Bournemouth University

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Could you unearth a body of evidence?

27 July 2012

By Maisie Gibson.

When The Independent ran an article on forensic osteology – the study of human bones – Bournemouth University was their first stop for information. Reporter Helena Pozniak interviewed two members of staff, Dr Martin Smith and John Rickman, along with MSc students Outi Salminen and Dina Halai, about the wealth of information contained within a skeleton. Dr Smith told the Independent: “it’s amazing what you can deduce from a pile of ashes. How a person died, lived and what happened [to their remains] after death can all be revealed.”

Yet the article was more than a job description. John Rickman went on to explain the real attraction of osteology beyond the lab work and ‘lively’ fieldwork. He quit his job as a lecturer to study human remains at Bournemouth last year, and told Pozniak why: “Here was a subject that applied osteology to make a difference to people’s lives – identifying victims of genocide, giving relatives the ability to grieve.”

Despite the seeming wealth of disasters that provide work for a budding osteologist, The Independent discovered that the closure of the Governments Forensic Sciences Service means jobs are hard to come by. Outi Salminen spoke about the effort required for such a specialist course: “the course is very intense and you have to be prepared to spend long days studying. It’s difficult to get a job so you’ll need to be motivated to search persistently and keep applying.”

Maisie Gibson, 17, is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. She joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from her college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer. For further details about the scholarship can be seen online.

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