Who are we?

The Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility (Stafs) is a forensic Willed Body Donation program, operating as a state-of-the-art research, education, and training center designed to advance academic and technical knowledge in the application of anthropology, human anatomy, forensic science, biology, and chemistry. Bodies donated to the STAFS facility are a precious asset, and are a pivotal component of our research and teaching activities. The skeleton of each donation is also a very valuable asset that is permanently accessioned to the STAFS Skeletal Collection for continued research, education, and training by scientists, investigators, students, law enforcement officials and forensic practitioners.

Since opening in 2009, STAFS has accepted over 650 donations, all of which have made a significant impact to the scientific and medico-legal communities.

What do we do?

We facilitate and conduct research that can be applied and will be useful to the forensic science and medico-legal communities. We teach our graduate and undergraduate students how to conduct, publish and present quality research. With suggestions from law enforcement officials, and forensic practitioners we simulate forensically relevant scenarios that may be encountered in their line of work to help them understand how events might have occurred, answer key scientific questions, or provide supporting data through empirical research.

Contact Us

Hours of Operation: 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday
Phone: 936-294-2310
PO Box 2525, Huntsville, TX 77341

All University Holidays are observed by STAFS. For the University Holiday Schedule, please click here.


Sheree Hughes

Dr. Sheree Hughes completed a PhD at Bond University on the Gold Coast in Australia, investigating forensic DNA typing methods for highly degraded samples such as those recovered from mass disasters, shipwrecks and missing persons cases in conjunction with DNA repair techniques and phenotypic analysis. Sheree also has over 15 years experience in human anatomy and forensic osteology. As an Associate Professor of Forensic Science at SHSU she continues to merge her expertise in human anatomy with her research interests of DNA typing and forensic anthropology by investigating highly degraded and challenging biological samples for human identification and forensic intelligence purposes.

Patrick J. Lewis
Assistant Director

Dr. Patrick J. Lewis completed a PhD in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy at Duke University. His research primarily uses skeletal remains to better understand variation, trauma, and evolution in human and nonhuman lineages. Dr. Lewis’ lab has increasingly used high-resolution microCT images to address anatomical questions; microCT allows for the study of specimens and structures too small for traditional approaches, and where traditional methods risk damaging the specimen. He has led archaeological and paleontological excavations in Texas, South Africa, and Botswana for over twenty years. While his research spans many taxa, time periods, and locations, he is always working to better understand how, and in what way, various forces modify bone morphology. Dr. Lewis is available for forensic anthropology consultations on a case-by-case basis, including:

  • Determination of human v. animal origin for skeletal remains;
  • Determination of forensic significance of skeletal remains;
  • Assisting with the recovery of skeletal remains; and
  • Laboratory analyses of skeletal remains, including assessment of the biological profile (age, sex, ancestry, stature), taphonomy, and trauma.

Haeli Kennedy
Lab Manager

Haeli completed a BS in Criminal Justice, with a Minor in Forensic Science, at Sam Houston State University. She has been with the STAFS since 2016, first working as a Lab Assistant, before becoming the Lab Manager. She has professional experience with search and recovery of remains, as well as assistance with casework. She supervises the Willed Body Donation Program, manages the daily operations, and supervises all personnel and researchers at the STAFS Facility. She deeply appreciates any donation STAFS receives, as they are all valuable gifts.

Hannah Cervenka
Program Coordinator/Funeral Director

Hannah graduated from Sam Houston State University in December of 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and double minors in Business and Forensic Anthropology. Hannah has served families at STAFS from 2016-2019 as a student volunteer, intern and research assistant. She completed her certification in funeral directing at Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Services in Houston and received her funeral director’s license from the state of Texas in 2021. She would like to thank the donors of STAFS and their families for the gift of their donations. She firmly believes that without donors and their families’ necessary facilities like STAFS would not be possible.