Faculty/Staff/Student Directory



Joan Bytheway

Associate Professor

  • Ph.D. Physical Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh (2003)
  • B.A. Physical Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh (1995)


Office: C-213 or STAFS
Phone: (936) 294-4814 or (936) 294-2310

Areas of Expertise:
Forensic Anthropology, Human Osteology


Dr. Bytheway joined the faculty in 2006 and serves as the Director of the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility, one of only four willed body facilities in the world for the study of forensic science as it applies to the human body in criminal investigations. She specializes in forensic anthropology/human osteology and taphonomy with an interest in bone pathology and trauma. Her research interests are in the areas of sex determination of the fragmented os coxa utilizing three dimensional data, effects of fire trauma to human skeletal remains, and non-metric anomalies of the human skeleton. Prior to joining the faculty at Sam Houston State University, she was a Forensic Anthropologist/Lab Analyst for a project in Baghdad, Iraq involving the reconstruction and analysis of skeletal remains of individuals of the Iraqi population found in mass graves. As a result, she produced a number of technical forensic reports for the Regime Crimes Liaison Office, United State Embassy, Baghdad, Iraq and the Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis, MO. She also has served as a peer reviewer in more than 130 forensic cases. She consults for multiple law enforcement agencies in southeast Texas and has reviewed for the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

Research Interests:

Dr. Bytheway, a board certified forensic anthropologist, is an expert in human osteology; the study of the subadult and adult human skeleton including fragmented and complete human remains.

A predominant focus of the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science (STAFS) facility, is research in taphonomy, the study of the internal and external decomposition process of an organism from the time of death until the time of recovery. As the director of STAFS, Dr. Bytheway is an expert in the morphoscopic changes of human decomposition relative to the ecoregion of southeast Texas.

With the development of more human decomposition facilities in the United States and an increase in the number of human skeletal collections human bone trauma studies are becoming more realistic to perform. Dr. Bytheway, in collaboration with other researchers, are conducting human trauma studies in blunt force, sharp force, projectile and thermal trauma, some of which are simulations of actual cases.

Using three dimensional metric data, Dr. Bytheway specializes in sex estimation of the fragmented adult human skeleton.

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