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Diana Messer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
Western Carolina University

Diana is an Assistant Professor at Western Carolina University. She recently defended her dissertation in the Division of Anatomy, College of Medicine at The Ohio State University. In 2016, Diana received an Exploratory Research Grant from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio to complete her dissertation data collection. Her research examines the effect of patient age, fracture location, and abuse status on pediatric fracture healing based on radiographic assessment. She hopes that the results from this research will have implications for time since injury estimation in child physical abuse cases in both clinical and forensic contexts.

Diana earned her B.S. in Biological Anthropology at Southern Connecticut State University in 2010. During this time, she conducted research in Peru on cranial vault modification and skeletal indications of stress and infection with Dr. Valerie Andrushko for her undergraduate honors thesis. Diana also has extensive bioarchaeological field experience, having served as a field osteologist and research assistant for excavations in Dhank, Oman and Drawsko, Poland. Her prior archaeological experience includes Revolutionary War era excavations and over five years of experience in cultural resource management in the New England area.

During her time at OSU, Diana served as a Team Leader for the Forensic Anthropology Case Team, working on several forensic cases with the Franklin County Coroner’s Office, and co-authoring multiple forensic reports. Diana also gained forensic experience as an Invited Visiting Scientist at the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office in 2016.

In 2017-2018, while still working on her dissertation, Diana served as a post-doctoral faculty member in the Department of Applied Forensic Sciences at Mercyhurst University, returning after completing her M.S. in Biological and Forensic Anthropology there in 2013. During her time as a faculty member, Diana took a leadership role in forensic anthropological casework on field recoveries as well as cases involving skeletal trauma. To date, she has directly worked on, or assisted with, over 60 forensic cases.

In 2017, Diana completed the requirements for a Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in College and University Teaching. She has extensive teaching experience particularly in human anatomy having taught medical, dental, PT/OT, community college, and continuing education anatomy dissection labs and courses. In these classes, she assisted with a variety of topics including gross anatomy, embryology, neuroanatomy, histology, and use of ultrasound to visualize anatomical structures. She also has experience teaching graduate and undergraduate forensic anthropology courses. Additionally, Diana has conducted and presented research on anatomy education.  

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