'Forensic Anthropology in the Real World:' a free public lecture

Donna Fontana, a forensic anthropologist for the New Jersey State Police, will deliver a free public lecture titled "Forensic Anthropology in the Real World" from 12:20 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. on Sept. 20, in room 111 of the Wartik Laboratory on Penn State's University Park campus. The event is the third in the Forensic Science Lecture Series, which features presentations on forensic science, criminal justice and crime fiction. The 2010 Forensic Science Lecture Series will feature four leaders from within the forensic-science field.

Fontana will explain how forensic anthropologists analyze human skeletal remains to estimate age and to determine sex, race, stature and other information that may contribute to identifying a victim and determining the cause of death. She also will describe her work, making three-dimensional clay facial reconstructions and composite drawings based on skull analysis. In addition, Fontana will discuss the painstaking process that scientists and law-enforcement personnel use to search for and identify buried, hidden or scattered human remains.

In addition to her work as a forensic anthropologist for the New Jersey State Police, Fontana assisted in the identification of victims of the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as many plane crashes. Since 1981, she also has assisted New Jersey law-enforcement agencies and county medical examiners.

Fontana received a master's degree in pathology from the Medical College of Virginia in 1980. She earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology at Penn State in 1977. She is a fellow in the physical anthropology section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

This year's Forensic Science Lecture Series is sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science. For more information, contact the Forensic Science Program at 814-863-6758 or send an e-mail to kml142@psu.edu.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010