The field of forensics has always been a popular one as a result of the way it’s portrayed in the media as well as human beings’ natural curiosity for the subject. However, there’s a crucial part of forensics that is severely lacking among professionals in the field: dental identification. There aren’t enough professionals with the skills necessary to identify subjects based on their dental records. In response, the University of Tennessee just announced a new master’s degree that could help fill that gap.
“Classes will be led by notable professionals.”
About the program
The University of Tennessee Comparative and Experimental Medicine (CEM) is a joint program between the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Graduate School of Medicine that’s launching the degree program for the first time in the country’s history. Not only is it expected to be a curriculum packed with vital information, but classes will be led by notable professionals who have made names for themselves in the field.
“Drs. Mike Tabor and Richard Weems helped identify North and South Tower victims at Ground Zero from the 9-11 attack, and having these experts on board as university faculty is a natural fit for this mission,” Murray Marks, Ph,D. and CEM faculty member and program director, said in a press release. “These faculty bring an expertise and hands-on experience of unmatched value to the master’s student, and, until now, an academic-based program like this one being offered by UT has not been available in the U.S.”
The importance of dental identification
Fingerprints are an effective means of identification, but they’re not always available, noted DentalCare.com. In certain situations, scientists need to fall back on dental records to accurately identify a body. Because many forensic scientists are not equipped with the necessary skills, responsibility can fall on anthropologists, dentists, medicolegal death investigators and detectives to make positive identification noted the University of Tennessee.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the job outlook for forensic scientists is slower than average. Through 2022, the projected job growth is 6 percent. However, students who focus on these skills and hold a master’s degree will likely have an advantage over other candidates. Among the characteristics needed for this profession are exceptional critical thinking and problem-solving skills.