PhD, University of Nebraska
MA, University of Wisconsin
BA, University of Wisconsin
Melissa Connor, PhD, received her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to earn her Master of Arts in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her PhD in geography from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. An associate professor of forensic anthropology, Connor teaches Human Remains Detection and Recovery for Medico-Legal Investigation, Criminalistics, Survey of Forensic Science and Forensic Taphonomy. Connor is also Director of the Forensic Investigation Research Station (FIRS), which focuses its research interests on the decomposition of human remains. She is also the advisor for the forensic anthropology minor and Forensic Science Club. Her research interests include taphonomy, conflict archaeology and transitional justice.
Connor has 30 years of archaeological experience, and has worked in forensic science for the last 15 years. She is the author of Forensic Methods Excavation for the Archaeologist and Investigator, published by AltiMira Press in 2007. She specializes in mass grave sites, working in post-conflict area throughout the former Yugoslavia, and in Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Cyprus and Nigeria. She gained her initial experience in battlefields working on archaeological sites such as the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana. She is the co-author of Archaeological Perspectives on the Little Bighorn and They Died with Custer: Soldiers' Bones from the Battle of the Little Bighorn, both published by the University of Oklahoma Press.
Connor started teaching after 15 years in federal government and her philosophy is strongly influenced by the practicalities and ethos of government service. She believes students need a strong grasp of the subject matter and high professional standards, but that it is as important to teach them to be life-long learners, to have a strong sense of ethics, to be team players and to be problem solvers. Without these tools, students will not succeed no matter how strong their grasp of the subject matter and with them they become leaders in their field.
At CMU, Connor works to incorporate these objectives into many of her courses. She incorporates discussions on the ethical issues of forensic science into the courses whenever possible. She puts students in situations where they must function as a team or fail, and she stresses research methods and problem-solving skills. Connor is also a strong believer in assessment, on the individual level, on the course level and on the programmatic level. Assessment is not just a report to be turned in yearly or a rubric for students, but an ongoing dialogue between students, faculty, administration and the market that hires our students.
Forensic science is an applied science and Connor believes its practitioners must continually reach out to professionals in the field and translate their needs to academia, as well as listen to the academic community. Her teaching goal is to produce graduates who are strong professionals and responsible members of their community.
Connor, Melissa A. 2013 The General Section: "Incubator" to New Forensic Disciplines and Home to Forensic Educators. Academy News 13(6):4. American Academy of Forensic Science.
Connor, Melissa, and Diane France 2013 A Two-pringed Meld for Regional Taphonomic Studies: A Case Example from Mesa County, Colorado. Proceedings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences 65th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.
Connor, Melissa A. 2010 When the Site is a Scene: Battlefield Archaeology and Forensic Sites. In The Historical Archaeology of Military Sites: An Introductory Statement of Method, C. Geier, L. Babits, D. Orr, and D. Scott (eds). Texas A&M Press. Pp. 31-38.
Connor, Melissa A. 2007 Forensic Methods Excavation for the Criminal Investigator and the Archaeologist. Altamira Press.
Scott, D.D., R. Fox, Melissa A. Connor, and D. Harmon 1989 Archaeological Perspectives on the Battle of the Little Bighorn. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
Scott, D.D., P., Willey, and Melissa A. Connor 1998 They Died with Custer: Soldiers Bones from the Battle of the Little Bighorn. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.