The undergraduate research work of a UH West Oʻahu student was on display as thousands of of members of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences 70th Annual Scientific Meeting in Seattle met on Feb. 21.
“The presentation went really well,” said R. Kalani Carreira, who presented a poster titled “Scavenging Patterns in Hawaii: An Archaeological and Skeletal Case Study.” The poster displayed evidence of animal-specific bone modifications that are rarely discussed in the academic literature, helping to inform law enforcement about the importance of the anthropologist’s skill set to recognize and document animal scavenging when carrying out a forensic recovery.
“People really understood how unique the research was and how valuable it was in demonstrating the important relationship between forensic anthropology and law enforcement,” said Carreira, explaining the presentation attracted the attention of conference goers for several reasons, including the fact that the research was conducted in Hawaiʻi.
Carreira presented his Kikaha research poster co-authored with Drs. Jennifer F. Byrnes and William R. Belcher at the conference, which drew more than 4,000 national and international forensic professionals to the six-day meeting at the Washington State Convention Center. Carreira conducted his research as a participant in the Kikaha Undergraduate Research Program, which gives students a unique opportunity to create projects that develop and enhance academic and research skills.
Carreira was accompanied by Drs. Byrnes and Belcher, both of whom are UH West Oʻahu Assistant Professors of Anthropology. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences is a multidisciplinary professional organization that provides leadership to advance science and its application to the legal system. The objectives of the Academy are promoting professionalism, integrity, competency, and education, and fostering research, improve practice, and encourage collaboration in the forensic sciences.
Carreira, who graduated from UH West Oʻahu in December with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences with a concentration in Anthropology, is continuing to take classes at the Kapolei campus while waiting to start graduate school in the fall. He said attending the conference was intimidating at times because of the many brilliant scholars in attendance.
“But, the bottom line is that the University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu and Leeward Community College, the amazing professors in the Anthropology Department, the rigorous demands of the Certificate of Applied Forensic Anthropology programs, have more than prepared me for success in this field going forward,” Carreira said.
“While I may not have known all the intricacies of a particular research topic (presented at the conference), there weren’t any subjects that I was unable to at least grasp the main concept, purpose, or findings of the research present.”
The Kikaha Undergraduate Research Program encourages UH West Oʻahu students to work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematical (STEM) related fields. Participants are eligible to receive a stipend of $2000 for completion of their project as well as a chance for additional funding to travel to a local or national conference. The project is supported by the National Science Foundation under the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP).