Feature

Student proves identifying sex is not a pain in the neck

Published on 30 October 2019

We catch up with former Anatomy and Advanced Forensic Anthropology student Yuvenya Kaeswaren after her research into identifying sex is published in Forensic Science International: Reports

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Identifying the sex of human remains plays a crucial role in archaeological and forensic settings, however, depending on the condition of the remains that are found, this can prove to be a difficult task.

To help make this process a little easier, Anatomy and Advanced Forensic Anthropology student Yuvenya Kaeswaren decided to investigate additional ways that sex could be identified for her research project, carried out at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID).

Working under the supervision of Dr. Lucina Hackman from the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, Yuvenya decided to investigate how measurements taken from the bones in your neck could be used to establish the sex of the body.

Her research was such a success that a paper has now been published in Forensic Science International: Reports.

To celebrate this fantastic achievement, we decided to catch up with Yuvenya to find out more about her time studying at the University of Dundee, her research and the response she has received.

Greetings from Malaysia!

"I’m Yuvenya Kaeswaren (everyone calls me ‘Yuv’ for short).

"I graduated with distinction in 2018 from the MSc in Anatomy and Advanced Forensic Anthropology course at the University of Dundee. I am so grateful to have been given the invaluable opportunity to be a part of such an amazing learning experience that I honestly would not have gone anywhere else. As gruelling as the course was at times, I would repeat my entire postgraduate year at CAHID in a heartbeat if I could. Once you go Thiel, you never go back! - am I right?

"For my research project, I decided to use the morphometric measurements taken from our cervical vertebrae (the bones that make up your neck) to establish sex in a Scottish population. Yes, you heard that right. I wanted to know if you could tell if an individual was male or female by the measurements of our neck bone.

"Well, turns out you can! (That’s the amazing world of forensic anthropology my friends). I managed to develop a number of formulas utilising different combinations of these measurements that can be significantly used for establishing the sex of a Scottish individual. Cool eh?

"The best part of it all was the fact that I was under the supervision of Dr. Lucina Hackman. I had always looked up to and admired Dr. Hackman’s and Prof. Dame Sue Black’s work, so much so that I remember emailing them two years before I actually decided to embark on this course. So it was definitely a dream come true for this Malaysian girl to be under Dr. Hackman’s guidance.

"She kept her cool the whole time while I had my fair share of panic attacks, breakdowns, and doubts in getting enough samples as the deadline for my project kept crawling closer. “Don’t worry, you have plenty of time”, she would say to me. I actually ended up finishing my project way before the deadline and I could almost hear Dr. Hackman’s voice in my head going “I told you so”.

"When my first paper from my undergraduate research fell prey to a predatory journal online (rookie mistake!), I vowed to not let the same happen to my master’s project. Dr. Hackman patiently worked with me through the rejections and what seemed to be a series of never-ending edits from the editorial board, to finally getting my paper published in Forensic Science International: Reports. Yippee!! It was very rewarding indeed.

"In fact, I am currently corresponding with several anatomy and anthropology professors who have expressed their interest in expanding my published research by looking at additional objectives and methodologies into a possible PhD project. Some have even expressed interest in collaborating with the University of Dundee as well. Dr. Hackman will be hearing from me again I guess. Fingers crossed!

UoD, I miss you every day."

“I am so grateful to have been given the invaluable opportunity to be a part of such an amazing learning experience that I honestly would not have gone anywhere else.”

Yuvenya Kaeswaren, MSc Anatomy and Advanced Forensic Anthropology student

Enquiries

Gina Adams

Senior Marketing and Communications Officer

g.adams@dundee.ac.uk
Story category Student work/achievement