The Department of Anthropology Colloquium Series Presents

Determining the Origin of Human Skeletal Remains Using Stable Isotopes

Lesley Chesson
Isotope Analyst
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)

Thursday, January 23, 3:00 pm, Crawford Hall 115

Stable isotopes are "nature's recorders" and those recorded in human tissues, such as bones and hair, tell the story of a person's life: What did you eat? Where did you live? Answering these questions is possible because isotopes in tissues are related to the isotopes in drinking water and food, which vary based on geography, environment, cultural practices, etc. This presentation provides an overview of forensic isotope analysis, a relatively new investigative technique useful for the identification of human skeletal remains.

Ms. Lesley Chesson, MS; Isotope Analyst, PAE, contractor at the DPAA: Ms. Chesson is a biologist by training with 17 years' experience using forensic isotope analysis to examine illicit drugs, explosives, human remains, foods and beverages, trafficked wildlife, and pathogenic microbes. She has published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She is currently the senior scientist responsible for developing, directing, and maintaining a state-of-the-art isotope testing program at the DPAA-Laboratory in Hawaii for the examination of human remains. She is a member of the Forensic Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (FIRMS) Network and an invited member of its Steering Group.