Sue Black: What stories do our skeletons tell?
Professor Sue Black reveals how forensic anthropologists search for the criminal secrets that are etched on the bones of victims.
In today’s episode, we’re chatting to Professor Sue Black, an anatomist and forensic anthropologist. You might’ve seen characters doing her job on television, in shows like NCIS or Silent Witness – although, they’re not quite an accurate portrayal, as you’ll find out.
Over the course of her career, Sue has worked with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the United Nations, helping to identify victims and perpetrators from only sections of their bodies – perhaps a finger found in a bin bag, or the back of an assaulter’s hand caught on film. Her work has taken her to places such as Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq.
She talks to us about how science helps her piece together fragmented parts of a human jigsaw. This episode contains some graphic content, including descriptions of criminal acts and dissection, that some listeners might find upsetting.
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This podcast was supported by brilliant.org, helping people build quantitative skills in maths, science, and computer science with fun and challenging interactive explorations.
Listen to more episodes of the Science Focus Podcast:
- Brian Switek: How did bones evolve?
- Mark O'Connell: Transhumanism: using technology to live forever
- Bill Bryson: What should we know about how our bodies work?
- Nathan Lents: Everything that's wrong with the human body
- Ritu Raman: Can you build with biology?
- Aleks Krotoski: What happens to your data when you die?
Amy is the Editorial Assistant at BBC Science Focus. Her BA degree specialised in science publishing and she has been working as a journalist since graduating in 2018. In 2020, Amy was named Editorial Assistant of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors. She looks after all things books, culture and media. Her interests range from natural history and wildlife, to women in STEM and accessibility tech.