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Simon Beckett Student Paper Prize

whispers of the dead book cover image

Simon Beckett is a well-known author, journalist and crime writer who has been a generous donor to our program. His David Hunter series has been very popular in the UK and Germany, and a recent one, Whispers of the Dead, is set in Knoxville and surrounding areas of the Smoky Mountains. This prize was established to recognize his contributions to our program.

The Award

The Forensic Anthropology Center will offer up to two awards of $1200 annually to the University of Tennessee Anthropology student(s) presenting the best presentation at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. The presentation can be either podium or poster.  The FAC faculty will judge the papers and the award(s) will be announced shortly after the annual meeting.

Purpose of Award

The award is intended to stimulate students in our program to plan, conduct and present high quality research. Many student papers are worthy of publication in the Journal of Forensics Sciences or other peer-reviewed journals, but authors do not always carry the paper to the next step. Therefore, the award will be funded in two parts. The first half ($600) will be paid immediately after the paper is selected and the award announced. The second half will be paid if the paper has been submitted and accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal within one year from the award date.


The paper must be student authored, but consultation with faculty along the way is encouraged, including faculty co-authorship. Faculty members may be co-authors but may not be the primary author and may not share in the award. If a faculty co-authors the paper the faculty should submit a letter stating the role of the student and faculty.  Papers may have multiple student authors, in which case the award will be shared. The award will be offered annually but the number of awards is at the discretion of the FAC faculty.

All applicants will be required to present their paper or a slide of their poster on Feb 12, 2024, for a practice prior to the meetings.  This will allow feedback and valuable practice time prior to printing off the poster or finalizing the oral presentation and be in line with practices the department has for other conferences.

How to Apply

Please download the Simon Beckett Application Guidelines.  Notify Dr. Steadman at by Feb 2 of your intent to compete for this prize.  The final full application will be due to Dr. Steadman by 4pm on Monday February 19.

Award Winners

(Underlined names indicate students supported by the prize)

  • 2023: Anielle Duncan, Sierra Bow, Amy Mundorff, Dawnie Steadman, “Using Fiber-Optic Reflectance Spectroscopy (FORS) to Identify Human Decomposition Characteristics in Plants and Soil”
  • 2023: Hayden McKee-Zech, Sara Fatula, Joanne Devlin and Giovanna Vidoli, “Technical Note on Recovery and Processing of Burned Human Remains”
  • 2022: Kamar Afra, Elaine Chu, Sydney Garcia “Objectivity in the Historical Narrative of Forensic Anthropology”
  • 2020: Sara Fatula, “The Detection of Cancerous Lesions in Skeletal Remains using Visual Methods and Radiographs.”
  • 2019:  Derek Boyd, Kelly Sauerwein and Angela Dautartas. “Longitudinal Comparison of the Megyesi and Moffatt Total Body Scoring Methods for Estimating the Postmortem Interval.”
  • 2018: Kelly Sauerwein, Samantha N. Upton, Elizabeth Albee, Anielle Duncan, Dawnie W. Steadman, David Bolme. “The Effect of Scanner Performance on Capture Ability and Identification Success on Postmortem Biometric Data”
  • 2018: Alexandra L. Emmons, Sarah W. Keenan, Lois S. Taylor, Jon Davoren, Jennifer M. DeBruyn, Gary Phillips, Ernest Bernard, Amy Z. Mundorff “Microbial Ecology and Soil Geochemistry in a Multi-Individual Grave”
  • 2018: Stephen Yerka and Joanne Devin “The incorporation of 3D Photogrammetry an Geophysics in the Recovery of a mass grave: six years of experiential learning”
  • 2017:  Haley Horbaly. “The Influence of Stature on Sex Estimation.”
  • 2016:  Tiffany Saul, Kelly Sauerwein, Dawnie Steadman and Christopher Boehnen.  “Postmortem Identification from Physiological Biometrics: A Study of Fingerprints, Irises, and Facial Images.”
  • 2015:  Beatrix Dudzik. “Comparing Cranial Morphology in Asian and Hispanic Populations: Exploring Why Misclassification Can Occur When Using Discriminant Function Analysis.”
  • 2015:  Angela M. Dautartas, Lee Meadows Jantz, Giovanna M. Vidoli, and Dawnie W. Steadman. “A Multidisciplinary Validation Study of Non-human Animal Models for Forensic Decomposition Research: A Time Series Approach.”
  • 2015:  Maria Alexandra Lopez and Dawnie W. Steadman. “Estimating Skeletal Differences between Contact and Non-Contact Gunshot Wounds to the Head: The Role of Forensic Anthropologists in Understanding Circumstances of Death.”
  • 2014:  Yangseung Jeong, Lee Meadows Jantz, Jennifer Synstelien and Jake Smith. “Raccoon Scavenging on Human Cadavers at the Anthropological Research Facility at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.”
  • 2013:  Yangseung Jeong. “Decomposition Pattern of Human Heads as Related to Insect Activity.”
  • 2012:  Rebecca Taylor and Alicja Lanfear. “Hanging in an Outdoor Context: An Actualistic Perspective Using Human Cadavers.”