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Meet Dr. Midori Albert

As a kid I was much more interested in language arts and metaphysics than in real science. I loved reading, especially Nancy Drew mysteries (http://www.nancy-drew.mysterynet.com/). Maybe because of my Asian heritage I was expected to be better in math, or like it best of all, but I didn’t really like it so much. Oddly enough, it was my love of language arts that drew me into science. When I was twelve, I read a book on the bog bodies of Ireland that absolutely fascinated me. Imagine discovering bodies that are hundreds or even thousands of years old, so well preserved by the conditions in a bog, you can analyze their stomach contents to determine what they ate for their last meal (http://www.jamesmdeem.com./bogpage.htm). This book made a lasting impression on me, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized it.

After studying psychology in college I considered a career in law. I was taking an elective class in physical anthropology. In my textbook there was one small paragraph that dealt with forensic anthropology - the application of the methods and techniques of analyzing skeletal remains to cases of legal importance for purposes of establishing the identity of unknown remains, and or time since death and manner of death. (http://medstat.med.utah.edu/kw/osteo/index2.html). I was fascinated and, even though I didn’t know if it would lead to any kind of job, I decided to trust my instincts and follow my interest.

Today, I am a forensic anthropologist at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. I often consult with local law enforcement and the medical examiner’s office to solve crimes. One of the more interesting experiences I’ve had concerns a case in Florida. Someone suspected that a body had been disposed of in a retention pond. We had the pond drained and did in fact find a body. At the autopsy, we removed the clothes and noticed that the stomach area seemed to be wiggling. When the medical examiner opened the stomach cavity, a crayfish popped out! We all jumped back and someone screamed. You can imagine our surprise.

If you think you might be interested in studying to become a forensic anthropologist, you might like to read the following book:
Bone Detectives: How Forensic Anthropologists Solve and Uncover Mysteries of the Dead by Donna M. Jackson and Charlie Fellenbaum.
(2001) Little, Brown & Company. Or, if you are interested in bog bodies, check out the recent discovery of human remains in Florida. (http://www.nbbd.com/godo/history/windover/).

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