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 detailed gross, microscopic and biomolecular analysis of adult and juvenile  remains to establish all aspects of biological and personal identity including the sex, age at death, and disease and trauma status of the individual. We are working on some new and exciting multidisciplinary approaches to identification all underpinned by anatomical information and understanding.

Current and recent MSc projects:

  • Grant Thomson: Body recovery from hostile environments (graduated 2011)
  • Briony MacDonald-MacMillan: Surface markings in hand identification (graduated 2011)
  • Katie Nicol Baines: Knuckle creases in hand identification
  • Nigel Humphreys: Forensic matching centres

Current and recent PhD projects:

  • Ashley Stephen: The effect of focused sports activity on the growth plate – with Prof Rami Abboud (IMAR) and Brian Ewing (ISE)
  • Nurul Yusof: Micro CT and the development of the sacro-iliac joint
  • Andrew O’Malley: Micro CT and the development of the scapula
  • Catriona Davies: The persistence of ghost lines
  • Harriet Stratton: Vein pattern analysis

Other projects:

  • ISEC - Innovation in forensic anatomical identification - combating the sexual exploitation of children. Dr Helen Meadows, Eilidh Ferguson, Harriet Stratton
  • Dr J Bikker: FP7 grant – FASTID.  Partners Interpol, Plassdata, Fraunhoffer Institute, BKA and Crabbe Consulting
  • Dr Roos Eisma: Remote forensic anthropology reporting
  • Dr Craig Cunningham: Micro CT and the developing ilium
  • Prof Manuel Trucco: Hand image automation
  • Dr Niamh NicDaeid (Strathclyde): Fatal fire investigations – SUII grant
  • Prof Fiona Raitt, Prof Pamela Ferguson, Prof Colin Aiken, Forensic Regulator: Scots law of evidence – relevance to the digital age – SUII grant
  • Universities of Southampton, Warwick, Leicester, Bath and Canterbury: Investigation of super identity. EPSRC grant.
  • Prof Andreas Melzer (IMSAT): Thiel cadavers as a model for interventional radiology procedures (MRC-DPFS funded project)

 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., Walker, G, Hackman, L. and Brooks, C (2010) Disaster Victim Identification: The Practitioner's Guide, Dundee University Press, Dundee.
  • Black, S. M., Aggrawal, A. and Payne-James, J. (2010) Age Estimation in the Living, Wiley, Chichester.
  • Black, S. M., Aggrawal, A. and Payne-James, J. (2010) Key practical elements for age estimation in the living. In Age Estimation in the Living(Ed, Black, A. a. P.-J.) Wiley, London.
  • Black, S. M. a. M., G. (2010) Principles of physical age estimation. In Age Estimation in the Living(Ed, Black, A. a. P.-J.) Wiley, London.
  • Cunningham, C. A. &. Black., S.M. (2010) The neonatal ileum - metaphyseal drivers and neurovascular passengers. Anatomical Record, 293, 1297-1309.
  • Hackman, L., Buck and Black, S.M. (2010) Age Evaluation in the Skeleton. In Age Estimation in the Living(Ed, Black, A. a. P.-J.) Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Hackman, L. & Black., S.M. (2010) Applying virtual ID. Police Professional, 220, 16-18.
  • Randolph-Quinney, P. S., Mallett, X and Black S.M. (2010) Forensic Anthropology. In Encyclopaedia of Forensic Sciences(Ed, Jamieson, A.) Wiley, London.
  • Schmeling, A. & Black, S.M. (2010) An instruction to the history of age estimation in the living. In Age Estimation in the Living(Ed, Black, A. a. P.-J.) Wiley, London.

Professor Black is past President of  the British Association of Human Identification (BAHID), and the current President of Association for Science Education (Scotland). She regularly shares her enthusiasm for her work with the public, and is currently filming for a number of documentaries that will be screened later this year.

She is on the Young Person’s Committee of the RSE and so has an active involvement in their outreach programmes - honoured with Inspiration Award in 2008.

A selection of recent activities:

Evening lecture with Val McDermid at Border's book festival in Melrose, June 2011
Closing of the RSE@Dumfries and Galloway project at Drumlanrig Castle, June 2011
DVI standing committee, Lyons, June 2011

History Cold Case Series 1 & 2 (2010 and 2011): A popular archaeological science series of 4 main investigations using forensic science based at CAHID. BBC

Paedophile convictions: Ground-breaking research and forensic investigation from the Centre has lead to the successful conviction of a ring of paedophiles from Scotland. The Times, STV

Historic Scotland: Launch of Stirling Castle refurbishment. Historic Scotland, The Courier

Forensics Rookies at Lathallan (2009): A multi-platform three-day outreach project designed to encourage school pupils into science careers. 40 pupils from Lathallan school experienced different aspects of a forensic investigation. A full-scale forensic investigation was performed on Lathallan School grounds, and Eyeline Media filmed the entire process, from deposition to conclusion, with a view to potentially developing this work into educational packages and programmes that may be adopted by other schools.