Forensic Science Internship Program
Department of Anthropology
For more than three decades, the UT Forensic Anthropology Center has garnered an international reputation for research on human decomposition and become a destination training facility for scientists and law enforcement personnel. Students studying forensic anthropology at UT have a unique opportunity to conduct research at the Body Farm, or Anthropology Research Facility, where more than 1,000 individuals in the Bass Collection have donated their bodies to science.
Now, high school students in Knox County interested in forensic science, but without the option to attend specialized CSI camps or other extracurricular, and often expensive, possibilities, can test their skills at forensic anthropology during an after-school internship program.
“The goal of the internship is not to select the ‘best’ candidates, but rather students who have considerable interest in forensic anthropology, or a related field, but limited opportunities,” said Giovanna Vidoli, assistant director of the forensic anthropology center at UT. “The outreach program is important to the department because it allows us to introduce forensic anthropology, and experts in the field, to high school students who may not ever have that opportunity.”
During the internship, students work with donor skeletons in the Bass Collection and learn methods forensic scientists use to identify unknown individuals. Students are grouped in small research cohorts based on their interest. Each group is assigned a graduate student mentor who helps them design and carry out a research plan. Students present their research to parents and teachers during an open house on the final day of the program.
Vidoli works with a graduate student committee to select interns for the two-week program. They accept applications and choose one student from each of the Knox County high schools, which allows students from different schools and different experiences to interact and learn together.
“The experience trains our graduate students to be good committee members and great mentors,” Vidoli said. “It also provides a challenging and unique opportunity to interested high school students and diversifies the field of forensic anthropology.”