Faculty and Students | CFAR | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Faculty and Students


Gretchen R. Dabbs, PhD

Co-founder and Director of the Complex for Forensic Anthropology Research

Dr. Dabbs earned her PhD at the University of Arkansas (2009) and served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky (2009-2010) before joining the faculty at Southern Illinois University.  Her research interests in forensic anthropology lie in investigating the rate and pattern of decomposition in the unique southern Illinois environment, as well as replicating common clandestine postmortem treatments to understand the effect of these treatments on the decomposition of bodies and how the individual treatment can be identified after the remains are skeletonized.  Dr. Dabbs also participates in the Bioarchaeology of Tell el-Amarna project (http://amarnaproject.com/), which examines the skeletal remains of the non-elite citizens of Amarna, Egypt, the capital city of Akhenaten during his turbulent reign (c. 1350BCE).  In addition to generating her own research at CFAR and facilitating the research of others, Dr. Dabbs’ is the administrative officer of CFAR, overseeing the donation process and all financial matters.


Christiane Baigent

Christiane Baigent, MSc. received her Master’s degree in Forensic Bioarcheology from University College London; the resultant thesis investigated patterns of taphonomy and periosteal new bone deposition in the perinate skeleton and was jointly awarded the Institute of Archaeology Master's Prize for outstanding dissertation. Her current research includes the effect of altitude on decomposition and concomitant patterns of longitudinal osseous change, the effect of postmortem interval on the presentation of perimortem blunt force trauma, region-specific models and standards for the estimation of postmortem interval, and the development of diagnostic criteria for taphonomic change. Prior to joining CFAR she served as a fulltime research assistant and laboratory manager for the Forensic Investigation Research Station (FIRS) in Grand Junction, Colorado where she assisted federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies with the search, recovery, and analysis of human skeletal remains.

Emily Otmanowski

Emily earned her BS from the University of Pittsburgh (2014) in neuroscience and psychology with minors in chemistry and anthropology. She is currently at Southern Illinois University working toward a Master’s in biological anthropology with a focus in forensics. Emily’s research interests include recovery, identification and trauma analysis of commingled skeletal remains following incidences of mass fatality as well as taphonomy of commingled remains (particularly how post-mortem interval estimation can be affected by commingling).

Affiliated Scholars

Jennifer A. Brobst

Jennifer A. Brobst is an Assistant Professor at the SIU School of Law, cross-appointed in the SIU School of Medicine and Department of Public Health and Recreation Professions. She has extensive criminal and civil trial experience, as well as over 12 years providing expert witness and mock trial training for a wide range of medical and forensic witnesses in Illinois and other states. She developed and taught the first Scientific Evidence (CSI) courses at two law schools, including SIU. Brobst is currently the author of two annually updated treatises for attorneys, published by Thomson Reuters: Admissibility of Evidence in North Carolina, and Criminal Offenses and Defenses in Alabama. She has degrees from University of Cape Town, South Africa (B.A. with distinction in Archaeology and Social Anthropology), University of San Diego School of Law (J.D.), and Victoria University at Wellington, New Zealand (LL.M.). She is licensed (inactive status) as an attorney in California, Indiana, North Carolina, and before the United States Supreme Court.