Sue Black


Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology
Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, University of Dundee, Dundee

Director of CAHID, Human Identification research, expert forensic practitioner

My research is multidisciplinary, covering a wide variety of subjects including the analysis of bone growth, the hand as a biometric in indecent images of children, interpreting dismemberment, the prediction of body movements in water, age estimation using medical imaging and gait analysis.

Current MSc projects:

  • Doris Eerhart: Age estimation from the knee in a Dutch population
  • Lorna Dennison-Wilkins: Analysis of body movements in water

Current PhD projects:

  • Stephen MacLean: Internal architecture of the developing ischium
  • Grant Thomson: Evaluation of cut marks on bone
  • Viviane Lira: Age estimation in the Roma population
  • Micol Zupello:  Age estimation from MRI imaging
  • Sam Goodchild: Internal architecture of the developing lumbar column
  • Katie Larner: Vein pattern analysis at the wrist

 I try to lecture at all levels of our different programmes but tend to concentrate more heavily on Honours' and Master's teaching.


  • Black., S.M., Rutty, G.N.R, Hainsworth, S.V. and Thomson, G.S.  (2017). Forensic Investigation of Dismemberment.  CRC Press, Florida.
  • Cunningham, C.A. Scheuer, L. and Black, S.M.  (2016).  Developmental Juvenile Osteology (Second Edition).  Elsevier, Londo


  • Black, S.M. (2017).  Forensic Anthropology.  In: The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology: Anthropology beyond Text.  Callan, H. (Ed).  Wiley Blackwell, New York.
  • Black, S. and Bikker, J. (2017).  Forensic Identification.  In: Missing Persons: A handbook of research.  Eds. Greene, K.S. and Alys, L. Routledge, London. p188-199.
  • Black S.M. (2016). Anthropology: Bone Pathology and Antemortem Trauma. In: Payne-James J. and Byard R.W. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 2nd Edition, Vol. 1, pp. 169-176. Oxford: Elsevier.
  • Mundorff, A.Z., Black, S., Blau, S. and Drawdy, S.M., Kosalka, S.  (2016). Disaster Victim Management – The role of the anthropologist.  In: Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine, Edition 2.  Eds: Payne-James, J and Byard, R.  Elsevier, London. Pp281-287.
  • Cunningham C.A., and Black S.M. (2016). Age Estimation in the Living: Osteology and Age Estimation. In: Payne-James J. and Byard R.W. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 2nd Edition, Vol. 1, pp. 79-83. Oxford: Elsevier.
  • Hackman, L. and Black, S.M.  (2016).  Age estimation in the living.  In: Payne-James J. and Byard R.W. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 2nd Edition, Vol. 1, pp. 34-40. Oxford: Elsevier.
  • Black, S.M.  (2015).  External skull.  In: Gray’s Anatomy.  41st Edition.  pp. 416-428. Elsevier, London.  
  • Cunningham, C.A. and Black, S. (2014).  Juvenile age assessment.  In: Manuel Pratique d’Anthropologie Medico-legal. Eds.  T. Delabarde and B Ludes. ISBN 978-2-7472-2061-3


  • Miguel-Hurtado, O., Guest, R., Stevenage, S.V., Neil, G.J. and Black. S. (2016).  Comparing machine learning classifiers and linear/logistic regression to explore the relationship between hand dimensions and demographic characteristics.  PLoS ONE 11(11): e0165521. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165521
  • Black, S.  (2016). The power of the Medici Effect.  The Journal of the Foundation for Science and Technology.  21(8): 20-21.
  • Davies, C., Hackman, S., and Black, S. (2016). The persistence of epiphyseal scars in the distal radius in adult individuals.  International Journal of Legal Medicine. 130(1):199-206.
  • Dantoni, A.V., Loukas, M., Black, S. and Tubbs, S.R.  (2015). Granville Sharp Pattison (1791-1851). Scottish anatomist with a propensity for conflict.  Acta Medico-Historica Adriatica 13(2): 405-414.
  • Black, S. (2015).  Chapter 6.  Identity and Identification. In: Forensic Science and Beyond: Authenticity, Provenance and Assurance – Evidence and Case Studies.  Government Office for Science Annual Report of the Government Chief Scientific Advisor.  Pp 64-73.  Available online at
  • Black, S. and Nic Daeid, N.  (2015).   Time to think differently: catalysing a paradigm shift in forensic science.  Philosophical. Transactions of the Royal Society. B, 370: 20140251. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0251
  • O’Brien, E., Nic Daeid, N. and Black, S.M.  (2015).  Science in the court: Pitfalls, challenges and solutions.  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B,  370: 20150062. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0062
  • Guest, R., Miguel-Hurtado, O., Stevenage, S.V., Neil, G.J. and Black, S.  (2015).  Biometrics within the Superidentity project: A new approach to spanning multiple identity domains.  IEEE, DOI: 10.1109/CCST.2014.6986992.
  • Strauss, A., Oliveira, R., Bernardo, D., Salazar-García, D., Talamo, S., Jaouen, K., Hubbe, M., Black, S., Wilkinson, C., Richards, M., Araujo, A., Kipnis, R. and Alves Neves, W. (2015).  The oldest case of decapitation in the World.  PLOS ONE PONE-D-15-17121R2.
  • Davies, C., Hackman, S., Black, S. (2015).  The epiphyseal scar: changing perceptions in relation to skeletal age estimation.  Annals of Human Biology. 42 (4): 346-355.
  • Davies, C., Hackman, L. and Black, S. (2014).  The persistence of epiphyseal scars in the Adult tibia.  Int J Leg Med.  128: 335-343.
  • Stevenage, S.V., Walpole, C., Neil, G.J. and Black, S.M.  (2014). Testing the reliability of hands and ears as a biometric: The importance of viewpoint. Psychol Res. 76(6): 989-999. DOI 10.1007/s00426-014-0625-x
  • Brough, Aa L., Morgan, B., Black, S., Rutty, G.N. and Adams, C.  (2014).  Computed tomography age assessment of juvenile dentition: comparison with traditional OPT assessment. International Journal of Legal Medicine. 128(4), 653-658.
  • Brough, A.L., Morgan, B., Robinson, C., Black, S., Cunningham, C., Adams, C. and Rutty, G.N.  (2014). A minimum data set approach to post-mortem computed tomography reporting for anthropological biological profiling.  For Sci Med Pathol, 10: 504-512.
  • Guest, R., Miguel-Hurtado, O., Stevenage, S.V., Neil, G.J. and Black, S. (2014).  Biometrics within the SuperIdentity project: a new approach to spanning multiple identity domains, In Proc. IEEE International Carnahan Conference on Security Technology 2014, Rome, Italy, October 2014, pp. 152-157
  • Black, S.M., MacDonald-McMillan, B. and Mallett, X.  (2014). The incidence of scarring on the dorsum of the hand.  Int J Led Med 128 (3): 545-553.
  • Jackson, G. and Black, S.  (2014).  Use of data to inform expert evaluative opinion in the comparison of hand images – the importance of scars. Int J Leg Med 128 (3): 555-563
  • Black, S., MacDonald-McMillan, Mallett, X., Rynn, C. and Jackson, G.  (2014). The incidence and position of melanocytic nevi for the purposes of forensic image comparison. Int J Leg Med. 128 (3): 535-543.
  • Maclean, S.J., Black, S. and Cunningham, C.A.  (2014).  The developing juvenile ischium: Macroradiographic insights.  Clinical Anatomy, 27:906-914.
  • Davies, C.M., Hackman, L. and Black, S.M. (2014). The foot in forensic human identification – A review.  The Foot. 24: 31-36.

Professor Dame Black is Director of both the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification and the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Sciences. She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh) and an Honorary Fellow of both the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. She is the lifetime Professor of Anatomy for the Royal Academy of Scotland. She was awarded an OBE in 2001 and a DBE in 2016. The Saltire Society have named her an oustanding woman of Scotland in 2017 and in 2015 she was awarded their Fletcher of Saltoun award for contributions to culture and science in Scotland. She is a recipient of the Lucy Mair medal for humanitarian assistance in anthropology, the Jephcott gold medal for contribution to science in medicine, the Stephen Fry award for public engagement with science and the Brian Cox award for public engagement. She holds two police commendations for the quality of her work in assisting with criminal investigations.  She is most proud that there is a science laboratory named after her in St. Margret’s school in Aberdeen.

A selection of recent public engagement activities: