shown to provide the most accurate method for reconstructing age-at-death in juvenile remains. Often, teeth are the only part of the skeleton preserved after exposure to heat, thus they are critical to forensic anthropologists for accurately reconstructing age-at-death for burnt human remains. This research aims to identify and evaluate potential influences on temperature reconstruction from burnt deciduous teeth and assess incremental line preservation for age-at-death purposes. Using histological and scanning electron microscope analysis, Jessica’s PhD is focused on answering questions concerning the relationship between temperature, enamel preservation and positioning of dentition within the jaw, differential burning patterns, and fracturing patterns of deciduous teeth.

Prior to starting this project, Jessica completed a BSc in Biological Anthropology from the University of Kent and an MSc in Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology at University College London. Her undergraduate dissertation focused on morphometric analysis of blunt trauma in relation to weapon identification and her Master’s research examined how taphonomic processes, such as ultraviolet radiation, affect identification and analysis of sharp force trauma.

Supervisors

Dr Patrick Mahoney
Dr Chris Deter

Funding

University of Kent, Vice Chancellor's Research Scholarship

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