UH Med Now

VIDEO: Collaborative Summer Forensics Course wins WASSA Award for JABSOM, UHWO and Outreach College

Date: October 3rd, 2017 in Collaboration, Community Outreach, Faculty, JABSOM News, Research    Print or PDF

Pictured, an image from the course, showing skeletal remains used to simulate a human burial at UH West Oʻahu.

By Tina Shelton, UH Med Now, JABSOM Communications Director

The University of Hawaiʻi (UH) John A. Burns School of Medicine, the UH Mānoa (UHM) Outreach College and UH West Oʻahu collaborated to create a first-of-its-kind Forensics Workshop in July 2017, and the effort has earned UH an award from the Western Association of Summer Session Administrators (WASSA). The course was recognized with the WASSA award for the best non-credit course.

The “Human Skeleton in Forensic Anthropology and Medicine” workshop was hosted through the UH Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) at Kakaʻako, UH Mānoa Outreach College and the University of Hawaiʻi at West Oʻahu (UHWO).

“I want to acknowledge Adjunct Anatomy Professor Robert “Bob” Mann, who initially conceived the idea and whose commitment made the course happen,” said Scott Lozanoff, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry & Physiology at JABSOM. Dr. Lozanoff also singled out Sandra von Doetinchem of the UHM Outreach College for providing outstanding leadership, and the faculty and staff at UH West O’ahu for their expertise and collegiality. “Without them, this success would not have been possible!” Lozanoff added.

About the course:
The one-week intensive workshop, held in July 2017, covered most aspects in the analysis of human skeletal remains as they relate to forensic anthropology and forensic medicine. Students received classroom and laboratory training utilizing a broad array of learning materials including contemporary skeletons in the JABSOM Department of Anatomy.


The workshop was divided into two components: 1) human osteology and forensic anthropology (4 days); and 2) field recovery of skeletal remains in a forensic setting (1 day). Working individually and in small teams, students analyzed a known-identity human skeleton and compiled a biological profile consisting of the individual’s age at death, sex, ancestry, stature, bone disease, and trauma.

The primary instructors were Dr. Robert Mann (Course Director & Forensic Anthropologist), Dr. Bill Belcher (Forensic Anthropologist), Dr. Jennifer Byrnes (Forensic Anthropologist), Dr. David Haymer (Forensic DNA Scientist), Mr. Steven Labrash (Anatomical Specimen Specialist), Dr. Scott Lozanoff (Anatomist).

Instead of college credit, the course offered certificates to each student upon successful completion of the course.

The Award plaque is shown

The “gold standard” of collaboration among UH campuses
“(The workshop) represents the gold standard of collaboration between our UH campuses,” said Dr. Jennifer Byrnes, UHWO Assistant Professor of Anthropology. “Capitalizing on each campuses strengths, such as access to known skeletal remains and lab space at JABSOM and UHWO’s land, archaeological expertise, and Certificate in Applied Forensic Anthropology program and faculty, empowers the UH System to offer a unique training experience to local, mainland, and international professionals and students. Coupling these outstanding UH campus facilities and world-renowned faculty provided an in-depth yet broad enough learning experience that both honed the skills of professionals and introduced the basics to beginners,” said Dr. Byrnes.

Because of the unique geographic location of our inter-island state, Dr. Byrnes explained that it can be challenging for local professionals and students alike to engage in these types of professional development offerings without traveling to the mainland. “This workshop provides a means for local professional development at a reasonable cost,” said Byrnes.

In a video about the course made by UH Med Now this summer, Dr. Robert Mann explained the multidisciplinary nature of investigating crime scenes and examining skeletal remains, which was part of the course based at JABSOM and also utilizing the campus of the UH West Oʻahu. Video by Tina Shelton, JABSOM Communications, with additional aerial video and photos by Jesse Thompson of JABSOM Anatomy.


Mahalo to Greg Wiles at UHWO for contributing to this report.

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