Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2008, $311,115)
The applicant proposes to increase the accuracy of the models used to determine the age, sex and ancestry of unidentified dead from skeletal and dental remains by expanding the sample set use to develop those models through incorporation of osteometric and morphological data from contemporary African populations and comparing that data to that of existing European and North American populations. The more, and the more diverse the samples of skeletal and dental remains available for comparison, the better the analytical models in use to determine the sex, age and ancestry of an individual from a few bone or tooth fragments, and so the better the probability that the individual to who those fragments belong can be identified. Put simply, if you find a piece of bone, the density, size and shape of that bone could tell you if an individual was a male or female and how old they were. The accuracy with which you can determine that information depends on the accuracy of the parameters of the statistical model you are using. The accuracy of that model depends on the number and diversity of the samples that went into building it.