Current Research and Projects

Seizing Up- Progression Markers of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) on dry bones Project (2018)

In this project, we examine the different signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) in terms of pathological and clinical scenarios. In which, we would cross-compare the differences of the identified signs in hope of identifying a set of progression markers of the pathology.

This pilot study will be expanded to the degree of comparing its prevalence of co-existence of DISH and AS in the future. In addition, a study regarding a dramatic change on diet and lifestyle of the studied population should be commenced to investigate if it is population specific related.

Project status: Presented in BABAO 2018. [poster]

Timor Leste Human Identification Project (2017-present)

I am the forensic anthropologist for the Timor Leste Human Identification Project.

Timor Leste is a country in Southest Asia, and got independent from Indonesia after the referendum with the help of the United Nations in 1999.

Timor Leste was once colonzied by Portugal, and known as Portugese Timor until 1975. Few days after the departure of Portugese,  Indonesia occupied Timor Leste and claimed it as the 27th province the year after. The Indonesian occupation was highlighted with a highly violent based conflicts. According to local and history, there were two massacres happened since Indonesia’s invasions. According to the statistical report from Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor cited, there were at least 102, 800 deaths in between the years of 1974 and 1999 (~18600 killings and other 84200 from starvation and diseases).

The National Police of Timor Leste briefed that among those being killed, most of them are youths. These brutal incidents happened not long ago, and a lot of the families are still waiting for a final answer. Without further ado, for the sake of humanitarian cause, I partner with the National Police of Timor Leste. In hope with my forensic anthropology skillset, we can provide identification of the recovered human remains. And of course, return to the family for a proper burial.

The approach of this project is rather straight forward: 1) cataloguing the recovered remains, 2)undertaking a demographic and pathological analysis of all skeletons; 3) producing a detail biological profile for identification purposes.

Project status: Try-out stage is over. Ongoing process on generating profiles and reports for biodata.

Let the Bones Out!: The significance of talking about death, and bones in public.  (2016-present)

Since the mid of 2016, I have started blogging/ writing in a local Chinese online news platform. I started contributing because of a commentary piece I wrote back in April 2016 on the methodologies the police used on excavating the remains out of concrete.

That piece makes me realize the lack of communication, discussion and interaction with public on forensics and anthropology, and most importantly the concept of death in our society.

Chinese culture is really reluctant on talking about death. It is a taboo. Every year, we would only openly discuss so on the Ancestor Day, or the Hungry Ghost festival in the seventh month of the lunar calendar. The unwillingness on talking about death haunts us way more than the idea of death itself.

I believe in public intellectualism. And hope that through my writing, the column will act as a safe ground for the public to have some nontraditional conversation regarding this spooky topic in our culture.

Project status: Ongoing.

Upper Limbs Trauma Study in Modern Cypriot Population (2015-2016)

The Cyprus Reference Research Collection (CRRC) consists of 2,000 skeletons exhumed between 1975 – 2012, and are of known demographics of age-at-death, sex, religion, and ethnic identity. The collection is housed at a private ossuary within the St. Nicholas Cemetery in Limassol, Cyprus. The collection consists of males and females of an average age range between 60 and 80 years old. This being a cemetery collection, the collection is representative of a geriatric population that lived between 1900 – 2008.

Most of the injuries observed are likely to be accidental in nature associated with subsistence and perhaps other cultural and social practices. Future work with the collection will aim to determine sex and age differences in relation to healing patterns and further attempt to establish the difference between accidental and intentional trauma in a larger sample. Furthermore, future analysis will seek to establish the nature of these injuries through an extensive ethnographic research and antemortem information collected from the families of the deceased.

Project status: Presented in EAA 2016 [poster] and BABAO 2017 Conference [podium].