Graduate Students | Anthropology | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

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Graduate Students

Kaleigh Best

PhD Student

SIU Kaleigh Best

Kaleigh Best is a Doctoral student from Belt, MT. She received a BA in Physical Anthropology and a certificate in Forensic Studies from the University of Montana; and an MS in Biological and Forensic Anthropology from Mercyhurst University. Her research interests include skeletal human variation, sex estimation, taphonomy, spatial analysis, morphometrics, social bioarchaeology, and forensic anthropology. She has worked as a teaching assistant for multiple courses, and has taught Introduction to Anthropology here at SIU. She chose this program because the department offered research opportunities in multiple areas of her research interests while utilizing a four-field perspective to approaching Anthropology. Since her Master’s degree was more applied, she sought out a program that would provide a more well-rounded theoretical background in Anthropology. Kaleigh is also a Certified Human Skeletal Analyst with the State of Illinois and has consulted on several forensic anthropology and bioarchaeological investigations and cemetery removals; and is actively involved in community outreach and education.

Selected Publications:

Best KC, Garvin H, Cabo L. (2017). An Investigation into the Relationship Between Human Cranial and Pelvic Sexual Dimorphism. J Forensic Sci. doi:10.1111/1556-4029.13669

Tullos R., Mills N., Pritchard J, Spencer J, Best KC. (2020) Field Completion Report: East Campus Grave Relocation Fort George G. Meade, Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Spencer JR, Best KC. (2021). Book Review: The Poetics of Processing: Memory Formation, Identity, and the Handling of the Dead. Anna Osterholtz editor. Midcontinental J of Archaeol. 46.

Best KC, Palomares T, Spencer JR. (2020). Book Review: Experiencing Archaeology: A Laboratory Manual of Classroom Activities, Demonstrations, and Minilabs for Introductory Archaeology. Lara Homsey-Messer, Tracy Michaud, Angela Lockard Reed, and Victoria Bob editors. Midcontinental J of Archaeol. 45.

Best KC. (2019). Book Review: Identified Skeletal Collections: The Testing Ground of Anthropology? Charlotte Yvette Henderson and Francisca Alves Cardoso, editors. Midcontinental J of Archaeol. 44.

Selected Awards Received:

2020-2021 Dissertation Research Assistantship Award, Southern Illinois University

Mar 28, 2020 Invited presenter at Southern Illinois University 150th Anniversary Celebration Gala.

*Canceled due to COVID-19 Pandemic

2017 1st Runner-up in poster presentations, Business and Sciences, 2017 Graduate Creative Activity and Research Forum

2015-2016 Doctoral Fellow, Southern Illinois University

Abraham Packard

MA Student

Abe Packard is a Master’s student from Gills Rock, WI. He earned a BS in Biology and Archaeology and an MS in Biology from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. His research interests include forensic anthropology and entomology with a focus on the impact of insect activity on bone. Abe has been an instructor for multiple Biology courses; as well as Human Biology: An Introduction to Biological Anthropology. He was attracted to SIU for several of our unique programs, biological anthropology among them, that allow for creative collaboration.


BARFAA 2022: “Bones, Bugs, & Bioerosion: Dermestid Beetle Substrate Preference and their Taphonomic Effect on Bone.”

Selected Awards Received:

2021 MCE-VBD Research Fellow

Honors thesis in Archaeology

Outstanding Senior of the Year in General Biology

Ruth Ann Knapp Award in metalsmithing

Paulo Vitor Mendes Da Cunha

MA Student

Paulo Vítor Mendes da Cunha is a Master’s student from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He received his Bachelor’s in Archaeology from the State University of Rio de Janeiro. His research interests include forensic anthropology, biological anthropology and archaeology. He is a teaching assistant for The Human Experience – Anthropology. Paulo was attracted to SIU by our strong Anthropology program – in particular the Complex for Forensic Anthropology Research. This facility is one of the few in the world that allows for unique studies in human decomposition, a topic as yet under-researched in the field of Forensic Anthropology. After earning his Master’s degree, Paulo intends to further develop his skills and research experience in a PhD program.