Wittman Lecture Series: Body farm director

Wittman Lecture Series: Body farm director

Event Type



University Hall, Theater




(812) 237-3989


Dr. Dawnie Wolfe Steadman will discuss her work at the body farm and her investigations of human rights violations around the world. The event is free and open to the public. 

Dawnie Wolfe Steadman’s investigations of mass graves, war crimes and genocide have taken her around the world. Wolfe Steadman is director of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Forensic Anthropology Research Center, which was the original body farm – a research facility where human decomposition is studied.

She will share how her research is applied to human rights violation investigations worldwide during a public presentation as part of the third annual Wittman Speaker Series. For her presentation, Dr. Wolfe Steadman said, “I’ll demonstrate how the work we do at the Body Farm informs human rights investigations, which brought me to the field of forensic anthropology to begin with and in which I am still active.” Wolfe Steadman has investigated mass graves, war crimes, and genocide around the world and is a board-certified forensic anthropologist who consults for medical examiners and law enforcement across the nation. She is also the author of Hard Evidence: Case Studies in Forensic Anthropology.

“Human rights investigations, namely involving the exhumation of mass graves, identification of victims and documenting trauma to the remains, utilizes every aspect of forensic anthropology training - excavation, identification, postmortem interval estimation and trauma analysis. Therefore, the research we do in these areas directly informs these investigations. In addition, we have worked with technologies that can help us find graves remotely such that we can potentially do a lot of searching for graves from my campus office in Knoxville with less time on the ground in ongoing conflict situations.” Wolfe Steadman said.

Now in its third year, the Wittman Speaker Series brings to campus guest lecturers focused on subjects such as archaeology, anthropology and liberal arts. The series is funded with a contribution from Laura Wittman, ’93, and Jim Wittman. Laura is a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences with a BS in anthropology. Jim is the COO of Regency Properties, a commercial real estate firm spanning more than 26 states.