College of Arts & Sciences Anthropology Undergraduate Student Earns Prestigious Smithsonian Internship

Junior Andreana Cunningham to Conduct Forensic Anthropology Research on Artifacts from National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History will be the “scene of the crime” for Andreana Cunningham’s summer internship.

The future forensic anthropologist – a junior anthropology and criminology major in the UM College of Arts & Sciences (A&S) – will participate in a prestigious National Science Foundation-funded program at the Smithsonian Institution for 10 weeks this summer.

Cunningham defines forensic anthropology as “the examination of skeletal remains in a medical or legal context,” noting that forensic anthropologists enter a situation when there are human remains that cannot be identified by other means.

“Every skeleton is different,” Cunningham says, adding that gender, ethnicity, location and other factors leave “identifiers” on bones and teeth that can provide clues that help forensic scientists do their jobs.

Cunningham will work closely with Dr. David Hunt, a professorial lecturer in anthropology at the museum and one of the world’s leading experts on mortuary analysis and the curation of skeletal remains. The internship includes paid housing and transportation, and a stipend.

Associate Professor of Anthropology Will Pestle, says, “This internship will help springboard Andreana toward a career in forensics. She will be working with some of the highest flyers in the field of physical anthropology/forensics, and with some of the world’s premiere skeletal collections.”

Cunningham works with Pestle on his ongoing research on strontium isotope analysis of human tooth enamel.

“Essentially, Andreana is helping to validate a new analytical technique by which the place of birth/childhood of humans can be pinpointed based on the chemical composition of his/her teeth,” Pestle says.

He calls Cunningham a “remarkable student,” who stands out because she skillfully juggles many responsibilities. Indeed, she is exceptionally busy.

Cunningham is enrolled in the UM Civic Scholars Program, which encourages students to develop civic leadership skills, and to translate their academic interests into real-world problem-solving skills.

Her capstone project for this initiative is a study of the efficacy of services provided by Kristi House, a Miami non-profit organization serving child victims of sexual abuse and their families.

She is also an Academic Fellow in Stanford Residential College, where she provides scholarly support to first-year students as they navigate the challenges of selecting a major and making the most of their UM experience.

Additionally, she is a Supreme Court Justice for the UM Student Government. The Court meets every other week to ensure that campus policies and activities are in compliance with the Constitution.

Cunningham serves the vice president of Art for Kids, a student group that provides UM students with space and time to create art – which is then auctioned to raise money for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

The Art for Kids annual auction – which is open to the public – will take place on Friday, April 10, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the Student Activities Building Activities Room South (third floor). The community is welcome to stop by for music, refreshments and art.

April 01, 2015