STAFS is dedicated to providing research opportunities for local, national and international investigators pursuing scientific or forensically related research. STAFS prides itself on facilitating interdisciplinary studies that benefit forensic science, as well as the broader scientific community. STAFS has supported and collaborated with number of various educational institutions such as Texas A&M, University of Texas, Texas State University, Louisiana State University, University of Houston, Northumbria University, as well as local, state, and federal agencies. Research can be conducted in the Outdoor Research laboratory, the Anthropology laboratory, or by accessing Skeletal collection.
If you are interested in completing research at STAFS, please request a proposal using the portals below.
If you are currently a student and would like to conduct research at STAFS as part of your degree.
If you are a faculty member or agency personnel interested in researching at STAFS.
Student Research Request Form
Research Request Form
Our mission is to facilitate the advancement of forensic science, anthropology, biology and chemistry through the use of our willed-body donations to enable innovative research, teaching, and training. STAFS's vision, commitment and service is to support research, develop new techniques and skills, and extend our knowledge, so that academics, forensic science practitioners, and law enforcement can work together to bring a voice, a comfort, or peace to others.
Outdoor Decomposition Research Facility
STAFS is currently one of only 8 outdoor decomposition research facilities within the United States, and three more internationally. The 2-acre outdoor facility provides opportunities to recreate forensically significant scenarios and perform forensic research on the process of human decomposition. Since its inception in 2009, STAFS has facilitated hundreds of forensic research projects on skeletal taphonomy and trauma, entomology, DNA recovery and analysis, and microbiology. With an average of approximately 55 body donations every year, STAFS offers unique research opportunities to faculty and students at SHSU, as well as external and international forensic researchers.
External view of fence for outdoor area
Area 1A with heavy vegetation
Cleared area of 2B
STAFS Skeletal Collection
The STAFS skeletal collection represents the final disposition for individuals who have donated their remains to STAFS since 2009. The skeletal collection currently contains over 450 individuals and is growing every year. This collection serves both teaching and research purposes. Specimens from the collection have been used to support anatomy, anthropology, and osteology courses at a number of educational institutions such as SHSU, University of Houston, and Texas A&M- Corpus Christi. STAFS supports many research projects every year involving the skeletal collection, and is one of the only collections within the US that reserves a proportion of the annual donations for destructive analyses (e.g., bone samples for DNA recovery, skeletal trauma studies).
Skeletal Collection boxes on shelves
Skeleton laid out for study and boxed for storage
Tibia sectioned for DNA and proteomics analysis
The collection is comprised of more than 450 individuals predominantly of European ancestry, with a smaller proportion of individuals from African, Asian, and Hispanic ancestries, and includes individuals ranging from 10 to 105 years of age. Skeletal trauma is particularly well-represented in the STAFS collection, including multiple cranial and post-cranial examples of blunt-force, sharp-force, ballistic, and thermal trauma.