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Dr Trisha Biers

Dr Trisha Biers

Collections Manager, The Duckworth Laboratory

Osteologist and Paleopathologist

The Henry Wellcome Building
Fitzwilliam Street

Cambridge CB2 1QH


I am the Collections Manager of the Duckworth laboratory in the Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. I am also a tutor at the Institute for Continuing Education at Cambridge where I teach about death and burial, epidemic disease, and Andean archaeology. Previous positions I have held include Osteologist in the Repatriation Osteology Laboratory, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and as Associate Curator and Repatriation Coordinator (NAGPRA Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) at the San Diego Museum of Man in California.

The human remains collections I have researched and curated span all regions of the globe. My research interests include bioarchaeology of death and burial, paleopathology and diet, mortuary archaeology of the Americas, anthropology & gender, biomolecular archaeology, the Columbian Exchange, and museum studies focusing on human remains, repatriation and indigenous visibility.

I received a PhD in archaeology at the University of Cambridge in October 2013. My dissertation titled, ‘Investigating the Relationship between Labour and Gender, Material Culture, and Identity at an Inka Period Cemetery: a regional analysis of provincial burials from Lima, Peru’ combined human skeletal data, burial deposition, and documentary sources to assess identity of artisans under Inka (AD1400-1532) provincial control. My recent research has been accepted for publication by the University College London Press for a two-volume forthcoming title in 2017.

I am very involved in osteology outreach and have years of experience teaching all age groups about bones. I have won grants for outreach and have recently published in outreach as well.  I've taught at the university level for many years including: Forensic Anthropology at the Univ of Maryland, Death and Burial at the Univ of Cambridge, Human Ecology at the Univ of Nottingham, and Intro to Cultural Anthropology and Cultures of Latin America at San Diego City College.


My technological proficiencies include:

  • Osteological and paleopathological analyses of human and mummified remains, faunal remains
  • Biomolecular Analyses in Archaeology (dental calculus, stable isotope analysis, aDNA)
  • XRF, SEM, X-ray, CT scanning, 3D rendering
  • Computing Systems incl. Osteoware, EMu, FileMaker Pro, IBM SPSS, Adobe Photoshop, Arc-GIS
  • Conservation and preparation of objects for preservation and exhibition


Other Professional Activities

I'm currently a member of the following:

  • British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteology (BABAO)
  • American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA)
  • Society of Anthropology in Community Colleges (SACC)
  • Natural Sciences Collections Association, UK (NatSCA)
  • Society for American Archaeology (SAA)
  • Palaeopathology Association (PPA)
  • Institute of Andean Studies (IAS)



  • Stable Isotope Analysis
  • Osteoarchaeology
  • Anatomical collections
  • Human remains
  • Mortuary analysis
  • The Body
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Skeletal biology

Key Publications

Forthcoming 2018. Biers, T. Rethinking purpose, protocol, and popularity in displaying the dead in museums. In Marquez-Grant,N., Squires, K. (Eds.) Ethical Challenges in the Analysis of Human Remains, Springer Press).

Forthcoming 2018.  Biers, T., Cock-Carrasco, G.A. Bridging the Gap between Elite and Non-elite: identifying the artisan in the archaeological record. In Technology and the Making of Andean Societies. Vol. 2. Cooperation and power in the organsiation of production. Editor W. Sillar. University College London UCL Press, London.

2017 September. Ulguim, P. F. Henderson, C. Y. Biers, T. British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology Digital Osteology Guideline: Sharing Digital Imagery of Human Remains.

2017 February.   Thomas, N.J., Biers, T., Cadwallader, L.C., Nuku, M., and Salmond, A.  The Provenance, date and significance of a Cook-voyage Polynesian sculpture. Antiquity.  Issue 355.

2015 November. Biers, T. and Harknett, SJ. Separating Artefact from Fiction: using museum education and outreach to increase archaeology’s relevance and impact in society. Archaeological Review from Cambridge. Archaeology: Myths within and without. Vol. 30. 2.