The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Dr. Karen Burns: Pioneer in Forensic Anthropology at the University of Florida


Department of Anthropology, University of Florida

Saturday Morning, 301D Add to calendar

Graduate students are instrumental in shaping both the present and future direction of anthropological inquiry in their departments. Highly successful doctoral students are able to capitalize on their mentor’s guidance and bring together the resources needed to become among the world’s experts within their chosen area of expertise. The University of Florida has, for the past 40 years, played an active role in establishing the subfield of forensic anthropology. The principle actor was Dr. William Maples, a member of the first cohort of anthropologists responsible for the development of forensic anthropology as a subfield within biological anthropology. His first graduate student with a focus on human identification was the late Karen Ramey Burns. Dr. Burns was a pioneer in finding courses across campus – from the College of Medicine to the Law School – to construct a curriculum that did not previously exist. Of course, “Kar” Burns went on to become an internationally-recognized anthropologist and educator within the emerging field of forensic human rights investigations. But at our university, she is remembered as being Dr. William Maples’ first forensic anthropology graduate student and a trailblazer for those of us who followed in her footsteps. The strong presence of forensic anthropology at our university is a direct result of the influence of Dr. William Maples and his first student, Dr. Karen Ramey Burns, who despite her passing, continues to provide us a path towards success.


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