“Body Farm” director visits MTSU for April 13 forensic science lecture 

the UT Body Farm
The University of Tennessee’s Body Farm is the world’s first outdoor laboratory for research in human decomposition. Its director, Dawnie Steadman, will lecture at MTSU on April 13. It’s open to the public. (PHOTO CREDIT: Steven Bridges / University of Tennessee)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee State University will host the director of the famed Body Farm research facility on April 13 as the next speaker in the Women in Forensic Anthropology Lecture Series.  

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology will welcome Dawnie Steadman, director of the Anthropology Research Facility at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, more widely known as The Body Farm.

“Dr. Steadman conducts her research and practice with ethics and integrity, and she is a wonderful example for our students to learn from,” Research Assistant Professor Tiffany Saul said. “I am very honored that MTSU can host her as part of this series.” 

The lecture is free and open to the public, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 13, in Room 221 of the McWherter Learning Resources Center, which is located at 1588 MTSU Boulevard. It will end with a Q&A session. There is no registration or RSVP required to attend the event, though admission will be capped once the venue reaches capacity.  

The Anthropology Research Facility is the world’s first outdoor laboratory for research in human decomposition. Steadman has served as the facility’s director since 2011 and, along with a team of female researchers, has trained students, law enforcement and international humanitarian and human rights investigators during her time there, Saul said. Saul said her goal with the series is to allow MTSU students and the larger community to hear from women actively engaged in innovative research and practice.   

“It is important for me to create opportunities for my students, who are mostly young women, to see themselves reflected in the guest lecturers we host,” Saul said. “I have selected speakers who have willingly and actively engaged with students during their visits, and I know our students have learned a lot.” 

Previous lecturers from the series include Daniela Orozco Ramelli, a Colombian forensic anthropologist who is working to identify victims of the internal conflict in her country; Druonna Collier, who is examining skeletal evidence of systemic violence in marginalized populations; and Phoebe Stubblefield, who is leading the forensic anthropology investigation to identify victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. 

The event is sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Middle Tennessee Forensic Science Society, the Distinguished Lecture Fund, and the College of Liberal Arts

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers both a Bachelor of Arts and Science degrees along with a Master of Arts in Sociology degree and options for minors and interdisciplinary minors. The programs aim to prepare students for future careers from forensic anthropology and archeology to social justice research and law. To learn more about the opportunities and events at MTSU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, visit the website at https://www.mtsu.edu/soc/. •

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