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Portrait of Dr Anna Williams Dr Anna Williams | 01484 473031


Dr Anna Williams read Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford University (1995-1998), and completed an MSc in Forensic Anthropology at Bradford University (1999). After working for West Yorkshire Police as a Forensic Mark Analyst from 2000-2001, she gained her PhD in Forensic Anthropology from Sheffield University in 2005. Her doctoral research used novel histological and immunohistochemical techniques to quantify bone fracture healing, which is of particular relevance to the investigation of child abuse and identification of unknown individuals.

From 2004-2006, Anna was engaged in post-doctoral research entitled ‘A Laboratory Based Analytical Technique to Determine ‘Age at Death’ For Forensic Purposes from Human Compact Bone’ at Cranfield University, and became a Lecturer in Forensic Anthropology there in 2006. She was instrumental in developing and delivering the MSc in Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology at Cranfield, and was Head of the Centre for Forensic Anthropology Research. She also established a successful taphonomy research facility and was a CDS Teaching Fellow from 2010-11.

In October 2013, Anna joined the School of Applied Sciences at the University of Huddersfield as a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science. She leads the MSc in Forensic Anthropology and lectures on the BSc/MSci Forensic and Analytical Science degree. She is currently in the process of designing and developing a suite of other Forensic Anthropology courses. She leads the Forensic Anthropology Research Group.

Anna is an experienced Forensic Anthropologist, with considerable case work experience. She regularly undertakes consultancy work for local police forces, Forensic Engineering Solutions and Kenyon International Emergency Services.

Anna is currently Editor-in-Chief of a forthcoming volume dedicated to Forensic Science Education, to be published by Wiley Publishing. She also acts as an External Examiner for Kingston University, and has been External Examiner for doctoral candidates at Bournemouth University and University of Technology Sydney.

Anna is passionate about science communication. She participated in the prestigious Wellcome Trust-funded I’m A Scientist competition in 2011, and was the winner of the Forensic Zone. She enjoys presenting to a variety of audiences, and is regularly invited to give lectures at local interest events. She recently chaired a panel discussion on forensic science at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. In 2014. Anna was awarded a British Science Association Media Fellowship and a placement at New Scientist. .

Anna writes an award-winning blog called Forensic Anna:thropology.

Watch her showreel here

In the Media

Authored by Anna

Forensic science
General science

About Anna's research

Anna also acts as a Forensic Anthropology advisor for Silent Witness (BBC) and Bones (Fox).

Research and Scholarship

Decomposition and Taphonomy

The nature of human decomposition is still poorly understood in the context of UK climate, insects and fauna. This on-going research aims to investigate the rate of decomposition in a variety of conditions, and improve methods of accurate post-mortem interval estimation, location of clandestine burials, and understand and the factors that influence its rate, using animal analogues on a purpose-built taphonomy research facility.

Artificial cranial deformation and craniosynostosis

Cultural or artificial cranial deformation has traditionally not been thought to affect brain development. However, by examining modern infants suffering from premature suture closure or craniosynostosis, it is possible to draw comparisons to enable understanding of how this practice, still carried out today, affects neurological function.

Disaster Victim Identification and holistic disaster management approaches

After disaster, the requirements of the bereaved and those of the criminal investigation or identification process can sometimes come into conflict. This research explores potential areas of conflict and the opportunities to minimise them through holistic disaster management. It also explores how disaster victim identification (DVI) techniques can be improved, and how the methods can be standardised internationally, and efficiency increased.

Dominance of women in Forensic Anthropology education and practice

The dominance of women in Forensic Anthropology is a worldwide phenomenon that extends to education and professional practice. It bucks the trend for lower numbers of women in other STEM subjects. This research has examined possible motivations and inspirational factors for men and women joining the discipline, and investigated career progression and retention on a gender level.

Trauma analysis of skeletal remains

This research has focussed on the methods for determining the ‘age’ of a fracture, or the time elapsed since trauma occurred. It has explored methods of distinguishing between ante-, peri- and post-mortem trauma.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Pringle, J., Cassella, J., Jervis, J., Williams, A., Cross, P. and Cassidy, N. (2015) ‘Soilwater conductivity analysis to date and locate clandestine graves of homicide victims.Journal of Forensic Sciences , 60 (4), pp. 1052-1060. ISSN 0022-1198

Fredericks, J., Ringrose, T., Dicken, A., Williams, A. and Bennett, P. (2015) ‘A potential new diagnostic tool to aid DNA analysis from heat compromised bone using colorimetry: A preliminary studyScience and Justice , 55 (2), pp. 124-130. ISSN 1355-0306


Frowd, C., Jones, S., Fodarella, C., Skelton, F., Fields, S., Williams, A., Marsh, J., Thorley, R., Nelson, L., Greenwood, L., Date, L., Kearley, K., McIntyre, A. and Hancock, P. (2014) ‘Configural and featural information in facial-composite imagesScience and Justice , 54 (3), pp. 215-227. ISSN 1355-0306


Zioupos, P., Williams, A., Christodoulou, G. and Giles, R. (2013) ‘Determining ‘Age at Death’ for Forensic Purposes using Human Bone by a Laboratory-based Analytical MethodJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials . ISSN 1751-6161

Fredericks, J., Brown, K., Williams, A. and Bennett, P. (2013) ‘DNA analysis of skeletal tissue recovered from the English ChannelJournal of Forensic and Legal Medicine , 20 (6), pp. 757-759. ISSN 1752928X


Williams, A., York, H. and Frowd, C. (2012) ‘Understanding Familiar Face Recognition for 3D Scanned Images: The Importance of Internal and External Facial Features’. In: Third International Conference on Emerging Security Technologies. Lisbon, Portugal: IEEE. pp. 27-32. ISBN 978-1-4673-2448-9

Fredericks, J., Bennett, P., Williams, A. and Rogers, K. (2012) ‘FTIR spectroscopy: A new diagnostic tool to aid DNA analysis from heated boneForensic Science International: Genetics , 6 (3), pp. 375-380. ISSN 1872-4973


Mileson, S., Nicholls, D. and Williams, A. (2011) ‘The ‘Lost’ Church of Bix Gibwyn: The Human BoneOxoniensia , 76, pp. 15-36. ISSN 0308–5562


Williams, A (2010) ‘Human Remains Found While Searching for the 'Lost' Church of Bix GibwynSouth Midlands Archaeology , 40, pp. 58-61.

Williams, A (2010) ‘The Search for the Missing Church of St Michael's, Bix Gibwyn, Bix: Concluded? Initial Analysis of Human RemainsSouth Oxfordshire Archaeological Group Bulletin (64), pp. 17-21.


Williams, A., Temple, T., Pollard, S., Jones, R. and Ritz, K. (2009) ‘Environmental Considerations for Common Burial Site Selection After Pandemic Events’. In: Criminal and Environmental Soil Forensics. London, UK: Springer. pp. 87-101. ISBN 978-1-4020-9204-6


Shortland, A., Masters, P., Harrison, K., Williams, A. and Boston, C. (2008) ‘Burials of eighteenth-century Naval personnel: preliminary results from excavations at the Royal Hospital Haslar, Gosport (Hants)Antiquity , 82 (317). ISSN 0003-598X


Payne, L. and Williams, A. (2006) ‘Managing Potential Conflict Between Forensic Procedures and the Needs of the Bereaved.Alert: Journal of the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management , pp. 16-17.



  • CDS Teaching Fellow, Cranfield University (2010-2011)
  • Winner, Forensic Zone, I’m A Scientist (June 2011)
  • EPSRC CASE Award: The development of new tools for forensic analysis of DNA from compromised bone. £69,000

Professional Bodies

  • Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • Fellow of the Institute for Civil Protection and Emergency Management (ICPEM)
  • Professional Member of the Forensic Science Society (FSSoc)
  • Co-Chair of the Academic Committee, British Association of Forensic Anthropologists (BAFA)
  • Member, British Association of Human Identification (BAHID)
  • Member, British Association of Biological Anthropologists and Osteoarchaeologists (BABAO)
  • Associate Member, American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS)

Invited Talks

  • Panel Chair, Following the Fingerprints. Royal Society Summer Exhibition.(2012)
  • Keynote Speaker at Forensic Science Society Student Conference “Sex, Drugs and…”, Robert Gordon University. Lecture entitled “Forensic Anthropology: As Rock And Roll as it sounds” (Dec 2011)
  • Invited Speaker to Thamesfield Village. (2011)
  • Invited Speaker to Henley Rotary Club. (2010)
  • Session chair ICPEM conference ‘Forensic Aspects of Disaster Management’ (2010)
  • Invited Speaker to Maidenhead Historical and Archaeological Society. (2009)
  • Invited Speaker to Archaeology in Marlow. Lecture entitled “Forensic Science in Archaeology”(2009)
  • Invited Speaker at the Nautical Archaeology Society Conference, Portsmouth. Lecture entitled “Excavations of the Burial Ground at Royal Hospital Haslar” (2009)
  • Invited Speaker at Haslar Royal Naval Hospital. Lecture entitled “Evidence from the Skeletons found at Haslar” (2008)
  • Invited Speaker at Wiltshire Police Scientific Conference, Swindon. Lecture entitled “Forensic Anthropology: Theory, Practice and Service” (2008)
  • Invited Speaker to South Oxfordshire Archaeological Group. Lecture entitled “Forensic Environmental Evidence” (2008)
  • Invited Speaker at Forensic Science Student Conference “Murder, Maggots and Mandibles”, Cranfield University. (2008)
  • Invited to lecture on “Science vs Crime” at Sir James Henderson British School, Milan (2003)

Research Degree Supervision

Anna is currently supervising PhD research in these areas:

  • Identification and Quantification of the Gaseous Products of Decomposition with Reference to the Efficiency of Human Remains Detection Dogs.

She has previously supervised PhD research in these areas:

  • The Effect of Age on Trauma Patterns – the Search for Good Bone Models.
  • The Development of Novel Tools for Forensic Analysis of DNA from Compromised Bone.
Last updated Monday 12 October 2015
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