UW-Parkside to Open New Human Identification and Forensic Anthropology Lab

Published: January 5, 2024

Dr. Keith BiddleSomers, WI- The University of Wisconsin-Parkside will be debuting a new Human Identification and Forensic Anthropology Lab for the Spring 2024 semester. The fully functioning forensic anthropology facility will be capable of providing a full and detailed biological profile of unknown decedents. Using the most up-to-date statistical software available, the analyses will be able to include metric and non-metric data that can be useful in current cases, “cold cases,” and even historical and archeological cases.

In addition to traditional forensic anthropological analyses, the lab is equipped to handle DNA extractions from bone and dental tissue. It can be extremely difficult and time-consuming to get DNA from bones, especially old or damaged samples. Dr. Keith Biddle, a forensic and molecular anthropologist will serve as the lab manager.

Dr. Biddle specializes in these types of challenging extractions and has successfully retrieved both mitochondrial and autosomal DNA from fresh, old, water-logged, sun-bleached, and even badly burned human bones. Dr. Biddle wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the best places to get DNA from human bones. He has over six years of forensic anthropology and DNA experience and has worked with medical examiners, coroners, DNA analysts, as well as law enforcement from municipal, state, and tribal reservations police departments. As a graduate student at the University of Montana, he performed consultative work with the FBI and the U.S. State Department.  

Dr. Biddle is currently an Assistant Professor in the departments of Criminal Justice, and Anthropology. He began his career at UW-Parkside with a course offering on Body Recovery and Analysis during the summer of 2023. His upcoming courses for Spring 2024 include Forensic Anthropology, Criminalistics, Crime and Human Rights, and Advanced Human Evolution.

Dr. Martin Gottschalk, the Criminal Justice Department Chair, stated that the development of the new Human Identification and Forensic Anthropology Lab space comes from a growing interest in the field, and the university’s commitment to develop and prepare students in the fields of anthropology and criminal justice.

“Parkside lies in the middle of the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor, one of the larger such urban expanses in the United States. Much happens here – people are born and die; they disappear from our lives, and return; they build things we depend upon, and allow other things to slowly pass away. The Criminal Justice Department at UW-Parkside will assist in solving crimes, identify those of us who’ve gone missing, and deepen our understanding of those lives that came before us,” Gottschalk explained.

Gottschalk continued by commenting on the valuable experiences that the new space will provide for UW-Parkside students. “The Forensic Anthropology Lab at UW-Parkside will also provide our students with the knowledge and skills needed in the workforce. Students will learn how to find human remains and other forensic evidence. They will learn how to grid and document a crime scene and maintain a chain of evidence for forensic purposes. They will learn how DNA is extracted from human remains and how it is analyzed.”

To learn more about the Human Identification and Forensic Anthropology Lab please contact Dr. Biddle at biddle@uwp.edu or the UW-Parkside Continuing Education office at continuing.ed@uwp.edu.

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is committed to high-quality educational programs, creative and scholarly activities, and services responsive to its diverse student population, and its local, national, and global communities. We are a dynamic learning community grounded in academic excellence and focused on student success, diversity, inclusion, and community engagement. The campus serves as a premier comprehensive public institution and a destination of choice, serving as a focal point of local, regional, and global progress.

Media contact:

Derek Fye
Communications Manager
University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Fye@uwp.edu | (262) 771-5419

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