Forensic Anthropologist Digs Into Sciences With High School Students

By Paul Bello, National Museum of Health and Medicine

FREDERICK, Md. - Franklin Damann, Ph.D., anatomical curator at the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM), took his passion and knowledge of forensic anthropology on the road March 11 to Frederick High School where he spoke to more than 200 students on topics ranging from skeletal identification to medical autopsies.

His appearance was courtesy of the U.S.A. Science & Engineering Festival's signature "Nifty Fifty" program, which introduces students, with interests in areas like science, technology, engineering, human health and medicine, to academic scholars and professionals like Damann.

"I love talking to students who have a sincere curiosity and joy for learning about the unknown," Damann said. This was his third "Nifty Fifty" talk. "I'm always impressed to see students so enthusiastic about forensic anthropology. It's the same way I felt when starting out in this field years ago and it's what still carries me to this day."

Damann answered questions and shared stories with students about forensic casework for medical examiners and recovery missions he participated in while serving as a forensic anthropologist for the Department of Defense Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Central Identification Laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. It was there that he led efforts throughout Southeast Asia and northeastern China in searching for missing U.S. service members from previous conflicts.

The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a national grassroots effort to advance STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Professionals from major academic centers and leading research institutes and government agencies, including cutting-edge high tech companies, museums and community organizations participate in the program. For more information, visit

NMHM is a Department of Defense museum. It was founded as the Army Medical Museum in 1862 and moved to its new location in Silver Spring, Maryland in 2012. For more information on upcoming events or public programs, please call 301-319-3303 or visit


Caption: Franklin Damann, Ph.D., curator of the Anatomical Division at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, speaks at Frederick High School in Frederick, Md., on March 11, 2015. Damann spoke to students about the scientific disciplines related to human identification. His talk was part of the "Nifty Fifty" speaker series presented by the USA Science and Engineering Festival. (National Museum of Health and Medicine photo by Paul Bello/Released)