Julie Roberts

Forensic Anthropologist and Archaeologist

Julie is a forensic anthropologist and archaeologist with approximately 20 years of practitioner experience in the location, recovery and identification of human remains from scenes of crime, war zones and mass fatality incidents. Her professional skills include:

  • Distinguishing between human and animal remains
  • Identification of the deceased from skeletal, decomposed and fragmented remains (estimation of age at death, sex, stature, ancestry, identifying features)
  • Disaster Victim Identification
  • Interpretation of thermal damage and traumatic injuries to bone
  • Image analysis (CT, X-Ray, MRI) for the purposes of:
    • detecting skeletal indicators of stress
    • estimation of age in the living (or deceased)
  • Search, excavation and recovery of human remains from individual and mass graves
  • Advising on the selection and collection of DNA samples in highly fragmented and burnt remains
  • Specialist advice and reports on all aspects of forensic anthropology including cremated remains
  • Development of professional standards in Forensic Anthropology

Julie holds a doctoral degree in the subject of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology, a Master of Science degree in Osteology, Palaeopathology and Funerary Archaeology, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Archaeology and Ancient History. She is Chair of the British Association for Forensic Anthropology, National point of contact (anthropology) for UK DVI, and the UK representative for Forensic Anthropologists in the Interpol DVI Pathology and Anthropology sub-Working Group. She is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) with professional certification in Forensic Anthropology at the most senior level (Cert FA-I).

Julie recently became a Lecturer in Forensic Anthropology at Liverpool John Moores University. Prior to that she was the Scientific Lead and Team Leader in Forensic Anthropology, Archaeology and Ecology at Cellmark Forensic Services and before that she held the same position at LGC Forensics. In the UK, she was Lead Anthropologist following the London Bombings in 2005 and she has provided assistance in a large number of other complex investigations including homicides, fatal fires, industrial explosions and terrorist incidents. In 2018 she received a commendation from the Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police for her work at the scene and in the mortuary following a fatal fire in which six members of the same family died.

Internationally Julie was senior anthropologist with the British Forensic Team in Kosovo between 1999 and 2002 and since that time she has undertaken numerous deployments with the Royal Military Police and Counter Terrorist Command to assist with the recovery and identification of military fatalities, the deceased from civilian air-crashes and victims of terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.

Julie has provided expert advice in relation to search strategies for human remains, formal exhumations, setting-up and managing workflow through temporary and permanent mortuaries, and the collection of DNA samples from decomposed and burnt remains. She has contributed to resilience plans for mass fatality incidents and produced numerous field, mortuary and laboratory Standard Operating Procedures relating to identification of the deceased from individual and mass fatality incidents. In 2016 she produced an extensive report on developmental foetal and juvenile osteology and the survivability of foetal and infant remains during cremation. This formed part of an independent investigation into cremation practices in Scotland, commissioned by the Scottish Government and led by Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC. (https://www.gov.scot/publications/report-national-cremation-investigation-dame-elish-angiolini-dbe-qc/pages/2/). Her report was said to have provided “crucial expert evidence” on the survival of foetal and infant remains and it contributed to changes in legislation in Scotland.

During her career Julie has successfully developed, implemented and delivered a wide range of training courses for police, military and civilian personnel in the subjects of Forensic Anthropology, Archaeology, Ecology and Disaster Victim Identification. She has achieved accreditation for many of these courses from the Chartered Society of Forensic Science and obtained funding from the Home Office to provide specialist Disaster Victim Identification training for UK DVI specialists. Julie is also involved in the professional certification of Forensic Anthropologists in the UK, setting criteria for examinations, assessing applications and mentoring junior colleagues.