News and Announcements

The Forensic Anthropology Journal is up and running. The journal is sponsored by SOFA and primarily focuses on research, technical advancements, population data, and case studies related to the recovery and analysis of human remains in a forensic context. SOFA members get a discount on journal subscription! Check out the recently published works here:

Statement on Race, Racism, and Diversity in Forensic Anthropology

posted Aug 11, 2020, 7:09 PM by Viktor Zaytsev

In June 2020, an open letter to the AAFS was signed by approximately 250 forensic scientists acknowledging the need for forensic organizations to 1) recognize the ongoing structural inequalities and racism that exist in the U.S. criminal justice system and the forensic sciences, and 2) develop a formalized plan to address these issues within our scientific fields.  The Society of Forensic Anthropologists (SOFA) Board of Directors believes that professional organizations can encourage collective action towards change. The Board recognizes that the call for change within forensic science was started by a forensic anthropologist, and that the majority of the signatories to the letter are forensic anthropologists.

The SOFA Board of Directors acknowledges that systemic racism against Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) remains a pervasive condition in America, including in the forensic sciences and forensic anthropology. As forensic scientists, we are committed to ensuring that our practices are scientific and applied equally for all people. Our practice can only improve when we think critically and commit to scientific rigor.  In tandem, as anthropologists, we must look to our sister communities who are also calling for and making change, such as the AAA’s Association of Black Anthropologists, the AAPA, and the AAPA IDEAS subcommittee. We acknowledge the work of the AAFS Anthropology section Diversity and Inclusion committee in supporting diversity. We believe that our field can serve as the example for other forensic sciences by addressing the ideas and issues outlined below. 

As forensic anthropologists we believe the following:

-                  Race is social reality. The concept of biological race, however, is a historic artifact of discredited scientific thinking which justified pervasive racist policies and beliefs that still persist today. The ongoing impacts of racism are therefore perpetuated in our practice, including research, casework, academic settings, and conferences, in ways that we are only beginning to recognize and grapple with.

-           Research on human bodies and human differences, as well as the scientific practice of ancestry estimation using the phenotypic variation has historic roots in colonial and race-based science. While science has long since shifted away from outdated racial typologies to population-based models, anthropologists have continued to communicate findings to lay public safety and health authorities using the simplistic and fraught terminology of social race. Therefore, as a subfield of biological anthropology, forensic anthropology must strive to not only acknowledge the deficits in our practice borne of these historical factors, but to also identify ways to improve the field and update research paradigms moving forward.

-           Anthropology is one of the few social sciences that work at the intersection of STEM and law enforcement. As such, forensic anthropologists are uniquely situated to engage and educate law enforcement and other forensic practitioners regarding phenotypic variation and casework interpretation. We must be cognizant not only in this process of translation and interpretation, but also what is at stake when miscommunication or misrepresentation occurs.

SOFA supports the field of forensic anthropology’s critical engagement with race, racism and diversity, with the following examples as goals:

      Generate a sustainable forensic anthropology community that is safe for and supportive of BIPOC colleagues and students in tangible ways

      Raise our awareness of microaggressions, as well as the unconscious use of racially charged language and behaviors in personal interactions, teachings, and communications of research

      Commit to making pathways for BIPOC forensic scientists by increasing access, funding, training and research opportunities, providing mentorship, and pushing for diverse leadership within the discipline

      Create a culture where anthropologists recognize their privilege and promote a space of self-reflexivity, where all members of the community are critical of their language, perspectives and actions

      Create a culture where discussing concerns around the use of race, ancestry, and population affinity is commonplace and inclusive, and which integrates academic perspectives beyond our subfield

      Continue the conversation around how we conceive of and apply ancestry estimations to forensic anthropology casework

      Develop guidelines for discussing ancestry and race with the law enforcement and medical-legal community, including nuances of racial identity, in order to ensure that ancestry estimations are properly applied to investigations.

 

There is a real cost to the lack of diversity in forensic anthropology. To shift our current paradigm, our field must build on and support work to move forward in the creation of a scientific and research community that affirms and supports BIPOC individuals as critical and foundational to the development and practice of forensic anthropology. These changes will take time, effort, and contributions from many people and organizations. As an organization of practicing forensic anthropologists, the SOFA Board of Directors shall create a committee focused on the practitioner related needs addressed above. We are committed to listening and collaborating with the various stakeholders in our community and to working together to support diversity in forensic science.

SOFA Board of Directors

Kat Pope, President

Chelsey Juarez, Secretary

Tim Gocha, Treasurer

Cris Hughes, BOD member

Brian Spatola, BOD member

Lauren Zephro, BOD member

John Servello, BOD member

SOFA meeting AAFS 2020

posted May 8, 2020, 5:57 PM by Viktor Zaytsev   [ updated May 8, 2020, 5:59 PM ]


SOFA elects new BOD 2020

posted May 8, 2020, 5:33 PM by Viktor Zaytsev   [ updated May 8, 2020, 5:50 PM ]

Kat Pope: President 
Chelsey Juarez : Secretary 
Timothy Gocha Treasurer
Brian Spatola 
Cris Hughes
Lauren Zephro 
John Servello 

FADAMA accepting cases and providing training

posted Feb 17, 2020, 10:03 PM by Viktor Zaytsev   [ updated Feb 17, 2020, 10:06 PM ]

The Forensic Anthropology Database for Assessing Methods Accuracy is up and running. Agencies or forensic anthropologists with identified cases can add cases to the database using the following link:  https://www-app.igb.illinois.edu/sofadb/index.php . Data can also be downloaded from the database. For questions on how to use the database please see the FAQ site: https://www-app.igb.illinois.edu/sofadb/faq.php)/ . If you are represent an agency with a large case load and are interested in having the FADAMA technician come to your agency to assist with case uploads and training please email chelseyjuarez@mail.fresnostate.edu or hughesc@uiuc.edu for assistance.

NIJ funds SOFA Database project 2019

posted Feb 18, 2019, 9:45 PM by Viktor Zaytsev

The National Institute of Justice has awarded Drs. Cris Hughes and Chelsey Juarez a grant  funding FADAMA.  The Forensic Anthropology Database for Assessing Methods Accuracy (FADAMA), is a database tool for tracking forensic anthropological method use, outcome, and accuracy in the actual casework context. The database will address the persistent lack of adequate measures for assessing accuracy and reliability of forensic anthropology methods applied to forensic casework, and  allow forensic anthropologists to  conduct research on methods trends. Active forensic anthropologists can anonymously upload their cases to the database using this link http://www.sofainc.org/sofa-database

New Board of Directors

posted Mar 1, 2014, 6:58 AM by Brian Spatola^   [ updated Feb 11, 2018, 5:16 PM by Viktor Zaytsev ]

The membership has voted in the new BOD who will serve for a three year term. Officers were chosen by the new Board:

Katharine Pope, Chair
Chelsey Juarez, Secretary
Wendy Potter McQuade Treasurer
J
ennifer Love
Brian Spatola
Mark Ingraham
Lauren Zephro

Fruits of NIJ Funded Projects in Forensic Anthropology Available Online

posted Oct 8, 2012, 3:09 PM by Brian Spatola^

Since 2005 the NIJ has supported several Forensic Science Research and Development Awards for research in forensic anthropology. The website containing the final reports and list of pending studies can be found HERE. Several final reports from the 2005-2009 range are available in PDF format.

The NIJ funded software page also has a link for downloading the 3D-ID: Geometric Morphometric Classification of Crania for Forensic Scientists.

Information about current and future funding can be found on the NIJ Funding Homepage.

SOFA Atlas Grant Announcement

posted Sep 30, 2012, 9:10 PM by Brian Spatola^   [ updated Feb 11, 2018, 5:29 PM by Viktor Zaytsev ]

SOFA recently sent out the 2018 announcement for the Atlas Grants for 2018. SOFA Atlas Grants are competitive research grants designed to support and promote research that contributes to the knowledge base of applied forensic anthropology. The SOFA Board of Directors (BOD) will release an annual solicitation to its members. Proposals should not exceed $750. Up to two proposals will be awarded annually. Awards will be announced at the upcoming SOFA General membership meeting held at the annual meeting of the AAFS. Awardees need not be present to receive awarded funding. Proposal review and grant awards will be completed by the SOFA Board of Directors. See below for announcement.

SOFA Bibliography Available for Download

posted Sep 18, 2011, 10:08 AM by Brian Spatola^   [ updated Sep 18, 2011, 10:33 AM ]

The SOFA forensic anthropology bibliography is now available for download in BibTeX format for use in your preferred bibliography reader.  The bibliography is updated as of July of 2011 and contains over 3500 references from commonly cited sources (Journal of Forensic Sciences; American Journal of Physical Anthropology, etc) to lesser known and historically relevant sources (Sankhya:Indian Journal of Statistics, Biometrika, New Zealand Dental Journal, etc.)

Author searches which involve international special characters may require searching in other fields due to minor conversion errors.  Please send any comments, deletions or additions to BrianSpatola@sofainc.org.  

The bibliography can be downloaded by clicking on the link found in SOFA Documents.

UTK Forensic Anthropology Center Short Courses May 21- June 15 2018

posted Jun 22, 2011, 7:12 AM by Brian Spatola^   [ updated Mar 11, 2018, 9:49 PM by Viktor Zaytsev ]

The University of Tennessee Knoxville Forensic Anthropology Center (FAC) has a series of short courses during the months of May and June. See the list below for brief descriptions and dates, and for more information please visit http://fac.utk.edu/fac-short-courses/

Pathology Course: May 21-23, 2018. Instructor Dr. Dawnie Steadman, Cost $500.

Forensic Anthropology Field Methods: May 29-June 1, 2018, Cost $600.

Methods in Ancestry Estimation: June 4th-6th, 2018. Instructors Dr. Joseph Hefner, Dr. Lee Meadows Jantz, Dr. Richard Jantz, and Dr. Stephen Ousley, Cost $500.

Comparative Osteology: June 13-15, 2018, Cost $375.

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