Professor Dame Sue Black holding a 3d model of a skull.

I am an Anatomist and a Forensic Anthropologist. By exploring the intricacies and variability of the human body, my disciplines can help to uncover information about the living identity of an individual. This becomes particularly pertinent for police investigations when, for example, a body is found and the identity of the deceased is unknown.

Professor Dame Sue Black

It is challenging for the police to investigate a death if they do not know the name of the deceased. It may be that death has been very recent perhaps in a mass fatality event, or it may be that we are examining nothing more than a handful of bones uncovered by a dog walker on a remote hillside. All parts of the human body have a story to tell and our job is to decipher the clues of life that are written large in our bodies throughout our life.

It is a genuine honour to be granted permission to study the human body through anatomical dissection. The harmony and complexity of ‘form and function’ exhibited by the human form is utterly mesmerising and whilst we may have been studying the human body for many centuries, there is always more to be discovered. To then be able to take that knowledge and apply it to real-world situations, whether teaching students who will take their own knowledge out into the world of science, medicine or dentistry, or using it to assist investigative agencies reach a conclusion about an unexpected death, is compellingly life-affirming.

Not only do we assist the investigative authorities and the judicial system to execute their duties, we also help to bring closure to families who are bereft at the loss of someone they love.

Sue is holding a 3D printed replica of a child’s skull.