IMO Grant to Improve Identification of Unknown Native Americans, Hispanic/Latin Americans: UNM Newsroom

Heather Edgar, a forensic anthropologist with the Office of Medical Investigators (OMI) at the University of New Mexico and professor of anthropology, received a fellowship from the National Institute of Justice, according to a department press release. The grant, Improve the identification of American Indians and unknown Hispano-Latin Americans, will allow Edgar to continue his work in this area.

Native Americans are disproportionately affected by the unidentified dead crisis; there are more than 4.5 times more missing American Indians than human remains found and estimated to be American Indians.

One of the reasons for the large number of missing American Indians may be the misclassification of their remains into a group. Misclassification greatly reduces the likelihood that a missing person can be associated with human remains that have been found. Edgar offers developmental research using up-to-date methods coupled with a new research resource, the New Mexico Death Image Database, to improve the accuracy of estimating population affinity for the American Indians.

By accomplishing this goal, IMO will improve the estimate of population affinity for other groups, particularly Hispanic/Latino Americans. In addition, equations for stature estimation will be developed specifically for these two groups. To achieve these goals, methods will be developed to improve the speed, accuracy, and precision of measurements using virtual osteology specimens, share virtual specimens with other researchers, and provide an easy way to d ‘other researchers to share virtual specimens using a pre-existing system. data resource.

Important to this work, IMO will train and work with an advisory group of community members to ensure this research is conducted in a respectful manner and addresses issues important to American Indians today. One of the main deliverables of this project will be the transfer of 3D and 2D data to the forensic data bank for use in a future version of the population affinity and stature estimation software. Additional deliverables include software packages to enhance the processing of virtual osteological specimens (bone and skeleton), shared 3D images of skeletal elements, and publications.

Although the samples that IMO will rely on are from the American Southwest, they will allow a better understanding of within-group variation in this region and will likely improve the biological profiles of American Indians and Hispanic-Latin Americans. in other parts of the United States.

This work will enhance criminal justice goals by helping law enforcement and forensic investigators accurately identify remains, obtain evidence in a timely manner, and dispense proper justice. Equally important, this work will make a difference in alleviating the pain and suffering of family and community related to the resolution of missing persons cases.

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